HARTFORD, Conn. – The UConn men’s hockey team fell behind 2-0 in the first period on the way to a 4-1 loss at the XL Center Wednesday night to the No. 11 ranked Providence Friars. Providence got a pair of goals from freshman Vimal Sukumaran to help lead the Friars to their eighth-straight win, extending the nation’s longest winning streak.
The Huskies got a shorthanded goal from Karl El-Mir (Montreal, Quebec) in the second period but where outshot 38-22 on the night and finished 0-for-6 on the power play. Freshman goaltender Adam Huska (Zvolen, Slovakia) turned in 34 saves for the Huskies. The loss dropped UConn to 10-11-8 overall and 6-7-4 in Hockey East.
In addition to Sukumaran’s two goals, sophomore Scott Conway scored a goal and picked-up an assist in the win. Junior Brian Pinho provided the game’s first goal, scoring just 27 seconds into the game.
Sophomore goaltender Hayden Hawkey made 21 saves to earn the win as the Friars improved to 17-8-4 overall and 9-6-2 in the league.
Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh – “I think one team played playoff hockey and one team didn’t. There’s not much to say about it; they beat us in all aspects of the game. Especially in the first period - they won face-offs, they won the battles in the red zone, and they won the battles in the neutral zone. And special teams – our power-play didn’t generate enough energy or chances for us, and that’s why we lost the game”
The Friars improved to 5-1-2 all-time against the Huskies. Providence has now won four-straight in the series and are unbeaten against UConn (4-0-1) since the Huskies joined Hockey East in 2014-15.
Huska’s 34 saves marked the 10th time this season he has posted 30 or more saves in a game.
El-Mir scored his ninth on the season and the Huskies’ second shorthanded goal of the season. It was El-Mir’s first career shorthanded goal.
The Friars jumped in front just 27 seconds into the game. Junior defenseman Jake Walman fired on net from just inside the blue line on the left wing and Pinho was in front to get a deflection past Huska for his eighth on the season.
Providence close the period as they started it, scoring in the final 30 seconds of play. Scott Conway collected his own rebound and saw his shot deflect off Sukumaran and past Huska in front for a 2-0 lead. It was his sixth goal on the season.
The Huskies cut the Friar lead in half at 15:43, scoring shorthanded. Sophomore Max Kalter (Highland Park, Ill.) dug the puck off the boards at mid-ice and broke up the right wing. Kalter fed El-Mir who trailed into the slot and he ripped one past Hawkey, stick side, for his ninth on the season.
Providence tacked on two more goals in the third period to put the game away. Sukumaran picked-up his second on the night at 2:13. The puck found its way to the front of the net where a scrum ensued. Sukuman was able to get his stick on it once and then again, poking it through traffic and past Huska for a 3-1 lead.
Conway made it 4-1 at 7:37, scoring his 10th goal of the season. Jacob Bryson fed Conway in the right circle and he fired, picked-up his own rebound and beat Huska on his second shot to give his team a three-goal lead.
The Huskies and Friars will close out their season series this Friday night at Schneider Arena. Opening face-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm.