BOSTON, Mass. – Northeastern senior Zach Aston-Reese scored a hat-trick to lead his Huskies to a 4-1 win and Hockey East sweep over UConn at Matthews Arena Friday night. UConn got a goal from sophomore Maxim Letunov (Moscow, Russia) in the loss, their fourth-straight.
UConn falls to 10-14-8 overall and 6-10-4 in Hockey East after being swept for the second-straight weekend. Northeastern improved to 15-12-5 overall and 8-9-3 in the league with the win. UConn will head into the final series of the regular season in 10th place in the Hockey East standings.
Northeastern put three goals on the scoreboard in the first period, two off the stick of Aston-Reese. Sophomore Adam Gaudette made it 3-0 with a power play goal, his team-leading 14th of the season. UConn cut into the lead in the opening minutes of the second period as Letunov found the back of the net to make it 3-1.
Aston-Reese finished off his hat-trick and the scoring for the night at 16:28 in the third period. NU goaltender Ryan Ruck stopped 24 shots to earn his second win of the weekend. Northeastern finished with a 29-25 edge on shots and was 1-for-3 on the power play.
Senior Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) stopped 25 shots in the loss.
Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh – “I thought for two periods, we played really well regardless of the score. We were down 3-0 and we out-chanced them 27-13. We played a great period of hockey and I told our guys to keep playing that way. And we did and got a goal and I thought we had some energy and we were playing pretty well. It just seemed that the fourth goal really kind of took the energy out of us. I thought the third period, we didn’t have the same jump or offense chances we did in the first and second. Credit Northeastern. When they did get a chance they buried them."
Northeastern remains perfect against UConn all-time, running their record to 8-0-0. UConn is 0-6-0 against Northeastern as a member of Hockey East.
UConn has lost four-straight, their longest losing streak of the season. The Huskies are also winless (0-4-2) in their last six games, also the longest such streak on the year.
Letunov scored his seventh of the season and ended a five-game drought without a goal. His last goal came in a 5-4 loss at Vermont on January 20th.
UConn had a fast start and finished the period with a 13-11 edge on the shot chart but Northeastern went to the locker room with a 3-0 lead. Aston-Reese scored back-to-back at 4:16 and 7:12, his team-leading 25th and 26th goals of the season.
Aston-Reese got his team up 1-0 finishing a feed to the slot from Ryan Rosenthal then followed with a one-timer, burying a feed from Nolan Stevens at the left post on a rush. Gaudette put his team up 3-0 at 12:12, scoring his 14th power play goal of the season. Stevens lid a pass across the goal face that found Guadette at the left post ready to stuff it home, his 23rd of the season.
UConn got on the board quickly in the second as Letunov ended a five-game streak without a goal by scoring his seventh on the season. The Huskies got the puck to the front of the net and Letunov found some room to poke a rebound past Ruck to pull UConn within 3-1 at 1:47.
Northeastern pushed their lead back to three goals as Aston-Reese completed his hat-trick at 16:28. The senior center chased a loose puck down along the board and fired a shot on goal from just inside the blue line. The puck made its way through traffic and beat Nichols just under the bar for his third on the night.
The Huskies will close the regular season with a home-and-home series against New Hampshire starting next Friday night from the Whittemore Center.