Feb. 28, 2014
MILFORD, Conn. – University of Connecticut senior Billy Latta (West Chester, Pa.) scored the game-tying goal with 37 seconds left in the third and then delivered the game-winner with 42 seconds left in overtime to deliver the Huskies a 4-3 Atlantic Hockey win at Sacred Heart Friday night from the Milford Ice Pavilion. The win improves the Huskies to 18-11-4 overall and 15-8-3 in the AHA, matching the program’s highest conference win total.
The win coupled with the Robert Morris and Mercyhurst tie Friday night ensures the Huskies will finish with one of the top-four seeds and earn a bye in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs.
The Pioneers (11-22-0, 10-16-0 AHA) spent much of the first period in the penalty box but the Huskies came up empty, going 0-for-4 on the power play as the first period ended scoreless. SHU struck first in the second as Drew George buried a one-timer off a feed from Ben Lake at 4:41.
The Huskies answered at 7:29 as Shawn Pauly (Bellingham, Wash.) picked up his ninth of the season, scoring off a rebounded Trevor Gerling (Seattle, Wash.). After SHU’s Jacob Brightbill made it 2-1 at 13:51 with a power play goal, UConn knotted it right back up just 17 seconds later. Freshman Brent Norris (Ottawa, Ontario) dug a puck out behind the net and flicked a pass to sophomore Patrick Kirtland (Cary, N.C.) right in front who buried it for his sixth of the season.
Sacred Heart took the lead for a third time at 6:45 in the third on a Coltyn Hansen goal. Off a face-off in the UConn zone, SHU’s Neil Fachini won the draw back to Hansen who quickly wristed a shot, top-shelf, glove side past UConn goaltender Robby Nichols (Dallas, Texas) for a 4-3 lead.
The Huskies pulled Nichols with 1:05 left in the third in search of the tying goal and Latta delivered just 28 seconds later. The puck was thrown on net from the blue line where a host of Huskies crashed the goal. Senior Brant Harris (Estevan, Saskatchewan) and Norris each got a stick on it in front before Latta collected the loose puck at the left post and tucked it in to send the game to overtime.
At 3:01 in the extra session, Sacred Heart’s Jordan Minello was called for boarding to give the Huskies their sixth power play chance of the night. Norris got a shot off at the right circle that SHU netminder Alex Vazzano stopped but Latta crashed the net and collected the rebound at the left post, putting it away for his fourth game-winner of the season and send the Huskies home with a 4-3 win.
Latta added to his team-leading goal total with his 12th and 13th of the season. Norris notched a pair of assists in the win. In goal, Nichols stopped 26 shots to improve to 8-1-2 on the season.
Sacred Heart’s Vazzano stopped 31 shots in goal for the Pioneers in taking the loss. UConn finished 1-for-6 on the power play and SHU went 1-for-3.
The Huskies and Pioneers wrap up the weekend series tomorrow afternoon from the Milford Ice Pavilion. Opening face-off is slated for 5:05 pm.