March 11, 2012
USAFA, Colo. - Behind a three-point night from sophomore Cole Schneider and 46 saves by junior Garrett Bartus, the UConn men's hockey team defeated No. 19 and top seed Air Force, 3-1, at the Cadet Ice Arena to advance to game three of the best-of-three Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinals. Air Force won game one, 4-3, on Friday night.
Air Force outshot Connecticut, 47-14 but was unable to generate more than one goal on the UConn defense.
"I thought we played pretty gritty and determined, especially in that third period. We kept a lot of those shots out wide. You don't win games by having better stats, you win by having more goals and we did that tonight," said UConn head coach Bruce Marshall.
Bartus was sensational for the Huskies throughout the night, stopping 41 shots in the first two periods.
"Our D did a good job of clearing the lane so I could see the puck and I was trying to smother it to limit the rebounds. Tomorrow will be intense, both teams are fighting for their lives now," said Bartus.
Sophomore forward Cole Schneider led the way offensively with a goal and two assists. Schneider's empty-netter to seal the game in the third period set a Connecticut Division I scoring record with 43 points in a season.
"It feels good, but I try not to think about it during the playoff stretch. I have to thank all of my teammates, I couldn't have set that record without them," said Schneider.
"That whole line had a much better night than yesterday. We need that every night to win. We need Cole to be that type of player. We need him to match the other team's top player. But that record is great for him," added Marshall.
For the second-straight night, a Connecticut freshman put the Huskies up 1-0 with his first career goal with Trevor Gerling recording the feat tonight. Last night, Brad Smith finished a wrap-around past Torf in the first period to put UConn up 1-0.
In a similar play at 9:02 of the first period, Gerling took a pass from Corey Jendras into the offensive zone and skated around the cage from the left side before throwing the puck towards the right post. Torf looked to have made the save but the puck squeezed under the pads and in for Gerling's first point as a Husky. Schneider also assisted on the play.
It looked as though UConn made it 2-0, but Cody Sharib had a goal called back in a bizarre turn of events. At 16:15 an Air Force player was checked into the wall behind the Air Force net. The puck came back in front where Sharib one-timed a shot between AFA goaltender Jason Torf and the left post. During the play, a rink door behind the net came loose, causing the play to be blown dead and the goal disallowed.
Air Force changed goaltenders after the play for the second-straight night, bringing game-one's victor, Stephen Caple, into the contest.
The Huskies were outshot in the first, 23-4, but Bartus was sensational in the opening 20 minutes, stopping several redirections in front to keep UConn ahead, 1-0.
Connecticut's power play came into the game ranked third in the nation at 25.5-percent and struck once again 48 seconds into the period. Sean Ambrosie dropped the puck from the half-wall down to Schneider at the bottom of the right face-off circle. Schneider sent a pass between a defenseman's legs and through the crease to Harris at the back door for the tap in. The goal was Harris' 18th of the season and his 10th on the power play. Schneider earned his second assist of the night, giving him 42 points on the season to tie the UConn Division I single-season record.
The Falcons cut UConn's lead to one with a rebound goal, their third of the weekend, at 6:35. Scott Holm scored from the left side of the slot after two saves from Bartus from up close.
Connecticut managed just five shots in the period while Bartus came up with 17 saves in the middle stanza alone, including a terrific glove save on a shot from the slot with just under three minutes remaining.
Neither team was able to generate much offense in the third period with much of the action being played in the neutral zone or at the UConn blue line. The Huskies allowed just six shots in the period to close out the victory.
Schneider put home an insurance tally into the empty net at 18:44.
The two teams will finish the series at 9:05 p.m. ET with a trip to Rochester, N.Y. for the AHA semifinals on the line. UConn has advanced to the AHA semifinals three times in AHA history; 2006, 2007, 2011.