March 11, 2012
USAFA, Colo. - Despite a pair of goals from Cole Schneider, the UConn men's hockey team dropped game three of the best-of-three Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinals, 4-3, tonight at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Huskies finish the season at 16-19-4 while Air Force moves on to face Mercyhurst in the AHA Semifinals in Rochester, N.Y. next weekend.
Air Force goaltender Stephen Caple finished with 28 saves, including 14 in the third period to earn the victory. Garrett Bartus stopped 33 shots in the losing effort and finished the weekend with 117 saves.
The Huskies had several golden opportunities for the equalizer with under 30 seconds remaining and the UConn net empty. Sean Ambrosie had a shot from the top of the crease stopped by Caple followed by chances right in front by Latta, Sims and Harris. The Huskies failed to convert as time expired.
UConn had leads of 2-1 and 3-2 but failed to hold on as Air Force scored the equalizer at 18:17 of the second period and the game-winning goal at 3:21 of the third.
Air Force remains unbeaten in postseason series play at home since joining the AHA in 2007.
Air Force notched a power-play goal to take a 1-0 lead at 10:47 of the first period. For the third time this weekend, the Falcons scored off a rebound in front. Scott Holm finished from the weak side after a shot from Paul Weisgarber from the left side was saved by Bartus.
Schneider found the equalizer for UConn at 4:16 with a perfectly-placed wrist shot into the top-right corner. Coming into the zone on a two-on-one break, Schneider drew the defender, maneuvered to his right and snapped his shot over the glove of AFA goaltender Stephen Caple. The goal for Schneider was his 22nd of the season, tying the UConn Division I goal-scoring record set by Matt Scherer in 2006-07. Assists went to defensemen Brad Cooper and Alex Gerke.
The two teams ended the period tied, 1-1, with Air Force holding the edge in shots, 11-5.
Schneider had a chance to put the Huskies ahead and break the UConn goal-scoring record just 50 seconds into the second period when he picked off a pass at the UConn blue line and headed all alone towards goal. Schneider skated in on the breakaway but had his shot aimed at the five-hole stoned by Caple.
Schneider created another breakaway and made no mistake about it on the second chance at 7:53. Schneider picked up a puck in the neutral zone, chipped it between two defenders and headed towards frame from the left side. Schneider faked to his backhand and lifted a shot over the outstretched stick of Caple into the left side for a UConn record 23rd time this season to put UConn ahead, 2-1.
Air Force evened with a slap-shot from Tim Kirby from the top of the left face-off circle at 14:32. The puck slowly trickled through the legs of Bartus and barely crossed the line before being cleared out of the net.
The Huskies took their final lead at 15:40. With Connecticut on the power play, senior Corey Jendras snapped a shot from the slot into the top-left corner for his third tally of the season. Jacob Poe took a big hit on the right wall to put Jendras into the offensive zone. The assist was Poe's fifth of the season. Senior Marcello Ranallo also earned his 15th assist on the play.
The Falcons found the game-winning goal at 3:21 off the stick of George Michalke. Michalke went hard to the net from the right side and forced the puck home for the 4-3 lead.
The Huskies frantically attacked the net at the end of the period but failed to beat Caple.
UConn's season ends with a 16-19-4 record. The Huskies compiled several team and individual records in 2011-12. UConn set a program record with five shutouts this season, all recorded by Bartus.
Individually, Bartus broke his own single-season save record he previously established last season (1,085) with 1,179 saves in 2011-12. That total falls one save short of the AHA single-season save record as well. Bartus also became UConn's career saves leader with 2,816 saves in just three years.
Additionally, Bartus became the first goaltender with at least 1,000 saves in back-to-back seasons since All-Americans and future professionals Jeff Lerg and Brad Thiessen in 2007-08, 2008-09.
Sophomore Cole Schneider finished the year with 45 points to set a UConn Division I single-season record and now has more points than any sophomore in UConn Division I history with 78 after two seasons. Schneider (45) and classmate Brant Harris (33) combined for the most points by two players (78) in a single season in UConn Division I history. Connecticut joined Division I hockey in 1998-99.
The Huskies tied the UConn single-season Division I record with 16 victories and 10 wins at home.