STORRS, Conn. -- The UConn men's hockey team took the ice for the first time in 2015-16 on Saturday afternoon and came away with a 3-1 win over Queens University in an exhibition contest at Freitas Ice Forum on the Storrs Campus. The Huskies got a pair of second period goals with the game-winner coming off the stick of freshman Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) en route the win.
UConn dressed their entire roster for the exhibition game and used all three of their goaltenders in the win. The Huskies dominated the shot chart, outshooting Queens 42-16. Junior Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) took the first periods and turned away all six shots he faced. Sophomore Steve Thulin (North Reading, Mass.) made four saves in the second period and earned the victory. Sophomore Tanner Creel (Arlington Heights, Ill.) made five stops to keep Queens off the scoreboard in the third.
The Huskies got seven power play chances on the afternoon but failed to convert any into a goal. The Gales were 0-4 on their extra man chances.
After a scoreless first period it was Queens who struck first in the second, catching the Huskies at the end of a penalty. The Huskies had a five-on-three advantage for 33 seconds but as Joseph Luongo's penalty for roughing expired, Queens defenseman Patrick Downe cleared the Huskies zone and found his stick just as he jumped out of the box. Luongo got a breakaway and beat Thulin to the stick side for a 1-0 lead at 9:43.
UConn used two quick strikes just 47 seconds apart to grab the lead for good. Sophomore Will Golonka (Carlisle, Mass.) produced the Huskies first goal of the afternoon, posting himself up at the right post to clean up a loose puck off a blasted David Drake (Naperville, Ill.) shot from the right circle.
The Huskies created a turnover to produce the second goal as senior Joey Ferriss (Novi, Mich.) chipped the puck back into the zone where Jeff Wight (Coquitlam, British Columbia) fed Thompson who blasted a shot that caught goaltender Kevin Bailie in the shoulder but had enough on it to sneak past the goalie for a 2-1 lead at 14:15.
UConn iced the game away in the closing seconds of the third as senior Shawn Pauly (Bellingham, Wash.) won a draw in the Huskies zone back to defenseman Johnny Austin (St. Louis Park, Minn.). Austin looking to just clear the puck played it off the glass and the carom slid right into an empty net for the final, 3-1.
The Huskies will officially open the season next weekend with a two-game series at Alabama Huntsville, October 9th and 10th. The home opener at the XL Center is slated for Friday, October 16th against Arizona State.
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Postgame Quotes -
Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh
Opening Statement - “I thought the crowd was fantastic for an exhibition. We had a pretty full barn here today and I thought was great for our players. I think we got off to a slow start in that first period, maybe that’s something that is expected but I thought we picked it up. Even when they scored, our power play was getting pucks to the net and we just weren’t aware of the 5-on-3 and they snuck the guy out there for a breakaway. I thought we played really well after they scored the first goal. Will’s goal, he made a great play to get it to the point, beat his guy to the net and get a rebound goal. Tage’s goal, they turned it over and we were able to capitalize on that turnover. But overall, I thought it was everything a coach wants in an exhibition game. We were able to work on killing penalties late in the game with a 2-1 lead, we worked on protecting the one goal lead and also being able to defend 5-on-6 at the end with the goalie pulled. So, a lot of things we got to work on today that are very hard to simulate in practice and I thought we executed well down the stretch. I thought our young guys, our upperclassmen and right down the lineup, I thought a lot of guys did some nice things.”
Freshman Tage Thompson on 2nd period goal - :“I came over the line and made a pretty bad play to be honest but my teammates were right there to save me. I was going top-right, he got a piece of it and it just bounced over him.”
Senior Patrick Kirtland on team’s performance - “I thought we came out kind of slow, a little sluggish maybe, forcing too many plays. But as the game went along I thought everybody got comfortable, starting in the 2nd period moving into the 3rd. I think we’re pretty happy with how we played and how we finished the game.”