HARTFORD, Conn. – The UConn men’s hockey team got a pair of goals each from sophomore Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) and senior Evan Richardson (Nanaimo, British Columbia) on the way to a 6-0 shutout win over Alabama Huntsville in their season opener Friday night from the XL Center. Senior goaltender Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) made 21 saves to earn his ninth career shutout victory.
Thompson added a pair of assists to his two goals for a four-point night, setting a new career-high. His four-points marked his ninth career multi-point game.
The Huskies got out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and never looked back Friday night, posting their highest goal total in a game since a 6-3 win at Army in 2015. UConn finished three-of-nine on the power play and outshot UAH 34-21 in the win.
Sophomore Karl El-Mir (Montreal, Quebec) finished with a goal and an assist while classmate Maxim Letunov dished out three assists, matching his career-high. Freshman Wyatt Newpower (Hugo, Minn.) scored his first career goal, opening the game’s scoring with a power play goal at 6:50 in the first period.
Tage Thompson – “I think the boys were ready today. We were fired up. We had a great week of practice, and I think it carried over.”
Coach Cavanaugh - “I thought we were really sharp. Every line – it was just one after another. I think we were able to pin them in and I think [scoring in the first] was a byproduct of wearing them down.”
Tonight’s game and this weekend’s series marks the first time the Huskies have opened a season at home since the 2007-08. They have also now won three-straight home-openers at the XL Center.
The Huskies improved their record against the WCHA to 7-36-0 all-time and 4-9-0 against UAH.
Thompson’s two-goal night was his fourth career multi-goal game and the Huskies are 4-0-0 in those contests. For Richardson, it was his first multi-goal game and his second career multi-point effort.
Letunov’s three assist night matches his career-high and is his 10th multi-point game. The Huskies are 6-4-0 in those games.
The shutout win was the first at home since a 4-0 victory of UMass in the regular season finale in 2015.
Saturday’s match-up with UAH will mark the Huskies debut on WTIC NewsTalk 1080 AM this season. UConn hockey will have 11 games broadcast this season on the UConn IMG Radio Network.
The Huskies went 2-for-4 on the power play and outshot the Chargers, 11-5 over the first 20 minutes.
Thompson had three points in the period, scoring a goal and assisting on the other two. Letunov assisted on both power play goals.
Freshman Alexander Payusov (Montreal, Quebec) recorded his first collegiate point with the secondary assist on Thompson’s goal.
Thompson’s even strength goal matched his season total from last season, when he finished with 14 goals but 13 coming on the power play, a number that led the nation.
The Huskies tacked on two more goals in the second, off the sticks of senior Evan Richardson and Thompson, who picked up his first power play goal on the season.
UConn kept the edge in shots, 14-11, in the second period.
Richardson scored his first goal of the season when the Huskies got an extra skater on the ice on a delayed penalty call. Richardson buried a rebound at the left post for his first on the year.
Thompson buried a wrister in the top left corner from between the circles at 9:47 for his second of the game.
UAH went to back-up goaltender Jordan Uhelski to start the third period and he made eight saves while allowing one goal.
UAH’s Brennan Saulnier was called for a five-minute major and game-misconduct for hitting from behind at 11:17.
Richardson scored his career-high second goal at 16:47 of the period to close out the scoring.
The Huskies continued to outshot the Chargers, posting a 9-5 edge in the period.
The Huskies and Chargers are back at it Saturday afternoon, closing out the weekend set with a 4:05 start. Following this weekend’s opening series, UConn will hit the road for three-straight and eight of the next nine.