Senior Captain Billy Latta
Oct. 25, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut men's ice hockey team skated to a 2-2 draw against the Union Dutchmen in their home opener at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum Friday evening in Storrs. UConn's senior goaltender Matt Grogan(Gilbert, Ariz.) made a season-best 47 saves on the night keeping Union off the scoreboard after the first period to preserve the tie. The Huskies are now 0-2-1 on the season while the Dutchmen earn their second tie and move to 1-2-2 on the year.
“I was really proud of the effort," commented head coach Mike Cavanaugh. "We made a few adjustments as a team and talked together as a club and I was really excited and proud of the effort that the guys put forth in the last two periods.”
The Dutchmen tallied two goals in the opening period to the scoring on the road. Mark Bennett popped in a loose rebound at 8:20 of the first period to give Union an early lead, 1-0. The Dutchmen struck again for another first period goal to open up a 2-0 lead at 17:24. Mat Bodie received a pass at the top of the point from Kevin Sullivan on the sidewall and released a quick shot on net that Mike Vecchione redirected into the lower left corner of the net past Grogan.
Ryan Tyson(Harleysville, Pa.) had two great chances to get UConn on the board in the final minutes of the first frame. Tyson batted a puck out of the air that nearly bounced into the Union net and put a stick on the rebound, but Union goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos stood tall to deny the attempts in tight.
UConn used a pair of second period goals to tie the game at two apiece. Senior Billy Latta (West Chester, Pa.) picked up his first tally of the season scoring on a break away at 6:17. The senior captain slipped behind the two Union defensemen on the UConn rush in the neutral zone, accepting a crafty pass by linemate Jordan Sims(Toronto, Ontario). Latta flew down the remainder of the ice and deked Sakellaropoulos down to his right side, shoveling the puck into the opening on the short side to cut the lead to one.
Sophomore Tyler Bouchard (Seattle, Wash.) leveled the score at two apiece with 7:25 remaining in the second stanza. Brent Norris(Ottawa, Ontario) gained control of the puck behind the net, feeding Bouchard streaking through the slot, who one-touched the puck past Sakellaropoulos on the blocker side arm for his first goal of the year.
Neither team could find the go-ahead goal in the final twenty minutes of regulation, sending the game to overtime. Midway through the extra session Union threatened to net a goal but Grogan proved more than equal to the task and turned aside a three-on-one opportunity complete with a rebound save to keep the Huskies hopes alive. Neither team could muster another solid scoring chance, settling for a 2-2 tie at the end of overtime.
Grogan was tremendous between the pipes for UConn, posting a season-best 47 saves to give the Huskies the chance to knot the game. Grogan had 42 saves in a loss at Minnesota State last Saturday. Sakellaropoulos finished with 21 stops in the Union cage.
"One of the things I thought we did really well was get some offense, get some pucks to the net," commented Cavanaugh. "We didn’t really have any scoring opportunities in the first period but we generated some offense in the second and third. And when we needed Matt (Grogan), he was terrific in net."
"You have to have a goaltender that is going to make that save he probably shouldn’t make. Matt maybe had to make too many of those in the first period and maybe the second but we will get better defensively."
Tonight's game marked the start of a five-game homestand at Freitas Ice Forum as the Huskies will next play host to Army and Sacred Heart next weekend, November 1st and 2nd in their Atlantic Hockey Association openers. The puck drops at 7:05pm for both games on November 1st and 2nd, respectively.