HARTFORD, Conn. - The UConn men's hockey team got 28 saves from junior Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) but a third period goal from Sam Herr sent Notre Dame home with a 2-1 win over the Huskies in game one of a Hockey East weekend series in front of 5,190 at the XL Center Saturday afternoon.
Notre Dame held the Huskies to a season-low 15 shots with just three coming in the third period. Irish goaltender Cal Petersen stopped 14 shots and came up with a big save late on an UConn third period power play to get the win.
After a scoreless first period, the Fighting Irish jumped out to a 1-0 lead to start the second period and needed just 16 seconds to score. A late first period penalty on UConn gave Notre Dame a power play to open the second. The Huskies took the opening period face off and looked headed for an offensive rush but a turnover led to a 4-on-2 breakout for Notre Dame.
Mario Lucia carried up the left wing and dropped a pass to Jordan Gross in the slot who buried one stick side, top-shelf for a 1-0 lead. UConn pulled the game even at 5:05 taking advantage of an extra skater opportunity on a delayed penalty. Senior Patrick Kirtland (Rocky Hill, Conn.) fired on net from just inside the blue line on the right wing where Petersen made the pad save.
The Husky defense and penalty kill had their hands full to end the period, killing off a five minute major as well as a 5-on-3. Sophomore Derek Pratt (Mount Hermon, Mass.) was called for kneeing at mid ice and given a five minute major. Midway through the penalty, the Huskies were called for too many on the ice setting up a five-on-three for Notre Dame. UConn went to work blocking shots and Nichols came up with a pair of big stops to keep the game tied at 1-1. Senior Sam Herr made his way to the right post while Fogarty circled the net to find him cross-ice for a one-timer and a 2-1 lead.
UConn got a power play at 14:43 of the third and got a great look late on the extra man chance as Pauly centered a puck back to Kirtland in front who just got a stick on it but couldn't sneak it past Petersen who got his pads down. The Huskies pulled Nichols in the closing seconds for the extra skater and almost capitalized on an empty net but freshman Joseph Masonius (Spring Lake, N.J.) couldn't get a shot way.
The Fighting Irish held a 30-15 edge on shots and finished 1-for-5 on the power play while killing off all five of UConn's chances with the extra skater.
The Huskies and Fighting Irish will close out their weekend series tomorrow afternoon from Brooklyn, N.Y. Opening face-off is scheduled for 2:35 pm at the Barclays Center.
Post Game Quotes:
Notre Dame Head Coach Jeff Jackson:
"I think that we found the right combination of players last week. I think that it’s just the four defensemen we use fairly consistently and the 5 or 6 forwards, once you get pairs. Just like every other aspect of the game, it’s the chemistry of the group and knowing what the other guy is going to do. It was better on our power play and we had another good effort on the PK."
"Mike is doing a great job and they've got some great young players. They're a deeper team then what we saw a year ago. I expect them to being the hut just like everyone else in this conference, there’s no soft touches in this conference. They’re going to be right in the mix every night with every team in this league. Give them credit, I thought they had some good opportunities and I thought Cal Petersen was the difference there at the end."
UConn Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh:
"I think Notre Dame deserved to win that game. I think they outplayed us and they won a lot of the battles. Probably the most intensity we had throughout the 60 minutes was during the five minute major we had to kill and the 5-on-3. That’s when we showed the most intensity.”
“I told our kids it’s a hard, tough league. You've got to come ready to play all differently styles of hockey. Some games are going to be up and down and some you’re going to have to grind out. Tonight was one of the ones we had to grind out. They won more battles than we did, especially in the third period."
"I thought they made us sloppy. I think they won, what, 34 of the 50 face-offs. That’s a battle in itself right there. If you're chasing the puck all night long, you get tired. When you have the puck, you've got more energy. I think that was probably a great stat of how the game went."