AMHERST, Mass. – The UConn Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead just three minutes into Friday night’s game at Massachusetts but couldn’t hold the Minutemen at bay as they stormed back in the second and third periods to force a 2-2 tie in a Hockey East match-up at the Mullins Center. The Huskies tied for the fourth time this season and are now 3-2-4 overall and 1-1-1 in the league. UMass is now 2-4-1 overall and 0-2-1 in Hockey East.
The Huskies dominated the first period, outshooting the Minutemen 12-2 and scoring twice in the first 3:10. Sophomores Maxim Letunov (Moscow, Russia) and Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury, Mass.) both scored for the Huskies in the opening minutes to get UConn off to a blazing start.
UMass took a penalty just 30 seconds into the game and Letunov made them pay, burying his third goal on the season and second on the power play. Just 2:15 later, Gendron scored his first of the season, finishing off a two-on-one chance for a 2-0 lead.
The Minutemen flipped the script on UConn in the second and third periods, outshooting the Huskies 22-7 and getting goals from Austin Plevy and Kurt Keats to tie the game and force overtime. UMass finished with a 25-22 edge overall on shots on the night.
After Letunov’s opening power play goal, the Huskies went 0-for-5 the rest of the night with the extra skater. UMass was 1-for-8 on the power play.
Freshman goaltender Adam Huska (Zvolen, Slovakia) made 23 saves for the Huskies while UMass’ Ryan Wischow turned away 20 shots, keeping UConn off the board after the opening two goals.
Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh – “Certainly I was excited with the start of the game. I thought we came out flying in all aspects of the game. The second period was the exact opposite and I thought UMass did to us what we did to them in the first. It’s just disappointing from the standpoint that we played so well in the first period and we didn’t sustain it. We have to do a better job of understanding that in this league, no matter who you play, if you’re up two goals after win that means nothing. You have to go out and win two more periods to come away with two points.”
The all-time series with UMass is still in the Minutemen’s favor at 26-11-3. Since UConn joined Hockey East, the series is tied a 2-2-1.
The Huskies scored a power play goal in their fifth-straight game.
Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) assisted on the Letunov goal, giving him a team-high nine points (4-5-9) on the year.
UConn took a season-high eight penalties in Friday’s game. The Huskies previous high this year was seven against AIC. The Huskies came in to the game the least penalized team in Hockey East, averaging just 11.9 penalty minutes per game.
The Huskies jumped on the Minutemen with two goals in the game’s first 3:10. UConn had a 12-2 edge on shots and killed off both UMass power plays, not allowing any shots on goal.
UConn got a power play just 30 seconds into the game and needed just 22 seconds to open the scoring. Thompson dug a puck out of the left corner and carried behind the net, feeding Letunov in the slot who buried a wrister for his third on the year.
The Huskies made it 2-0 at 3:10 as Gendron finished off a feed from Richardson on a two-on-one with a one-timer, his first goal on the season.
The Minutemen flipped the script on the Huskies in the second period, outshooting UConn 14-4.
UMass cut the Huskies’ lead in half at 7:56, converting on a power play. Ray Pigozzi fired on Huska from close range and the goaltender made the stop but couldn’t control the rebound as Austin Plevy found it and snuck it in for his second on the year.
Defensively, UMass held UConn in check again in the third period, limiting the Huskies to just three shots. The Minutemen got off eight shots on Huska and found the tying goal at 6:25.
UConn’s Karl El-Mir (Montreal, Quebec) had a great look at a scoring at the seven minute mark, bursting up the left wing and ringing the puck off the near side post.
UMass’ Jack Suter got a shot on Huska at the right post but the rookie goaltender couldn’t collect the rebound and Kurt Keats found the puck at the far post, chipping it in for his second on the season and knotting the game at 2-2.
UMass’ Wischow came up a pair of big saves in the overtime, stopping a Gendron chance off a two-on-one, then denying Richardson who whipped a shot from the slot off the rebound.
The Huskies held a 3-1 edge on shots in the overtime session.
The Huskies will close out a season-long five-game road swing next week when they head to Ohio State for a weekend series Friday and Saturday, November 11 and 12.
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