AMHERST, Mass. – The UConn men’s hockey team dropped their second-straight Hockey East series falling to UMass Saturday night, 5-3, from the Mullins Center in Amherst. The Minutemen were led by sophomore Dominic Trento who scored a pair of goals and added an assist to lead UMass to the weekend sweep and four point in the standings.
The loss is UConn’s fourth-straight and drops the Huskies to 3-6-0 overall and 1-5-0 in Hockey East. UConn got goals from junior Evan Richardson (Nanaimo, British Columbia) and freshmen Max Letunov (Moscow, Russia) and Joseph Masonius (Spring Lake, N.Y.) in the loss. Sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) made 27 saves.
Like Friday night, the Minutemen used a quick start to jump out in front of the Huskies. UMass posted back-to-back goals in the first two minutes, the first coming just 46 seconds in off the stick of Shane Walsh. Ray Pigozzi fed a pass to Walsh on the right wing on a break-out and he ripped a wrist shot from the circle that beat Nichols stick side, off the post and in for a 1-0 lead.
UMass went up 2-0 at the 2:00 minute mark as Kurt Keats picked-up his first goal of the year. Nichols got a stop in front but couldn’t collect the rebound with Keats at the right post to bat a bouncing puck in. The Huskies cut the lead in half at 12:06, scoring their first power play goal in their last 15 chances with the extra skater.
Masonius fed Richardson at the point who whipped a wrist shot that found its way through traffic to beat Renyard. For Richardson it was his second on the season while Letunov was credited with an assist, his team-leading seventh.
UMass kicked their lead back to two goals with just under five minutes left in the second. An UConn turnover at the blue line led to an odd man rush for the Minutemen. Austin Plevy carried the puck up ice on a three-on-one and fired on Nichols. The rebound found the stick of Dominic Trento who put home the rebound for his fifth goal on the season and a 3-1 lead at 15:11.
The Huskies were all over UMass in the third period, outshooting the Minutemen 21-7 in the period, but found themselves down 4-1 just over four minutes in. Trento picked up his second goal of the night, finishing off a one-timer from the right circle off a feed from Plevy.
UConn didn’t wilt and cut the lead in half at 13:53 as Letunov earned a penalty shot and converted. Coming off the bench on a change, Letunov took a pass up the middle of the ice from Masonius and was free on a break-away. He was pulled down on the play by Marc Hetnik and awarded a penalty shot. The freshman swooped in and buried it for his team-leading sixth goal on the season.
UMass pushed their lead back to three goals late, as Plevy buried a shot from the slot off a centering pass by Dennis Kravchenko to make it 5-2 at 17:10. The Huskies got a late goal from Masonius with 47 seconds left and pulled Nichols for the extra skater but couldn’t cut the lead any further, falling 5-3.
The shots were dead even at 32-32 as UMass goaltender Nic Renyard made 29 stops to earn his second victory on the weekend. The Huskies were 1-for-3 with the extra skater while UMass was 0-for-2.
The Huskies return home and to non-conference play on Tuesday night when they play host to Army at the XL Center at 7:05 pm. The game will be carried on the UConn IMG Sports Network and can be heard on WTIC NewsTalk 1080 AM.
The UConn Hockey Coach Cav Radio Show will be broadcast Monday night from Dave & Buster’s in Manchester. Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh and guests will join host Rich Coppola from 7-8 pm on WTIC NewsTalk 1080 AM.
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