AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts used a late three-goal rally in the second period to erase a UConn first period lead and deal the Huskies a 4-2 Hockey East loss Friday night at the Mullins Center.
The Huskies see their three-game win streak stopped as they fall to 6-11-2 overall and 4-7-1 in the league. UMass improves to 8-6-0 and 3-3-0 in Hockey East. The two teams will hit the ice in Hartford at the XL Center for a rematch on Tuesday night.
UConn got a pair of first period power play goals from sophomores Alexander Payusov (Montreal, Quebec) and Benjamin Freeman (Falmouth, Maine) to lead 2-1 after the first period. UMass’ lone first period goal came off the stick of Josh Couoturier.
The Minutemen titled the ice in the second period with an 18-5 edge on shots and took control late in the period putting together a three-goal run over a span of 1:18 to go up 4-2. Goals by George Mika, Jack Suter and Mitchell Chaffee fueled the second period charge for the Minutemen.
The Huskies held the shot edge in the third, 11-6, and pulled goaltender Adam Huska (Zvolen, Slovakia) with just over three minutes to play in the period but couldn’t crack sophomore Ryan Wischow who finished with 25 saves. Huska stopped 27 shots in taking the loss.
The Huskies got three power play chances in the first and took advantage with a pair of goals. UConn got their first chance just seven seconds into the game and opened the scoring at 1:06. Payusov buried a one-timer chance on the right hash marks off a pretty feed from Maxim Letunov (Moscow, Russia) circling to the back of the net.
UMass answered back in quick fashion, scoring at 2:40. The Minutemen got a break-out chance and Austin Plevy sent a cross-ice pass to Couturier in the left circle who snapped one past Huska for his second on the year, tying it at 1-1.
UConn answered with another power play tally, coming at 14:08. The puck cycled to Joseph Masonius (Spring Lake, N.J.) at the top of the left circle. Masonius put one on net through traffic with Freeman camped in front to get the deflection past Wishow for a 2-1 lead on his second of the season.
UMass turned up the offensive pressure in the second, outshooting UConn 18-5 in the period, and it paid off late with the Minutemen putting three on the board in the last 1:57.
The Minutemen run started at 18:03 as Mika wound up a big slap shot from just inside the blue line to beat Huska to the low stick side, tying the game at 2-2. UMass made it 3-2 just 29 seconds later on Sutter’s first of the season. Brett Boeing centered up a pass to Sutter from behind the net and he stuffed on just inside the post.
UMass made it 4-2 at 19:22 as Chaffee closed the run by burying his sixth of the season. Ivan Chukarov took a dish from Chaffee and fired off Huska with Chaffee there to clean up the rebound on the open net.
UConn killed off a pair of penalties in the third period and put offensive pressure on Wischow late, pulling Huska with 3:29 left for the extra skater. The Huskies got four shots on goal in the closing minutes, but couldn’t crack the netminder.
Coach Cav post game after a 4-2 loss at UMass pic.twitter.com/zYdOK7MSAa
— UConn Men's Hockey (@UConnMHOC) December 2, 2017
UMass now leads the all-time series, 27-12-3. The two teams will face-off again on Tuesday night, December 5 at the XL Center.
Payusov’s eighth goal of the season give him a goal in two-straight since returning from a nine-game absence (inj.). Senior Jesse Schwartz (Toronto, Ontario) picked-up the second assist on the Payusov goal making it a career-best four-straight games with a point.
Freeman’s first period goal snapped a 16-game drought without a goal dating back to the season opener at Maine.