HARTFORD, Conn. – The UConn men’s hockey team got a pair of goals from sophomore Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) and 24 saves from freshman Adam Huska (Zvolen, Slovakia) to come away with a 3-1 win over Massachusetts in a Hockey East match-up from the XL Center Friday night. The Huskies close out the first half of the season at 6-6-6 overall and 4-3-2 in Hockey East with the win.
UConn freshman Benjamin Freeman (Falmouth, Maine) scored his first collegiate goal in the win, giving the Huskies a 1-0 first period lead. Thompson made it 2-0 in the third period with his first of the night, burying a wrist shot, unassisted.
UMass cut the lead in half at 17:08 in the third period on a power play goal by Steven Iacobellis, his third on the season. The Huskies put the icing on the win as Thompson put home an empty-netter from mid-ice for his second on the night.
The Minutemen, now 4-9-2 overall and 2-7-1 in Hockey East, held a 25-19 advantage on shots and were 1-for-6 on the power play. Freshman goaltender Ryan Wishow made 16 saves in taking the loss.
Huska made eight saves in each period on Friday night to pick up the win and remain unbeaten in Hockey East play at 4-0-1. The Huskies finished 0-for-4 on the power play.
Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh – “We talked earlier this week about finishing the first half on a high note, and playing really well for sixty minutes. I thought we played really well for forty-and-change. I thought our first and second period were pretty tight, we played well, and then in the third – taking penalties: that didn’t help. I think we took two penalties in the third period. Special teams – our power play didn’t bring a lot of momentum either. I think we had one chance on our power plays. We lost a little momentum there, and UMass came hard. I credit them; I knew they would. I am proud of the guys for holding on and finding a way to win the game. It’s a great way to finish our first half. We’ve played four complete series in Hockey East, we split with BU and Notre Dame, and we’ve been able to take three or four points from both UMass and Lowell, so that’s a pretty good start for our team in the first half.”
UConn finished the season series taking three of four points with UMass. The Minutemen still lead the all-time series, 26-12-3. UConn has the edge, 3-2-1, since joining Hockey East in 2014-15.
Thompson finished the first half leading the team in points (20) and goals (12). He has had at least a point in 11 of the Huskies 18 games this season.
Freeman leads all UConn freshmen in scoring with eight points on a goal and seven assists.
Sophomore Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury, Mass.) picked-up an assist on the Freeman goal and has a point in his last three-straight games. He leads all defensemen with eight points (2g/6a).
UConn potted the first goal of the night at 7:38 off the stick of Freeman. Sophomore Maxim Letunov (Moscow, Russia) carried up the left wing and beat the defense to the front of the net. Wischow made the initial stop but the rebound found Freeman’s stick and he buried a slap shot for his first collegiate goal.
Shots were even at 8-8 in the first period and were 0-for-2 on the power play.
Thompson made it 2-0 UConn at 3:40 of the second. He blasted a shot from the high point that was blocked. Thompson collected the loose puck and found some open space in the slot, ripping home a wicked wrist shot for his 11th on the season.
UMass held an 8-7 edge on shots in the second period. The Minutemen went 0-for-2 on the power play and UConn went 0-for-1 with the extra skater.
The Minutemen ended the shutout bid and cut the lead in half with just under three minutes to play. Iacobellis buried a one-time attempt off a feed from Austin Plevy at the right post to pull his team within 2-1 on his third goal of the season.
UMass pulled the goaltender with just over a minute left and UConn held the Minutemen at bay. Thompson collected a puck at center ice and was able to fire into the empty net with four ticks left to ice the win with his 12th on the season.
The Huskies will return to the ice at the Desert Hockey Classic. The Huskies will face St. Cloud State on December 30th and either Arizona State or Brown on December 31st.