BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - UConn freshman Spencer Naas (Minnetonka, Minn.) scored the game-winner at 10:13 of the third period and sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) made 37 saves as the Huskies knocked-off Union College, 3-2, to advance to the championship game of the Frozen Holiday Classic from Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. The Huskies will take on fellow Hockey East member and No. 7 nationally ranked UMass Lowell in Sunday's title game at 6:00 pm.
The Huskies (4-8-4) churned out a season-high 36 shots and battled back from a 2-1 deficit in the second period to pick up the win. UConn picked up the program's first win against Union in the 11th meeting between the two school, beating the defending national champions after skating to ties with the Dutchmen in each of the last three meetings. The Huskies are now 2-0-0 this season when playing at Webster Bank Arena and are now 3-1-1 all-time in the Bridgeport arena.
UConn jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first period as junior Patrick Kirtland (Rocky Hill, Conn.) buried his third goal on the year. Kirtland got the Huskies out of their zone with a feed through the neutral zone to senior Jacob Poe (Arlington, Texas) along the right boards. Poe carried into the zone and centered a pass back to Kirtland who buried a wrist shot top-shelf, stick side past Colin Stevens at 16:35.
Union won the special teams battle in the second period, scoring on two-straight power plays just 1:09 apart. Daniel Ciampini tied the game at 1-1 just 2:28 into the second, stuffing home a rebound right in front of Nichols for his 10th goal of the season. Kirtland was sent off for hooking at 3:24 and the Dutchmen took a 2-1 lead just 13 seconds later as Mike Vecchione buried a wrist shot from the right circle through traffic and past a screened Nichols for his eighth on the year.
The Huskies found the tying goal late in the second as senior Ryan Tyson (Harleysville, Pa.) created a turnover deep in the Union zone and junior Joey Ferriss (Novi, Mich.) collected the loose puck just inside the blue line. Ferriss found a charging Cody Sharib (Needham, Mass.) who shoveled a back-hander through Stevens' five-hole to knott the game at 2-2 at the 18:03 mark.
Strong pressure on the puck deep in the Union zone, this time by freshman Corey Ronan (Franlin, Mass.) who created a turnover behind the Union net. Ronan was able to get the puck to classmate Kasperi Ojantakanen (Helsinki, Finland) in the left circle. Ojantakanen just got a pass away to fellow rookie Naas in the slot who buried a one-timer past Stevens for the game-winner. It was Naas' fourth goal of the season, leading all UConn rookies.
The Huskies finished the night 0-for-6 on the power play while Union went 2-for-6 with the extra skater. Nichols made 14 of his 37 saves in the second period.
In the first game Saturday afternoon, the River Hawks defeated Sacred Heart, 5-1, to move into the championship game. The Pioneers and Dutchmen will meet in the consolation game at 3 pm Sunday afternoon.
Sunday's games will be televised live on the CPTV Sports Network.