Dec. 29, 2013
HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Connecticut men's hockey team suffered a 3-0 defeat to Sacred Heart in the opening round of the 21st Annual UConn Hockey Classic Sunday night at the XL Center in downtown Hartford. The Huskies also dropped a pair of Atlantic Hockey Association points to the Pioneers with the loss.
The Huskies will take on the University of Massachusetts in the consolation game of the tournament on Monday afternoon at 4:05 pm. The Pioneers will face the #8 ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats in the title game with the puck set to drop at approximately 7:05 pm. The Bobcats and Minutmen skated to a 2-2 tie in the first game on Sunday with Quinnipiac advancing with a shootout win (2-0).
Sunday's loss is the second time the Huskies have been shut out this season (3-0 vs. Bentley, Nov. 15th) as they drop to 6-6-2 overall and 5-3-1 in the AHA. The Pioneers got 29 saves from r-sophomore Alex Vazzano as they earned their first shutout win in three seasons (4-0 vs. Holy Cross, March 12, 2010).
The two teams skated to a scoreless first period with UConn holding a 9-7 lead on shots. The Huskies had several early chances but couldn't solve Vazzano in the opening minutes. UConn finished the night 0-5 on the power play and came up empty on their first two chances in the frist.
The Pioneers (5-12-0, 4-7-0 AHA) struck for three goals in the second period, the first coming at the 3:00 mark. Freshman Coltyn Hansen picked-up the game-winner and his first collegiate goal, taking a pass from Spencer Graboski to the left post and tucking one in.
Senior captain Chad Filteau made it 2-0 Sacred Heart at 12:31, scoring with assists to Graboski and Hansen on the play. Hansen dug a puck out of the corner and fed a centering pass to Graboski who flicked one on net. Filteau cleaned-up the loose puck rebound for a 2-0 lead.
The Pioneers completed the second period trifecta at the 18:10 mark as junior Ben Lake buried his fourth of the season. Lake took a feed from Brian Sheehan in the slot, stopped on a dime and ripped a shot top-shelf for a 3-0 Pioneer lead.
Vazzano posted 14 of his 29 saves in the third period to keep the Huskies in check and preserve the shutout win.
UConn finished with a 29-26 edge in shots. Senior Matt Grogan (Gilbert, Ariz.) made 23 saves in taking the loss.
The tournament concludes Monday from the XL Center. Quinnipiac can win the UConn Hockey Classic title for the second time, taking home the hardware in 2008. The Pioneers are playing the Classic for the third time and will make their second championship game appearance, losing to the host Huskies in 1999.