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Latta Power Play Goal Lifts Huskies Past UMass, 2-1

Huskies Celebrate Win Over UMass

Dec. 30, 2013

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STORRS, Conn. – Senior Billy Latta (West Chester, Pa.) scored a power play goal with 5:04 remaining in the third period to lift the University of Connecticut to a 2-1 win over the University of Massachusetts in the consolation game of the UConn Hockey Classic at the XL Center in Hartford.  The Huskies improve to 7-6-2 with the win while UMass falls to 6-13-3.

Latta's game-winner is his fifth goal of the season and his fourth power play tally.  Freshman goaltender Robby Nichols (Dallas, Texas) got his third start of the season and turned away a career-best 37 shots to notch his second win. 

UMass controlled play in the early going, but Nichols made 19 first period stops to keep the game deadlocked. The Minuteman nearly found the back of the net midway through the period when a loose puck bounced to the right side of the goal and an unchecked Trevor Power one-touched a shot from close range. Nichols recovered quickly and slid to the back door to make the save.

The Huskies’ best chance came on a hard fore-check by junior Trevor Gerling (Seattle, Wash.) who pressured the UMass defense and forced a turnover just inside the Minutemen’s blueline.  Gerling collected the puck and drove low left to the bottom of the circles. The junior chipped a shot to the short side that clanged off the post and away from net, but Gerling’s efforts also drew an UConn power play. UConn was unable to take advantage of the extra skater and UMass earned a power play of their own in the waning minutes of the first frame as freshman Ryan Segalla (Boston, Mass.) was tabbed for cross-checking, but the Huskies killed off the penalty in the opening minutes of the second period. 

After a back-and-forth second period, UConn junior Cody Sharib (Needham, Mass.) nearly broke the deadlocked score midway through the stanza on a 2-on-1 rush, but his shot from just inside the left circle beamed the crossbar and ricocheted out of play. UMass responded with a scoring play of its own in which Brendan Gracel found Ray Pigozzi alone in front. Pigozzi tried to cut back to the center of the net and stuff the puck home but Nichols held strong with the right pad and denied the attempt. 

UConn broke the stalemate just 26 seconds into the third period to end the scoring drought.  Junior Ryan Tyson (Harleysville, Pa.) finished off a rebound in front for his second goal of the season. Sophomore Joey Farriss (Novi, Mich.) and junior Jacob Poe (Arlington, Texas) garnered assists on the score.

UMass answered to knot the game at one apiece at 9:12 when Steven Guzzo finished off a rebound from an Emerson Auvenshine shot.  Colin Shea was credited with the second assist on the scoring play. 

Latta delivered his second game-winner of the season with 5:04 remaining in the contest. An UMass hooking penalty gave UConn a late power play and the Huskies took advantage. Senior Jordan Sims (Toronto, Ontario) dished to freshman Joona Kunnas (Vantaa, Finland) down by the left dot. Kunnas found a wide open Latta on the right point, sending a pass to the top of the circles that Latta one-time blasted into the lower right portion of the net for the go-ahead tally.

The Minutemen pulled Mastalerz with 56 second remaining but the UConn defense prevented an equalizer in the closing minutes of the contest.  Mastalerz made 25 saves in taking the loss.

UMass outshot the Huskies 38-27 on the night but finished 0-3 on the power play.  The Huskies went 1-3 with the extra skater.

In the 2013 UConn Hockey Classic Championship game Monday night, #8 ranked Quinnipiac posted a 5-0 win over Sacred Heart to win the title for the second time.  Quinnipiac out shot Sacred Heart 54-12 on the night and allowed just three shots over the final two periods.  Sacred Heart goaltender Alex Vazzano maked 49 saves and over the two games stopped 78 of the 83 shots he faced and was named the tournament MVP.

Joining Vazzano on the All-Tournament team was Latta, Sacred Heart's David Iacono and Quinnipiac's Kellen Jones, Tim Clifton and Jordan Samuels-Thomas.

The Huskies are back in action hosting RIT in an Atlantic Hockey series January 3rd and 4th at the Freitas Ice Forum.