Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
HARTFORD, Ct. – 11th-ranked UVM fell 3-1 to UConn on Friday night at the XL Center, snapping a five-game winning streak against the Huskies as the teams split a Hockey East home-and-home series over the last two weekends.
Connecticut evened its record at 10-10-6 (6-6-2 HEA), while the Catamounts fell to 16-8-2 (8-5-1 HEA) with just their second defeat in the last eight games. UConn rookie netminder Adam Huska stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced for the win.
UConn took the lead just 1:43 into the second period after a scoreless first, ending UVM’s streak of eighth consecutive games scoring first. Evan Richardson stole the puck on the half-wall and found Karl El-Mir in the right circle. El-Mir drifted into the slot and snapped a shot that beat Stefanos Lekkas (23 saves) glove side to open the scoring.
Mario Puskarich nearly equalized on an open rebound from the left doorstep but couldn’t muscle the puck over the goal line. Near the midway point of the game during a 4-on-4, Brendan Bradleycreated a turnover and skated in alone but was unable to beat Huska at the left post on his forehand.
Liam Coughlin came inches away from tying the score with 30 seconds left in the middle frame as the Catamounts sprung the sophomore cleanly into the UConn zone. Coughlin’s wrister trickled dangerously through Huska’s pads, but two Husky defensemen were there to clear the puck off the goal line.
Defenseman Johnny Austin added to the Huskies’ lead at 5:37 of the third period as he stole the puck from the Catamounts along the right wing in the neutral zone. Austin deked into the high slot and fired a low shot that beat Lekkas blocker side inside the left post.
After UConn killed off successive 4-on-3 and 5-on-3 power plays to retain its 2-0 lead, Kasperi Ojantakanen found the back of the net on a rebound from the low slot for a 3-0 cushion with 3:32 left.
Connecticut native Craig Puffer drew one back a minute later, drifting inside the right faceoff dot before sending a low shot inside the left post through traffic to deny Huska the shutout. Matt O’Donnell and Jarrid Privitera picked up the assists on Vermont’s lone goal.
The Catamounts pulled Lekkas for an extra skater with 90 seconds to play but UConn sealed the league win. UVM finished the night with a 35-26 edge in shots on goal.
Vermont travels to South Bend, Indiana next weekend for a two-game series with No. 15 Notre Dame on Friday (Feb. 3) at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday (Feb. 4) at 6:30 p.m. Both games will be televised live on NBC Sports Network.