An Inspirational Team For An Ispirational Season

Posted by Josh on June 29, 2013 in Event, Hockey, Sports |

The 2012-2013 season was the best season by far in a long time for UConn hockey, but also a very trying season as well.  only five games into the season, UConn hadn’t won a single game, but their head coach, Bruce Marshall, who had been so for 25 seasons, took a medical leave of absence.  A few months later, Marshall resigned as head coach, due to health problems.  He finished his time as head coach with 332 wins.  David Berard became the interim head coach, and what he did with UConn Hockey was amazing.  He gave UConn the kind of season that they could have had every year previous to that.

Bruce Marshall was the head coach of UConn for the first six games, and I thought UConn was going to be terrible.  My family went to the exhibition game, against York of Canada and UConn stunk.  Their stamina was very low, and once again, their passing was not very good.  They did tie, 3-3, but gave up the tying goal with 0.8 seconds to go!  In their season opener, they played equally bad.  Just a year after they had been No. 3 in the nation on the power play, they scored only one power-play goal on eight chances in a 4-1 loss at UMass.  In their next game, the played at Holy Cross, a team they had a season sweep of last year.  However, once again UConn’s offense struggled in a 2-1 heartbreaking loss.  The next game was their home opener, against No. 8 Union.  As all my blog-readers know, UConn played a great game in an unexpected 2-2 tie.  I thought that they had finally found their rhythm, but guess again.  Their next games were at Niagara, and they got shutout in both games 3-0, and 5-0!  This pushed their record 0-4-1, and I thought that they had the worst offense and team!

However, that week, Bruce Marshall took a medical leave of absence, and that is when UConn changed, since David Berard became the head coach.  The very next game, UConn exploded for five goals in a row, en route to a 5-3 to victory over Sacred Heart, who had the worst defense in the nation.  The next game, to prove their change in playing, the beat Hockey East foe Merrimack, 3-1!  They came into the third period tied at 1-1, but scored early on off a turn-over, and added an empty-netter to seal the feel-good win.  However, the very next game, they met league-foe Bentley, with whom they had had bad luck against in recent years.  Despite this, the Huskies battled Bentley to a 0-0 tie going into the final period, before scoring a goal to take a 1-0 lead.  Bentley then responded by scoring three goals for a 3-1 win.

The next weekend, UConn was going to be challenged to see how good of a team they really were, since they were going up against defending conference champions, Air Force.  For all the readers of my blog that read UConn Hockey Weekend Recap: UConn vs. Air Force, you know that UConn incredibly swept Air Force with 2-1, and 3-2 OT victories.  The 3-2 overtime victory occurred at the XL Center in Hartford, where a record crowd of 2000 people attended the game.

The next weekend, however, UConn played Canisius.  Canisus’s goaltender was Tony Capianco, who was the hottest goalie in the league at that time.  UConn out shot Canisus by a large margin in both games, but was swept by Canisus with 3-0, and 3-1 losses, due to Capianco’s great goal tending games, to drop UConn’s record to 4-7-1.  Once again, as all my blog-readers that read my post UConn Vs. Army; Huskies Can’t Afford To Lose know that UConn battled Army to a 2-2 tie, to finish the first half of the year 4-7-2, and 9th in the league.

After Christmas break, UConn Hockey experienced a change.  Matt Grogan became the starting goalie, and led UConn to success.  Grogan helped right away, leading UConn to take second place in the UConn Hockey Classic, and a sweep of Penn State, but Bartus won game two of the Penn State series.  UConn’s offense also stepped up, in taking a 7-2 win over AIC, in the first round of the hockey classic, but fell short for Grogan, 3-1 against Minnesota State in the Championship game.  UConn rebounded though with a 4-3 and 4-1 wins over Penn State, to prove their team improvement.

The next weekend, UConn took on their league foe, the then ranked no.18 Robert Morris.  The Huskies held a disadvantage, in never having beaten RMU, and RMU being ranked in the top-20.  Despite this, the Huskies took a 2-0 lead after two periods, on goals from Harris and Gerling.  Despite this lead, RMU brought it within one, but Ambrosie scored to bring the Bruins lead to 3-1.  A short-handed goal by Cody Wydo cut the lead to 3-2, but UConn hung on for a 3-2 win over a ranked team, and a league foe.  The next game was also against No.18 RMU.  After the first period ended, the Huskies led 2-1, on goals from Sims and Latta, his first.  RMU took the 3-2 lead, with Bartus in net, but Sims scored again to tie the game going into the final period.  Late in the third period though, RMU scored the heart breaker, to take a 4-3 win over UConn and Bartus.  Even so, the Huskies did great against the 18th best team in the country.

The next two games were against Mercyhurst, at home.  The Huskies surprisingly jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Trevor Gerling, and Tyler Bouchard.  The Huskies, early in the second, jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a goal from Sharib and one again from Bouchard, who tipped home a Jacob Poe shot.  But late in the second, with 19 seconds left to be exact, Mercyhurst got on the board, to make it 4-1 after two periods.  Despite this big lead, Mercyhurst made it close, opening the period with two goals to close the gap to one.  A few minutes later, Brant Harris scored on a centering pass from Sean Ambrosie to make it a 5-3 game.  With two minutes to go in the game, the Lakers scored again, to make it 5-4, but Grogan and the Huskies shut the door for the 5-4 victory.  The next night was very different.  The Lakers scored 2 power-play goals, and the Huskies took thirteen penalties, in a tough 5-0 loss for Bartus and UConn since all the bounces penalty-wise went Mercyhurst’s way.  The only fun part to watch (I watched this game live on the computer) was that Brant Harris was in an NHL-type of fight with a Laker.

The Huskies hoped to play better Hockey, since their next game was at No.2 Quinnipiac.  In the first, the Bobcats took a 1-0 lead, but the Huskies were matching their stride.  In the second, the Huskies hard and gritty play payed off.  The Huskies did everything right on defense, and then Billy Latta’s breakaway goal tied the game going into the final period.  Latta, from a pass from Sims, Latta took the puck on a breakaway on Adam Hartzell, deked to the backhand, and scored.  In the third, Grogan was on his game, stopping two breakaways.  On one breakout, he made a toe-save, but on another, he laid flat on his belly, stretched his pad to the other post, to make the great stop.  However, the Huskies’ great effort for an upset of the second-best team in the country fell short, when the Bobcats scored a heart breaker, with 4 minutes left in the game on a bad rebound, but still could boast such a great effort against a ranked team.

Three days later, the Huskies played the AIC Yellow Jackets on their home ice.  At the end of one, the game was surprisingly tied at 0.  In the second, the Huskies broke the tie, with a Billy Latta goal, to go up 1-0, but AIC would tie it up before the end of two.  In the third, early on Tom Janoz blasted the game winner from the blue line.  A rebound came all the way to the blue line, for Janoz to blast it home.  Harris added insurance with another goal, shooting the puck off the Jackets goalie for a 3-1 lead.  The Huskies would win by this score, in front of an almost sellout crowd.  The next night, the Huskies played at AIC, and I watched this game on the computer.  After another scoreless first period, the Huskies fell behind after two periods, 1-0, and were also being outshot.  In the third period, the Huskies started playing very well, and eventually tied the game with 5 minutes to go.  Jacob Poe shot the puck from the blue line that was tipped through the legs of Ben Meisner by Cody Sharib.  Despite more great chances, the final score ended 1-1, as the Huskies took three of four points against AIC.

The next weekend UConn played at RIT.  In the first game, the Huskies used a balancing scoring attack to build a big lead, as three different scorers, Evan Carrie, Trevor Gerling, and Tyler Cooke, his first career goal, to build a 3-0 lead in the third period.  Grogan’s shutout hopes were destroyed when RIT scored a power-play goal with seven minutes left, but the Huskies still won, 3-1, and won at RIT for the first time since 2007!  However, the next game was very different.  After a scoreless first, RIT scored four second period goals against Bartus.  Sims got one back, in the third, but RIT still won, 7-1.

The next week, the Huskies were scheduled to play Bentley.  However, a blizzard cancelled these two games, and moved them to Sunday and Monday, away, then home.  In this game at Bentley, the Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Falcons would make it 2-1 later on.  However, Brant Harris then added two power-play goals to give UConn the surprising 4-1 win.  The next day was at UConn.  Due to the short notice not many people showed up to the game.  The huskies scored first on a Billy Latta Power-Play goal, and Kyle Huson scored his second of his career, and second of the series.  Huson received a pass, to the wide open side of the goal and beat Brandon Komm for a 2-0 lead.  Later on in the first, a Husky player fired a shot that bounced wide of the net, hit the boards, and bounced out in front of the other side of the net.  Brad Smith got the rebound a shot the puck wide, but it a Falcons skate and deflected in for a 3-0 lead!  Still in first Patrick Kirtland scored on a rebound to end the first with UConn having a huge 4-0 lead.  Kirtland picked up the rebound and flung the puck top corner on Komm.  The big win continued in the second, as Shawn Pauly scored on the breakout, and Evan Carrie continued his surprising season with a goal as well for a 6-0 lead at the end of two.  In the third, the Huskies snuck another goal through the pads of the Falcon’s goalie, followed by Joey Ferris’ first career goal; Ferris received a pass and shot the puck into the side of the net for an 8-0 lead.  The Huskies went on for the 9-0 win, and Grogan got his first shutout of his career.

The next game at Holy Cross was a disaster.  The Crusaders scored early on as they took the puck away from Grogan behind the net, and scored.  Sims deflected home a Brant Harris shot to tie the game, but Holy Cross would go on for the 4-1 victory.  After that game things really got roaring.  The Huskies played at Holy Cross and won 4-1, reversing the sore and winning; something most people thought they couldn’t do.  The next weekend series was at Army.  In the first game, the first period was wild. The Huskies led after one period by a score of 3-2.  The game was low-scoring after that, and UConn won 4-3, as Brant Harris and Shawn Pauly scored two each.  In the next game, UConn had a 2-0 lead after one period.  However, Army came back to tie the game only for the Huskies to make it 3-2.  The Black Knights than responded with tying the game at 3-3, but UConn still had a 4-3 lead going into the final period.  This time, the Huskies added on, making it 5-3, and an empty-netter sealed a sweep, and a 6-3 win.  Ambrosie had three points, and Grogan still had only one league loss on the season.

The next series was the final series- against Sacred Heart.  The first game was the Huskies senior night, where Alex Gerke, Garret Bartus, Evan Carrie, Tom Janoz, and Sean Ambrosie were honored in a pregame ceremony.  I went to this game with my friend Alex and his father and sister Ariel, and my dad and cousin.  By the way, SHU was the worst team in the country.  In the first though, it looked like UConn was the worst team in the country, which were far from, as SHU built a 2-0 lead, one goal on a turnover 59 seconds in, and on a centering pass.  Towards the end of the period, the Huskies made it 2-1, on a Brant Harris goal to go into the second down a goal.  In the second, the Huskies finally tied it, as Skyler Smutek shot the puck on goal, and the puck deflected in off a pioneer player, to tie the game at 2-2, and the more than sellout crowd went berserk!  Only a few minutes later, after some great Husky chances, Cody Sharib received a great pass and shot the puck over the pad of the SHU goalie for a 3-2 lead, and this was the score at the end of two.  UConn added to this lead when Sean Ambrosie stuffed home a puck on the front doorstep to make it 4-2.  But later on, SHU made it 4-3, and then they scored a shorthanded goal, with under five minutes left, during a 5 minute major!  No one scored in overtime, so it was a very disappointing tie.  The next day was the regular season finale, and UConn needed a win to finish in fourth and skip the first round of the AHA playoffs.  After a scoreless first, UConn scored with seconds left in period 2, to make 1-0.  In the third, the Huskies scored three more goals, en route to a 4-0 win, a bye of the AHA First Round, and a 4th place finish, all in a season where the head coach was replaced and many changes had to be made, as UConn finished the regular season with a 17-13-4 record.  So, UConn, Niagara, Holy Cross and Air Force sat out the first round (the top four).

In the AHA First Round, Robert Morris hosted Sacred Heart, Mercyhurst hosted Army, Canisius hosted Bentley, and RIT hosted AIC.  Robert Morris defeated Sacred Heart 4-1 in game 1, and then eliminated them with a 6-1 win.  Mercyhurst defeated Army narrowly, 3-1, then eliminated them 5-2.  Canisius blanked Bentley 4-0, and then came from behind for a 2-1 win, and RIT narrowly beat AIC 2-1, and then squashed them 7-1.  In the quarterfinals, RMU played UConn, Niagara hosted RIT, Air Force hosted Canisius, and Holy Cross hosted Mercyhurst.

I went to game one of UConn’s series with Robert Morris with my dad.  In the first UConn was RMU like white on rice, leading big time in shots but couldn’t score a goal, and we both agreed that this was a very different UConn team, as they were playing pro-like hockey, the best we’ve ever seen them play, as Coach Berard obviously did something good. However, Robert Morris still got on the board first on a rebound to make it a 1-0 game.  Only a few minutes later though, UConn earned a power-play, and scored on a neat passing set-up, that was shoved in by Brant Harris to tie the game at the end of one period.  The Huskies would then score two goals 50 seconds apart, to make it 3-1, at the end of two periods.  Grogan made a great glove save at the buzzer to keep the game this score.  Evan Carrie would score an empty-netter to seal a 4-1 win for UConn, and a 1-0 series lead.  The next game, after falling behind 1-0 after one period, the Huskies scored a goal b Trevor Gerling, and then Shawn Pauly and Joey Ferris scored 16 seconds apart for the 3-1 lead.  After RMU scored to make it 3-2 in the third, Gerling net his second of the night on a shot into the top right corner.  RMU would make 4-3, but Grogan would make some big saves, and Harris cleared the puck in the final 5 seconds for a 4-3 win and a series sweep, eliminating RMU and propelling the Huskies to the semifinals.

In the other quarterfinal series, Niagara played RIT.  In the first game, Niagara won 3-2, and then eliminated the tigers with a 2-1 overtime win.  Air Force hosted Canisius, and lost to the griffins 4-3, and then by the same score in overtime the next night, to get eliminated.  Holy Cross then hosted Mercyhurst, and HC lost game 1 3-2, but won by the same score the next game, only to be eliminated by the Lakers with a 1-0 loss.  This sent Niagara to play Canisius, and UConn to play Mercyhurst in the semifinals.  Canisus somehow beat Niagara, who very rarely lost a game in the league this season and was ranked in the nation, 5-3, and then the Huskies played the Lakers.  Gerling scored on a shot that just squeezed through the Laker’s goalie’s pads, to make it 1-0.  In the second, period the Lakers took the lead on two goals, and then added two more in the third, one an empty-netter, to sadly eliminate the Huskies.

Despite UConn’s bad-luck loss in the semifinals to end their great season, which two of the Laker’s goals were tip-ins; they accomplished so much during a season full of turmoil.  Dave Berard replaced Bruce Marshall as head coach, as Berard, led UConn into the semifinals, a top four finish in the League, and gave UConn 19 wins, 42 points, and their first winning season since 2000, when they were league champions.  Unfortunately, Berard was replaced by Mike Cavanagh, former assistant coach at BC, but now UConn has had the kind of season they needed to be respected, and to move forward to be a great hockey team. Below are some of the greatest goals, memories, and moments of UConn’s 2012-2013 memorable season.

 

 

 

Gerling Ties The Playoff Game

Gerling Ties The Playoff Game

 

Harris give UConn the Lead Over No. 8 Union

Harris give UConn the Lead Over No. 8 Union

 

Team Celebration After Quarter-Final Series Win Over RMU

Team Celebration After Quarter-Final Series Win Over RMU

Smutek Ties the Game Vs. SHU

Smutek Ties the Game Vs. SHU

Gerke Vs. RMU

Gerke Vs. RMU

Ferris Vs. RMU Playoffs

Ferris Vs. RMU Playoffs

Ferris Playoff Goal

Ferris Playoff Goal

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