In UConn’s last season in the AHA, before they move to Hockey East and the XL Center, the head coach changed from Marshall and Berard to Mike Cavanaugh. It was very disappointing that they changed coaches, but it happened. UConn started their season at No. 18 Minnesota State, but was swept in the series, with 2-1 and 6-1 losses. They then went home to play their home opener against Union. After falling behind 2-0 after one period, they rallied to tie the game up in the second period. The Huskies got on the board with a break-away goal by Billy Latta, and he went to the backhand to beat the goalie to the right. The huskies then tied the game when Tyler Bouchard fired home the rebound off a wrap-around try, and the game end in a 2-2 draw. The next game was the Huskies AHA Opener versus Army. They scored two goals early in the first period, only 16 seconds apart, to go up 2-0 after one period. In the second, Army would get on the board, but Trevor Gerling would respond to give UConn a 3-1 lead. Army would close the gap to 3-2 with another goal, but a power-play goal by Billy Latta would seal the 4-2 win. This was Mike Cavanaugh’s first win as head coach.
The next day, UConn played Sacred Heart in non-confrence action. UConn scored early when Patrick Kirtland stole the puck in front of the net and fired it home; UConn made it 2-0 with power-play goal not too long after, and the first period ended with the Huskies leading 2-1. The Huksies then went up 3-1 in the second with a goal by Latta. After the Pioneer goalie saved a Husky shot, the rebound came to Latta who shot the puck over the goalie’s pad, and into the net. Sacred Heart responded to make it 3-2, but Latta scored again, this time by means of a slap-shot to seal the 4-2 win. The next game was up against Holy Cross. After a scoreless first period, the Huskies took a 2-1 lead out of the second period, with goals from Joey Ferris and Joonas Kuunas. This however, didn’t stop Holy Cross from taking a 3-2 lead early in the third. However, the Hukies rallied and escaped the night with a 4-3 win. The Huskies tied the game when Cody Sharib collected his own rebound and scored. The Huskies then took the lead when Shawn Pauly collected the rebound and put it in the wide open net, after the Holy Cross goalie had been knocked out of the way.
The next game, I went to with my dad and friend Alex, to see UConn play Bentley. As luck would have it, the Huskies played terrible, and were shutout 3-0. The Huskies hit the post 5 times but were unable to score in the disappointing loss. The Huksies suffered another defeat the very next game, this time at Boston University, losing 4-1. After this game the Huskies stopped their brief losing streak, exploding for an 8-1 win over AIC! After the first period ended tied at 1 apiece, the Huskies scored four second-period goals, and finished with three in the third. The next weekend the Huskies once again suffered a loss, this time losing to Canisius 3-1. In the second game of the weekend set though, UConn rallied form two third period deficits, to force the 2-2 draw. After the Huskies tied the game at one early in the third, Canisius went right back on top. Then with under two minutes to go, Brant Harris scored the extra-attacker goal to seal the tie.
The next weekend was the final weekend before the break, and UConn was playing Niagara. In game one, UConn scored an early first period goal to go up 1-0 after one period. The next period would end seeing the Huskies up 2-1, and Trevor Gerling would make it 3-1 with an early third period goal. The Purple Eagles would make it interesting, with a shorthanded goal with less than two minutes to go, but UConn would hang on for the win. In game two, Niagara would put up more of a fight. Niagara would score half-way through the first, and would hang on for the 1-0 lead after one period. Then, just under two minutes into the next period, UConn would tie the game; Shawn Pauly skated into the Niagara zone, got around two Purple Eagle players, and shot the puck into the top corner of the net. In the third, the Huskies scored the game-winner. The puck was passed to Jacob Poe on the blue line who fired a shot through traffic that would go in, for the 2-1 win. UConn ended the first half of the season at 6-5-1, and at 5-2-1 in the AHA.
The UConn Hockey Classic was very disappointingly in Hartford at the XL Center this year, as my dad and I always go to these games, and I was looking forward to this final classic at home. Except, we didn’t go because it was in Hartford. UMass faced off against Quinnipiac in the first game, and surprisingly battled to a 2-2 draw, but Quinnipiac advanced in the shootout. The next game was UConn versus Sacred Heart. After a scoreless first period, UConn embarrassingly allowed three second period goals, and were handed a 3-0 loss! The next day, UConn played UMass for the consolation game. Robby Nichols, UConn’s freshman goalie, made his third start of the year. After two scoreless periods, Ryan Tyson scored an early third period goal for the 1-0 lead. Soon after, UMass would tie the game though, breaking up Nichols’ shutout hopes. However, with 5:04 remaining, UMass was called for a penalty. UConn took advantage of the power-play, and Latta blasted home a goal. UConn won 2-1, to take third place, in front of a record crowd.
The next weekend, UConn welcomed the new year with a series against RIT. After a scoreless first period, Trevor Gerling gave UConn the 1-0 lead after two periods with a 2-on-1 goal. UConn then added insurance when Harris centered the puck to Shawn Pauly who fired the puck home for a 2-0 lead, and UConn held on for the 2-1 win. The next day, UConn did even better. Early in the first, Ryan Segalla scored his first career goal to give UConn a 1-0 lead; Brant Harris then made it 2-0 when he backhanded home a rebound. The Huskies then made it 3-0 in the second when Brett Skibba scored his first collegiate goal. Later on, Harris scored his second of the night on a 4-on-4, putting a rebound in the wide open net. In the third UConn kept piling it on, making it 5-0 with Harris netting a Hat Trick off a rebound he put home. UConn would net one more goal, with Trevor Gerling scoring on a 2-on-1, to seal the 6-2 win. Only five days later, the Huskies hosted Robert Morris. The Huskies took a 1-0 lead when Billy Latta backhanded home a rebound in front. Only 49 seconds later, Brant Harris tipped home a Trevor Gerling shot to go up 2-0. Harris would score one more time before the period wa sout for the 3-0 lead. The second period was almost scoreless until Billy Latta scored a goal from a weird angle with only seconds left to go up 4-0. In the third, Billy Latta net a hat trick of his own, scoring apower-play goal on a slap-shot, putting UConn up 5-0; the Huskies won 5-1. For the second night in a row, a Husky player had a hat trick. The next night, I went to the game with my dad and my sister. For the second time all season, we saw UConn play terribly, as they lost 6-1. The only goal they scored was when Kyle Huson scored on a rebound, to make it 2-1 in the first. We were all very disappointed.
UConn then played a series against first-place Mercyhurst, in a series they couldn’t afford to lose. In game one, the Huskies and Lakers were tied at one, until Mercyhurst took the lead with just under two minutes to go in the period. However, in the third, freshman Brent Norris score his second of the game, to force a 2-2 draw, that was big for UConn. In game two, Mercyhurst painted UConn into the corner, building a 3-0 lead early into the second. The Huskies replaced Matt Grogan with Robby Nichols. After this, UConn unbelievably battled all the way back to tie the game at 3-3, with Brant Harris collecting two assists to amass 100 points. The following weekend, UConn played AIC. In the first game at AIC, UConn fell behind early 1-0, but would score three straight goals, and would hang on for the 3-2 win. The next night UConn hosted AIC. Once again UConn fell behind 1-0. Uconn responded again, as with under two minutes left in the period, Jordan Sims put home a Kyle Huson rebound to tie it. With under a minute left in the period, Billy Latta skated into the AIC zone, fed a pass across the zone to Jacob Poe, who buried the puck in the top left corner for a 2-1 lead. Thanks to Matt Grogan, Uconn would make the lead last and would win by this score, to extend their unbeaten streak to four games and would sweep the series.
The next weekend UConn played a crucial series at Air Force. The Huskies needed at least one win stay ahead of Air Force in the standings. In game one, Air Force took the 1-0 lead after one period. In the second, the Huskies chased the Falcon goalie from the game when they scored three goals in under three minutes for a 3-1 lead. Air Force would cut the deficit to 3-2 before the end of the period. The Huskies would go back up 4-2, only for Air Force to keep battling, making it 4-3. However, the Huskies would seal the win with an empty net goal. Robby Nichols got his fourth win in his fifth start. The next game, I watched live on the computer. After one period, Air Force led 2-0. The Huskies had their fair share of chances in the second, and despite playing well, they couldn’t score. These chances were hitting the post, and getting a five minute power-play. In the third, the Huskies almost got on the board, but a goal they scored was discounted as the puck crossed the goal line only seconds after the whistle was blown. With under eight minutes to go in the game, the Huskies finally broke through. After a face-off win, Poe blasted a shot from the blue-line, and it was tipped in by Ryan Tyson. However, Air Force sealed the win with a power-play goal with under three minutes to go, suffering a 3-1 loss.
The Huskies are doing great so far, and are in third going into the match-up with Bentley. If the Huskies stay in the top four, they can host the AHA Quarterfinals! I hope UConn continues to do as awseome as they have been doing, and I hope they sweep Bentley!