While at least the early going of November should have been fairly easy for the Huskies, bad bounces, games where the Huskies played well but lost, and bad luck all piled up to make November not only a month to forget but also a win-less month as well. Opposite to October, the Huskies had trouble putting pucks in the net and keeping puck out of their net. Several injuries and games where the special teams were costly also added to the Huskies’ November woes. However, even though not one win was found, the Huskies showed improved play at the end of the month, skating with the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the nation in back-to-back games and held their own proving that they have the talent to succeed and a team that has improved since last year, thanks to this year’s freshman class, despite what their record shows. Right now, the Huskies need a spark to snap their funk, aka get a win.
It all began on November 1, in the second game of a weekend set with Notre Dame, a “home” game that was being played at the New York Islanders’ home, the Barclays Center. The Huskies played well in a 2-1 loss at home to the Fighting Irish the previous day but everything went wrong in this game. The first period was all Notre Dame, as they out-shot the Huskies 14-6 and took a commanding, early lead. Just 9:04 into the game, the Fighting Irish took a 1-0 lead off a goal from Jake Evans. Then at the 13:05 and 16:34 marks of the period, Dylan Malmquist and Thomas DiPauli scored respectively to put the Irish up 3-0 after only one period of play. The second period was closer, with the shot advantage only 9-8 in favor of the Fighting Irish, but the Irish only added to their lead. At 5:38 of the period, the Irish made it 4-0, when Steven Fogarty banged home a rebound at the left post on a power-play. Exactly nine minutes later, the Huskies finally found the back of the net. Shawn Pauly and Patrick Kirtland got loose on a 2-on-1, with Pauly getting a shot on netminder Cal Peterson, and Kirtland cleaned up the rebound at the left post to cut the deficit to 4-1. At the end of the period, Notre Dame once again extended the lead to four, when the Irish scored off a turnover when Joe Wegwerth fired a wrist-shot through traffic and by Nichols to make it 5-1. The Irish poured it on with two goals early in the third at 1:48 and 4:34, scored by Bobby Nardella and Tony Bretzman, respectively, to go up 7-1. The seventh goal was a fluky goal that the Huskies scored on themselves. Rob Nichols went to the bench for a delayed penalty and the Huskies carried the puck in the offensive zone looking for a goal. Pauly sent a pass from behind the net to Patrick Kirtland at the middle that missed its mark and sailed all the way down the ice and into his own net, to add to the embarrassment. Notre Dame tacked on an eighth goal at 9:13 by Anders Bjork to make it 8-1. The Huskies got a goal at 10:18 when Corey Ronan scored on a breakaway feed from Kasperi Ojantakanen to make the final score an embarrassing 8-2 loss for the Huskies. The Huskies were out-shot 14-7 in the third and 37-21 for the game. The Huskies went 0-for-4 on the power-play while Notre Dame went 1-for-2. Rob Nichols made 21 saves while Tanner Creel played the final 10:47 of the game, making 8 saves and allowing no goals, in his first action of the season.
The Huskies looked to rebound five days later when they hosted the UMass Minutemen at the XL Center for the start of a home-and-home series. The Huskies picked up right where they left off, taking some lumps and allowing goals. Just 1:16 into the game, the Minutemen took the 1-0 lead. Dominic Trento sent a pass to a streaking Ray Pigozzi through two Husky defenders who came in on a break-away and beat Rob Nichols at the right post. The Huskies dominated play the rest of the period, out-shooting the Minutemen 18-12, but failed to score until they finally broke through at the 16:46 mark. Senior captain Patrick Kirtland found a loose puck in front and beat goaltender Nic Renyard but his shot banged off the post. Shawn Pauly poked the rebound away from Renyard and right to teammate Jesse Schwartz at the right post who flipped it in to make it a tied game after one period. The Minutemen once again came out strong to start the period, once more getting an early goal. After Rob Nichols stopped several point-blank shots, Dominic Trento tapped in a rebound at the 5:48 mark of the second period to give UMass the 2-1 lead. Just about three minutes later, the Huskies appeared to have tied the game when Spencer Naas looked to have a shot sneak in below the cross-bar on a 5-on-3 but the goal was waved off after review. The Huskies did however, tie the game eventually, at the 15:57 mark of the second. Freshman Karl El-Mir received a pass from Joey Ferriss and shoveled a back-hander through traffic and by Renyard to make 2-2 after two periods; the Huskies lead 13-8 in shots for the period. The third period was fairly even with both teams getting 11 shots on net but neither team found the back of the net until UMass scored the game-winner at the 15:06 mark. The Minutemen got off on a 3-on-2 rush and Rob Nichols made the initial save off the rush, but Minuteman Austin Plevy scored on the rebound to put the Minutemen up 3-2. The Huskies got a power-play just over a minute later and pulled Nichols with 1:56 remaining but to no avail as UMass sealed a 4-2 victory with an empty-net goal. The Huskies held a 42-31 shot advantage for the game; Nichols made 27 saves for the game. A crowd of 5075 attended the game at the XL Center.
The next day, the Huskies played UMass in a rematch on the road. Unfortunately for the Huskies, the next game started off the exact same way, with the Minutemen once again taking an early lead, this time just 46 seconds in. Ray Piggozi fed Shane Walsh on a break-away and he ripped a wrist shot by Rob Nichols off the post and in. Things got even worse, when at the 2:00 minute mark, the Minutemen made it 2-0 when Kurt Keats knocked home a bouncing puck at the right post off a rebound Rob Nichols failed to cover. At 12:06, the Huskies cut the deficit in half, with a power-play goal, their first in their last 15 chances. Joseph Masonius fed a pass to Evan Richardson who slapped a shot through traffic and by netminder Nic Renyard and in to make it 2-1, with Max Letunov picking up his team-leading seventh assist. The period ended with the Huskies still down a goal, and the Minutemen leading in shots 12-6. The Minutemen controlled play again in the second, out-shooting the Huskies 13-5, but both teams played great defensively to keep the period scoreless. Scoreless, that is, until UMass extended their lead back up to two goals, with a goal at the 15:11 mark. A Husky turnover at the blue-line created a 3-on-1 rush for the Minutemen, and Austin Plevy threw a shot on goal that Nichols saved but the rebound came right to Dominic Trento who buried a wrist shot to make it 3-1 heading into the third period. The Huskies were in complete control of the third, unlike the first two, out-shooting UMass 21-7, but found themselves down 4-1 just over four minutes into the period. Dominic Trento buried a nice pass from Austin Plevy from the right circle to put the Huskies in a huge hole and seemingly deflate any momentum they came out of the locker room with. However, this only gave the Huskies more resolve, and they kept chipping shots on goal and finally got some luck. At the 13:53 mark Max Letunov was awarded a penalty shot, after he was dragged down on a break-away off a feed from Joseph Masonius. Max Letunov came speeding in on goal and buried his shot to cut the lead down to 4-2 with just about six minutes left. Unfortunately, the Huskies were put away for good at the 17:10 mark, when Austin Plevy buried a wrist shot off a feed from Dennis Kravchenko to make it 5-2, and a three goal lead. The Huskies scored another goal with 47 seconds left in the game, from the stick of Joseph Masonius, to make the final 5-3. Rob Nichols made 27 saves in goal; the shots for the game were dead even at 32 shots apiece. UConn was 1-for-3 on the power-play while killing off both UMass power-plays. Max Letunov and Joseph Masonius both had two point nights in the loss.
Three days later the Huskies were back on the ice and back at home, as they hosted former Atlantic Hockey foe and rival, the Army Black Knights, at the XL Center. The Huskies looked to use this easier non-conference tilt to stop their skid and get back on track. As usual though, nothing goes easy for everyone’s favorite Huskies. Rob Nichols and the UConn defense played well but unfortunately, the Husky offense couldn’t kick into gear. The Huskies out-shot Army 10-7 in the first period, while being out-shot 10-7 in the second period by the Black Knights, but still owning the majority of the scoring chances and creating better ones than Army. The only thing standing in the way of a UConn rout was Army netminder Parker Gahagen. Gahagen stopped all these shots to keep the game tied 0-0 through two period and keep the Huskies frustrated. Army used this frustration to take control in the third period, out-shooting the Huskies 13-6 and finally getting the game’s first goal. Black Knight Ryan Nick received a cross-ice pass, from Shane Hearn at the right circle, all alone in front of the goal and buried the puck top-shelf by Rob Nichols at the stock-side, to make it 1-0 at the 7:35 mark. Army then put the defensive locks on the Huskies and sealed the game with an empty net goal at the 19:42 mark after a Husky turnover at the blue-line. The Huskies’ 2-0 loss was their fifth-straight, that perfectly displayed why the Huskies were losing; bad luck, missed opportunities and plays, and unusual circumstances that all led to UConn losses. The Huskies were out-shot for the game 30-23; Nichols was terrific, making 28 saves, but took the loss. Army was 0-for-4 on the power-play while UConn went 0-for-3. The game was played in front of quite but not small crowd of 3883 fans.
The Huskies would try yet again to break their losing skid in a game at league foe Vermont. The first period went by with no goals being scored but with plenty of shots, with the Catamounts dominating the first period by out-shooting the Huskies 13-4, although the Huskies had the better scoring chances. Their best two of the period came from Spencer Naas and Jesse Schwartz. Spencer Naas received a nice pass from classmate Kasperi Ojantakanen and got around the defensemen, but was denied by goaltender Mike Santaguida at the right post. Jesse Schwartz’s chance came on a shorthanded breakaway, but he too was stopped by Santaguida. The Huskies turned things around in the second period, controlling play with a 12-5 shot advantage in the period, but the Catamounts were able to score the game’s first goal to take the lead. Catamount Brendan Bradley buried a shot through traffic from the right circle off a pass from teammate Brady Shaw to make it 1-0 at 12:08. The Huskies responded quickly with their first of the night with goal off the stick of Tage Thompson at the 16:32 mark on the power-play. Joseph Masonius broke up the left wing and ripped a shot that Santaguida saved with the pad, but Tage Thompson collected the puck and made a nice move around Santaguida to tie the game at one each. While the goal sprung the Huskies into the third period tied with Vermont, it apparently gave them no momentum as they were out-shot in the third 17-5. The Huskies’ best scoring chance occurred when Corey Ronan shoveled a pass to senior captain Patrick Kirtland but he barely missed on the shorthanded try. Despite the good chances, it would be Vermont who would score the go-ahead goal at the 9:05 mark of the third period. Vermont player Craig Puffer took a shot that was beautifully saved by Rob Nichols but the rebound bounced out to Catamount Senkbeil who buried it top-right corner to make it 2-1. The Huskies got a 5-on-3 chance at the 14:05 mark only for it to be erased when Tage Thompson was called for penalty just 52 seconds later, erasing any momentum the Huskies might have gained from the power-play. Rob Nichols was pulled with 1:30 left in the game but the Huskies also failed to score on this advantage and lost 2-1. The Huskies were out-shot for the game 36-21; Rob Nichols made 34 saves. Tage Thompson scored his fourth goal of the season, all which have came on the power-play.
The Huskies looked to stop their skid from hitting seven games despite having a tough opponent in Quinnipiac, their instate arch-rival, who was 10-0 and ranked #2 in the nation. Eager to finally get a win, the Huskies did not let this deter them and got the game’s first goal just 70 seconds in. On a power-play, Spencer Naas fed Max Letunov after winning a puck battle in the corner, who then fed a cross-ice pass to Joseph Masonius who buried the goal to make it 1-0 Huskies, their first lead since beating Boston University. The goal was Masonius’ third of the year. Max Kalter made it 2-0 at the 11:39 mark with his second goal on the season. After winning a puck battle on the boards, Kalter fed teammate Johnny Austin who then sent the puck right back to Kalter at the right circle where he snapped a wrist shot past Lawrence to make it 2-0. The Bobcats cut the lead in half with a power play goal at 16:47. Travis St. Denis fed the puck in deep to Landon Smith behind the goal line who quickly tapped it to Sam Anas alone in front who buried it for his seventh on the season. The Bobcats out-shot the Huskies 15-8 despite trailing 2-1 after the first period. The second period, however, was devastated any momentum the Huskies picked up in the first period. Anas picked-up where he left off the first, scoring his second power play goal of the night just 51 seconds in, chipping in a loose puck in front. Off the ensuing face-off, Connor Clifton came streaking down the center and snapped a wrist shots past Nichols to put the Bobcats up 3-2, and silence the XL Center crowd of 5476 fans. Evan Richardson, soon after, was called for a holding minor but as the whistle blew was also assessed a five minute major for a cross check and a game misconduct, giving QU what amounted to a seven minute power play. The Bobcats took full advantage, putting two more past Rob Nichols off the sticks of Travis St. Denis at 3:55 and Tim Clifton at 4:26 to take a commanding 5-2 lead. The Huskies were out-shot in the second period 15-3, trailing 5-2 after two periods. In the third, the Huskies were only out-shot 8-4, but the Bobcats tapped in another goal. Quinnipiac’s Luke Shiplo closed out the scoring in the third period, burying a wrist shot off a feed from Scott Davidson at 9:19, his first on the season. This goal sealed off the scoring, making the final score a 6-2 Husky loss. Nichols finished the night with 32 saves in taking the loss. Quinnipiac’s Michael Garteig relieved Lawrence to start the second period and got the win making seven saves. The Huskies went 1-for-2 on the power-play, while the Bobcats went 4-for-9. The Huskies were out-shot for the game 38-15; the Huskies were assessed 35 minutes worth of penalties. Husky fans all agreed that despite the lopsided loss, the Huskies actually played well against the No. 2 team in the nation, and that it was the referees that actually ruined the game. On certain penalties they gave the Huskies more time then was necessary, and turned an apparent blind eye to plays were the Bobcats committed a blatant penalty. The game was yet another instance where the Huskies competed hard (scoring 2 goals and getting 15 shots in just the 25 minutes of the entire game they weren’t on the penalty kill), but where horrible luck resulted in a great effort becoming a loss.
The Huskies looked to finally snap their losing streak, but faced another ranked team in their newly-christened rival, the No. 2 Boston College Eagles. The Huskies looked to ride into this game with momentum off winning their home game against Boston College last season, 1-0, and this game had the same level of anticipation as their home opener against Boston College did last year among Husky fans. As a result, a crowd of 7219 fans, who packed the XL Center, hoping to see the Huskies upset the Eagles once more. Unfortunately, this meeting between Huskies and Eagles didn’t have the same result as last season’s meeting at the XL Center. The Eagles dominated the Huskies in the first period, out-shooting them 13-5, and taking a commanding lead. The Eagles scored just 2:54 into the contest as Austin Cangelosi picked the puck out of a scrum in front of the UConn goal, and poked it by Rob Nichols to make it 1-0. Just 50 seconds later, the Eagles pushed their lead to 2-0, when Ryan Fitzgerald sent a pass to Colin White on a two-on-one rush, who buried his wrist-shot. The Eagles put the Huskies in a big hole when they made it 3-0 at the 8:53 mark. A Husky attempt to clear the zone led to a turnover to Josh Couturier who buried a slap-shot through traffic. The Eagles decimated the Huskies with a fourth goal, as Casey Fitzgerald sent a pass to Miles Wood who sent a wrist shot from the right circle top shelf by Rob Nichols. The Huskies came out flying in the second period, out-shooting the Eagles 12-9, but couldn’t find the back of the net, so the Huskies still trailed 4-0 after 40 minutes. In the third, the Huskies once again controlled play, out-shooting the Eagles 13-9 and finally getting a goal. At the 1:25 mark, Max Letunov dug the puck out of the corner and fed a pass to Tage Thompson who left the puck behind for Spencer Naas who buried it by Eagle netminder Thatcher Demko to cut the deficit to 4-1. The Huskies had a late opportunity with a BC penalty but despite pulling Nichols for the 6-on-4, the Eagles would ice a 5-1 win with an empty net goal. Nichols made 26 saves in the loss; the Huskies were out-shot in the game 31-30. Both the Huskies and the Eagles went 0-for-4 on the power-play. The loss extended the Huskies’ horrible losing streak to eight games and in it’s final game of November, resulted in the Huskies going winless in November.
From the aspect of UConn’s record, place in the Hockey East standings, and getting wins, the month of November was an utter, absolute failure. The Huskies were 0-7, and 0-5 in Hockey East play during November and found themselves all the way in 11th place in Hockey East. However, with the exception of the 8-2 loss to Notre Dame in Brooklyn and a 2-0 loss at home to Army, the Huskies played well in every game and showed they can compete with any team they play. Bad bounces, bad luck, fluky plays, and missed opportunities caused the Huskies to leave November on an eight game losing streak, but the level of play the Huskies have already achieved in only year two in Hockey East is amazing. The results of November show that periods like this losing streak are just growing pains and that a brighter future for UConn hockey is already beginning.