The UConn Hockey team has just made a huge step forward. In just their second year in Hockey East, the Huskies have earned home playoffs, holding the opening round of the Hockey East tournament at the XL Center this weekend starting Friday March 4, as they will host the No. 9 seed Vermont Catamounts. This is a huge accomplishment for the Huskies who show they are already making strides toward becoming a Hockey East power as they continue to build their program as they finished in the No. 8 spot in the 12 team conference, ahead of UMass, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The Huskies clinched home ice with an exhilarating final weekend. Coming into the weekend in 10th and two points behind New Hampshire for the No. 8 spot, who they were playing for their last two games, the Huskies needed a sweep to clinch home ice, something that seemed impossible against a team they went 0-4 against last year and were win less against them in their entire program history. Yet the Huskies made history by earning their first ever home ice playoffs as a Hockey East member with two exciting wins over the Wildcats. On senior night at the XL Center, the Huskies scored two goals early, never looking back as they held on for the 4-1 win in front of a huge crowd of over 6200 fans. The next night, in New Hampshire, the Huskies made college hockey headlines across the nation by coming back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period to score four unanswered goals to win 5-4 in overtime to bring the #IceBus back to Hartford. The Huskies now look to use their momentum to get past Vermont and advance to the quarterfinals and make a run in the playoffs. Games 1 and 2 are scheduled for Friday March 4 and Saturday March 5, both starting at 7:00 pm, and March 6 is scheduled for a Game 3 at 5:00 pm if a Game 3 is necessary. See you all at the XL Center and let’s go Huskies!
Here is a clip from the movie, Thor: The Dark World, that features a scene from the climatic battle between Thor and the main antagonist, Malekith, in London that spreads to other worlds in the Nine Realms. Starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Christopher Eccleston as Malekith, Natalie Portman as Jane Forester, and Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig
The month of December was a complete contrast to the month of November where UConn Hockey is concerned. After a winless month of November that saw the Huskies plummet to 11th in the Hockey East standings and post an 0-7 mark overall, 0-4 league mark during this grueling month, part of an eight game losing streak. But in December, the Huskies were walking in a Winter Wonderland on the ice, going undefeated in December to close the first half of the season and go into the Christmas and Finals Break on a high note. Although it looked like the Huskies would do even worse in December since they were riding their long losing streak into a month where all games were against ranked teams, the Huskies found a spark with a win in the first game of the month, snapping their losing streak, and putting some life back into them. December not only rewarded Husky fans for sticking with their team through the losing streak, but also showed the Huskies’ season wasn’t “lost” as some claimed and that their team wasn’t horrible. It proved that the Huskies just needed to win to get back on track, show the team that they really have, and start the climb back into the thick of the Hockey East standings; and they got that win, and then some.
The Huskies’ first game of December was to be a home game against the No. 5 UMass Lowell Riverhawks at the XL Center on a Saturday afternoon, the first game of a home-and-home conference series. The first period belonged to the Huskies, as they came out with some firepower, out-shooting the Riverhawks 11-6, playing with resolve towards ending their eight-game losing streak. The Huskies’ solid start was rewarded with their scoring the game’s first goal. At 11:27 of the first period, Tage Thompson wristed a wrist shot through traffic and by UMass Lowell netminder Kevin Boyle on the power-play to make it 1-0. The Huskies continued to play hard and they held the one-goal lead heading into the locker room. The lead didn’t last long once the second period commenced, as just 1:51 into the period, C.J. Smith buried a rebound to knot the game up. The Huskies seemed to rebound well though as the rest of the period was even, even though the Riverhawks led the shot category 11-8 for the period, until UMass Lowell scored to take the lead at 18:08 of the period when A.J. White buried a pass at the right post to make it 2-1. If the Riverhawks were looking to enjoy the lead heading into the third period, they had an unpleasant surprise. The Huskies flew down the ice off the center ice faceoff following the go-ahead goal, and Corey Ronan took a nice pass and buried his shot through traffic to tie the game up, 2-2, just 21 seconds after the Huskies had fallen behind. The Huskies weren’t done yet, and still had another goal left in their sticks as they completed the wild scoring frenzy to pull ahead 3-2 with 19 seconds to play in the period. Spencer Naas attempted to sneak one in on the wrap-around, but Kevin Boyle denied him, only for Naas to poke home his own rebound to put the Huskies up by a goal heading into the third period. The Riverhawks came out with a vengeance in the third, out-shooting the Huskies 13-5 and tying the game up once more just 47 seconds in. C.J. Smith threw a shot on goal that Rob Nichols easily made the save to, but the rebound was put home off the stick of Ryan Collins. The game had now shifted in favor of UMass Lowell, but a power-play chance for UConn at 11:58 gave the Huskies a chance to take the lead back, which they dramatically took advantage of. Tage Thompson recieved a cross-ice feed from Joseph Masonius and buried a beautiful shot into the top right corner to make it 4-3 UConn, with his second goal of the game, to cue a roar from the 4811 in attendance at the XL Center. The Riverhawks pulled Kevin Boyle with 3:18 to go, and although they peppered the Huskies with shots, UConn was up to the task, with Rob Nichols making four saves and the Husky defense, led by senior captain Patrick Kirtland (two blocked shots) blocked five and held on for the exhilarating 4-3 victory that gave everybody at the XL Center something to cheer about knowing that the eight game losing streak was now a thing of the past. Rob Nichols made 27 saves, and Tage Thompson had two power-play goals, to hand the Riverhawks their first Hockey East conference loss of the year. The Huskies produced this feat for the second year in a row, as last year the Huskies also handed UMass Lowell their first conference loss, with a 2-0 win at the XL Center in front of 6855 fans. Thompson is now tied for the national lead for power-play goals with six, as all of his goals have been on the man-advantage. The Huskies were out-shot for the game 30-24; the Huskies were 2-for-2 on the power-play while UMass Lowell went 0-for-1.
After the unbelievable and unexpected win in the first game of the weekend home-and-home series, the Huskies looked for their first weekend sweep as a member of Hockey East and the season series with the Riverhawks, as they traveled to UMass Lowell to play at the dreaded Tsongas Center, where the Riverhawks are especially tough. The Huskies had their first sweep of a season series last year against the UMass Minutemen, with 4-3 and 4-0 victories. The game was to be televised nationally on multiple channels including NESN. In game two of the battle between the teams with the top two attendance numbers in Hockey East, the Riverhawks came out flying, out-shooting the Huskies 14-4 in the first period, but neither team scored in the hence scoreless first period. UMass Lowell had a Grade-A chance when on a UConn power-play, Evan Campbell picked the puck off at the blue-line and came streaking down on a shorthanded breakaway but Rob Nichols made a terrific glove save to keep the game knotted up 0-0. The second period was completely even, with both teams registering 10 shots, and the Huskies garnering four power-play opportunities but they failed to find the back of the net on any of these chances. The Riverhawks received three power-plays and unlike the Huskies, took advantage of the power-play, to break the scoreless tie. Joseph Masonius was called for a penalty with 52 seconds remaining in the period and the Riverhawks made him pay. Dylan Zink fired a shot on net from the right circle that Nichols denied but Zink picked up his own rebound and sent a pass across the crease to Adam Chapie who banged it into the open side with five seconds left in the period to put UMass Lowell up 1-0 heading into the third period. The Huskies were roaring in the third, out-shooting the Riverhawks 19-7, but still couldn’t find the back of net. But at the 8:34 mark of the period, the Huskies finally scored to tie the game. David Drake fired a shot on goal from the right circle that resulted in a scrum in front of the net and Assistant Captain Shawn Pauly found the puck and shoveled it in to tie the game up, 1-1. Just seconds later, the Riverhawks got a breakaway which Derek Pratt stopped effectively but did so by dragging the opposing player down, to give the Riverhawks a penalty shot and a chance to retake the lead. Rob Nichols stood tall in goal, being aggressive and stopping the attempt at the right post to preserve the tie. The Huskies then silenced the Tsongas Center with the shocking go-ahead goal. At 11:13, UMass Lowell was assessed a tripping penalty as the Huskies earned their sixth man-advantage of the game and this time they converted. During a scrum in front of the net, Tage Thompson took a little pass from Max Letunov and roofed the puck through everyone in front to put the Huskies up 2-1. The Huskies would hold on for the 2-1 victory in front a shocked Tsongas Center. The Huskies out-shot the Riverhawks for the game 33-31, with Nichols making 30 saves. Tage Thompson provided the game-winner for the second game in a row, with his national-best seventh power-play goal on the season. The weekend sweep over the No. 5 UMass Lowell Riverhawks was the Huskies’ first as a Hockey East member and first-ever over a nationally ranked team. The Huskies also impressively dealt the Riverhawks their first two conference losses of the year, including their first home loss of the year. Obviously, this was one of the most impressive weekends for the Huskies in the history of the program.
The Huskies’ next game was their final game before the Christmas break, as they squared off with the No. 19 Merrimack Warriors at home in the XL Center. The Huskies and Warriors skated to a 3-3 tie to send the Huskies into the break on a high note with a three game unbeaten streak. The month of December, while short, provided the Huskies the turnaround they needed, breaking their eight-game losing streak and starting to get back on track in the Hockey East standings, righting the ship before too much damage was done, preventing the season from becoming lost. The Huskies finished the first half 5-10-1 overall and 3-7-1 in Hockey East play, sitting in 10th with only seven points but only one point behind Vermont, UMass, and New Hampshire and just two behind Merrimack. While November was tough, December put the Huskies back in the game (no pun intended) and in a good spot heading into the second half.
On December 11, I went with my cousins Christine and JC to a UConn Hockey game in Hartford at the XL Center. It was the Huskies’ final game before the Christmas and exam break, who were coming off a sweep of the then-No. 5 UMass Lowell Riverhawks, to snap an eight game losing streak. A win could shoot the Huskies into a tie in the Hockey East standings with not only Merrimack, but also Vermont, New Hampshire, and UMass, putting the Huskies in good position heading into the second half. Since it was such a big game, I was excited to have gotten tickets to this game from my cousins for my birthday. Before the game, we went to Bear’s Smokehouse Grill, our new-found favorite restaurant to go to when attending a hockey game. Our meal was just as good as the past time we went. I ordered a kielbasa sandwich that was superb, mainly because of the amazing barbecue sauce that the sandwich was covered in. Also, our sides of mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, and cornbread were some of the best we had ever tasted, we all agreed.
After this, we headed to the arena and reached our seats. The crowd was very thin for the first ten minutes of the game, as usual due to the normal gridlock fans face while trying to get to the game. The first period was fairly uneventful, with Merrimack controlling play for the first half of the period, and only at the very end of the period did the Huskies start to play well and finally generate scoring chances. Still, the period ended scoreless, with Merrimack out-shooting UConn, 12-6. During the second intermission we walked over to the opposite side of the arena to see the team come out and JC and I high-fived them as they came out of the locker room, which is always cool. We must have given them good luck because soon after the Huskies took the 1-0 lead. We walked back around to our seats and as we came to the top of the section, UConn scored. Jesse Schwartz picked off a Merrimack pass and walked in on goal and rifled a wrist shot by Merrimack goalie Colin Delia. We weren’t in our seats for the goal but we had a great view and the Brass Bonanza blasted through the XL Center as we walked down the stairs to our seats. The Huskies then doubled their lead just over seven minutes later on a power-play goal. Jesse Schwartz received a pass from Miles Gendron, and let a shot go but the shot deflected off a Merrimack defender and right to Jeff Wight who buried the puck into the wide open side to make it 2-0 with his first career goal. Unfortunately, JC and I missed the goal, because we had looked away for a split-second while the face-off was happening, as the Jonathan the Husky Dog had come into our row. Then, we were startled by the the blaring of the goal horn and realized UConn had scored. We were thoroughly disappointed we missed it, but at least we got to see the replay on the jumbo tron. The Huskies continued playing well, out-shooting the Warriors 15-7 in the period, and held the lead going into the third.
Time passed quickly during the intermission, as with tricycle races and the now-classic hockey-style family feud that occur on the ice during the second intermission, even intermissions at UConn Hockey games offer excitement. As for the third period itself, the Huskies came out flying, but soon Merrimack took command, out-shooting the Huskies 12-7, and clawed their way back into the game. The Warriors scored their first goal to cut the Huskies’ lead to 2-1 just over seven minutes into the third, as Warrior Ludvig Larrsson buried a feed in front into the top of the net. The XL Center got a little quieter as everyone wasn’t nearly as confident now for a UConn win. Merrimack silenced the XL Center with the game-tying goal that resulted in one loud groan coming from the crowd of over 4800 fans at the XL Center, including JC, Christine and me, as a Marc Biega shot beat Rob Nichols stick-side on a 5-on-3. The Warriors shocked everyone by taking the lead just 48 seconds later off a shot by Brian Christie who buried it top-shelf to make it 3-2 Merrimack. And here is where the fans at the XL Center showed their unbelievable loyalty to their favorite Huskies. As JC, Christine, and me groaned after Merrimack took the lead off of two power-plays from two penalties on the Huskies that were not legit at all and got booed by fans, everyone in attendance gave the Huskies a loud standing ovation, as the center ice faceoff commenced after the go-ahead goal by the Warriors, accompanied by a “Let’s Go Huskies” chant that blasted through the building to try and give the Huskies energy to tie the game. The Huskies had energy, as they were visibly frustrated with what had just surpassed, and were skating circles around Merrimack, but could not even get a shot on net. However, with exactly a minutes and 40 seconds remaining in the game Merrimack player Marc Biega was called for hooking and the XL Center stood up to applaud madly the Huskies going on the power-play. We were really hopeful for the Huskies had scored their last goal on the power-play. My hopes were a little deflated when the Warriors cleared the puck right off the draw, but the Huskies tore back into the zone and got set up in the zone. Then, it happened. David Drake took a pass at the blue-line and sent the puck immediately over to Joseph Masonius who let a monster slap-shot go from the top of the right circle that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net to tie the game, 3-3. Christine, JC, and I saw the net go back, and JC and I jumped up and went ballistic, as with 1:14 remaining, UConn had tied the game! The XL Center erupted with the game-tying and didn’t stop cheering until the game was over. The game then went to overtime, where the Huskies were out-shot 3-1, with the Huskies only shot coming from Tage Thompson, that hit the post. For the game, the Huskies were out-shot 34-29, with Rob Nichols making 31 saves. The Huskies went 2-for-5 on the power-play, while the Warriors went 2-for-4. All in all, we all agreed it was one of the most exciting games we had ever been to, because of the dramatic game tying goal in the final minute of play. After the game, we finished out our night by going to Sweet Frog to get some frozen yogurt and then headed back to my house. I had a lot of fun going to a UConn Hockey game and having a night out with my cousins, and the three of us agreed we have to make this a yearly tradition!
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.
This month’s movie clip features the second half of the opening scene of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’, the second installment of the ‘Hobbit’ film series. The scene shows Gandalf meeting with and confronting Thorin to try and convince him to unite the seven dwarf armies, march on the Lonely Mountain, and defeat Smaug and take back the dwarves’ homeland. The scene shows how the whole adventure got started and was taken from the story in J.R.R. Tolkein’s book ‘Unfinished Tales’ that describes this meeting between Gandalf the Grey and Thorin.
With the next and second installment of the new DC Cinematic Universe coming soon in ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’, I figured I should go back and do a review for the first installment ‘Man of Steel’. Although this first blockbuster entry into the upcoming DC Cinematic Universe was stuffed with explosive special effects and a very intense plot and origin to Superman, pretty much everything else was lackluster. The actors cast in their respective roles were all very good, but the drama was a little over-done, even for a comic book adaption film, and the ending ruined the entire movie, being too radical, and at the expense of the titular character as well. Plain and simple, director Zach Snyder is good at making explosive superhero blockbusters, but his skills don’t extend far beyond the action sequences, utterly failing in portraying correctly Superman’s origin and persona, for instance. While ‘Man of Steel’ was appealing to the eyes and was a good action, superhero blockbuster, the movie decimated the character and persona of Superman, despite Henry Cavil’s commendable portrayal.
What I Didn’t Like About ‘Man of Steel’:
Too Many Flashbacks
Having flashbacks in a film is okay, as long as there aren’t too many and they are done right. ‘Man of Steel’ seems to miss this concept completely. They have completely way too many flashbacks, about four or five, explaining Superman’s origin over the course of the first half of the movie through several flashbacks. Not only were there too many, but they got confusing. A scene would switch to a flashback without any notice, or really any reason, and at least two were done in such a way that you weren’t sure if the scene was a flashback or happening in present day and what exactly was going on. Honestly, the filmmakers could have avoided this if they just told Superman’s origin all at once and in chronological order of Superman’s life, and avoided confusion among viewers and unnecessary and sudden breaks in the story. It would have made the story-telling of Superman’s origin less confusing, along with the first half of the movie, and made it less abrupt. To say it simply, Zach Snyder needs a lesson in how to and when to use flashbacks.
Too Much Wasted Time In The Beginning
‘Man of Steel’ was excessively and unnecessarily long. For a 2 hours and 23 minutes runtime for a movie that is an action, superhero, sci-fi film, the first 1 hour and 30 minutes, roughly, are filled with no action or explosions except during the opening scene. The first 90 minutes just shows a choppy, drawn-out telling of Superman’s origin story (with many flashbacks of course), deals with developing Superman’s personality and moral compass, and takes an awfully long time to set up the plot. I mean I know this movie is the building block for a whole DC Cinematic Universe but come on still a ridiculously long beginning to a film. ‘Iron Man’ didn’t take this long to get going! By doing this, ‘Man of Steel’ saved all the action for the final 45 minutes of the movie. By taking such a long time to get interesting, ‘Man of Steel’ made Superman’s origin story less memorable and made the movie itself seem really, really long.
A Way Too Quick Finale
After a long, drawn-out beginning, the movie ended with a bang, literally, but ended way too quickly. The two ending fight scenes, with Superman Vs. Zod and Faora in Smallville, and Superman Vs. Zod once more in the final battle in Metropolis, the Battle of Metropolis, were short of mind-blowing. From the whole invasion by the Kryptonians to these two awesome fight scenes, the finale was fast-paced, explosive, and action-packed but could have been even better if it was handled more properly by being longer. It would have been more fitting for Zach Snyder and Co. to make the finale longer than the o-so boring beginning. Instead, the whole finale felt rushed because of the time crunch, resulting in the part where Superman and the military stop the alien invasion getting only a few measly minutes of screentime which in short made it seem like a joke. And the fight between Zod and Superman was the coolest action sequence I’ve ever seen, thanks to the overload of special effects, and could have been longer and even more sophisticated (instead of Zod and Superman just repeatedly punching each other through buildings [yawn]). In short, the finale for ‘Man of Steel’ was exciting but could have been handled better if it hadn’t been so rushed.
A Departure From The Comics
All other complaints aside, the worst part of ‘Man of Steel’ was how it completely derived from the source material and just disregarded Superman’s persona from the comics. The movie’s climax and his fight with Zod makes it seem like he had little to no care for the safety of innocents or amount of destruction he caused. He practically obliterated the entire town of Smallville during his battle there and even more disturbing is the Battle of Metropolis. During his epic fight with Zod, a large portion of Metropolis was destroyed and easily hundreds of thousands of people were killed and Superman made no attempt to bring Zod away from the heavily populated city. This is not the Superman everyone knows and loves that, sure, is powerful, but is the living persona of good, who would take a beating in the name of even saving just one life. Instead, Superman in ‘Man of Steel’ looked like a DC version of the Hulk, who couldn’t care two cents about how many people were killed as a result of a fight. I’ve heard the new DC Cinematic Universe is trying to be dark, but if being dark causes a big conflict with a character’s persona or source material, than it shouldn’t be done.
What I Did Like About ‘Man of Steel’:
Henry Cavill As Superman
Henry Cavill is practically the twin brother to the Clark Kent of the comic books. I know Superman’s personality and persona was destroyed in ‘Man of Steel’, something ‘Batman V Superman’ will be hard-pressed to fix, but Henry Cavill fits the looks aspect of the role superbly. He certainly has the right voice for it, as well as the perfect geeky look of Clark Kent when he dons glasses. In short he is definitely the best possible pick for Superman. The supporting cast is superb is well. Kevin Costner is a very good, down-to-earth Pa Kent and Russell Crowe is the ultimate, believable Jor-El. Amy Adams is also a perfect pick for Lois Lane (minus the red hair) with the right looks for the job and does a good portrayal of Lois’s story-crazy personality. While some negatives can be found with the movie, none can be found with the cast for ‘Man of Steel’.
General Zod And The Other Villains
Michael Shannon was the perfect General Zod. He was intelligent, every bit menacing, and portrayed Zod perfectly as his twisted, evil self. Shannon was also perfect for the role as far as appearance goes but how his character feel menacing just like in the comics helped him to really bring the character to life. His devoted second-in-command, Faora, was also a very good villain. Sure, she was incredibly annoying, and right down nasty, but she portrayed well by Antje Traue and certainly a good henchman style villain. General Zod and Faora no doubt served as good villains and were definitely portrayed better than in Superman II.
The Opening Krypton Scene
Clearly the best and most exciting scene of the movie was the one that took place on krypton, the opening scene. This scene showed Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Superman’s father, fighting Zod who is trying to take over the dying planet, and trying to save Kal-El, and thereby keeping the Kyrptonian race alive. This scene was a jazzed-up, flashy and explosive re-telling of Superman’s origin and actually how it really happened in most tellings. The scene was really enjoyable, getting to see Superman’s parents, and Krypton and even a fight scene on that planet. In addition the special effects in this scene were mind-blowing. While as a whole the beginning of ‘Man of Steel’ was boring and slow, the opening scene certainly does not fit into that category.
The Action Scenes And Special Effects
The last thing I liked about this movie is the fight scenes and special effects, as I have mentioned throughout this post. The action scenes were very cool since you had three scenes with Superman fighting either Zod or Faora, and when you have an extremely powerful super villain and even more powerful superhero duking it out, the supped up fight that usually ensues is pretty cool to watch, especially since such usually result in lots if destruction and explosions which movie-goers love to see. The special effects though were the icing on the cake. I’ve never seen such incredible special effects or a movie that seemed so real from a CGI standpoint. All the characters were truly brought to life and superman in flight never seemed so amazing.
Casually looking at ‘Man of Steel’, it is a good movie. There were several well-known and talented actors and all were excellent in their roles. The fight scenes, special effects and plot were all really cool. But looking at it critically or as a comic fan or even noting the fact that it is a franchise starter, you have to say it was good at best. From a slow start and a painstakingly boring and long backstory for the titular character, to a complete abandonment of Superman’s persona, personality and story, ‘Man of Steel’ will remain a controversial movie among fans, but is clear as day a poor franchise starter.
Here is a clip from the film Star Trek: Into Darkness that contains in my opinion the best fight scene of the entire movie and film series. It features Spock tackling the villainous Khan to avenge a friend and comrade and to bring in the escaped fugitive. A sequel, Star Trek Beyond, is scheduled to be released July 22, 2016.
Having become one of the most highly-anticipated movies of all-time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already set records for early ticket sales, and is a possible for setting the all-time highest grossing movie record or at least crossing the $1 billion mark. Both a blessing and a curse about this film is that Director J.J. Abrams has kept plot details and even much of the premise of the film hush-hush, which prevents spoilers but has led to much speculations and (some crazy) rumors. However, two new official trailers have released just enough of the plot-line to give a rough idea of what the movie will be about and to almost confirm some speculations about the upcoming film. The two main speculations that have been basically confirmed is that Rey and Kylo Ren will be children of Han Solo and Leia, and that a main character from the original trilogy will die. While an old, most likely beloved character dying isn’t exactly a good thing while it does the films realistic, having the new characters be related to the old ones is a good move. The whole Star Wars story is a generational story, first with Anakin Skywalker and then his son, Luke Skywalker, and his daughter Leia Skywalker. It would only be fitting for the story to be continued with the children of Han Solo and Princess Leia, to continue the Skywalker legacy. The only complaint so far is that zilch has been heard or seen of Luke Skywalker, which could be a reason to worry, but of what has been seen and heard of the movie so far, things seem to be pointing to a great next installment of the Star Wars franchise.
The premise for the movie, of the little we have found out so far, is that the film takes place 32 years after the events of the Return of the Jedi and continues the story of Luke and Leia Skywalker and Han Solo and their allies, along with new leads Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron, that shows them having to face the new threat of the First Order, led by Kylo Ren and his master, Supreme Leader Snoke, that unites with the remnants of the Empire to fight the Rebellion, newly-named the Resistance. The film will star Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridely as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, and Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, and Tim Rose as Admiral Ackbar. The film will be the first of six Star Wars films in the next six years, three prequels and three sequels. Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One comes out in 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII is released in 2017, untitled Star Wars Anthology Han Solo film in 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and untitled Star Wars Anthology Boba Fett film in 2020.
UConn hockey skates into the 2015-2016 hockey season with a lot of promise. They had an unexpectedly good inaugural season in Hockey East where they picked up 10 wins and 7 ties overall and 7 wins and 4 draws in conference play and finished much higher than expected, sitting in ninth at the season’s close, ahead of Maine, Merrimack, and UMass. They went 5-3-3 at their new home, the XL Center and led the league in attendance averaging almost 5800 people per game, and picked up 4 wins and 2 ties against ranked teams, a program record. Now, with the transition to Hockey East complete this year with the XL Center their official home, the full amount of scholarships, and an established and growing fanbase, UConn comes into the new season with more promise and less doubt now with a season in Hockey East under their belt, I mean skates. With a promising freshman class including highly touted players like Tage Thompson, Max Letnuv, and Miles Gendron, and an offensive sophomore class it could be argued that this is the most talented team in the program’s history. With a strong senior class, consisting of Kyle Huson, Shawn Pauly, Joey Ferris, and Patrick Kirtland, to lead the way, this year’s team can achieve even greater feats than this past year. With a talented freshman class, a Hockey East season under their skates, and a big home arena that is one of toughest places in college hockey to play at as the opponent, and if more big crowds turn out to support the Huskies, this could definitely be another season to remember and one in which the Huskies jump to greater heights. With all this hope for the new season, let us take a look back at October in UConn hockey.
The Huskies opened the season with an exhibition game on October 3 against Queen’s University, at their old on-campus home, the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum. The Huskies came out of the gate sluggishly, not getting any good scoring chances despite out shooting Queen’s 9-6 in the first period, and the period ended in a scoreless draw. Rob Nichols was in net in the first and made all six saves. In the second period, sophomore goaltender Steve Thulin was put between the pipes. For the first half of the second, the Huskies still were not playing very well, nor very aggressively and still couldn’t generate many scoring opportunities as a result. Queen’s took advantage of this poor and sloppy play to get the first tally of the night. As a Husky 5-on-3 power-play expired, a Queen’s defenseman cleared the puck out of the Husky zone and it found the stick of Queen’s player Joseph Luongo as he was stepping out of the penalty box as his penalty for roughing expired. He came in on a breakaway and beat Thulin stick side, top shelf, to give Queen’s the 1-0 lead at the 9:43 mark of the second period. After this goal, however, the Huskies turned their play around and played great hockey for the rest of the afternoon. Not even four minutes after Queen’s scored the game’s first goal, the Huskies tied the game. David Drake blasted a shot from the right circle and Will Golonka put the rebound home at the right post to knot the game up, 1-1. The Huskies scored again just 47 seconds later, as Joey Ferris created a turnover in the offensive end, and dropped a pass back to Jeff Wight who fed Tage Thompson in front of the net. Thompson whipped a shot on goal and Queen’s netminder Kevin Bailie caught a piece of it, but the puck fell behind him and trickled over into the net to put the Huskies up, 2-1. The Huskies out-shot Queen’s in the second period, 20-5; Steve Thulin made four saves in the period. In the third period, sophomore goaltender Tanner Creel was in goal for the Huskies. The Huskies’ great offensive and defensive play continued through the third period, keeping Queen’s from finding the equalizer, and out-shooting Queen’s 13-5 in the frame. With time running out, Queen’s pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, but to no avail as Johnny Austin dumped the puck all the way from the Queen’s zone into the empty net with 45 seconds left to seal the Huskies’ 3-1 exhibition win. Tanner Creel finished with 5 saves in the period; the Huskies out-shot Queen’s 42-16 for the game, dominating the shot clock. Both teams failed to convert on the man-advantage, UConn going 0-for-7 and Queen’s 0-for-4. The Huskies’ 3-1 win was played in front of a pretty full barn, as 1158 were in attendance at Freitas, gauging the growth of UConn Hockey and its fanbase, as in the past much, much smaller crowds came to watch UConn’s exhibition games in the past. Also, in college hockey, very few people turn up to watch preseason games no matter the team, so a crowd of 1158 isn’t too shabby, especially considering it was a larger crowd than even Boston College and defending national champion Providence had at their preseason games.
The Huskies had their season opener six days later when they traveled to Alabama to play the Alabama Huntsville Chargers, beginning the season on the road for the eighth straight season. Rob Nichols was the starting goalie for the game. The Huskies got the season started in style as just 26 seconds into the game, captain Patrick Kirtland put the Huskies on the board. David Drake fired a hard pass from the right circle to Kirtland at the left circle and buried it by UAH netminder Carmine Guerriero to put UConn up 1-0. The Chargers didn’t let the Huskies enjoy any bigger of a lead as at the 7:16 mark, the Chargers tied it up with a Brennan Saulnier unassisted goal and took the lead late in the first at the 18:11 mark Max McHugh tipped the puck home to put the Chargers up 2-1 after one period. The Huskies held a 12-9 edge on the shot-clock in the first period. The Huskies came into the second period with a vengeance scoring just 2:25 into the period. Freshman Tage Thompson blasted a wrist shot on goal that was denied but Guerriero let a huge rebound loose off the shot and freshman Joseph Masonius blasted a slap-shot from the left circle that found the twine to knot the game at two. The action went back and forth throughout the rest of the period until the Huskies got another goal from a freshman to take the lead back. Max Letunov took a pass from Spencer Naas in the right circle and put the puck top shelf to put the Huskies up 3-2 heading into the locker room. The Huskies had a 12-6 edge in shots in the second. The third was all UConn, out-shooting the Chargers 11-0, and tacking on two more goals. The first came at 3:46 of the period, when Spencer Naas threw a shot at Guerriero that was saved but a rebound came loose for Max Letunov to poke home for his second score of the game and of his career. The Huskies went ahead 5-2 with seven seconds left when Max Letunov scored an empty-net goal to complete his hat trick in his first collegiate game, becoming the first player to do so since 2008. Spencer Naas and freshman Tage Thompson each recorded a pair of assists. Rob Nichols recorded 13 saves, a career-low in earning the season opening win, as UConn improved to 1-0 for the first time since 2007 when they beat AIC 4-2 to start the season. The Huskies out-shot the Chargers for the game 35-15; UConn went 0-for-2 on the man-advantage while Alabama-Huntsville went 0-for-1.
The Huskies finished their season-opening series with the Chargers the next day. Half-way through the first period the Huskies jumped out to a 1-0 lead for the second night in a row. Corey Ronan got loose on a breakaway but was pulled down by the stick of a Charger defenseman, resulting in being rewarded a penalty shot, the Huskies’ first since 2008, and only second in program history. Ronan would make a nice move to the backhand and score to put the Huskies on the board at 10:37. UAH was quick to respond capitalizing soon after at the 11:44 mark as the Chargers banged home a rebound loose in front to tie the game up, 1-1. The Huskies took the lead right back just three minutes later at the 14:39 mark. Max Letunov fed Tage Thompson up the right wing who dropped a pass to Miles Gendron who buried a quick wrist shot for his first career goal to put UConn ahead 2-1. The back and forth first period continued as the Chargers once more answered, this time just 25 seconds later. The first period ended with the score knotted, 2-2, and UAH leading the shot-clock 15-10. The Huskies would play much better in the seecond period, besting UAH on the shot-clock 12-5, but were whistled for three penalties which would prove costly. After killing off the two initial penalties of the period, UConn would allow the Chargers to score as Charger Max McHugh scored a power-play goal that he buried in the top-right shelf to put UAH up 3-2 heading into the third period. The Huskies and Chargers each had nine shots on net in the third period but the Huskies were unable to light the lamp in the period, and the Chargers tacked on two more goals, with Brennan Saulnier scoring at the 6:10 mark and the Chargers getting a shorthanded goal at the 11:00 mark from Hans Gorowsky, to deal the Huskies a 5-2 loss, and earn the series split. Steve Thulin made 24 saves in the loss his first career start in goal. The Huskies out-shot the Chargers for the second straight game, 31-29. UConn went 0-for-5 on the power-play while the Chargers went 1-for-7 in the game.
The Huskies’ next game was against fledgling Division I program, the Arizona State Sun Devils, in UConn’s home-opener as the Ice Bus returned home to the XL Center. The Huskies picked up where they left off last year at the XL Center, scoring just 1:42 into the game. With Derek Pratt sent to the box for roughing, Corey Ronan streaked up the left wing, throwing a shot on net, and Kasperi Ojantakanen collected the puck for the wrap-around tally to put UConn up 1-0 with the shorthanded goal, the first ever under head coach Mike Cavanaugh and the first one since 2013. The Huskies doubled their lead at the 16:45 mark, as Max Kalter scored his first collegiate goal, whipping a shot that found the back of the net as he fell. Just 53 seconds later, the Huskies scored again to make 3-0 when Spencer Naas tipped home a wicked wrist shot by Max Letunov for UConn’s first power-play goal of the season. Despite dominating the goal column, Arizona State actually out-shot the Huskies 12-10 in the first period. The Huskies continued to extend their lead, as Shawn Pauly got his first goal of the year, putting home a rebound of Evan Richardson through the pads to make it 4-0 to head into the third period; UConn out-shot the Sun Devils 19-5 in the second. At 6:16 of the third period, Arizona State stopped Rob Nichols’ shutout bid, as Sun Devil Ryan Belonger put home his own rebound in front. Not even three minutes later the Huskies got the goal back when Spencer Naas got his second power-play goal of the game, shoveling home a rebound off a Max Letunov wrister, to make it 5-1 Huskies, and that is the score it would stay. The Huskies out-shot Arizona State 12-8 in the third and 41-25 for the game, and Rob Nichols made 24 saves. The game was played in front of a small, fairly quiet crowd of 4404 in comparison to last year’s attendance, but was a result of the game being the same night of UConn Basketball’s First Night. UConn went 2-for-6 on the power-play while Arizona State went 0-for-4.
The Huskies took the ice the next weekend for their Hockey East Opener, on the road at the #7 Boston University Terriers. The Terriers carried play in the first period, out-shooting UConn 12-8, and had several good scoring chances, marked by Terrier Ahti Oskanen ringing the post twice on the power-play, but neither team found a way to score early on and both came up empty on their respective man-advantages in the period. That is, until the Terriers found the back of the net at 17:29 of the first period. Rob Nichols made a pair of nice saves but Terrier Ryan Cloonan chipped home a loose puck at the left post to put BU up 1-0 at the end of one period. The second period, however, belonged to UConn. The Huskies were on top on the shot-clock in the second period, 7-6, and got their first goal to tie the game up. After Tage Thompson fired a shot off the left post on a power-play, Max Letunov got his team-leading fourth goal. Kyle Huson found the puck and sent a pass to the streaking Letunov, who shoveled a back-hander over the shoulder of Terrier netminder Sean Maquire and in to knot the game up. The Terriers could not retake the lead, and both teams once again failed to score on their power-plays so the game went into the second intermission tied, 1-1. In the third however, it was all Boston University. They out-shot the Huskies 15-3, and scored on their first power-play that came at 4:52 of the third, just 58 seconds into the power-play. Danny O’Regan took a pass on the left wing and skated in and buried a wrist shot by Rob Nichols to make it 2-1 BU. BU struck again on the power-play during a five-minute major called on Spencer Naas. Ahti Oskanen shoveled the puck out of scrum to Terrier Fortunato who banged it home at the right post to make it 3-1 at 8:50. The Huskies couldn’t get anything going until they pulled Nichols with over a minute remaining. After a scrum in front of the net, the puck came loose and Max Letunov swooped in and put home the rebound with 23.6 seconds left to cut the deficit to 3-2. However, the Terriers put the game out of reach with an empty net goal off the ensuing face-off to hand the Huskies a 4-2 loss. For the game, BU out-shot UConn 33-18; Rob Nichols made 29 saves in net. The Huskies went 0-for-4 on the power-play while BU used the power-play to change the game in their favor by going 2-for-5.
The Huskies and Terriers resume their dogfight four days later as the home-and-home series comes to Hartford and the XL Center. The Huskies jump on the Terriers quickly and grab a 1-0 lead on the power-play, just 6:13 into the game. Joseph Masonius fed Johnny Austin who let a slap-shot fly and Tage Thompson cleaned up the loose rebound to put the Huskies in front. Play went back and forth for the remainder of the period and it looked like UConn would head to the locker room with a lead but BU scored to tie the game with 33 seconds remaining, also on a power-play. Terrier Charlie McAvoy fed a great pass to Danny O’Regan who buried it to knot the game up, 1-1. BU out-shot UConn in the first period 11-7. The second period saw the Huskies play even better, despite still being out-shot, 12-10, and pounce on the Terriers with a pair of nice goals. At 8:07 of the frame, Evan Richardson snapped a wrist-shot from the right circle that came in below the bar for another power-play goal and a 2-1 Husky lead. The Huskies added to their lead at 15:17 with a beautiful 2-on-0 breakout. Max Kalter made a nice move to get around the BU defense and sent a sweet pass to Joey Ferris in front who went top-shelf to make it 3-1 UConn heading into the third period. The Terriers came out flying in the third period, out-shooting the Huskies 15-7, but Rob Nichols kept making spectacular saves to keep the puck out of the net. Late in the third, the Huskies added some insurance to put Nichols at ease with a pair of goals just 45 seconds apart. At 16:01 of the third, Tage Thompson put home his second of the night by cleaning up a Spencer Naas rebound in front for a power-play goal. At 16:46, Tage Thompson completed his power-play hat trick with another power-play goal from a one-timer from a sweet pass from Max Letunov to make it 5-1 UConn. BU would sneak a wrist-shot by Rob Nichols with 52 seconds remaining but it didn’t matter as the Huskies picked up their first ever win over BU, their fourth win over a top-10 team, and their first Hockey East win of the year. BU out-shot UConn 38-24 and Rob Nichols had a season-high 36 saves; Tage Thompson recorded a hat trick for his first three career goals and Max Letunov recorded three assists. The Huskies went 4-for-7 on the power-play, and the Terriers went 1-for-5 with the extra man. A crowd of 5225 watched the game, in one of the most festive hockey games that had been played at the XL Center. Hats showered onto the ice after Thompson completed his hat trick, the Brass Bonanza blasted a record five times in the XL Center, red lights flashed and goal horns blared and the crowd didn’t stop cheering and giving UConn a standing ovation for the final four minutes. All and all, it was a raucous crowd that watched the Huskies dominate traditional powerhouse, Boston Univeristy.
The Huskies’ final game of the month was against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Halloween to start a weekend home series. It was the first meeting with the Irish at the XL Center as last year’s home game against them was played at the Webster Bank Arena, which was a secondary home last year for their transition to Hockey East. The first period was scoreless, with not many good scoring chances or much action, both teams failing to score on their lone power-play opportunities. Notre Dame led in shots in the first period, 11-6. The second period would not be so uneventful, as Notre Dame needed just 16 seconds to score. The Irish had a power-play to start the period, but the Huskies won the opening face-off and headed down the ice on an offensive rush, but the Irish regained the puck after a shot had been taken, and raced up on a breakout and Mario Lucia passed the puck to teammate Jordan Gross who beat Rob Nichols top-shelf for the 1-0 lead. The Huskies would tie it soon after, at 5:05, on a delayed penalty. Captain Patrick Kirtland threw a shot on goal that was padded away by Irish goalie Cal Peterson, and Shawn Pauly hacked at the rebound and Miles Gendron crashed the net and knocked the loose puck in to knot the game up, 1-1. The Huskies’ penalty kill then went to work killing off a five-minute major and a 5-on-3; the Huskies would also kill off a second 5-on-3 in the third. The score would stay unchanged heading into the third period; Notre Dame out-shot UConn, 8-6 in the second. The third was all Irish as they out-shot the Huskies 11-3, and got the go-ahead goal late in the third. Irish Steve Fogarty circled the net and sent a pass to Sam Herr at the right post who banged it home to make it 2-1. Patrick Kirtland and Joseph Masonius each had good chances with the extra-man, but the Huskies couldn’t find the equalizer and fell 2-1. The Huskies were out-shot in the game 30-15, with Rob Nichols making 28 saves. The Huskies went 0-for-5 on the man-advantage while Notre Dame went 1-for-5. 5160 fans attended the game.
The month of October, the first month of the 2015-2016 season, definitely gauged UConn’s growth and progress in only it’s second season in Hockey East. Their offense has improved since last season thanks to the likes of freshman like Tage Thompson and Max Letunov, who was named rookie of the month by Hockey East and national rookie of the month, who have both already recorded one hat trick apiece. After three home games at their second-year home the XL Center, they are already averaging 4940 fans per game, second in Hockey East. They are 3-3, and 1-2 in Hockey East play after October and six games, as compared to being 1-3-2, 0-2 in Hockey East to start last year. Even after just one month, the Huskies have exhibited better play and have shown to be a stronger team that has more depth.