UConn men's hockey surges past Vermont, 4-1

The Huskies scored three goals in the third period to keep their season alive.

Photo: Ian Bethune

UConn men’s hockey kept its season alive with a 4-1 win over the 9-seed Vermont Catamounts in the first round of the Hockey East Playoffs on Wednesday. The Huskies advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday against Boston College.

Matthew Wood opened the scoring for UConn in the first round and then Andrew Lucas broke a tie in the third period on a power play goal with 6:07 remaining. Harrison Rees added some insurance two minutes later then Joey Muldowney sealed it with an awarded empty-netter in the final minute.

The Huskies’ special teams made the difference. They went 2/2 on the power play, 2/2 on the penalty kill and added the empty net score as well. Between the pipes, Arsenii Sergeev stopped 26 of 27 shots in the victory.

UConn’s power play snapped a seven-game scoreless drought by converting on its first opportunity of the night. The Huskies won the initial face-off and found Ryan Tattle on the back post, whose one-time shot hit the crossbar. They regained the puck and eventually got it to Wood, who skated into the slot and tucked a shot into the far post to put UConn up 1-0.

While the Huskies took that lead into the first intermission, Vermont tied it just over two minutes into the second period. Thomas Sinclair picked up the puck in front of his own net, skated all the way down the ice and beat Sergeev high to even the game at 1-1.

In the third period, UConn had a few dangerous scoring chances in transition. Jake Percival sprung free on a breakaway but got turned away with a kick save. Later, Tattle had a shot on the doorstep stopped initially but the puck kept rolling and just trickled around the wrong wide of the post.

The Huskies got a second power play and again took advantage. After a few initial chances, Lucas picked it up and ripped a shot from the top of the slot that found twine and put UConn up 2-1 with 6:07 remaining.

Off the ensuing face-off, the Huskies jumped the Catamounts and nearly doubled the lead again with a pair of grade-A chances, only to be denied by the goalie. After matching minors for roughing, UConn finally struck again.

Rees took the puck down, executed a give-and-go with Hudson Schandor and took it to the net, where he flipped a back-handed shot up and over Carriere to double the advantage.

The Huskies didn’t just cruise the rest of the way. John Spetz took a holding penalty with 3:36 left and Vermont eventually turned it into a 6-on-4 power play after pulling the goalie. UConn’s penalty kill came through to get the difference down to one man and eventually sealed it.

Muldowney won the puck and skated it up along the board. He fought through a UVM defenseman to get to the net and got taken down before he could score. The officials called a penalty and awarded the goal to Muldowney to make it 4-1 Huskies with 49 seconds left to secure the victory.

Next, UConn will head to Chestnut Hill to battle the top seed Boston College Eagles. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at Conte Forum.