Early goal doesn’t stand as UConn sends UMass hockey to 5th straight loss 

  • UConn opened its new hockey facility, the Toscano Family Ice Forum, last weekend and welcomed UMass to it Saturday. The Minutemen fell 3-1. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2023 8:02:54 PM

STORRS, Conn. – Ryan Lautenbach marked the UMass hockey program’s first visit to UConn’s Toscano Family Ice Forum with a goal just 12 seconds in on Saturday.

He skated up the right boards unmolested after winning a puck battle at the blue line and snapped a shot past UConn goalie Logan Terness. Many of the 2,691 fans hadn’t migrated from the concourse down to their seats. It was his first goal since Nov. 18.

“I liked their energy. They were ready to go. When they scored that goal, you could feel it. That line came out flying,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “We didn’t get much after that.”

UMass (9-12-3, 3-10-1 Hockey East) couldn’t have asked for a better start. The Minutemen needed more than a start, though, in a 3-1 loss Saturday. They only generated 16 more shots the rest of the game.

No. 13 UConn (15-7-3, 10-6-2) had 16 shots in the second period alone. The Huskies peppered Luke Pavicich, returning to UMass’ net for the first time in three games, from the moment the puck dropped after Lautenbach’s goal. He withstood every challenge initially with some help from the posts. The Huskies rang it three times in the first period.

Pavicich saved 37 shots, tied for the second most of his career.

“He was stellar. He was outstanding. The third goal, he had no chance. The second goal, no chance,” Carvel said. “He did absolutely everything he could to give us a chance. We get that goaltending every night, we’ll be alright.”

Nick Capone knotted the game at 1 late in the second period. He waited out Pavicich’s decision as he moved across the front of the net and tucked the puck into the far corner with 4:34 left in the second period. Ryan Tverberg picked up an assist.

Justin Person finished off a tic tac toe sequence at the back step from Hudson Scandor and Matthew Wood 2:46 into the second.

“We couldn’t get much going. We were really short handed,” Carvel said. “Our defense struggled to move pucks up the ice, and we didn’t have a lot of offensive zone time.”

UMass lost more than the lead in the second period. Captain Eric Faith left the game after taking a hard hit behind UConn’s net. He stayed down for a few minutes while the medical staff examined him. The senior skated off largely under his own power hunched over.

“He plays the game the right way. He’s reliable. He leads that way. He plays the game honestly, with integrity,” Carvel said. “I usually plug him deeper in the lineup knowing he’s not going to make mistakes. He doesn’t score a lot, but he played an honest game.”

Faith was the third UMass forward to leave the ice with an injury this series after the Minutemen lost freshman Michael Cameron and senior Reed Lebster on Friday in the 4-3 0vertime loss against the Huskies. UMass is also without top-end defensemen Aaron Bohlinger and Linden Algier.

UConn’s puck movement delivered an insurance goal midway through the third period. Chase Bradley whipped a cross ice pass to Tverberg, whose one-timer beat Pavicich to the far side of the net with 9:26 left.

UMass lost for the fifth game in a row, its second streak of that many defeats this season.

“The only thing I can do is I know what my standards are and make it clear to them. I felt (Friday) they played a really good game. Quick turnaround coming in to this building, they really had it going (Saturday),” Carvel said. “We’ll get back to it Monday, and we’ll keep preparing and following the play. We’ve got to make sure guys don’t get frustrated and start coming off the page. When that starts to happen you know you’re in trouble, and that’s not the case.”

UMass travels to UMass-Lowell on Friday for its next Hockey East contest.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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