CLAWED BY THE BOBCATS
UConn falls to No. 2 Quinnipiac on the road
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 23:01
HAMDEN – The deck was stacked against them from the outset, but the UConn men’s hockey team fought the odds for 56 minutes at No. 2 Quinnipiac Tuesday night.
A Connor Jones goal with 4:13 left in the third period tipped the scales in the Bobcats favor, as they edged out the Huskies for a 2-1 win in what turned out to be a hard-hitting, closely contested game.
Jones managed to put Quinnipiac ahead with a wide open net from just outside the top of the crease after UConn senior goalie Matt Grogan made two stops on shots from Jeremy Langlois and Matthew Peca.
Peca came flying into the zone down the right wing and fired from the top of the circle, and Langlois followed up from around the right dot on the rebound. Grogan was unable to corral the second attempt, and the puck squirted out into the slot for Jones to put home.
“It was a bang-bang play in tight,” Grogan said. “All I saw was I saw we had a D-man right at the top of the crease and I think it ended up going between his legs and before I could make a play it ended up in the net.”
The Bobcats originally took the first lead of the game 13:20 into the first period when Peca, a Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick, blasted a laser over Grogan’s glove from the high slot.
Throughout the first period, the Huskies struggled to keep QU out of their defensive end, and it showed in the shot totals. After the first 20 minutes, the Bobcats led 19-6 in that category, consistently getting traffic in front of the net to make Grogan’s life difficult.
“We prepared the guys and we knew that they were going to come out right away and try to run us out of the building,” UConn Interim Coach Dave Berard said of his team’s first period effort. “It was a bend-but-don’t-break approach, you know we hung in there. Matt [Grogan] made some real good saves and we hung in there.”
Berard said that keeping the game close in the first period bolstered his team’s confidence, and that was what led to their turnaround for the remainder of the night.
That newfound-confidence was apparent right out of the gate for the Huskies in the second period, as they forced the Bobcats to the perimeter of the rink and eliminated most of their slot presence. The decreased Quinnipiac pressure led to a more free-flowing game and end-to-end rushes throughout the middle 20 minutes.
That transition play led to a few solid opportunities for the Huskies, including the one that tied the game.
Junior Billy Latta picked up a long pass from Brant Harris and carried it into the zone on a breakaway, deking Hobey Baker-candidate Eric Hartzell and beating him just inside the right post to knot the game.
“Billy blocked a shot and the puck trickled over to his right side and Brant was sagging down into the slot,” Berard said, describing the goal. “Brant got the puck and Billy took off and [Harris] made a great pass and Billy got beyond their defenseman and went in and made an outstanding move. Hartzell’s a wonderful goalie so it was a big-time move and it was a great goal.”
Though they were unable to finish off the game, Berard was pleased with his team’s effort and “compete level” throughout the night, repeatedly praising their blue-collar work ethic and willingness to block shots and bang bodies.
The loss drops the Huskies to 9-11-2 on the season, while the win pushes Quinnipiac to 18-3-3.
Next up for UConn is a home-and-home series against American International College this weekend.