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Men's hockey suffers set back against Canisius

By Tim Fontenault
On December 2, 2012

The UConn men's hockey team's momentum was halted this weekend as the Huskies were swept in a weekend series with Atlantic Hockey Association foe Canisius.
The Huskies (4-7-1, 3-6-0) were the victims of stunning goaltending from Canisius junior Tony Capobianco. UConn scored only one goal, despite outshooting the Golden Griffins 82-39.
The game on Friday started off much like the series last weekend against Air Force. This time around, it was Canisius who were looking for revenge, as UConn eliminated them in the first round of last season's AHA Tournament, and the Huskies had won each of the previous four meetings.
The play was fast and physical right from the start, and it looked like the game was heading towards a back and forth defensive battle where one goal could decide it. But Canisius found the breakthrough 16 minutes into the first period. After Capobianco denied UConn's Cody Sharib, the Golden Griffins were able to get down to the other end and defenseman Logan Roe was able to beat UConn goaltender Garrett Bartus for his first career goal.
UConn controlled most of the game after that and had several chances to get on the board, but Capobianco was a man possessed in the Canisius net this weekend, making a case to be the AHA Goaltender of the Week for the second straight week.
The Golden Griffins got their second goal with about three-and-a-half minutes to play in the third period, when Kyle Gibbons corralled a puck near the blue line off of a faceoff and pushed it towards goal, where it deflected off multiple skates past Bartus, who could not predict where it will end up.
Bartus went to the bench with 62 seconds left as the Huskies elected for an extra skater with the hope of getting back in the game, but Canisius' Preston Shupe put the game away with an empty net goal, giving the Golden Griffins a 3-0 win.
On Saturday, UConn dominated play, but sometimes that is not enough, and the Golden Griffins completed the sweep with a 3-1 win.
Assistant Coach David Berard decided to make a change in the team after Friday's loss, replacing his entire fourth line, with Joe Birmingham, Brad Smith and Tyler Bouchard, replacing Patrick Kirtland, Joe Budnick and Joey Ferriss.
The two teams exchanged a flurry of shots within the first two minutes, but ultimately went into the dressing rooms scoreless after one period.
11 minutes into the second, Canisius found the breakthrough. Cody Freeman got through alone against Bartus and went from left to right to slide in a backhander under the glove to give the Golden Griffins the lead.
For Freeman, it was only the second goal of his career, but the first one also came against UConn on March 3.
Shupe then got his second goal of the weekend, on only Canisius' eighth shot. Shupe was able to beat Bartus on the stick side on what looked like an easy save for UConn's all-time wins leader.
The goal resulted in Berard replacing Bartus with Matt Grogan, who was making his first appearance of the season and 11th of his career.
"I think we needed a little boost," Berard said. "I don't think it was a great goal and, you know, [Grogan] deserves an opportunity. He's a senior who works hard. We'll give him a chance. At that point it's 2-0 and they have eight shots on net, and we're down 2-0, so why not give him a chance?"
Less than a minute later, UConn put the game back within reach as Bouchard scored his first goal of the season with assists from his line mates Birmingham and Smith.
That was as close as UConn would get, however, despite some great chances towards the end of the third period. Defensive pairing Alex Gerke and Tyler Cooke played an uncharacteristically long shift with about a minute to play as they continuously peppered the net, with Gerke slamming a puck off the crossbar, but UConn could not catch a break all weekend.
The Huskies went empty net for the last 35 seconds and Gibbons put in the third Canisius goal with five seconds to play, resulting in a 3-1 loss for UConn.
"We tried to get traffic in front of [Capobianoc] and tried to get a crowd in front and work it down low. Everything we talked about the guys did," Berard said.
Berard also said he was impressed with the Smith, Birmingham and Bouchard on the fourth line on Saturday and he said it is very likely that they will keep their spot in the team for next Friday's game against Army at the Freitas Ice Forum. 


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