UMass hockey whaled by Huskies, 8-2

For The Recorder
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. — It was a good night for nostalgic Hartford Whalers fans. For fans of competitive hockey, not so much.

Playing in the Whalers' old building, under the Whalers' old banners, UConn hockey has adopted the Whalers' beloved goal anthem, the Brass Bonanza.

The fans in the building for the Huskies heard eight renditions of storied song as the Huskies pounded UMass, 8-2, Tuesday at the XL Center.

“It was a strange game. 8-2 is an embarrassing score, but I wasn’t really embarrassed for our team. I thought we tried, but every time they shot the puck it was going in,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “I’m glad we have another game before the semester ends, I wouldn’t want to end the semester on that game.”

The Minutemen are at Union College Sunday at 5 p.m. before the 24-day holiday break.

UMass actually came out strong, dictating the play, pushing the action in the first 10 minutes. With Mario Ferraro in the box for charging, a deflected shot sprung Cale Makar on a short-handed breakaway. But Husky goalie Adam Huska (26 saves) stoned him.

“I’d love to see how it would have turned out if we scored that goal,” Carvel said. “It might have been a lot different. I liked our start. I thought we were really good for the first 10 minutes.”

UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh agreed.

“It was a huge save. That’s Makar coming down,” Cavanaugh said. “That was a huge save without a doubt.”

Moments later, UConn took a 1-0 lead. The power play had just ended, but the Minutemen were still scrambling. Ryan Wischow stopped Miles Gendron’s initial shot, but Jeff Wight grabbed the rebound on the right wing post. He looked almost like a bubble-hockey player spinning around to chip the puck into the top right corner.

The notes from Brass Bonanza still lingered in the old barn from Alexander Payusov’s goal that made it 2-0 with 7:35 left in the first when Wight struck up the band again, making it 3-0, 39 seconds later.

Carvel opted to lift Wischow (four saves) between the first two periods, hoping to spark his team. The Minutemen scored three times in a minute in Friday’s win over the Huskies at the Mullins Center, so the game didn’t seem out of reach at that point.

But Matt Murray (seven saves) barely had a chance to sweat before it was 4-0, 47 seconds into the middle frame.

“We were down 3-0. I really thought if we get the next goal we’re in good shape,” Carvel said. “I liked our first period. I’ve never been down 3-0 and been rather happy about the period. I thought it was a good challenge for the team to see if they could dig really deep. But when that fourth goal went in, it’s tough to overcome that.”

Murray gave up three in the second and Carvel turned to freshman walk-on Brad Arvantis, who gave up two in the third.

“Tonight we just didn’t get any saves,” Carvel said. “UConn was very opportunistic with their scoring.”

Carvel was concerned about Murray’s confidence. After a strong start to the year, the freshman struggled before getting lifted against UNH on Nov. 4 and gave up seven goals against Providence on Nov. 9.

“It was an opportunity to get him back. He hadn’t played in a couple weeks. That’s a tough situation. Then the first shot goes in. I’m a little concerned,” Carvel said. “It’s too bad.”

Brett Boenig scored 6:21 into the third period to make it 6-1, But Spencer Naas answered 33 seconds later to make it 7-1. Austin Plevy jammed home his first goal of the season with 40 seconds left to close the scoring.

NOTES – Makar and Mario Ferraro will find out for sure whether they’ve been chosen for Team Canada for the World Junior Championships in Buffalo later this month. Both freshmen defensemen are considered likely additions.

Depending if they make it or how far Canada advances, they’d miss at most two games – Jan. 5 at Yale and Jan. 6 at UMass-Lowell.

They could see Huska there. He’s expected to be the No. 1 goalie for Slovakia’s team.