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UNH hockey shut down by UConn in 2-1 loss

Jan. 21—DURHAM — Arsenii Sergeev was the difference in the University of Connecticut men's hockey team's 2-1 Hockey East victory over the University of New Hampshire on Sunday.

Sergeev, a sophomore goaltender and Calgary Flames prospect, made 43 saves for UConn, frustrating both the Wildcats and their faithful among the 5,482 fans in attendance at the Whittemore Center.

No. 17 UNH (12-7-1, 5-4-1 Hockey East) and the Huskies (10-11-2, 6-8-1) split the weekend series. The Wildcats earned a 5-0 road win over UConn last Friday.

"Obviously, the result is disappointing but I thought our team played very hard," UNH coach Mike Souza said. "I thought their goalie was outstanding ... The puck, we moved it well. We just couldn't solve Sergeev tonight."

Kristaps Skrastins pulled the Wildcats within one with 6:14 remaining in the game on his goal from the slot. The sophomore right wing held the puck as a UConn skater dove to make a block and then went top shelf on Sergeev for his third goal of the season.

UNH pulled junior transfer goaltender Jakob Hellsten for an extra skater with 2:17 left coming out of a timeout. Sergeev denied a Cy LeClerc blast through traffic and an earlier scrum in front of his cage over those final few minutes to preserve the Huskies' lead.

UConn logged 23 penalty minutes but held the Wildcats scoreless on their four power-play opportunities and 15 shots on goal while on the advantage.

"Sometimes that's hockey — you run into a goalie who's going to stand on his head," UNH captain Alex Gagne, a junior defenseman from Bedford, said. "Credit to (Sergeev). He was making saves all night. Then again, we had our chances."

Huskies coach Mike Cavanaugh said Sergeev looked locked in right from the start and the netminder did a nice job preventing second- and third-chance opportunities for UNH.

UConn took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission behind second-period goals from sophomore wing Ryan Tattle and junior wing Chase Bradley.

On a three-on-two rush, Tattle floated into the slot and beat Hellsten (22 saves) glove side 1:36 into the middle frame to open the game's scoring.

Bradley, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, scored in front off a backhanded feed from Tristan Fraser and a secondary assist from Jake Richard.

Cavanaugh said he thought the Huskies limited UNH's speed through the neutral zone and made some of the Wildcats' top lines spend most of their shifts in the defensive zone in the second period.

"If you make them play 20-25 seconds worth of defense, it's a lot harder for them to go play offense," Cavanaugh said.

UConn set the tone for what was a physical and heated game with Hudson Schandor's five-minute major kneeing penalty and subsequent game misconduct 3:16 into the opening period. Schandor kneed UNH freshman right wing Ryan Conmy, who was in pain after the play but quickly returned to the ice.

Marty Lavins, who scored in Friday's win over the Huskies, assisted on Skrastins's tally.

UConn went 0-for-3 on the power play, mustering three shots on goal.

Souza said there were a lot of positives to take out of Sunday's game, similar to UNH's 3-0 loss at No. 1 Boston University on Jan. 13.

"We're playing the right way," Souza said. "If we continue to do that, we're going to find ourselves on the winning end more often than not."

ahall@unionleader.com