Club Ice Hockey Shuts Out UMass, Falls to UConn

by Brian O’Neill
Central Connecticut’s club ice hockey home stand continued this weekend with games against UConn on Friday and UMass on Saturday. The Blue Devils split the two, losing to UConn and beating UMass and putting the team at 6-2-0 on the season.
“The main problem is the first 40 minutes we weren’t ready to play,” head coach Ben Adams said, regarding the 5-2 loss to the Huskies Friday night. “Too many unforced errors, too many mental mistakes, too many breakdowns in our zone, and we just weren’t ready to go tonight.”
The loss to UConn was Central’s first at home this season. The first period was controlled by UConn, with the Huskies spending most of the period on the attack. It wasn’t until two minutes left in the period that UConn broke onto the scoreboard, though.
The second period opened with a surge from Central, resulting in a game-tying goal from Central’s Frank Pisano, off a rebound from Andrew Mazurkiewicz. It wasn’t long before UConn responded with a power play goal coming from a scrum in front of the net. With the goal, UConn took back the lead and the momentum, scoring two goals in the last two minutes of the period, bringing the score to 4-1 at the end of the second.
The third period opened with a spark from Central, but the effort wasn’t enough for the Blue Devils, and even Central’s Matt Lis’ power play goal with 8:32 left to bring the game within two points was countered by UConn with a goal at 6:52 that made the final score 5-2.
“We’ll go back through and analyze as coaches and see if there are any changes that need to be made in the line combos. Any systems changes [needed] and we’ll make some adjustments tomorrow,” said Adam’s after the loss on how he planned to prepare for next night’s game.
Saturday night, when Central faced off against the UMass Minutemen, it showed that whatever changes the coaches decided upon worked well with the Blue Devils winning 5-0. The first goal came from Connor Loree, with the assists going to Ross Burton and Matt Lis. The goal was the first of the season for Loree, who joined the this year.
“I came across the blue line, and the puck squirted back to me, and I fired it as hard as I could, and it went in the back of the net,” Loree said, recounting the goal. He went on to talk about the team: “It’s good to join the guys up here. I had a couple friends, Jack Johnson, good to reunite and skate with him again. [It’s] good to be back up north playing hockey again.”
Defensively, the Minutemen didn’t have an answer for Central’s offense, with the Blue Devils scoring five goals in the game from Connor Loree and two each from Jack Johnson and Matt Lis.
Central’s offensive output was matched by the goalie play of both Zach ‘Goose’ Gosselin and Matt Greenwood, posting a shutout while stopping all 41 shots. Greenwood was subbed for Gosselin when a scrum in front of the net 13 minutes into the third period turned ugly and ended with Gosselin and UMass’ Casey Litwack ejected for fighting.
Then, just three minutes later, roughhousing broke out in front of Central’s net again, resulting in more ejections. In the last seven minutes of the game, eight players total — five from UMass and three from Central — had been ejected as a result of the two fights in front of the net, as well as a separate occurrence in the neutral zone.
“Our guys battled hard and emotions get the best of you whether you’re winning or you’re losing,” said Adams of the ejections. “Most of the scrums happened protecting our goalie, which I’m absolutely fine with. If they came somewhere else they’d be a problem.”
“The best part [of the game] was everyone played together,” Adams added. “It was the first team shutout we’ve had in quite a while. That’s what I liked the most out of this game.”
The Blue Devils resume play on Friday, Oct. 24, traveling to Albany to take on Siena before coming back to Newington Ice Arena on Saturday night to play Western Connecticut.