UConn Downs Yale 6-1 in CT Ice Opener

Clever Streich

In the opening contest of the 2023 Connecticut Ice tournament, the No. 12 UConn Huskies defeated the Yale Bulldogs in convincing fashion, 6-1.

UConn’s depth and special teams shined, as fourteen Huskies skaters recorded points in the victory. Additionally, the Huskies converted on three of four powerplay chances to advance to Saturday’s championship game.

“We played a really strong first period and a strong second period, special teams were big for us, and our powerplay was on point tonight,” said UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh. “If you want to be successful deep into March and in the playoffs, or win tournaments, you’ve [got to have] that much scoring.”

The Huskies got on the board quickly in the first. UConn graduate forward and former Yale Bulldog Justin Pearson tipped the puck in for a powerplay goal eight minutes into his first game against his old program since he transferred.

“He’s an A+ kid. We have a sign in our locker room that says ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’ and he does everything really well,” Cavanaugh said. “I think it just speaks volumes to the program [Yale head coach] Keith [Allain] has that these players come in and it’s a seamless transition.”

The Huskies grew the lead to two late in the frame with a goal from junior Ryan Tverberg, who went top shelf on Yale goaltender Luke Pearson to tally his 12th of the season. 

In the second period, Yale struggled to stay out of the box, as UConn’s powerplay went to work. First-year Huskies Matthew Wood and Samu Salminen each netted powerplay goals within the first five minutes of the frame, which pushed UConn’s lead to 4-0. 

The youngest player in NCAA men’s ice hockey, Wood showed his scoring prowess in the win with a three-point night on the power play.

“I think he’s second on our team now in points, for a seventeen-year-old kid, that’s pretty good in college hockey,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s his compete on the puck that’s really impressed me.”

Even strength goals from Roman Kinal and Jake Veilleux increased the Huskies’ lead to 6-0 at the end of the second. This forced Yale to swap their goaltender to junior Nathan Reid for the final frame. 

The Bulldogs avoided the shutout with a goal from Quinton Ong after UConn’s Chase Bradley was handed a game misconduct and a five-minute major for boarding, but the final buzzer relegated Yale to tomorrow’s consolation game at 4:00 p.m.

With the championship game against either No. 3 Quinnipiac or Sacred Heart looming, the Huskies want to keep the message simple.  

“Tomorrow night, the theme’s not going to be, ‘let’s go win a trophy’, it’s going to be ‘let’s go beat the opponent in front of us’. I think that’s what you have to stay focused on, and not the shiny object. That all comes when you just stay focused on the task at hand.” Cavanaugh said.

The Huskies will vie for their first-ever CT Ice championship against the winner of the Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart matchup, with puck drop set for 7:00 p.m.