ORONO, Maine — The University of Connecticut’s Huskies had gone just 2-for-24 on the power play this season entering Friday night’s Hockey East game against the winless University of Maine’s Black Bears.
But the Huskies equalled their total and the second power play goal, coming off the stick of Jachym Kondelik with 7:17 remaining, broke a 3-3 tie and gave UConn a 4-3 victory in an entertaining affair.
UConn improved to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in Hockey East while UMaine fell to 0-6-1 and 0-3.
The teams will play again Saturday night at 7 p.m.
UConn outshot UMaine 36-30.
Kondelik was at the edge of the crease with his back to UMaine goalie Matthew Thiessen (32 saves) and took a pass from Ryan Tverberg, turned and jammed it through Thiessen for his third goal of the season.
“The effort and compete level were much better tonight,” said UMaine first-year head coach Ben Barr. “But everything we do wrong ends up in the back of the net.”
“I’m happy to get the win but I thought Maine was the better team tonight,” said UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh. “Their forecheck gave us fits. They did a great job taking us out of our game and dictating the play. They created a lot of odd man rushes. Our power play was a bright spot.”
Junior defenseman Adrien Bisson’s first-period goal staked UMaine to a 1-0 lead. It was his second of the season.
UConn sophomore right wing Tverberg scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season in the second period and Vladislav Firstov notched his fifth to offset a goal by UMaine’s Grant Hebert (2nd) to give the Huskies a 3-2 lead after two periods.
UMaine senior defenseman Jakub Sirota tied it six seconds into the third period when his slap shot from center ice beat UConn goalie Darion Hanson (27 saves) to the glove side.
But Hanson made several important saves later in the period, including one on an open 12-foot shot by Ben Poisson.
He had also saved a Poisson breakaway earlier in the game.
“Those were two good saves,” Poisson said.
“There was a lot of good to take out of this game. We have to build on it,” he added.
Thieseen made several great saves including a Kondelik breakaway earlier in the game.
Firstov tied it on the power play 4:41 into the second period when his one-timer from the left point deflected up over Thiessen’s shoulder.
Tverberg broke the tie at the 11:27 mark and he skated to the far post and directed Hudson Schandor’s pacey cross-ice pass back across the net inside the far post.
Hebert tied off a perfect feed from David Breazeale as Hebert one-timed the diagonal pass into the short side before Hanson could slide it across.
But UConn responded just 28 seconds later.
UMaine defenseman Cam Spicer had his stick lifted and the Huskies turned it into a three-on-one. Bisson fell down and Firstov slid the puck over to Tverberg and he deposited it past Thiessen.
A Black Bear power play that generated several chances gave UMaine momentum in the first period, and it wasn’t long after that Bisson opened the scoring.
Right after the power play, Adam Dawe had a pair of glorious scoring chances.
He cleverly maneuvered around a UConn defenseman and was able to break in down the right side. He worked the puck to his forehand side and tried to lift a 12-footer past Hanson into the short side corner but Hanson got his shoulder on the shot.
Seconds later, Matthew Fawcett put a perfect cross-ice pass onto Dawe’s stick as he cruised down the middle of the slot. But Hanson held his ground and smothered the shot.
UMaine’s pressure finally produced a goal when Keenan Suthers carried the puck down the right wing and spotted the late-arriving Bisson barrelling down the left wing.
The unattended Bisson took Suthers’ pass in stride and had a clear path to the net. He snapped a 15-foot wrister over Hanson’s glove into the far corner.
Dawe also picked up an assist, his first of two on the evening.
Suthers also had two assists in the game.
Tverberg and Firstov each had an assist to go with their goals.