Brass Bonanza was the goal song of the Hartford Whalers from 1977 until 1992. The song became a staple of Connecticut area sports and remained so even after the NHL departed the Nutmeg state in 1997. It now serves as the goal song for the UConn Huskies, and in the only college hockey game on Tuesday night, Jack Say’s most played track was heard eight times as the Huskies had their best offensive performance in many seasons, topping the Massachusetts Minutemen 8-2.
The promising Amherst Minutemen actually got off to a stronger start in the opening frame. UConn did not get a shot on goal until almost five minutes into the frame and UMass outshot the Huskies 6-1 in the first 7:30 of the game.
UMass had their best chance to score on a breakaway following a Mario Ferraro charging penalty. While on the kill, Cole Makar had a breakaway attempt. Adam Huska saved the shot and kept the game scoreless. From there, the game turned completely in UConn’s favor.
Immediately after the UConn power play ended, Jeff Wight got to the slot, controlled a loose puck, and fired a backhander by UMass’s starting netminder Ryan Wischow. Ferraro was called for another penalty later in the first and Alexander Payusov buried a shot on the ensuing power play for a 2-0 UConn lead.
Jeff Wight closed out the period’s scoring 39 seconds after the Payusov tally with his second goal of the game. That gave Wight his first career multi-goal game and UConn a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.
Minutemen Coach Greg Carvel switched goalies after the first period. Ryan Wischow gave way for Matt Murray. Sadly for the new entrant, he could not stop the Husky avalanche. Brian Rigali opened the second with his first collegiate goal only 47 seconds into the frame.
The onslaught continued with two goals from Benjamin Freeman, one a tip-in on Corey Ronan’s shot and the other a shot off a UMass turnover in their own zone.
UConn took a 6-0 lead into the second intermission and chased their second goaltender of the night. Matt Murray left and Brad Arvanitis made his collegiate debut in the third period. UConn welcomed him to the ice with another goal. This one was a Maxim Letunov shot that snuck over the line and gave UConn a 7-0 lead.
UMass got on the board 6:21 into the frame with a Brett Boeing shot from the slot. And UConn extended their lead with a Spencer Naas goal 33 seconds later. Mike Cavanaugh decided to pull Adam Huska with 5:27 left in the game for Bradley Stone to make his collegiate debut. He made his first save and gave up his first goal, an Austin Plevy score on a rebound following a wraparound.
When the dust settled, the fans in Hartford applauded their team’s best scoring effort since November 23, 2013, against American International College, and the Huskies had a needed conference win in their last Hockey East contest of the semester.
Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh was happy with his team but kept perspective.
“I’m real happy with our team. I don’t think the score reflected the whole game. UMass really carried the play to open the first period. Adam (Huska) made some big saves and kept us in that game. Wight’s goal got us going and we were in business from then on. That was a much-needed win for our team.”
Huska made 26 saves on 27 faced shots. Benjamin Freeman recorded his first career multi-goal game with 2 goals and Corey Ronan notched his first multi-point game of the season with 2 assists.
The Huskies climb to 7-11-2 overall and 5-7-1 in Hockey East. They split the season series with the Minutemen after Friday night’s 4-2 loss in Amherst and leapfrog three teams in the Hockey East Standings.
UConn entered the game tied with New Hampshire and Maine for 6th place with 9 conference points and just behind UMass Lowell, with 10 points. With the win, the Huskies get two points and rise to 11 points, tying them with Boston University for 4th place in the conference.
UConn welcomes 16th ranked Colgate to the XL Center for the final home game of the calendar year on Friday night. Puck drops at 7:05 pm.
UMass head coach Greg Carvel was disappointed but not crushed after the game.
“That was quite an anomaly of a game. We haven’t started well on the road this season. We made it a point this season, and in the first 10 minutes of the game, I thought we were excellent. Huska made some big saves, then we started taking penalties. We just didn’t get any saves tonight. Strange game. 8-2 is an embarrassing score. I wasn’t embarrassed for our team. We tried hard tonight.”
All three UMass goalies got in the game and none had strong efforts. Each got a period and they combined for 8 goals allowed on 22 Husky shots for a 63.6 save percentage. The Minutemen fall to 8-7 overall and 3-4 in Hockey East. UMass wraps up their 2017 schedule with a trip to play Union College in Schenectady, NY, against the Union College Dutchmen. Puck drops at 5 pm on Sunday at the Achilles Center.