HARTFORD, Conn. - UConn senior Karl El-Mir (Montreal, Quebec) scored a pair of goals, one shorthanded, as the Huskies picked-up a 5-2 Hockey East win over the Maine Black Bears in their home opener Friday night from the XL Center. The Huskies improve to 3-2-0 overall and even their league mark.
Junior Alexander Payusov (Montreal, Quebec) scored for the third-straight game and the fifth time this season in the win. Freshman Jachym Kondelik (Budejovice, Czech Republic) had a pair of assists to add to his team-leading total while junior Wyatt Newpower (Hugo, Minn.) had a career-high three assists.
Maine's only lead of the night came on Tim Doherty's goal just 1:18 into the first. The Huskies took a 2-1 lead into the first break on goals by El-Mir and Payusov and after a scoreless second, put three on the board in the third from El-Mir, freshman Carter Turnbull (Nanaimo, British Columbia) and junior Benjamin Freeman (Falmouth, Maine).
The Huskies outshot the Black Bears 33-26, with junior goaltender Adam Huska (Zvolen, Slovakia) making 24 saves to secure the win. Maine's Jeremy Swayman turned in 28 saves in the loss.
Maine falls to 2-3-0 overall and 0-1-0 in Hockey East.
Maine struck first and fast, putting the first goal on the board just 1:18 into the game. Adam Dawe came up the right wing and fired on net with Doherty breaking in front getting a stick on the puck, redirecting past Huska for his third on the year and a 1-0 lead.
The Huskies got their first of the night at 4:44 with Payusov collecting his team-leading fifth on the season. Kondelik cycled the puck to classmate Corson Green (Potsdam, N.Y.) at the high point and he put a shot on net through some traffic. Payusov was camped in front of Swayman and got a deflection to knot the game at 1-1.
UConn grabbed the lead late in the first as El-Mir put one home at 18:18. Kondelik, assisting on his second of the night, fed El-Mir behind the Maine defense deep in the zone and the senior beat Swayman top-shelf, stick side.
A scoreless second period saw plenty of chances on the power play for both teams with the Huskies going 0-for-4 and the Black Bears were 0-for-2 with the extra skater.
UConn pushed their lead to 3-1 at the 3:53 mark on El-Mir's second of the night, coming shorthanded. Off a face-off deep in the Maine zone, UConn's Newpower looked to clear the puck around the boards. A Black Bear miss played it along the boards at mid ice with El-Mir sweeping in to take it and go on a breakaway, putting one past Swayman to the far post from the right circle.
Maine pulled back to within one at 5:35 as the Black Bears forced a turnover deep in the Husky zone and and Westerlund picked it up in the left corner and got to the slot, beating Huska for his first on the year.
UConn took back a two-goal lead at 10:40 with a goal on a 4x4 chance. Senior Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury, Mass.) fed Turnbull into the zone and a 2-on-1 chance. Turnbull kept the puck and fired from the right circle, beating Swayman glove side for his second on the season.
The Huskies put the game away at 15:32 as Freeman got a redirected goal on the power play, getting his stick on a Newpower shot from the point for a 5-2 lead.
The Huskies and Black Bears will close out their weekend series tomorrow afternoon from the XL Center at 3:05 pm.