HARTFORD, Conn. - The No. 8 ranked Providence Friars got a hat trick from junior Josh Wilkins on the way to dealing the UConn Huskies a 5-2 loss Tuesday night at the XL Center in a Hockey East match-up.
The Friars scored three unanswered goals in the third period to break open the game and drop the Huskies to 10-20-2 overall and 5-15-2 in Hockey East. Providence improved to 20-9-5 overall and 13-7-2 in the league.
UConn jumped up 1-0 early on a breakaway goal from freshman Jonny Evans (North Delta, British Columbia). Providence answered with a pair in the first from Wilkins and Kasper Bjorkqvist. The Huskies tied it up in the second period as freshman Kale Howarth (Red Deer, Alberta) scored on the power play.
Wilkins led the charge in the third period, scoring twice to complete his first career hat trick. Senior goaltender Hayden Hawkey made 14 saves to collect his 20th win on the year. The Friars held a 32-16 edge on shots.
UConn junior goaltender Adam Huska (Zvolen, Slovakia) stopped 27 shots in taking the loss.
The Huskies jump out to the quick lead, scoring just 1:42 into the game. Senior Max Kalter (Highland Park, Ill.) took the puck off the right half boards, deep in the UConn zone and sent a pass up to a streaking Evans who got free for a breakaway. Evans beat Hawkey five-hole for his sixth on the year and a 1-0 lead.
The Friars needed just 39 seconds to answer the Husky goal. UConn turned the puck over deep in their zone as an errant pass found the stick of Wilkens who skated in on Huska and beat the goaltender with a back hand for his 11th on the year.
Another Husky turnover in their zone led to Providence's second goal at 7:10. Failing to clear, Scott Conway picked-up the puck inside the blue line and fed the puck back down to Bjorkqvist who gave it to an oncoming Jack Dugan toward the right post. Dugan sent it right back and Bjorkqvist shoveled the pass past Huska for his 14th and a 2-1 lead.
The Huskies tied the game up on their first power play chance of the night as Howarth scored his fourth on the year. The puck cycled to freshman Ruslan Iskhakov (Moscow, Russia) at the point who fed junior Benjamin Freeman (Freehold, Maine) for a one-timer. Freeman's shot was stopped by Hawkey but Howarth was right in front to put home the rebound at 4:56.
The Friars took control in the third and put three on the board to put the game away. The three-goal run started at 3:50 as Wilkins put home his second on the night on the power play. Brandon Duhaime threaded a pass through the crease to the right circle where Wilkins was waiting and buried it on the open net for what proved to be the game-winner.
Wilkins completed his first-career hat-trick at 8:43 with a hustle play that resulted in a wrap-around goal. Ben Mirageas sent the puck in deep and Wilkens beat the UConn defense to the back of the net and then Huska to the far post to make it 4-2.
The Friars ended the run and the scoring at 9:59 as Duhaime buried a rebound off a Mirageas shot, his ninth of the season to make it 5-2.
The Huskies are right back at home on Friday night when they host the Vermont Catamounts at the XL Center. Opening face-off is scheduled for 7:05 pm.