NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The UConn Huskies got 39 saves from junior Adam Huska (Zvolen, Slovakia) and goals by juniors Alexander Payusov (Motnreal, Quebec) and Benjamin Freeman (Falmouth, Maine) and sophomore Brian Rigali (Libertyville, Ill.) on the way to a 3-1 win over No. 15 ranked Yale University Monday afternoon at Ingalls Rink.
The win snaps a seven-game losing streak for the Huskies and marks the program's first-ever win over the state-rival Bulldogs, ending a 13-game drought. UConn improves to 6-11-1 overall while Yale falls to 7-4-2.
After a scoreless first period, UConn's Payusov opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the season at 7:17 of the second. The Huskies were primed to take a 1-0 lead into the locker room but Yale's Anthony Walsh just beat the horn in the period to tie the game with 0.5 seconds left.
The Huskies put 11 shots on goal in the third period and Freeman produced the game-winner at 9:52, backhanding a shot past Yale's Sam Tucker for a 2-1 lead. The Bulldogs pulled Tucker with just under two minutes to play and Rigali picked-up the empty net goal to seal the win at 18:48.
Huska's 39 save night matched his season-high, stopping 11 in the first, 16 in the second and 12 in the third. Yale, who was 0-for-3 on the power play, got 21 saves from Tucker.
Yale held an 11-8 shot advantage in the first but neither team could find the back of the net. The Bulldogs came up empty on a pair of power play chances while the Huskies got one late in the period but failed to convert.
The Bulldogs got a great scoring chance midway through the period as a 2-on-1 developed but Ted Harts rang one off the post. On Yale's second power play chance, UConn's Max Kalter (Highland Park, Ill.) got loose for a shorthanded breakaway chance but Tucker came up with a pad save to keep the game scoreless.
The Huskies took just under seven minutes to get their first shot of the second period but found the game's first goal on their second shot at 7:17 as Payusov notched his team-leading 10th of the season. Sophomore Adam Karashik (Ridgefield, Conn.) found Payusov in the neutral zone and the sophomore carried into the zone and beat the Yale defense to the slot where he placed a perfect backhanded shot past Tucker to a 1-0 lead.
It looked as if Huska and the Huskies would take a 1-0 lead into the second break but Yale struck with less than a second to play in the frame. Walsh picked-up the puck in front and whipped a shot past Huska for his second of the season with the clock showing 00:00. After an official review, the goal stood with 0.5 seconds left.
The Huskies jumped back up 2-1 at the 9:52 mark as Freeman provided the eventual game-winner with his third of the season. The junior picked-up a feed from El-Mir and carried the puck on his backhand across the front of the goal, pulling Tucker out of position before burying the backhander for a 2-1 lead.
The Bulldogs used a time-out at 1:58 in the third and pulled Tucker for the extra skater looking to tie. The Huskies broke the puck loose and Kale Howarth (Red Deer, Alberta) chipped it up to Rigali who beat the defense down to tap it into the empty net for his second of the season and a 3-1 edge.
The Huskies head out west to Las Vegas to take part in the Ice Vegas Invitational with Air Force, St. Lawrence and Western Michigan. UConn will face Western Michigan on Friday, Jan. 4 at 8 pm EST in the opener of the tournament.