STORRS, Conn. – The University of Connecticut used a stout defensive performance and goals from three different skaters to take a 3-0 victory over the Bentley University hockey team in the opener of an Atlantic Hockey series Friday night.
Freshman goalie Robby Nichols made 28 saves, while seniors Jordan Sims and Brant Harris led the UConn offense with one goal and one assist each. It's just the second time this season Bentley has been shutout and first time in Atlantic Hockey play. The Falcons, who fall to 11-5-4 in AHA games, lose consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 26 and Nov. 1 against Harvard and Merrimack. UConn improves to 12-5-3 in the AHA.
UConn got off to the best possible start with a goal from Sims just 1:28 into the contest. Sims jammed away at a loose puck in front of Bentley goalie Branden Komm (Williamsville, N.Y./Northfield Mount Hermon), who made three saves from close range, two on Sims and one on Harris. But on the fourth shot Sims finally got it past Komm to give the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.
If it wasn't for some solid saves by Komm, UConn would have added to its lead in the early parts of the period as Bentley struggled to find its legs. As the period wore on they got into the game more and ended the frame with eight shots on Huskies goalie Nichols, but tough UConn defense prevented many grade A chances.
After a Bentley tripping penalty with 30 seconds left in the first, the Huskies cashed in and bookended a strong first period with a goal from Harris with just seven ticks left, to lead 2-0 at the first intermission.
The second period didn't go much better for the Falcons as they were outshot 17-9, and conceded their third goal of the game, this time to freshman Brent Norris at 5:04 to fall behind 3-0. Norris' goal came on a wrist shot from close range, just inside the left face-off circle and through the five-hole to extend UConn's lead.
Bentley's comeback efforts were further hampered by taking four different penalties during the period, and as a result they spent a significant amount of the period on the penalty kill.
The Falcons didn't get anything going in the third period as the Huskies continued to put the clamps down on the Bentley offense. UConn also kept Bentley's high-powered power play in check, holding them to a 0-5 night, including killing off a 19 second 5-on-3 advantage with 3:28 remaining.
Bentley will attempt to salvage a series split Saturday night when they host the Huskies at Ryan Skating Arena. Face-off is at 7:05 pm for the team's first home game in four weeks.