HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Friday night, Connecticut junior forward Beau McLaughin equaled his goal total from all of last season, scoring twice in the Huskies’ 4-1 win over homestanding Alabama-Huntsville.
Charger assistant Lance West was clear in pre-game interviews: the weakness of the Chargers was going to be with their young defense, where only juniors Doug Watkins and Ryan Brown have seen significant time paired up on the blueline.
Sure enough, the Huskies converted three defensive turnovers into goals past a helpless Scott Munroe, who made 15 saves on 19 shots.
The Huskies scored two goals in the first due to solid play in the neutral zone and winning pucks off the wall and in the corners. Alan Stevenson opened the scoring at 13:51 of the first and was followed five minutes later by McLaughin’s first tally of the night.
Charger captain Steve Milosevski brought UAH within one with the team’s first goal of the season, hammering a rebound of a Bruce Mulherin shot past Husky netminder Scott Tomes, who saved the other 36 shots he faced.
McLaughin answered Milosevski’s goal before the crowd had an opportunity to quiet down, winning the faceoff and moving quickly down the ice, picking up a defensive turnover in the slot and pushing it past Munroe.
Tempers flared in the second with a couple big hits for each side, including a Husky running into Munroe as the tender wrapped a puck behind the net for a defenseman. The quick goals to open the third amplified those tempers, and Husky forward Eric St. Arnauld received a major penalty and a game misconduct for hitting freshman forward Brett McConnachie from behind into the boards.
McConnachie remained motionless on the ice for two minutes before being helped to his feet and skating on the next shift.
The Chargers fought back valiantly on the offensive end, but Tomes, a freshman from Windham, N.H., stood tall in net. Tomes received a last bit of help with less than two minutes left, as fellow freshman Trevor Stewart picked up an ill-advised pass and fired the puck home for the Huskies’ fourth goal.
The two teams match up again Saturday at 7:05 Central time at the Von Braun Center. Connecticut raises its record to 1-1-1, while the Chargers drop to 0-1-0.