STORRS, Conn. — Ryan Corcoran netted the winning goal at 6:56 of the third period and goaltender Bryan Worosz made 38 saves as Canisius came from behind to defeat host Connecticut 3-2 Friday evening in Atlantic Hockey action.
“Bryan was outstanding for us,” said Canisius head coach Brian Cavanaugh. “We killed a lot of penalties in crucial situations, they did a good job of killing a two-down situation. On the other side of the coin, our power play got a goal for us tonight.
“Last season we played three games against a good UConn club, and lost all three, and this year we beat another good UConn club in all three meetings. That’s a good turnaround for us.”
The win gives Canisius (7-6-1, 6-1-0 AHA) sole possession of first place in Atlantic Hockey, as the Griffs entered the evening tied for first with Sacred Heart. The Pioneers tied Mercyhurst Friday evening 3-3, and the two squads will meet again Saturday.
The Huskies drew first blood midway through the first frame, scoring shorthanded at 9:35. An opportunistic Beau McLaughlin picked off a Canisius pass at neutral ice and headed into the Golden Griffins’ zone, fighting off a defender along the way.
McLaughlin’s attempt from the right side faceoff dot went top-shelf on Worosz, barely making it over his right shoulder for a 1-0 Connecticut lead.
Canisius bounced back less than a minute later. Andrew Dawe netted his sixth goal of the season from the slot at 10:32 by taking a rebound off a Michael Cohen shot and wristing it high, knotting the game at 1.
Eric Helstedt gave UConn back the lead at 13:10 with a little help from linemate McLaughlin. With traffic in front of the net and Worosz committed low, McLaughlin poked the puck across the slot to a wide-open Helstedt on the right side. Helstedt made quick work of the open net, making it 2-1 Connecticut.
The Griffs put the power play to work late in the first period, tying the game again. Fred Coccimiglio knotted the game at two at 18:01 thanks to a little help from linemate Joel Kitchen and younger brother Joey Coccimiglio, rifling a shot high into the cage.
Fortune looked to favor the Huskies entering the second period, as Canisius’ Brandon Irish-Baker was assessed a five-minute major late in the first after a collision with a Connecticut skater.
The Griff penalty killers thwarted the Huskies, but were put to work once again late in the second period on a 5-on-3 kill. Although a total of six power-play opportunities emerged in the second period, neither team could convert, as both squads skated into the second intermission still tied at 2.
“We just couldn’t find a way to get it into the back of the net; our power play has struggled a bit as of late,” said UConn coach Bruce Marshall. “Unfortunately, Canisius’ power play and special teams won the game for them.”
Ryan Corcoran gave Canisius the lead for the first time on the evening in the third period with his first goal of the season. Driving the slot on an odd-man rush, Corcoran deked UConn netminder Brad Smith before slipping the puck over the goal line at 6:56.
The Huskies stepped up the pressure, but Worosz was equal to the task. With less than two minutes to go, UConn forward Tim Olsen took a pass at the Griff blueline and skated for the net. The only thing that prevented him from tying the contest again was a spellbinding save by Worosz.
The Huskies pulled their netminder with seconds remaining in favor of the extra attacker, and although Olsen’s shot found its way past Worosz with only 15 seconds remaining in the game, teammate Matthew Scherer was ruled to be in the crease when the puck crossed the goal line.
Smith stopped 27 shots for the Huskies. Canisius finished the evening 1-for-6 on the power-play, while UConn was scoreless on its four man-up opportunities.
Canisius has not allowed a power-play goal in its last 32 kill situations, a span of five games.
“The penalty kill has absolutely been one of our strong points this season, and it starts with Bryan making saves and holding onto rebounds,” said Cavanaugh. “The penalty killers are making sure that there aren’t second or third opportunities, and they’re doing their job.”
Saturday Canisius (7-6-1, 6-1-0 AHA) travels to play at Sacred Heart, while Connecticut (2-10-1, 1-4-0) hosts Army. Both games are slated for a 7 p.m. start.