On Tuesday night, the UConn men’s hockey team will return home to the XL Center to face Hockey East rival Boston University. The No. 7 Terriers defeated the Huskies 4-2 in Boston last Saturday, the first half of the home-and-home series between these two teams.
UConn played well for the first two periods Saturday, but the BU offense seized control of the game in the third period. The Terriers scored three times (one goal came on an empty net) in the final period to pull out the victory.
“I thought we played a really strong game for 40 minutes,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said after the game. “One to one on the road against a top-10 team. I thought we were playing toe to toe with them.”
Penalties killed the Huskies down the stretch in that game. The Terriers had three power-play opportunities due to UConn penalties, and scored goals on two of them. This pair of goals gave BU a 3-1 advantage with just over eleven minutes remaining, which they held onto for the win.
Cavanaugh acknowledged that his team’s special teams play was one aspect of their third period struggles.
“A lot of people are going to look at the third period and say special teams were the difference, and they were. Their special teams were better than ours but I think it was more than that,” Cavanaugh said. “I think they owned the first four shifts of the third period. That’s what set the tone for the third period, it wasn’t just those special teams goals.”
The BU power play is 3-for-14 so far in this very young season, including their 2-for-5 day against UConn.
Although the Terriers led the shooting tally 33-18, the Huskies still generated their fair share of scoring chances against BU goaltender Sean Maguire. UConn freshman forward Maxim Letunov, a former BU commit, earned the game’s third star by scoring the team’s two goals.
“He has a great skill set, a hockey sense,” Cavanaugh said of Letunov. “He’s 6’3” and he skates well. He sees the play he wants to make before he does it. It’s a skill you can’t teach.”
Letunov currently leads the Huskies with five goals and eight points, having recorded at least one point in each of the team’s first four games. The Huskies are going to need his offensive prowess if they hope to defeat BU this time around.
In their only game at Hartford this season, UConn’s offense churned out goals in a 5-1 rout of Arizona State. The team will be looking for a similar result when they return for their Hockey East home opener.
Puck drop between UConn and Boston University at the XL Center is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.
Tyler Keating is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.