Coming off of a hard-fought 4-2 loss to Boston University last Saturday, the UConn men’s hockey team squared off in a midweek rematch against the Terriers at the XL Center. Dominated in the third period of Saturday’s game, the Huskies turned the tables on Tuesday night, recording a convincing 5-2 win against No. 7 Boston University in front of a home crowd of 5,225 people.
Saturday’s loss left a bad taste in the team’s mouth, and UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh knew that his players could do better.
“On Saturday, we played a pretty strong game for forty minutes, and we didn’t play in the third. I know that bothered everyone, not just myself,” said Cavanaugh. “Tonight, we made a commitment to come out and play sixty minutes.”
And for those 60 minutes, UConn (3-2-0, 1-1-0) was the better team. The Huskies went 4-7 on the power play to down BU (2-2-0, 1-1-0) and recorded their first conference win of the season.
In total, 10 Huskies recorded points on Tuesday. Freshman Tage Thompson netted a hat-trick to lead the Huskies, the first three goals of his college career. Junior Evan Richardson tallied his first goal of the year, as did senior Joey Ferriss. Max Letunov extended his point streak to five games, assisting on two of Thompson’s goals.
UConn took the lead at 6:13 through Thompson. After Boston University forward Bobo Carpenter was sent to the box for hooking, sophomore Johnny Austin ripped a shot from deep that eventually found Thompson unmarked in front of the net. The freshman calmly swept it into the net for his first career goal, and fifth point of the year.
However, BU battled back and tied the game with under a minute left in the first. Derek Pratt took a penalty for high-sticking at 18:37, and it didn’t take long for the Terriers to take advantage. Danny O’Regan tied the game at 19:28 in front of an open right post off a feed from Charlie McAvoy.
The two teams traded penalties to start the second period. UConn went on the power play 28 seconds in, but was unable to capitalize on Matt Lane’s two minute holding penalty. The Terriers went on a power play of their own a minute later, but were also unable to break through.
Richardson restored UConn’s lead at 8:07 in the second period with a power play goal. Chase Phelps was sent to the box for interference, and just a minute into the power play, the junior slipped a low wrist shot past BU goalie Connor LaCouvee.
The Huskies struck again seven minutes later, with Ferriss recording what proved to be the winning goal. Max Kalter picked up a loose puck in the zone and found Ferriss in the middle, who one-timed his shot over LaCouvee to put UConn up 3-1. Cavanaugh tabbed Ferriss’s first goal of the year as the real turning point. As UConn built momentum, the crowd in Hartford was started to get loud.
“That’s not an easy play when you’re on your forehand to be able to finish that one-time upstairs,” said Cavanaugh. “That was a big goal for us going into the third period.”
BU worked their way back into the game in the third period, but UConn killed a couple of penalties to weather the storm. Late in the third, the Huskies put the game out of reach, capitalizing quickly on a pair of BU penalties. Shane Switzer was whistled for hooking at 15:46, and Thompson immediately punished the Terriers. Just 15 seconds into the power play, he slammed home a Letunov rebound past LaCouvee to make the score 4-1.
Thompson completed his hat-trick less than a minute later. With Jordan Greenway in the box for interference, Letunov recorded his second assist, finding Thompson wide-open in the left circle. Thompson rifled the puck into the net for UConn’s second hat-trick of the year.
Phelps grabbed one back for BU with under a minute remaining, but it was too late to save the game. UConn went on to with a score of 5-2.
Thompson had four points prior to Tuesday’s contest, but they were all assists.
“I feel like it was just a matter of time,” said Thompson. “I just kept playing the simple game that coach has been stressing.”
The young Naas-Letunov-Thompson line has been dynamic this year, producing 10 goals so far.
“It’s been awesome playing with [Letunov] and Naas,” said Thompson. “I really feel like we’re starting to click, especially at practices, and it’s starting to show in games.”
Pete Harasyko is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.