After dropping Game 1 the night before, the Huskies scratched, clawed and fought for the right to keep playing on Saturday night at Agganis Arena. They laid some heavy hits and peppered Boston University goaltender Jake Oettinger with 37 shots. However, BU had the edge where it mattered most: A 2-1 advantage in goals.
Both teams played a pretty even first period as each side racked up several scoring chances but just couldn’t find the back of the net. BU finally broke through with just three seconds left. Brady Tkachuk did the honors, scoring on the powerplay after Max Kalter was whistled for roughing at the 19:40 mark.
For the second night in a row, UConn was down a goal after the first period. However, head coach Mike Cavanaugh said the locker room was composed going into the second period.
“No one was panicked,” Cavanaugh said. “I knew we were going to play well.”
Pressed for a goal, the Huskies kept the pressure on BU in the second period, outshooting the Terriers 13-7 in the period and for the second night in a row, Kalter opened up the scoring for the Huskies.
At the 9:08 mark, Joe Masonius unleashed a wrister from the slot that Kalter was able to deflect pass Oettinger to give the large contingent of UConn fans in the building something to cheer about.
The Terriers regained the lead with less than five minutes remaining when freshman Logan Cockerill hit Adam Huska with some fancy stickwork and beat the goaltender high glove side to make it 2-1.
Despite trailing by a goal, Cavanaugh trusted that the style of hockey they played to get to this point in the season was enough to ride to the final whistle.
“It wasn’t like we schemed or had a different gameplan for BU. We come out, we pressure teams, we come after you, don’t sit back,” Cavanaugh said. “That’s how we’re going to play as long as I’m head coach.”
Knowing they had 20 minutes to save the season, the Huskies gave BU all they could handle in the third period. They outshot the Terriers 15-5 in the period but just couldn’t find the goal they desperately needed.
UConn’s best chance to score came four minutes into the period where the puck bounced out to the feet Jesse Schwartz. The senior forward did his best to dodge Oettinger’s sprawled out pads but just couldn’t find his balance enough to get square to the puck.
“It’s a game of inches and sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t,” senior Spencer Naas said. “This weekend it just didn’t go our way.”
It was a heartbreaking end to a season in which the Huskies endured tremendous highs and lows.
“I’ve been involved with teams that have lost national championship games and while this certainly isn’t on this level, it kind of feels that way to me,” said Cavanaugh.
The game also ended the collegiate careers of UConn’s nine seniors. The first class in program history to play their entire career in Hockey East. In those four years, Cavanaugh says the seniors have helped develop a winning culture.
“In four short years they took a program that was hoping to compete, to expecting to win,” said Cavanaugh. “I hope our younger guys can appreciate and keep that going forward.”
Despite the sweep, UConn outshot BU in both games. Pair that with the fact that this was UConn’s best finish in Hockey East since joining in 2014 and it’s clear to see this program is still on an upward trajectory. According to Cavanaugh, look no further than the players on the ice for your proof.
“I don’t want to say we’re on par with BU but one through 25 it’s getting a lot closer,” the Huskies’ coach said.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.