If you were wearing UConn gear at the XL Center on Thursday, odds are it just wasn’t your night. It wasn’t for the two fans that participated in the blue line challenge during the first intermission and came closer to hitting a spectator than the net. It wasn’t for Jonathan the mascot, who kept firing t-shirts over the cheering crowd and into the abandoned balcony. And it most certainly wasn’t for the UConn Men’s Hockey team.
The Huskies (5-10-1, 2-8-1 HE) fell to the visiting Boston College Eagles (5-6-2, 5-1-2 HE) by a 4-0 final. Although the Huskies outshot the Eagles by a 30-27 margin, their conference rival got a goal whenever it needed one and received some stellar goaltending from their netminder.
The season of giving (away games)
The loss was UConn’s sixth straight and eighth in nine games. Since Nov. 3, the Huskies have been outscored 31-15.
The Huskies haven’t been fun to watch recently but its undeniable they’ve been creative in the fashion they’ve lost games. It’s been a healthy mix of blown leads, slow starts and noncompetitive blowouts.
This game belongs in the later category. Although UConn began the game on a fast pace, generating some scoring chances, the ice started to shift in BC’s favor toward the end of the first period after BC’s Julius Mattila scored in front of the net. Before the Eagles even scored their second and third goals of the game, there was a quiet hush over the crowd. The over 4,000 in attendance seemed to know this was already going to end up another digit in the loss column.
After the game head coach Mike Cavanaugh acknowledged that it can be hard to keep the team’s sprits up during a losing streak but that the team has to dig deep to pull themselves out of this hole.
“You can feel sorry for yourself or you can work harder,” Cavanaugh said. “ When things aren’t going your way you just have to dig deep and get back to basics and play fundamental hockey and trust your teammates. That’s something we’ll continue to hammer home as a club.”
Nothing special about these special teams
UConn entered Thursday night’s game tied for eighth in Hockey East in power play percentage and ninth in the conference on the penalty kill. The Eagles were able to take advantage of the Huskies ineptitude outside of five-on-five play, scoring two goals with UConn on the penalty kill.
Logan Hutsko scored BC’s first power play goal and second goal overall at the 7:24 mark in the second period. The sophomore forward was the recipient of a picture perfect pass from defenseman Casey Fitzgerald. The puck found Hutsko near the right faceoff circle without a UConn jersey within reach. UConn goaltender Adam Huska had little chance of stopping Hutsko’s one-timer.
Mattila scored both the second power play goal and his second goal of the game with just under five minutes left in the second period. Justin Howell earned himself a trip to the penalty box after a boarding call and Mattila was there to make him pay. The junior forward poked the puck in near the left of the crease for his fifth goal of the season to make it 3-0 Eagles.
The Huskies were equally lackluster when it was their chance to play with the man advantage. UConn finished the game a paltry 0-for-2 on the power play. Remarkably, this was a change for the Huskies. Despite losing their three previous games, UConn did at least manage to score in a power play goal in each loss.
Cavanaugh was more unhappy with the penalty kill than the power play, citing a few scoring chances they had on their two chances.
“Tonight we just didn’t kill penalties,” Cavanaugh said. “We’ve got to ice pucks. I thought twice we had the chance to get the puck down their 200 feet and we didn’t do it. When you don’t do that your killers get stuck on the ice.”
Woll is a Wall
If there was ever a chance that the Huskies could cut into the lead, a late rotation by a BC defender, a sliver of an open goal, Joseph Woll was there with a glove, a pad or a stick to dash UConn’s hopes.
The junior goaltender, fourth in Hockey East in goals allowed, was particularly impressive during down the stretch in the third period. With the Huskies desperate for a goal, they peppered the BC. On three consecutive plays, Woll was able to cover up the puck and create a stoppage in play before UConn could get their hands on a bouncing puck.
“The last five or six games he’s been remarkable in goal,” said Boston College head coach Jerry York. “Joe prevented them from getting closer to us and then our special teams were the difference after Joe’s play.”
If there is good news to takeaway for UConn, it’s that they don’t have to wait long for a chance at revenge. Both teams are back in action Friday night as the series shifts to the Conte Forum in Boston. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.