UConn pulled off a stunning upset against Boston College this weekend, snapping a five-game losing streak against the Eagles.
UConn (6-4-0) is now on a two-game winning streak and the team is firing on all cylinders right now. After having some inconsistent performances earlier in the season, such as against New Hampshire and Colgate, it appears that the Huskies have turned the corner. The Huskies were in control of the game against BC (9-1-0) from the very start.
For UConn, the key to beating the Eagles was very simple. The Huskies had to score in the first period and take an early lead. BC has a terrific offense. Teams that fall behind are very unlikely to be able to catchup with them. The Eagles are in the top three in every major offensive category this season. The leading goal scorer in Hockey East, Hannah Bilka, also plays for the Eagles.
“We had to play defensive-minded in a lot of aspects. We wanted to take away their rush opportunities and win the puck battles in the corners,” said head coach Chris Mackenzie regarding his message to the team leading up to this matchup. The Huskies were going to have to give it their all on defense throughout the game if they wanted to prevent the Eagles offense from getting going. UConn was also going to have to find a way to prevent Bilka from having a monster game.
The Huskies wasted no time getting the scoring started, scoring a goal less than a minute into the first period, giving UConn a 1-0 lead as well as momentum and confidence. The goal was scored by Taylor Wabick, her first goal of the year. The Eagles responded to giving up a goal by playing very physical as they tried to swing the momentum back to their side. BC would end up taking a total of 10 shots on goal in the first period.
UConn was playing very solid on the defensive end, however. The Huskies did exactly what Mackenzie wanted them to do, as they took away the majority of scoring opportunities in the middle, forcing the Eagles to look for scoring opportunities elsewhere. The Eagles had a couple of one-on-one scoring chances in the first period that they were unable to capitalize on thanks to stellar play from goalie Morgan Fisher.
Later in the first period, Morgan Wabick scored to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead. It was Wabick’s fifth goal of the season. The Eagles once again started to get in rhythm on the offensive end and came away with a goal from Delaney Belinskas to cut the lead to 2-1.
With under three minutes left in the first period, the Eagles were again testing the Huskies defense, but were unable to capitalize thanks to three great saves by Fisher. Her saves helped swing the momentum back in UConn’s favor. The Huskies were able to capitalize on this, scoring a goal with under 30 seconds remaining to take a 3-1 lead. The goal was scored by Viki Harkness for her third of the year. UConn is the first team this season to score three goals against BCin the first period of a matchup this season.
At the end of the first period it was clear that the Huskies were not intimidated by the Eagles, nor were fazed by how physical the Eagles were playing. UConn was also not committing penalties, preventing BC from getting easier scoring chances.
Going into the second period it would not have been surprising to see either team look a little tired based on how hard both teams played in the first period. That was not the case and instead the intensity picked up even more. With both teams were playing aggressive and physical and some big hits were dished out. The Eagles were again driving on the offensive end and doing everything they could to score but were again unsuccessful.
UConn was able to limit the Eagles to only four shots in the second period, three of which came early on. The Huskies on the other hand took 14 shots in the period and came away with one goal, scored by Natalie Snodgrass, to give UConn a 4-1 lead. The Eagles had another great chance to score with a one-on-one opportunity but thanks to a fantastic save from Fisher they found themselves scoreless in the second period.
BC would score another goal early in the third period to cut the lead to 4-2. The Eagles would not let up on defense, but UConn’s defense was bending but not breaking. The Huskies scored again to increase their lead to 5-2 with under seven minutes remaining. The goal was scored by Harkness for her second of the night and fourth of the season. That’s how it ended, and UConn was able to pull off the upset over the Eagles.
The MVP for UConn in this game was Morgan Fisher. She had a phenomenal performance against the best offense in Hockey East.
“It’s what we need from her. It’s her senior year and I know she is really trying to be poised and trying to be a leader for us,” said Mackenzie. This was Fisher’s second win on the season.
When asked about her performance and the team’s performance, Morgan said “I’m not winning games and we are not winning games if it is not for a collective effort. It was a great team effort and a great team win.”
Harkness, who scored twice tonight, was the difference maker on offense for the Huskies.
“I think our energy is really high. This was a good way to finish off the weekend and it’s putting us in a great situation for next weekend,” said Harkness regarding the Huskies’ performance.
Mackenzie was very happy with how his defense played. “We have done well defensively all year and I don’t think that will change. We generate momentum from our defense,” said Mackenzie.
UConn will take on Vermont Friday at 6:00 p.m.