UConn (5-6-2) was able to take two out of the six possible points from the meeting after overcoming a 3-1 deficit on Friday in a shootout win. On Saturday the Huskies came within one goal of the Eagles (9-2-1) but were unable to grab the comeback after an unfortunate empty net goal by Boston College’s Jack St. Ivany.
Four Huskies scored on Friday night against Spencer Knight, who has rejoined the Eagles after winning the gold with Team USA at the World Junior Championship. Vladislov Firstov and Yan Kuznetsov, who themselves are returning from the Russian National Team’s WJC efforts, were among those who scored, with Kuznetsov putting the Huskies on the board early in the second period and Vladislov netting a shootout goal. Marc Gatcomb brought the Huskies to 2-3 and Jonny Evans scored his first of the night with a beautiful one timer assisted by Firstov to bring the game to 3-3 with just seconds left in the third.
“The last goal … that’s a pro goal,” UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “It’s a pro pass by Vlad and Jonny’s finish was fantastic.”
The three-on-three overtime came and went pretty quietly, with neither team being able to push past the other to win in overtime. The Eagles were spared from an overtime loss after a stick snapped under Hudson Schandor. In the shootout UConn got both of its first shots in with ease, earning the team both its league points of the weekend.
Saturday’s game had a much less romantic ending for the Huskies after an empty net goal at the end of the third period. The Huskies were able to stand with the Eagles for most of the game, never really being dominated by the nation’s number one team, but got really unlucky and took some bad penalties. As a consequence of UConn’s more aggressive, European brand of hockey, the team seems to pick up quite a few penalties that could be avoided by more careful contact between the players.
“I was really happy with the fight we had in the third period,” Cavanaugh said, “I thought we played really, really well, had a big power-play goal and had another chance to tie that game up tonight.”
Huskies Carter Turnbull and Jake Flynn accounted for both of the team’s goals on Saturday. The team went 6-for-6 on penalty kills, but also let in the first shorthanded goal since a game on February 16, 2018 against the Boston University Terriers.
A big problem the Huskies faced all weekend was Eagles goalie Spencer Knight. The net minder proved time and time again why he was a finalist for the Mike Richter Award last year, stopping almost everything the Huskies were able to throw at him. In a college hockey landscape without Jeremy Swayman, Knight has a good claim to the title of best collegiate goalie in the country.
On Saturday, Cavanaugh said, “He’s a special player in college hockey, I saw Jerry briefly afterward and he’s had a lot of good goalies. I think this one may be the very best.”
Tomas Vomacka put up respectable numbers over the weekend, putting up a .913 save percentage on both days. Vomacka has been an important piece in the Huskies lineup, plugging a lot of holes left by the UConn defense with his very patient, defensive style of goaltending.
UConn’s next games will be announced on Tuesday by the Hockey East office, with the league now conducting week by week scheduling due to constant cancellations and schedule changes as a result of COVID-19 restrictions hitting teams across the conference.