The UConn women’s hockey team was swept in its best-of-two, home-and-away series against No.7 Boston College on Saturday, Jan. 30 and Sunday, Jan. 31. This result means the Huskies fall to 5-9-1 on the year, while the Eagles improve to 12-3-0.
Both squads had already faced off three times prior to the series over the weekend; Boston College took all three games in more or less convincing fashion. UConn’s inability to defeat the Eagles this season would be a driving force going into the contest, as the Huskies wanted to prove that they could, in fact, go toe-to-toe with the mighty Bostonian team.
UConn’s increased motivation would come crumbling down when Eagles forward Kelly Browne found the back of the net three minutes into the first period, a gut punch for the Huskies that immediately put them on the back foot. Things only went from bad to worse; seven minutes after conceding, a short-handed Boston College scored again. This time, forward Olivia Finocchiaro was able to find fellow forward Hannah Bilka, who smashed it into the net to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead 10 minutes into the period.
A Husky response was urgently needed if they hoped to have any chance of getting back into the contest. Defender Ainsley Svetek and forward Kathryn Stockdale would step up to the challenge, as they were able to string together key passes before playing it through to forward Danika Pasqua, who sneaked it past the goaltender to get one back for UConn in the 15th minute.
From then on, it turned into a stalemate between one team that did not want the opposition to tie the match, and another who was afraid to go all out for that precious second goal, in the fear that Boston College could hit them on the counterattack and put the game out of reach. Inevitably, the latter would occur, as the Huskies’ search for a second goal would cost them 17 minutes into the second period. Finocchiaro and forward Olivia O’Brien’s were the catalysts for the Eagles’ third goal, combining to find defender Cayla Barnes, who made it 3-1 in favor of Boston College.
However, two minutes after what felt like the killer goal, forward Natalie Snodgrass was able to get on the end of a combination play between forwards Jada Habisch and Viki Harkness to make it a one-score game going into the third period. Despite momentum being on UConn’s side, they simply could not find the game-tying goal throughout the entirety of the third period. Although the defense remained solid and did not concede, it would not be enough; the Eagles defeated the Huskies 3-2 to take the first game of the series.
While Saturday saw the Huskies perform well despite the loss, Sunday would be the complete opposite.
Forward Savannah Norcross opened up the scoring eight minutes into the first period, getting on the end of a build-up play by fellow forward Kelly Browne and defender Alexie Guay. The second would come just before the period’s conclusion; this time, Guay would be the scorer and not the assister, as forward Willow Corson was able to find the defender to make it 2-0.
Although the rout would take a break in the second period, it continued in the third, with Norcross scoring off a combination by Browne and Guay, who once again were the catalysts in the attack. Finally Corson would be on the scoresheet for the fourth and final goal of the match; forward Natalie Tulchinsky would be credited with the assist.
Of course, it’s difficult to be optimistic when a team gets swept. Nonetheless, there are a couple things that the UConn players and fan base can hang their hats on. First, the number of penalties by the Huskies was much lower than in previous games, with the Huskies only giving away three throughout both of the contests. By the same token, they did a good job of forcing the opposition to commit penalties, attaining seven power play opportunities in total.
Of course, the team should capitalize on these opportunities more often, but the improvement is there and should be recognized. Another thing that killed the team in both games is conceding when they are a player up, which should not happen; if the team is a man up, it’s a blow to the morale of the team if they cannot defend efficiently with this advantage.
Despite all of that, UConn did a great job at competing with one of the best teams in the nation in their first game on Saturday. They had the Eagles on the ropes, and just barely lost. Sure, they did get pummeled in the second outing, but that was more frustration and a loss of composure by the team. All in all, Saturday’s performance showed one thing: The Huskies have the talent to compete with the best. Now, it’s just a matter of executing to a high degree and maintaining mental fortitude throughout the 60 minutes.