The UConn Huskies’ season lives on for at least a few more days. They said it could not be done, they said we had absolutely no shot against a strong Boston College attack. Heck, I predicted that Boston College’s high-powered offense was going to come out strong and early and it would take a defensive performance for the ages to take them out.
But holy cow, it happened. After losing to the Eagles five times including a brutal overtime loss, the Huskies took the monkey off their back with a dominating 5-1 win at the Conte Forum yesterday. It was quite a performance, too, as both the aggressive offense and solid defense came out to play.
Let us start with the true player of this game, junior goalie Samantha Carpentier-Yelle, who conceded just one goal on 26 shots. After conceding four goals in her previous outing against the Eagles, she put her car in the clutch and flipped the script.
The first period was scoreless. Almost four minutes into the game, senior captain Natalie Snodgrass tried to get a puck past Abigail Levy early, but Levy turned her shot away. Hannah Bilka had an opportunity two minutes later, but Carpentier-Yelle did not flinch and turned the puck aside.
In one of the weirdest sequences you will see all season, the Eagles crashed the net looking for that first goal of the game, but Carpentier-Yelle denied every single shot. No penalties were called during this complex chain of events and the game remained scoreless after some shots went wide.
Five minutes later, junior Camryn Wong took a pass from junior Danika Pasqua and fired it onto the net, but the golden glove of Levy was right there to stop her puck from passing the line. With two minutes remaining in the first period, junior Danielle Fox got an incredible breakaway chance, but her shot was also blocked by Levy’s brick wall.
The second period is where things got interesting. Not even two minutes in, senior Morgan Wabick got a beautiful pass from Pasqua and lunged the backhander into the net. Just like that, the Huskies had taken a 1-0 lead. The deflection was something Levy could not beat.
Sophomore Claire Peterson had an opportunity to double the lead, but Meghan Beres got in the way of the shot, blocking it with her entire body. Peterson was able to get another shot, but her chance of finding the back of the net was denied by Levy.
Maddie Crowley-Cahill would get two minutes for tripping, and the Huskies would get right to work on the power play. Levy was able to save one of their first shots, but her decision to pass the puck would come back and haunt her. Junior Viki Harkness was given a pass from senior Savannah Bouzide, which she used to sneak a shot beyond Levy to double the lead to 2-0. With less than nine minutes left in the period, the Huskies meant business. The announcers had said earlier that only one power play goal had been scored in all the games between these teams this season, but jinxing came into play at the right time.
The Husky offense would not stop there. With a little over two minutes left in the period, Fox was able to slip a pass beyond the legs of multiple Eagles to sophomore Coryn Tormala, who finished off the pass with a shot that left Levy stunned as it found the back of the net. In one period alone, the Huskies had tripled their lead and made a huge statement over the No. 6 Eagles, entering the intermission up 3-0.
In the third period, the Huskies wanted to put the nail in the coffin, but Pasqua’s shot went off the crossbar, which arrived at her stick on a pass from Bouzide. After an eventful ten minutes of play, which included a wrist shot from Caroline Goffredo that resulted in a Carpentier-Yelle save, Pasqua was going to get her chance once again.
This time, Pasqua was given a pass from Bouzide once again and she took it the distance. In a one-on-one situation, Pasqua was able to shoot one past Levy, hit the post, and have it cross the goal line to give the Huskies a powerful 4-0 advantage over a team that had nearly dominated them during the regular season.
Less than two minutes later, Cayla Barnes won the faceoff in the Huskies’ zone and slapped one into the back of the net to cut their deficit down to 4-1. The Eagles may have been down, but they were not out yet as they were finally able to score after multiple shooting opportunities throughout the period.
The announcers referenced the last time Boston College came back from being down three goals and won it, but that was then, and this game was now. With less than two minutes left in the game, Wabick took a pass from Pasqua and was able to backhand one past the defense and into the net to bring the lead back up to four once again.
Now a 5-1 game, the Huskies were able to put it away and successfully upset the Eagles. It was a statement win for a program that has seen an incredible turnaround under the leadership of head coach Chris MacKenzie.
What impresses me the most was the third period. The Huskies were able to bring their energy when it mattered the most and did not slow down after building up a 3-0 lead. They may have had just three shots on goal throughout the period, but they scored on two of them and used their incredible defense to limit the Eagles to ten shots.
For the Huskies, this was their second consecutive year beating Boston College in the quarterfinal round. The two things that make this sweeter are that it was a winner-take-all game and that this loss possibly eliminated Boston College from the field of eight that leads to the Frozen Four, pending other conference tournaments of course.
With the win, the Huskies will advance to their ninth semifinal game and fifth in seven years, where they will take on either the No. 2 Northeastern Huskies in a conference final rematch or the Maine Black Bears on Wednesday, March 3.