The University of Connecticut played a pair of games this weekend against Boston University, starting on Friday night at the XL Center in Hartford and finishing Saturday at the Agganis Arena in Boston.
UConn lost on Friday 2-1, but came back the next day to win 5-1 over BU.
“I thought our team played well for 55 minutes…When they tied it up, I thought we kind of sat back,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said after Friday night’s game.
Ahead of the third period, UConn was up 1-0 from an early goal by junior Vladislav Firstov at 5:04 minutes into the game. The Huskies rode that momentum for the second and majority of the third period, before BU scored twice late in the game.
Both teams fought hard, quite literally, throughout each of their first Hockey East matchups this season. Both teams had four penalties, setting the tone for the intensity of the game. However, UConn fell short on the power plays that would have extended their lead.
The Huskies only had two shots over the duration of both power plays, as the Terriers led the game in shots for all three periods. In fact, BU had 19 while UConn had 10 going into the second period.
The middle period was uneventful as neither team scored, but BU picked it up in the final six minutes of the game, ending UConn goalkeeper Darion Hanson’s potential shutout.
BU junior Sam Stevens tied the game with 5:40 to go before another power play where the Terriers would benefit as junior Robert Mastrosimone would send the puck to the back of the net to win the game.
UConn pulled Hanson with 1:10 to go, but BU was unable to extend their lead. Junior defensemen Jake Flynn and Carter Berger played keep away with the Terriers, not allowing them to score on an empty net, like the way the Huskies had won in their previous game. Hanson had a season-high of 43 saves, only allowing two goals.
“The positives are, I really liked the way we played for, like I said, 55 minutes. In this league, you need a 60-minute effort to win hockey games, so that’ll be our approach tomorrow night,” coach Cavanaugh said at the end of the night on Friday.
And that was their exact approach the next day. The Huskies came to Boston hot, ready to melt the ice in the Agganis Arena.
“They played real hockey,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said about UConn after the Huskies won Saturday’s game.
UConn scored first at 9:52 into the game as senior Marc Gatcomb shot from the offside to put the Huskies on the board. This was Gatcomb’s second goal of the season.
At 13:13, BU answered with a goal to tie the score when junior Matt Brown sent the puck in after senior Joseph Campolieto’s rebound.
After that, the Terriers never barked again; that would be their only goal of the night.
The Huskies came out fresh for the second period and set up a scoring opportunity for senior Jonny Evans right out of coach Cavanaugh’s playbook. Fellow seniors Marc Gatcomb and Jachym Kondelik worked with Evans to be a triple threat in this strong upperclassmen scoring effort.
About halfway through the second period, sophomore Hudson Schandor sent the Terriers’ turnover down the ice and toward the net to be picked up by another sophomore, Ryan Tverberg. Tverberg broke out, backhandedly, for his second goal and put the Huskies’ lead up by two, prompting BU goalkeeper sophomore Drew Commesso to break his stick in an attempt to defend the shot.
The new stick wouldn’t be much help to Commesso.
Just under six minutes into the final period, Tverberg scored again at 5:55. This was the first time he’d had a multi-goal game in his career. What was intended to be an assist to Kondelik ended up being a goal after BU’s defensemen served as rebounders for the puck.
UConn’s defense also had a strong offensive effort to help the Huskies when junior Carter Berger made his way to the top and, with a flick of the wrist, had his first goal of the season. At 11:10, this put the score at 5-1, ultimately finishing the game.
Commesso was the first to head to the doghouse when BU pulled their goalie about halfway through the third period, putting sophomore Vinny Duplessis in the net, but the Huskies wouldn’t score on him.
For UConn, goalkeeper Darion Hanson played for the game’s entirety, saving 29 of BU’s 30 shots on him. The Terriers outshot the Huskies again, sending 56 shots on the goal to UConn’s 55.
After UConn’s huge win, BU head coach Albie O’Connell was speechless.
Following a period of silence, “It’s tough to know where to begin. We talked 24 hours about how excited we were about the win and the way we played, and it was a complete 180. We play in a hard league, UConn’s a really good team—probably one of the best teams in our league — and we played like we thought it was going to be easy,” O’Connell admitted on Saturday night.
UConn stays on the road and heads out west to play a series against Ohio State University in Columbus. The first game is on Friday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., followed by a 3 p.m. game on Saturday.