The University of Connecticut men’s hockey team dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to Boston University on Friday night in the team’s return to the XL Center.
Head coach Mike Cavanaugh said, “I would say that the fans got their money tonight. I thought it was an outstanding hockey game between two great teams—back and forth, chances both ways. Overall, I was pretty happy with the effort and the [competition] of our team for 60 minutes.”
The night began with both teams unable to capitalize on each of their own power plays, keeping UConn and BU hungry throughout the first period. With less than three minutes until the first intermission, the Terriers were able to secure a lead after forcing a turnover. BU forward Matt Brown rifled one in off of a pass from fellow BU forward Ethan Phillips, putting the Terriers up one.
The second period didn’t include any goals from either team, keeping the score at 1-0 with BU leading. Cavanaugh credited UConn goalkeeper Darion Hanson for his performance, making a few important stops during the period.
“When you’re going into the third period down one-nothing as opposed to two, it’s certainly a better feeling. So, I think those saves were huge for us,” Cavanaugh said, crediting Hanson for keeping the team in a competitive position.
Towards the end of the third period, UConn was able to set the tie and force overtime. With about seven minutes left in regulation, UConn forward Nick Capone sent a pass to fellow forward Jachym Kondelik, who in turn set up another forward, Chase Bradley.
According to Cavanaugh, “We forced a turnover, but then Nick Capone found Jachym and Jachym passed it. I thought the effort of Chase Bradley was incredible because when he shot, he got knocked down and he was able to gather himself and get back up. Jachym forced the kid to make a bad pass and Chase was right there and buried it.”
Although Cavanaugh credited the offensive play and Bradley’s goal, he expressed a sense of worry about it being UConn’s only goal of the night. This is a trend that the Huskies have followed for the past few games, and the coach is hoping to overcome it.
“That is a little bit of a concern, the last two games we’ve only scored one goal. We had chances, but you’ve got to start bearing down on those chances. We had a couple opportunities to score goals and we missed the net. We’ve got to do a better job there bearing down. If you’re going to miss, don’t miss high—make him [the opposing goaltender] make a save. So, that’s something we’ll focus on this week,” Cavanaugh said.
Immediately off of the opening face-off in overtime, BU forward Jay O’Brien scored at just eight seconds into the extra minutes, handing UConn a loss with a 2-1 final score.
Afterwards, Cavanaugh said, “It’s interesting. It feels like a loss, however it is also a skills competition—three on three. It’s not hockey, and I told the kids, ‘When we get to the playoffs, it’s going to be five-on-five;’ so, in five-on-five I thought we played a great game.”
“Tonight, we played toe-to-toe with a top team in our league and it didn’t go our way tonight, but we certainly played well enough to win the game,” Cavanaugh noted.
Following Friday night’s game, UConn currently holds a 9-9 record, 6-5 in the Hockey East conference as BU improved to 10-9-3 overall and 6-5-3 in conference. With an even overall record, the Huskies are hopeful for the rest of the season, starting with their next game against the University of New Hampshire.
“I told the kids, ‘The first half of the year, you can’t win any trophies; but you can play yourself out of position for them.’ And we didn’t do that. We played pretty well and put ourselves in contention…Right now, we’re in position to still win every one of those trophies. So, that’s something we stay focused on but that’s in the telescope. In the microscope, we’ll have New Hampshire in the lens,” said Cavanaugh.
The Huskies will remain at home for a two-game series against UNH, playing at the XL Center both nights. The first game is on Friday, Jan. 21 at 7:05 p.m., with gameplay continuing Saturday at 4:05 p.m. for an afternoon matchup.