UConn concluded this season’s series with Boston College on Friday night with a strong 6-4 finish. This is UConn’s sixth straight Hockey East win, which propels the Huskies up to No. 2 in conference standings.
“We’re certainly pleased with the three points tonight,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said after the game. However, the game didn’t start how the coach would have wanted.
“The first period was a wild period that was not how we wanted to play going into the game. We know how talented BC is, especially off of the rush, and we did not want to trade chances with them and just go back and forth, but we did,” Cavanaugh said. “We were fortunate enough to score as well, but certainly not the blueprint that we drew up for our gameplan.”
Scoring four goals in the first period—the first time the Huskies have ever done so—isn’t how the team wanted to play? Cavanaugh says it isn’t.
UConn scored first at almost a minute and a half into play as forward Artem Shlaine found an open net to send his pass from fellow forward Ryan Tverberg into.
The Eagles caught on fairly quickly to tie the game just before the five-minute mark. BC forward Casey Carreau was the first to get the Eagles on the board.
Just a few minutes later, the Huskies took back the lead as they capitalized on a BC turnover. UConn forward Jachym Kondelik was careful about his shot, taking an extra moment to position himself towards the right of the circle to ensure it was good for a goal.
Immediately, the Eagles tied it again. BC forward Liam Izyk made it 2-2 at 11:20, but the tie would only last for just under two minutes as UConn forward Jared Gourley was determined to put the Huskies back in the lead.
Little did anyone know, Gourley was about to have a huge break both for himself and for the Ice Bus.
Gourley had a one-timer on the original goal, but he wouldn’t be a one-time scorer in the first period. Right after making it a 3-2 score, Gourley was successful on a face-off after forward Hudson Schandor won it, sent the puck back to Gourley and Gourley sent it right back through several pairs of skates to up the lead to 4-2.
“He’s been great all year long. He brings a great level of maturity to our team and he’s a calming influence for our defenseman, and as you see tonight, he can really shoot the puck. [They were] a big two goals for us,” Cavanaugh said on Jared Gourley.
In the last 60 seconds of the first period, BC’s Izyk had his own two-goal period to reduce the Huskies’ lead back to 4-3 going into the second period.
“I thought the second period was more of how we wanted to play…we really controlled that period,” Cavanaugh said.
The Huskies continued to be stealthy on BC’s turnovers, using another one as an opportunity to score. UConn forward and captain Carter Turnbull skated down the ice with ease to show the puck to the net.
Cavanaugh was pleased with not only the goal, but the execution of how Carter’s entire line, including forwards Marc Gatcomb and Jonny Evans, worked to score. He said, “That whole line’s been really good.”
“HE’S BEEN GREAT ALL YEAR LONG. HE BRINGS A GREAT LEVEL OF MATURITY TO OUR TEAM AND HE’S A CALMING INFLUENCE FOR OUR DEFENSEMAN, AND AS YOU SEE TONIGHT, HE CAN REALLY SHOOT THE PUCK. [THEY WERE] A BIG TWO GOALS FOR US.”Mike Cavanaugh
“They’ve got a good mix. They all skate well…Gatcomb provides a lot of physicality for that line, Jonny distributes the puck pretty well in the center and Carter can finish,” Cavanaugh explained. “They read off of each other pretty well, they work hard on the forecheck and they make great plays in the offensive zone.”
This energy flowed beyond their shift and into the next one. This time, it was Kondelik’s pass to Schandor, who then set it up for forward Kevin O’Neil to make the goal at a second over halfway through the second period.
With a 6-3 scoreboard for the majority of the third period, the game seemed over. There were less than five minutes left in the game when BC forward Carreau found a rebound and took a save away from UConn goaltender Darion Hanson, who made a total of 20 stops on the night, but the win still belonged to the Huskies.
“We played a pretty solid third period to close out the game. Overall, I’m really happy with the victory, but I think there’s a lot we can work on, for sure,” Cavanaugh said afterward.
This improves UConn’s record to 16-11-0 overall and 12-6-0 in Hockey East. Since joining Hockey East, 16 wins is the most the Huskies have ever had.
“After losing three in a row [to AIC, Harvard and UNH in January], I thought we did a pretty good job of just buckling down and trying to limit the other team’s chances and not compromise defense for offense. When you do that, you actually wind up creating more offensive chances,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re pretty deep up front, we can roll four lines. That’s probably been the best part of our game, being able to play four lines consistently.”
These four lines will hit the ice again on Friday, Feb. 18 and Saturday, Feb. 19 to take on the nationally ranked University of Massachusetts Amherst Minutemen for a home-and-home series.