After a blowout defeat of conference foe Connecticut at home on Friday night, Boston College men’s hockey looked to complete a weekend sweep of the Huskies on their home ice and get back over .500 for the first time since mid-October.
On the heels of junior attacker Aapeli Räsänen’s hat trick and a dominant offensive performance, the Eagles did just that, pulling away for a 5-1 victory on Saturday afternoon at the XL Center.
The Eagles (5-4, 3-2 Hockey East) were in control from puck drop, firing six uninterrupted shots on UConn (2-5-1, 1-3) goaltender Tomas Vomacka during their first power play just three minutes into the game. They went on to dominate both the offensive and defensive side of the game, racking up a season-high 46 shots on goal while holding the Huskies to just 17.
BC then went on to take eight more shots without much contest until Räsänen went to the box for tripping, giving UConn its first real chance to test Spencer Knight. The Huskies failed to capitalize, though, and just 12 seconds after BC regained even numbers on the ice, Räsänen buried a one-timer after emerging from the box for his first of the night.
Even after BC took the lead, Vomacka continued to have a strong night at the net, notching 21 saves in the first period alone, holding the Eagles to just two goals in the frame.
The second came from a shot by Ben Finkelstein during a BC power play with four minutes left in the period. Finkelstein’s goal came after a faceoff win, and he was able to take a shot beyond the circle that went by a shielded Vomacka. The Eagles then went into the break with a full head of steam after launching shot after shot at Vomacka, even while shorthanded.
BC continued to display a prolific offense early in the second frame, maintaining possession in its offensive third for the majority of the period, but its shots on goal slowed down. After firing off 23 attempts in the first, the Huskies held them to just 10 in the second, but it appeared nothing would stop the Eagles from finding the back of the net.
Six minutes in, Räsänen scored his second of the night after UConn’s Yan Kuznetsov went to the box for hooking. The Huskies weren’t going to go down without a fight, though, as periodic breakaways provided glimmers of hope. A forced turnover led to a clear shot at goal for UConn freshman Vladislav Firstov, who hit a wrister to the bottom corner past Knight’s stick, bringing the score to 3-1.
BC then countered to expand its lead with just under two minutes left in the period on a goal by Mike Hardman—an attempted clear from the Huskies instead deflected off him and into the cage. As the clock wound down, BC continued to push, with Logan Hutsko even hitting the pipe just before the buzzer.
The Eagles went into the final frame with seemingly the same mentality as the first two: attack fast and often. They did just that, once again rattling off nine shots in the first five minutes to the Huskies’ two. The game looked a bit more even from there as BC shifted toward a more defensive stance, looking to hold its comfortable three-goal lead rather than expand on it.
Still, Räsänen closed the night out with one final goal for the Eagles on a rebound after Hardman’s shot bounced off Vomacka’s pads. With that, he marked his fourth tally of the season and his first ever collegiate hat trick.
The Eagles closed out the game with just four penalties against them, a marked improvement from previous games this season. Penalties have plagued BC so far this year and contributed to key losses, but against the Huskies, they were far from an issue. The Eagles notched only seven penalties against UConn the entire weekend, a strong showing from the group.
Räsänen’s hat trick puts the Eagles above .500 in Hockey East, placing them comfortably in third place of the conference table going into two straight league games against last-ranked Vermont. Likely poised to play with plenty of momentum gained from the dominant weekend against UConn, BC has the potential to roll through the Catamounts and continue an early-season push.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff