As Connecticut’s second-period power play wrapped up with 11:17 on the clock, it felt as if the Huskies were more than due for a goal. UConn had peppered Boston College men’s hockey goalie Spencer Knight with shots during its two minute advantage and held a 25-11 shots advantage at that point in the game. Still, the Huskies trailed the Eagles 1-0 thanks to a first-period goal by BC captain Marc McLaughlin.
UConn’s woes grew several minutes later as Harrison Roy’s first collegiate goal gave No. 1 BC a 2-0 advantage. But in the third period, the fortunes of the two teams flipped. Though the Eagles notched a third goal, the Huskies’ countless offensive chances finally paid dividends, as UConn scored three goals in the final period, including two in the last three minutes, to send the game to overtime.
While the Huskies’ (5-5-2) momentum continued into overtime, BC (8-2-1) did just enough to carry the game to a shootout, which went down in the Hockey East standings as a tie. UConn outscored the Eagles 2-0 in the shootout to earn the second point in the standings, as college hockey rules dictate that games ending in shootouts are marked as ties but that the shootout winner receives an extra point in the standings.
Logan Hutsko and Mike Hardman were the two Eagles to miss their chances in the shootout.
UConn outshot BC 63-49 overall and 42-34 in terms of shots on net. Knight was spectacular for the vast majority of the game and did a stellar job to hold UConn scoreless in overtime, but even his steady play finally succumbed to the Huskies’ onslaught in the final minutes of the third period.
The Huskies have consistently proved a strong opponent for the Eagles this season. BC went 1-1 against them in their series in mid-December, with the Eagles winning the first game 4-3 in overtime and losing the second 5-3.
BC got on the board first with 11:26 to play in the first period after McLaughlin deflected a shot from Marshall Warren past UConn goalie Tomas Vomacka. The clever poke gave the Eagles’ captain his sixth goal of the season.
The period passed quietly until the Huskies sent a flurry of shots on Knight in the waning minutes. The pressure continued in the second period, with only Knight’s strong play preventing UConn from leveling the score.
“I thought that Spencer Knight made way too many grade-A saves during the course of the game, so we certainly have to tighten up that,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “We relied too much on Spencer’s play tonight to keep that a really close game for us.”
Roy flipped a loose puck into the top of the net with 7:29 to go in the second, extending BC’s edge to two goals. Knight turned in some more spectacular play to hold the lead at two.
The Huskies’ constant attack finally resulted in a goal in the opening minutes of the third, as Yan Kuznetsov rocketed a shot from the blue line that found its way through traffic and past Knight.
Casey Carreau extended BC’s margin back to two just minutes later as he intercepted an ill-advised pass from Huskies’ defenseman Carter Berger and found the top left corner of the net.
UConn got within one goal with 3:01 to play as Marc Gatcomb poked a rebound past Knight and then, after pulling the goalie and putting shot after shot on Knight for the next couple minutes, equalized with just under a minute to play.
The Eagles were on their back foot for much of overtime as the Huskies held possession and prevented BC from switching lines, but the Eagles managed to eke out a scoreless result.
“Puck possession is so important in the OT because you can possess it, you can keep it, you can make changes as you go through, so they did some smart things with that,” York said. “We didn’t have the puck enough to establish full possession in the offensive zone.”
After Vladislav Firstov converted for the Huskies in the shootout, Hutsko went first for the Eagles, but his shot was saved easily by Vomacka. Johny Evans also converted, making a sweet move to get past Knight, and Hardman’s last-ditch attempt to keep the game alive glanced off the right post.
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics