Sports, Hockey, Men's Hockey

McBain, Ambrosio Power Eagles to 2–1 Win Over UConn

Boston College men’s hockey looked to step on the gas and find its footing following a disheartening split series against Merrimack. The Eagles have yet to find consistency, and stringing together a series of wins has become a troublesome feat. In search of a new outlook, BC head coach Jerry York made line changes in hopes of amplifying the group’s top trios. Forward Patrick Giles advanced into the Eagles’ top line assisting senior captain Marc McLaughlin, BC’s top scorer, sending Colby Ambrosio down to bolster the third line. 

BC (6–4–1, 4–2–0 Hockey East) got off to a sloppy start in the first period at UConn (6–4–0, 4–2–0), which had entered the night on a four-game win streak. The line changes worked for BC, as Jack McBain slotted home the game winner with 1:33 to go in the game, and BC walked away with a 2–1 win.

UConn, an experienced group riddled with speedy upperclassmen, found an early edge on the Eagles. A crucial right-pad save from BC goaltender Eric Dop on UConn’s Vladislav Firstov helped reverse the tide in what would have been a timely momentum switch for the Huskies. 

Dop continued to stand tall through a barrage of shots, and the period was marked with intense crease battle on both ends. UConn goaltender Darion Hanson looked just as sharp. Hanson showed no signs of quitting, and he had help from a heap of blocked shots on BC’s early attack. 

“They did a lot of things very well defensively,” York said in his postgame press conference. “They had sticks on pucks an awful lot, deflecting shots from reaching the goaltender, and they blocked shots very well. It’s such a key part of the game.”

Tied at 11 shots and no goals apiece through the first frame, the second period arrived looking to charge a careful battle in any direction.

The floodgates opened in the second period with multiple chances on high-quality shots for both squads. Hanson read a short-side drive from BC forward Trevor Kuntar and a whizzing wrister by McBain to prevent an early lead. 

Then, UConn caught the Eagles on back-to-back shift changes, and a furious breakout set up UConn forward John Spetz to blast a one timer, but Dop got in front of it. BC’s Jack St. Ivany marched back into UConn’s zone a few plays later, positioning a one-time chance for Ambrosio, but scrambling to his blocker side, Hanson made a stop, salvaging the Huskies. 

Moments later, forward Ryan Tverberg netted a wrap-around shot to open the scoring. The goal marked his eighth of the season, taking a share of the Hockey East lead in goals and handing UConn a 1–0 lead. 

UConn had the momentum from there, taking control of the game until late in the period. As the period wound down, BC’s offense began to gel, particularly between Ambrosio and Marshall Warren. Puck movement continued until a cross-ice pass slid across UConn’s defensive zone, and Ambrosio scored with one swift motion to tie the game. After his fourth of the season, Ambrosio shushed the XL Center crowd with his celebration.  

Ambrosio’s goal came with just seconds left in the period, and none of that momentum carried over into the third.

Kuntar was robbed on a breakaway to take the lead, and the first penalty of the game was finally issued dually on a high stick call on UConn and embellishment against BC. With 80 seconds remaining in the game, BC’s Nikita Nesterenko dropped the puck for McBain high in the offensive end. McBain, using the defender for leverage as a screen, sniped Hanson on the far glove side for the go-ahead goal. 

Still, the game wasn’t over, and UConn defensemen Carter Berger gave York and the Eagles a scare with just seven seconds remaining. With the Huskies’ goaltender pulled in favor of an extra attacker, he nearly stuffed the puck through Dop’s five-hole, but the graduate transfer goaltender made the stop.

“It’s such a rapid scene there. I was jumping,” York said. “I gotta watch the tape a little bit and see that.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

November 14, 2021