Sports, Hockey, Men's Hockey

Late Surge Powers UConn Past BC in Eagles’ Return to Play

For 18 seasons, Mike Cavanaugh stood next to head coach Jerry York behind the bench for Boston College men’s hockey. In that time, he and York led the Eagles to four National Championship titles, nine Hockey East Tournament championships, six league regular-season titles and 10 Frozen Four appearances.

On Saturday, though, Cavanaugh wasn’t next to York. Instead, he was across the ice of Kelley Rink, having left his assistant position at BC to take over as head coach at Connecticut in 2013. Against his former head coach, Cavanaugh coached the Huskies (9–7–0, 6–4–0 Hockey East) to a 5–4 win over No. 18 BC (10–6–3, 5–4–2) for UConn’s first win in Conte Forum since joining Hockey East in 2014.

“The first couple years were difficult,” York said of Cavanaugh. “He’s established as the head coach, and he’s doing an excellent job down at Connecticut.”

After trailing by two early, UConn surged back and took over in the third period, and each time BC tied it up, the Huskies responded. With 54 seconds left on the clock and the Eagles trailing by one, Patrick Giles delivered the game-tying goal that appeared to send the contest to overtime tied at four. 

But Cavanaugh called a timeout, and the Huskies, having regrouped during the break, beat BC goaltender Eric Dop with 32 seconds on the clock for the go-ahead goal. Kevin O’Neil was credited with the goal, and UConn won the ensuing faceoff, sealing the win. 

“That shift after you score a goal, say BC scores, that’s going to be a big-time shift for us, and we gave up goals right after we scored goals,” York said in his postgame press conference. “We’ve just got to be cleaner coming out of the zone. We’ve got to be tighter defensively.”

BC’s offense struggled without leading scorer Jack McBain, who is out for about three weeks with an upper body injury, according to York. 

Even without McBain, however, the Eagles generated 25 shots on goal, one fewer than UConn managed on Dop. Giles led the charge in McBain’s absence with a goal and an assist.

“Everybody has injuries, and it’s part of the game here,” York said. “It’s a physical, hard game, and we miss Jack [McBain], no question, but we just kind of move on, and someone’s got to step up.” 

Casey Carreau opened the scoring for the Eagles just under two minutes into the contest, and BC’s 1–0 advantage held through the first period. Marc McLaughlin added a second goal for BC just under five minutes into the second frame, slotting a no-look backhand behind UConn goaltender Darion Hanson. 

From there, though, the tide began to turn. Hudson Schandor scored for the Huskies less than 40 seconds later, cutting the deficit to one. BC then went on the power play, but the Huskies kept the puck out of its defensive zone for practically the entire two minutes. A dominant penalty-kill unit kept the Huskies’ deficit manageable, and as soon as the game returned to even strength, UConn tied it up. 

One more unanswered goal to open the third period gave UConn its first lead of the day, and ultimately, despite BC’s best efforts, O’Neil’s goal put it away for the Huskies. 

“A late penalty really hurt us, and a late turnover in the game, so we can eliminate those things,” York said. “It’s not a situation we’re puzzled by. We’ve just got to not take late penalties and not turn over pucks in the neutral zone.”

Featured Image by Ethan Ott / Heights Editor

January 8, 2022