Boston College men’s hockey has been tasked with adjusting to a new coaching staff and young roster this season. That adjustment got off to a rocky start against No. 7 Quinnipiac in BC’s season opener, but the Eagles fought back and earned two Hockey East wins against New Hampshire and a draw with No. 15 Northeastern led by solid goaltending from Mitch Benson.
Despite entering the game as an underdog against No. 10 Connecticut, BC fought hard to keep it close late into the third. UConn used its experience to pull away late, however, exposing BC’s inexperience to score four unanswered goals.
Here are five takeaways from the Eagles’ 5–1 loss to the Huskies.
Strength Out of the Gates
UConn demonstrated why it’s the No. 10 team in the country early in the game as it gained control of the puck and generated scoring opportunities from the get-go, earning its first power play in the second minute. The Eagles were on the ropes, and it looked like UConn would continue to dominate and take an early lead. But, led by Benson, the Eagles held off the Huskies. BC stopped two close shots from Matthew Wood and Justin Pearson right in front of the net, and despite earning no power plays and being outshot 10–8, the Eagles escaped the period tied 0–0.
The Amazing Ambrosio
Because the Eagles are a younger team—there are eight freshmen listed on BC’s roster—the few veterans that they have will play major roles this season. One of the veterans that has answered the call is the junior winger Colby Ambrosio. Through the first four games of the season, Ambrosio leads the team in goals with four and points with six. In BC’s game against New Hampshire on Oct. 15, he posted a two-goal effort.
In Saturday’s game, Ambrosio impressed once again, serving as one of BC’s lone offensive bright spots in the first period. He found good positioning within UConn’s defense and generated a few opportunities in front of the net. Although nothing got past UConn goaltender Logan Terness in the first period, Ambrosio continued to push the issue and finally found the back of the net 5:03 into the second period. This goal only seemed to get Ambrosio going, as he found even more opportunities in the third period and even drew a tripping penalty to give the Eagles a late power play. He almost capitalized on the man advantage to tie the game, but Terness made a diving save. Ambrosio finished the game with six shots and a goal for the Eagles.
Penalties Pile Up
Part of the reason that the Huskies earned so many opportunities early in the game was because they were on the power play for much of the first period. Within the first two minutes, officials called a tripping penalty on Trevor Kuntar. Not even 10 minutes later, officials called a slashing penalty on Liam Izyk to put the Huskies on the power play again. Then, one minute later, Eamon Powell tripped a player to give UConn a 5-on-3 advantage.
Although the Eagles killed each penalty, the early calls wore down BC’s defense and allowed UConn to get some good looks. Later in the second period, the teams were tied at one, and it seemed that the Eagles might break the tie after a few close opportunities. But officials called a holding penalty on Charlie Leddy on the fast break, stunting the momentum. The Huskies once again had a prime opportunity to generate chances in front of the net and break open the tie.
Though the Huskies didn’t score on the power play, BC’s five penalties seemed to give UConn the momentum and prevent the Eagles from generating significant offense.
Experience Pays Off
Despite struggling to gain possession of the puck and committing unnecessary penalties, the Eagles went into the third period tied with the No. 10 team in the country. But with just under 19 minutes left in the third, junior forward Hudson Schandor found a seam in BC’s defense and scored a pass from Tom Messineo to give UConn a 2–1 lead.
From there, the Huskies’ experience began to show. They found some holes in BC’s defense and exploited them with force. With just over four minutes left in the game, Jack Percival got free and trickled it past Benson to give the Huskies a 3-1 lead. Within the next two minutes, both junior Ryan Tverberg and graduate student Adam Dawe scored, and the Huskies pulled away.