Sports, Winter, Hockey, Women's Hockey

No. 14 UConn Defeats No. 15 Eagles 3–1 in Conte Forum

Before Tuesday, the last time No. 15 Boston College women’s hockey squared up against No. 14 Connecticut was for a home-and-home series on Nov. 4 and 5, 2022. Both teams were unranked, and the Eagles dropped both games to a blossoming Huskies squad. 

Seventy-three days later, UConn is nationally ranked and sound in all areas on the ice. The Huskies finished off the season sweep Tuesday night in Conte Forum. While BC captain Cayla Barnes tallied her fifth goal of the season, UConn’s Jada Habisch scored two goals en route to a 3–1 victory for the Huskies (16–8–2, 10–7–2 Hockey East). 

In the first period, UConn’s offensive zone rush initially sparked the intensity of the contest, but none of the Huskies’ chances came within distance of beating BC netminder Abigail Levy. The frame included seven total faceoffs, resulting in long stretches of continuous play over the first 17 minutes of the period. 

At the 2:46 mark, however, a tripping minor on UConn’s Ava Rinker sent the Eagles (14–9–1, 12–7–0) on their first power play of the night. 

BC produced two shots on net and almost broke the tie as its power-play unit dumped the puck deep behind the net and slid a centering pass to Hannah Bilka in the slot. But Bilka couldn’t punch it home against UConn netminder Megan Warrener, and the period ended scoreless. 

“They’re so disciplined defensively, you know, they don’t give up too many odd-man rushes or plays in front of their net because they’re so defensive and play so hard in front of their own net,” BC head coach Katie Crowley said.

The Eagles struggled to stay out of the penalty box in the second period, and officials issued minor penalties to Bilka, Barnes, and Abby Newhook during the frame. 

Barnes’ high sticking minor 10 minutes into the period led to the Huskies’ best chance on the man advantage up to that point in the game. Husky Ainsley Svetek’s shot rang off the pipe and redirected to Levy’s crease, but Levy made the save. 

Just over one minute into the penalty kill, the puck slipped away from action in the Eagles’ defensive zone and onto Bilka’s stick at the other end. Despite being in alone with just Warrener to beat, the Eagles’ playmaker could not bury the shot, keeping the Eagles off the board. 

“We just got to bury our opportunities when we get up and be a little more, I don’t know what, angry or something in front,” Crowley said. 

Officials sent UConn’s Carlie Magier to the box for hooking 14 minutes into the period, but an uneventful BC power play failed to swing the momentum back in the Eagles’ direction. 

Just 3:43 later, the puck snuck through Keri Clougherty and onto the stick of Habisch, who finally bested Levy on the breakaway chance. 

The Huskies looked to double their advantage on their last power play that started with 1:30 left in the period, but a Levy kick save and a full ice clear in the waning seconds of the period kept UConn up 1–0.

Just over five minutes into the third frame, Barnes drove the puck to the net and fired a quick shot that Warrener initially saved. Barnes proceeded to tuck in her own rebound to level the game at 1–1. 

But with five minutes left in the period, UConn’s Riley Grimley entered the Eagles’ zone and handed the puck off to Habisch, who was lurking at the back door for her second goal of the night. 

With less than a second left, UConn’s Kate Thurman bounced the puck off the boards and into an empty BC net to secure the Huskies the 3–1 win. 

“I know we lost and obviously we’re not happy with the loss, but overall I thought our team played well,” Crowley said. “We usually don’t get that many shots against a very defensive UConn team and for us to put that many shots and get that many scoring opportunities, I was really happy with.” 

January 17, 2023