By David F. Pendrys (Editor’s note. This piece has been shortened from intended due to time. It may be updated later.)
HARTFORD, CT – After playing to a two-two tie on Friday, the UConn and BU Men’s Hockey squads saw a different result Saturday as the Terriers took the win 6-3 at the XL Center. The game had two turning points. The first was when BU scored two goals in the first two minutes of period 1 setting up a frame that largely went their way. The second came when the Huskies had scored two goals to trail BU 3-2, only to give up a power play goal and see the deficit rise to two goals yet again.
“I thought we came out with a lot of pace, a lot of physicality,” BU Head Coach David Quinn said. “Our power play of course was incredibly opportunistic. I’m just really happy for our guys because I thought we played well last night. You could see mentally we were just a little bit fragile right now. It was nice to see us get rewarded on the scoreboard early. We all know we’ve had a difficult time scoring goals, but we knew it was going to come.”
Early on in the game, Patrick Harper sent the puck to the center of the UConn zone where Carpenter was waiting to flick it past Adam Huska for the lead at 1:09 Jordan Greenway also picked up an assist helping to setup the play. BU continued the attack and Kasper Kotkansalo slapped a shot from the point allowing Patrick Curry to redirect it from in front past Huska for another goal at 1:29. John MacLeod also was awarded an assist.
Problems grew for the home team when Brady Tkachuk came around the back of the UConn net. Huska was ready for him, but the puck ended up on the other side where Patrick Curry was waiting to stuff it in for a 3-0 lead. Connecticut had lost the first period badly, something that UConn Coach Mike Cavanaugh lamented in the postgame presser.
“I thought BU was a better team tonight,” Cavanaugh said. “They opened the first period, and certainly outplayed us for that twenty minutes, we’re down three nothing. There’s been a concern really in the last four games and we’ve lost three first periods. And you can’t keep playing from behind.”
In the second, the Huskies showed much more life throughout the period. On a Power Play halfway through Spence Naas sent the puck on net from the point. There was a scrum in front and Karl El-Mir got it to Alexander Payusov who skated around the back of the net. BU goalie Jake Oettinger was down on the other side reacting to El-Mir’s original threat and couldn’t spread out to block the put in at 9:49. Johnny Austin also picked up an assist on the play. Less than two minutes later Naas picked up a tally, getting it past the BU keeper assisted by Derek Pratt to make it a game again.
“I thought we woke up in the second period and played pretty well and got some energy back in the building,” Cavanaugh said.
However, Bobo Carpenter would be ready to strike again at 14:32 on a crucial power play. Chad Krys had a great opportunity in front shooting it on Huska. The rebound created a scramble in front, allowing Carpenter to reach out, snatch the puck and bat it into the net. Dante Fabbro also picked up an assist on the eventual game winner.
“I thought that was the difference in the game. The fact we have a very below average first period and they jumped us. Then we when got back in the game we had a hard time stopping their power play,” Cavanaugh said.
UConn was playing better hockey but BU kept the pressure up. In the first minute of third Brandon Hickey had collected the puck in his own end and started it out to Greenway. Now in the Huskies end Hickey got the puck back and shot it successfully for a 5-2 lead. Shane Bowers also snagged an assist as well. The Huskies responded when a rebound slid to Kasperi Ojantakanen in front and he smacked it past Oettinger assisted by Austin and Naas at 5:18.
The Huskies attempted to get more, but nothing connected. A late power play made the situation worse when Carpenter earned a hat trick scoring his fifth goal of the weekend after Fabbro had shot it initially. Harper picked up an additional assist.
BU did give UConn a last opportunity by committing two late penalties, allowing U of C to pull the goalie for a six on four and later six on three power play. BU held strong for the final minutes to preserve their lead. It did look like the power play could have been crisper though, as several passes did not end up cleanly on sticks. The PP has been a high point in the Huskies season so far, it did seem to have some issues during that late segment at least.
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Fabbro led BU with six shots, Hickey and Carpenter had four. Carpenter naturally scored on all but one of those. Tkachuk had 3, and Greenway, Hank Crone, Krys, and Curry had 2 apiece.
For UConn, Naas had six shots, Miles Gendron had 4, Ojantakanen had 3, Adam Karashik, Jesse Schwartz, Joseph Masonius, and Corey Ronan all had 2 each. Letunov and El-Mir did seem to have a lot of success moving into the BU zone, but neither scored themselves.
Fabbro also led BU in Blocks with 5, Krys had 3 and Carpenter had 2. Ty Amonte, Greenway, Kotkansalo and Tkachuk all had one each.
For UConn, Karashik had 3 Blocks, David Drake, Austin, and Gendron had 2. Derek Pratt, Masonius, Brian Rigali, Benjamin Freeman and Maxim Letunov had 1 each.
Huska made 26 saves despite the 6 goals against and Oettinger made 27.
UConn interestingly enough won 42 faceoffs and lost 21, as Max Kalter, Letunov, and Jeff Wight were especially successful.
BU rises to 3-2-1 and 1-0-1 in Hockey East. UConn falls to 2-3-1, and 1-2-1 in Hockey East.