Boston, MA- David Quinn and Mike Cavanaugh have battled each other for decades. As the assistant coaches at Boston University and Boston College, the two tight friends waged war for Hockey East titles, Beanpot crowns, and National Championships. The two men are now head coaches and have built their programs in their image.
Quinn has BU positioned to win and competes for championships behind skill and grit. Meanwhile, Cavanaugh has built UConn from a new Hockey East program into a competitive team with a bright future. The teams met at Agganis Arena and entertained the crowd with an overtime thriller. With the series on the line, the teams played a grueling Game 2 on Saturday night. It took the whole night, but eventually, Cavanaugh’s group ran out of steam.
BU came out of the gates firing. They got the first five shots of the game and peppered UConn goalie Adam Huska. He held his ground and gave UConn a chance to fight back. They took the lead on the shot totals with two power plays, but could not beat Jake Oettinger.
The game looked to be scoreless entering the intermission until Adam Karashik took a roughing penalty. Brady Tkachuk converted on the ensuing power play with a laser from the top of the right circle for a 1-0 BU lead with 3.3 seconds left in the frame.
UConn upped the offense in the second period, outshooting BU 13-7. Near the halfway point of the period, Max Kalter landed his second goal of the weekend and tied the game from the right side of the crease.
The Huskies kept firing on Oettinger, but the Sophomore from Lakeville, MN, kept his team in the game long enough for the offense to get one shot in. With 3:08 left in the period, Logan Cockerill landed that shot. The freshman received a pass from Shane Bowers, settled the puck on his stick, faked a one-timer, and blasted a puck by Huska for his first goal at Agganis Arena. The Terriers carried a 2-1 lead into the intermission.
UConn mounted an all out assault in the third period to extend their season. The Huskies outshot BU 15-5 in the final frame and fired everything including the kitchen sink at BU. But again, Oettinger was perfect, recording 15 of his 36 saves in the final frame. BU killed time in the offensive end and along the boards, survived an extra attacker in the final 1:45, and secured a 2-1 victory to sweep the Huskies.
After the game, UConn Coach Mike Cavanaugh was disappointed but proud.
“I’ve been involved with teams that’ve lost National Championship games. While this certainly isn’t on that level, it kinda feels that way to me. There’s nine guys we recruited to come and start a program in Hockey East. I’m proud of the group and the senior class. And proud that in four short years, they took a program that was hoping to compete to expecting to win and being able to play with top teams in the country. It’s tough for the season to end tonight.”
UConn concludes the season with a 15-19-2 record. They set team highs for Hockey East wins (11) and points (23) this season. They earned their first trip to the Hockey East Quarterfinals with a first round bye and proved themselves as a competitor in the conference. Nine Huskies will graduate in May. Jeff Wight, Corey Ronan, Jesse Schwartz, Kasperi Ojantakanen, David Drake, Johnny Austin, Tanner Creel, Alternate Captain Spencer Naas, and Captain Derek Pratt leave the program with the foundation for future success laid.
Terrier Coach David Quinn expressed pride in his team and respect for his opponent and friend after the game.
“We’re not gonna play a team that plays harder than that. I’m proud of our guys. That was a completely different game than last night. We got off to a really good start. Our youth did show a few times, and we played a little nervous, but to me, we showed a lot of charactaristics we need moving forward.”
Boston University improves their record to 19-13-4 and will play in the Hockey East Semifinals for the second year in a row and the third time in four years. Fittingly, they will play ancient rival Boston College at TD Garden on Friday night. Northeastern and Providence will play the second game of the night. Puck drops at 5 pm and 8 pm respectively.