After a 1-5-1 start to the season, the Boston College Eagles looked dead in the water. The youthful team was blown out by Wisconsin, St. Cloud, and Denver, and barely edged by Providence. Head coach Jerry York kept calm, knowing his team would gain experience through playing hard games. A weekend sweep of Merrimack got the Eagles to 3-1-0 in Hockey East play. They went into Tuesday night’s matchup with the University of Connecticut Huskies with momentum, but with questions. Captain Casey Fitzgerald was out due to an ankle injury and Joseph Woll was suspended for a game following the Merrimack series. Kevin Lohan and Ryan Edquist filled in and led BC to a needed victory over York’s protégé, Huskies Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh.
The first period was surprisingly lethargic. BC outshot UConn 12-9 in the period, but neither team had much momentum. Slips were plentiful, and the teams looked tired after grueling weekend sets. The goalies, BC’s Edquist and UConn’s Adam Huska played strong periods, saving every shot thrown their way. The game went into the intermission scoreless and looking for an energy boost.
UConn drew first blood in the second on the tail end of a Jacob Tortora hooking penalty. Adam Huska cleared the puck up the boards for Karl El-Mir, who advanced the puck for Jeff Wight. The senior beat Edquist inside the left post and gave UConn a 1-0 lead 5:01 into the first. Huska was awarded an assist on the goal, the first of his UConn career. BC did not stay down for long. Christopher Brown was called for a slashing penalty near the halfway point of the second. BC’s penalty proceeded to get the Eagles back in the game. Logan Hustko forced a neutral zone turnover, got the puck to Julius Mattila, and the Finnish sophomore tied the game 1-1 just five minutes after falling behind. Near period’s end, BC made the most of a Benjamin Freeman hooking penalty. They worked the puck to Michael Kim at the right point. The junior captain wound up and fired a wicked wrister by Huska for his first goal of the season and a 2-1 Eagles lead.
BC won the first two periods in terms of shots, 12-9 in the first and 17-8 in the second. UConn turned the tables in the third, winning the shots battle 11-7. They made Edquist work, but the sophomore kept UConn off the board in the third. UConn got their share of chances. Early in the third, Spencer Naas had a breakaway on Edquist. The Husky Alternate Captain put a move on and shot the puck, but Edquist saved and covered the puck. UConn kept working, and almost tied it with the goalie pulled in the final two minutes. A close icing call cost UConn faceoff position and time. Maxim Letunov almost make some magic after the icing to save a point. He sliced his way through four defenders and got to the doorstep of the goal. Unfortunately, Michael Kim’s skate got in the way, UConn, lost possession, and time burned out.
Mike Cavanaugh was happy with how his team handled the third period. Despite the one power play goal, UConn went 1-4 on the power play. The advantage time for the Huskies has been poor the last three games. “We’re losing momentum on the power play and it cost us some points tonight and against Vermont over the weekend.” UConn falls to 3-6-1 overall and 2-3-1 in conference. The Huskies return to Hartford this weekend to host the 17th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in a two game set at the XL Center. Friday’s puck drop is 7pm; Saturday’s is at 3:35pm.
Jerry York was complimentary of Cavanaugh’s coaching job against the Eagles and of his team’s development. “We have to get more comfortable in these kinds of tight games. We’re getting more experience through it. We’ve got a lot of good hockey players in that room.” BC’s record is now 4-5-1 and 4-1-0 in conference riding a 3 game winning streak. BC sits atop the conference, leading New Hampshire by one point. The Eagles hit the road for a two game set against the Vermont Catamounts in Burlington. Puck drops on Friday and Saturday night at 7pm, both nights at Gutterson Fieldhouse.