Post-game Quickcap: UConn falls at Boston College, 3-2
After the disappointing end of the second period for the Huskies, the Huskies needed to play strongly in the last period of regulation. They were gifted a penalty at 1:23 in the BC defensive zone. The Eagles' PK, which let up the first goal of the game, was up to the task - killing time in the UConn zone in large chunks to dissolve any possible chances for UConn. The Huskies struggled to find any openings in bringing the puck back to the BC zone and the Eagles killed the penalty without any legitimate attempts by UConn.
BC kept the pressure up on UConn, looking to force another messy goal in front of net. They kept a screener on Nichols whenever feasible, tying up his line of sight but he seemed ready and able to deal with anything that came his way. UConn's offense was being bullied in the neutral zone and developing any sort of play. Any sort of possession for the Huskies was played on the opposite two-thirds of the ice. As soon as the team crossed the BC blue line, the Eagles' back line pinched and caused a turnover.
A hooking penalty on Kasperi Ojantakanen sent Boston College on the power play with 12 minutes remaining in the game. The Eagles attacked Nichols constantly with, by my count, five shots on Nichols in the two minutes and constant possession in the UConn defensive zone. Thankfully for the Huskies, Nichols remained stout and the penalty was killed. However, the Eagles kept the shots coming after the man advantage was removed and caused Kunnas to commit a hooking penalty on an attempted shot by Gaudreau. Soon thereafter, as has been the case this game, Ryan Fitzgerald put away a power play laser beam goal for his hat trick at 12:20 for their first-ever lead on UConn in Hockey East play.
Nothing was brewing for the Huskies until a goaltender interference penalty at 14:11. Jacob Poe and Ojantakanen got good chances at Demko, but the first passed wide and the second was dismissed by Demko's stick. The rest of the penalty was uneventful and an icing call at the end left UConn with 3:45 and a lot of ground to cover.
BC ate time in the corners and held possession in the final minutes. A UConn offensive production finally found itself when Coach Cavanaugh brought on the sixth skater and pulled Nichols. UConn had a perfect opportunity to tie the game, but Demko stood on his head and caught the puck in his glove despite what seemed a wide-open net and a puck about 2 feet away from the crease for the Huskies. UConn had one last chance but it was deflected and the horn sounds
UConn never really recovered from the last-second goal in the second period. The Eagles' defense was stifling and never allowed UConn to gain footing in the last period. Despite allowing three goals, Nichols played outstandingly against an aggressive and hungry Eagles' offense.
A rivalry is brewing here. Two close games and a lot of good hockey being played between two schools very familiar with each other. Circle the future meetings in your calendars for a guaranteed good time.
SECOND PERIOD UPDATE:
GOALS: BC, Ryan Fitzgerald (16:40, PP - assisted by Michael Matheson and Austin Cangelosi); UConn, Joona Kunnas (17:03 - assisted by Brent Norris and Johnny Austin); BC, Ryan Fitzgerald (19:06 - assisted by Austin Cangelosi)
PENALTIES: BC, Steve Santini (Interference, 8:05); UConn, Derek Pratt (Tripping, 14:42); BC, Destry Straight (Slashing, 16:12); UConn, Jacob Poe (Hitting after Whistle, 16:12)
Recap: UConn and BC tied at 2-2
On the period with the long change, BC looked to even the score early and often. UConn's back line held strong in the first minutes and allowed the offense to get multiple quality chances at Demko. One passed just by the right post and hit the back way, beating the leg of the goaltender but not finding the area between the two posts. A dogpile in front of net resulted directly after called for a referee's discussion but no goal was awarded.
This is where BC's frustrations started to show. Clearly upset that UConn's messy attempt after a whistle got more attention than their own near-goal, the Eagles lost possession on multiple failed and allowed UConn to maintain control longer than they ever had in the first period. BC then began to change up their rotations and lines to create some chemistry where clearly they were lacking.
Soon thereafter, again at around the 12 minute mark, BC's Steve Santini was called for interference to give UConn another power play. On the power play, Nichols faced a breakaway by the Eagles' Chris Calnan. Despite having the entire zone to himself, Nichols slid his left leg in front of Calnan's deke and poked it away for his 18th save. UConn did not have any chances on their power play.
Boston College regained their composure and attacked for several minutes. UConn suffered a sloppy penalty at 14:32 and their PK team filled the seams well but the mess in front of the net was too often not cleared. Nichols is very efficient at gathering obvious rebounds, but when the opponent has an extra man screening him, he loses sight and is a little less quick at gathering. At16:40, Ryan Fitzgerald tied up the game in a tangle in the crease.
In seemingly great luck for UConn, right after the faceoff, Kunnas found a rebound and an empty left side of the net, and sweeped it in to retake the lead at 17:03. But, just when UConn thought it could breathe, Fitzgerald got a lucky bounce in front of Nichols and somehow wafted it between the goalie's legs for his second game-tying goal with just 54 seconds on the clock.
The Huskies played far better this period than the last, almost completely flipped from the last period. And just like the last period, the scoreboard doesn't reflect this effort with Nichols letting two past him. The Huskies need to clear out messes in front of net or else this game, which is winnable, could slip away.
FIRST PERIOD UPDATE: UConn winning 1-0
In their first meeting, UConn won was because of Rob Nichols' great play and smart defense to deny BC clear chance. UConn also got an early, first period power-play goal. The same exact traits have held through tonight's first period, ending with UConn up 1-0.
The Huskies applied pressure well in the opening minutes of the game, and it frustrated BC early. About five minutes in, the Eagles were able to crack the formation and rifled off three early shots against Nichols, to no avail. UConn garnered a couple chances on a counter attack, but all were directed straight at Thatcher Demko and he was able to tidy up without fuss.
In a scene eerily reminiscent to the team's last game at XL, Matthew Gaudreau was called for a high-stick at 8:53 and UConn made the Eagles pay for allowing an early man-advantage. Ryan Segalla fired a wrister in the top right corner to beat Thatcher Demko blocker side to take the lead at 10:13.
BC came out angry in response, and attacked Nichols nearly immediately. A near-four-on-Nichols was stopped by the goalie's glove, but the lead was almost lost midway through the first. After losing his stick, it looked like a scrappy Nichols - after somehow thwarting three attempts, had the puck squirted past his right skate. A mystery whistle sounded right before the puck crossed the line and the referee signalled a disallowed goal. Replay confirmed whatever it was that caused the call, and BC's goal was wiped off the board.
The Eagles were the stronger team on the period, despite what the scoreboard distinguished at the end of the period. Chances were heavily weighted to their side, out-shooting UConn 15-7 and controlled possession for a majority of the time on the ice. This is not to discount the UConn defense - they are playing the same game plan as when the two teams met in Hartford in 2014. They are gumming up the area in front of net and not allowing easy shots. Nichols will have to do a little less work in the next two periods for that one goal lead to hold as it did in early November.
GOALS: UConn, Ryan Segalla (10:13, PP)
PENALTIES: BC, Matthew Gaudreau (8:53); UConn, Ryan Tyson (10:33)
Radio: WHUS 91.7 FM and online at www.whus.org/live
Video: EagleVision on BCEagles.com
Live Stats: BCEagles.com
REMINDER - This is how the last UConn-BC game ended:
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