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UConn Men’s Hockey Drops Game to No. 5 Boston University

The Huskies played a great second and third period, but two first-period mistakes proved too much to overcome.

Rob Nichols makes one of his 24 saves on the night.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey played well in the first game of a home-and-home series with No. 5 Boston University on Friday night at the XL Center, but could not get the win in as the Terriers won 2-1 on two first period goals.

“I was pleased with the effort,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said postgame. “I think our team showed a lot of character.”

Spencer Naas notched the UConn goal, his fifth of the season.

Huskies netminder Rob Nichols made 24 saves, multiple of which kept the Huskies in the game when they couldn’t get the offense going, despite leading the Terriers in shots, 29-to-26.

“[Nichols] had a great night, but so did the other guy,” Cavanaugh said.

The Huskies played a very strong second and third period and looked like the better team, but could not find the game-tying goal they were searching for.

UConn did not play poorly over the first 20 minutes, but two mistakes doomed them.

Jordan Greenway took a pass from Jakob Forskacka-Karlsson and skated around the back of the net. His shot looked more like a lob than a shot, but regardless it snuck over Nichols’ shoulder for a 1-0 Boston University lead just 3:28 into the game.

“It was a harmless play, I think it went off of Drake’s skate,” Cavanaugh said.

Gabriel Chabot found himself with space in the high slot at the tail end of the period. He took a shot that Nichols couldn’t even see as he was screened by his own defenseman. Chabot’s shot got just under the bar 16:01 into the period for his first career goal and a 2-0 Terriers lead.

Nichols made nine saves on 11 shots in the first period, while Connor LaCouvee saved all eight of UConn’s shots.

Despite a lackluster start to the second period, UConn really turned it around and played some great hockey in the second half of the second period.

“We were really able to roll four lines for a stretch and hem them in their own zone,” Cavanaugh said. “I thought that was encouraging.”

Boston University committed three penalties in the final 7:51 of the period and while the Huskies did not take advantage, they were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for much of the time and ran a strong power play.

“Our power play didn’t score but we were able to get some momentum off of it,” Cavanaugh said.

UConn led in shots 12-to-8 in the period and held a 20-to-19 lead after 40 minutes.

The third period continued the great play that the Huskies had during the second.

They led again in shots, 9-to-7, and pushed through on the power play, scoring their lone goal, but time and time again LaCouvee made the saves when he had to and kept UConn at bay.

The goal came on the rush on the power play. The puck found Naas’ stick and he put the puck in the open net on a great pass 6:56 into the third period. Assists went to Benjamin Freeman and Kasperi Ojantakanen.

“It was a great entry,” Naas said. “Kasperi got the puck on the wing and made a great play to Ben and he was able to slide it over to me.”

The teams will have a rematch Saturday night in Boston at Agannis Arena. Puck drop comes at 7:00 p.m.