UConn men’s hockey completed their series against No. 7 Boston University on Saturday with a loss after they tied up in Boston on Friday night. Here are some takeaways from the two matchups and the season thus far.
Boston University is elite. UConn is not and that is fine.
Saturday afternoon’s home opener showed Husky fans what their program aspires to. BU is a standout program whose success UConn could be matching in a few years.
Spencer Naas committed a penalty basically on the opening draw and the Terriers quickly showed why they are the favorite to win Hockey East. Seventy-two seconds after Naas entered the penalty box, Boston University was up 2-0 and though UConn got close on the scoreboard, making it a 3-2 game in the second, the Terriers kept the Huskies at bay.
Boston University is better, but they have the culture that UConn wants. They have been in Hockey East since the beginning in 1984 while the Huskies are beginning their fourth season. Jordan Greenway, who played a large part in Team USA’s gold medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, is on the second line. It takes time to be able to bring in that kind of talent, but UConn can get there.
Resilience is going to be a theme with this group.
The ice may have been tilted in Boston University’s direction, but the Huskies never stopped fighting. After one period on Saturday, it was 3-0 and they had only put six shots. In the second period, they scored two goals and made it a 3-2 contest.
Even down three goals late, they forced Boston University to take three penalties in the final 2:43, leading to a six-on-four advantage as well as a short six-on-three that will lead to good scoring opportunities. If they continue to keep that pressure in dire situations, it will pay off.
This was a theme on Friday as well. Bobo Carpenter, who torched Adam Huska to the tune of five goals on the weekend, scored a pair of shorthanded tallies, each of which gave BU the lead.
Adam Huska didn’t keep his stick blade down on the second one, but he moved on and made seven saves in the third period and overtime, some of which were difficult, to force a tie game.
As for the rest of the team, they picked up their goaltender and the top power play unit of Alexander Payusov, Karl El-Mir and Maxim Letunov scored at 7:30 of the third period to tie it up so the Huskies could grab a point at Agganis Arena.
We are almost at the point where the power play is plain good.
Through six games, UConn opponents have committed 27 penalties. The offending party has taken the skate of shame out of the box as the Huskies have celebrated a goal on nine of those penalties.
That is a 33.3 percent conversion rate on the power play, tied for fifth in the nation. The four teams ahead of them are Lake Superior (7-for-16), Mercyhurst (8-for-21), Notre Dame (7-for-20) and Penn State (8-for-23). They have a larger sample size than all of those schools and have been keeping it up for more games, with Mercyhurst and Lake Superior playing four and five games, respectively.
The Huskies have the second-highest power play goal total behind Michigan Tech, who are 11-for-37 with the man advantage. They are arriving at the point where it’s more than just a hot start, it is a good power play that can create chances and keep them in games, as it did on Friday night, where they knotted the game twice while a Terrier was in the penalty box.