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UConn Men’s Hockey drops No. 16 Boston College, 5-3

The Huskies have won four straight.

The UConn men’s hockey team celebrates after upsetting No. 16 Boston College.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey won their fourth straight game on Friday night, taking down No. 16 Boston College 5-3 at the XL Center.

“It’s kind of a theme now,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “This is like three games in a row now where we’ve played strong third periods. It was an excellent win.”

Corey Ronan scored two goals, while Maxim Letunov, Spencer Naas and Brian Rigali each had one. Tanner Creel made 25 saves.

UConn opened the scoring shorthanded after killing off a five-on-three chance. Kasperi Ojantakanen took the puck down the right side after his high sticking call expired and danced through the zone with a fantastic individual effort and after a pass, all Ronan had to do was tap it in for a 1-0 lead just over six minutes in.

Twenty-eight seconds later, they doubled up on the Eagles and led 2-0 after taking just two shots when Naas got in two-on-zero with Benjamin Freeman.

However, that was all the offense the Huskies could muster in the first 20 minutes. Boston College dominated the rest of the period, leading in shots 12-to-6, and Julius Mattila made it 2-1 on a shot that just barely crossed the line merely 19 seconds after Naas lit the lamp for three goals in 47 seconds.

“That was a key part because you’re down 2-0 and I thought we rebounded,” Boston College head coach Jerry York said.

In the second, the Eagles continued to be the aggressor, tying proceedings at 6:27 of the period when Mattila scored his second of the night on the power play with a cannon from the right circle, breaking the Huskies’ streak of 22 consecutive penalties killed.

However, the tide began to turn when Boston College was unable to convert on Alexander Payusov’s roughing call midway through the period, one of eight minors called in the frame.

Less than two minutes after Payusov returned to the ice, the Huskies went on the power play and seized the momentum, eventually getting the lead back inside two minutes remaining.

David Drake entered the zone on the left side and found Letunov streaking down the middle of the ice. All the junior from Moscow had to do was deflect the puck past Jospeh Woll for a 3-2 lead.

“That was awesome,” Ronan said. “Great pass by [Drake] and great finish by Letunov.”

In the third, the Huskies continued to take ownership early and on the rush on a four-on-four, Ronan grabbed his second goal on a wrist shot through traffic from the top of the left circle.

That woke the Eagles up.

The visitors started to push back and brought it to one goal inside seven minutes to go on a shot from JD Dudek that found its way in off the crossbar, but that was as close as they would come.

With 1:38 to go, Rigali buried an empty-netter on a strong individual effort to make it 5-3.

UConn (12-16-2, 9-11-1) closes the non-conference season on Saturday against Brown. Puck drop inside Meehan Auditorium is at 7 p.m.