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UConn Men’s Hockey drops Game 1 at No. 20 Boston University

After the overtime loss, the Huskies will be facing elimination on Saturday night.

BU’s John MacLeod (16) celebrates Bobo Carpenter’s goal in overtime to give them the win over UConn.
BU’s John MacLeod (16) celebrates Bobo Carpenter’s goal in overtime to give them the win over UConn.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

On Friday night at Agganis Arena in Boston, UConn men’s hockey lost three one-goal leads in Game 1 of their Hockey East Tournament quarterfinal on their way to a 5-4 overtime loss to No. 20 Boston University.

“I’m not surprised this game went to overtime,” BU head coach David Quinn said. “If we thought tonight was hard, tomorrow is going to be that much harder.”

The Huskies have now lost nine consecutive playoff games dating back to 2012-13, while the Terriers earned their 11th straight home victory in Hockey East tournament play.

UConn goals were scored by Karl El-Mir, Benjamin Freeman, Max Kalter and Maxim Letunov. Goaltender Adam Huska returned to action for the first time since Jan. 12, making 33 saves.

The Huskies came out strong on the forecheck and held ownership of the puck for much of the first five minutes. That tenacity paid off with a goal 4:34 in.

Brian Rigali stole the puck against the boards on the left side and had Kalter skating with him. Rigali fired a shot, which was saved, but Kalter scored off the rebound.

However, Jordan Greenway broke behind the defense 18 seconds later and beat Huska between his legs to tie the game. The Huskies have had struggles in the past from allowing quick responses to goals.

“You can talk about it all you want, the kids know,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “We have to get better on shifts after goals.”

The Huskies were still playing better than their hosts but BU was able to take the lead just before the eight-minute mark after a massive scrum in front of Huska led to a Drew Melanson goal.

UConn went into the first intermission down 2-1 but played a really strong middle frame and would exit up a goal, aided by strong physical play.

El-Mir kicked off the scoring 1:31 in when he corralled a bouncing puck on a shot from David Drake to knot it up. Letunov scored on a deflection as well, off of Derek Pratt’s stick, one of two assists for Pratt on the night.

To top it off, the Huskies were able to kill off 88 seconds of five-on-three time at the end of the stanza, allowing just one shot on goal.

“I thought our team did an excellent job killing the penalty,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s not easy with the talent they have on the ice.”

Early in the third period, Jesse Schwartz was called for holding and BU re-tied the game, courtesy of Greenway’s second of the night.

Benjamin Freeman would take the lead back with a nice shot high to Jake Oettinger’s stick side with just over five minutes to go, but it took the Terriers less than 90 seconds to even it back up and send the game to overtime.

In the sudden death session, Bobo Carpenter ended it 5:02 into overtime on a wraparound to give the Terriers the win. It was Carpenter’s his seventh goal against the Huskies this year.

The two teams meet for Game 2 on Saturday at 7 p.m. in what could be the last night of UConn’s season.