For the second time in three games, UConn men’s hockey scored a walk-off goal in overtime, this time downing the BU Terriers, 3-2.
Here’s how it happened:
Payusov Saves the Day
Despite holding a 2-0 lead through two and a half periods, things began to look a bit tenuous down the stretch for the Huskies. BU’s Patrick Harper cut the lead in half midway through the third period before the Terriers tied it with 1:05 left to play, sending the game to overtime.
Entering the extra period, the momentum was certainly in BU’s favor. The controlled the puck for most of the third period and out-shot UConn 11-10 in the third. After taking the early lead, the Huskies seemed to take their foot off the gas down the final stretch.
Although they gave up the late goal, head coach Mike Cavanaugh liked his team’s “closer mentality.”
“[In baseball, a closer blows a game and the next night he has to come back out and close the game. It’s the same thing,” he said. “They’re a good hockey team. Sometimes you’re going to give up a goal late in the game. You can’t let that paralyze you. You have to be mentally tough enough to go say ‘Okay, let’s go win this next shift. And that’s what we were able to do.”
Just 51 seconds into overtime, Alexander Payusov buried a rebound off a shot from Karl El-Mir to give the Huskies the win and a critical two points in the Hockey East standings.
UConn’s penalty kill was a perfect 0-6 on the night against a “dangerous” BU power play. It has been an area the Huskies really struggled in at times, entering the game with just a .769 penalty kill percentage. But tonight, the unit excelled time and time again.
“I prefer to not take six penalties and give them six power plays, they just have some real dangerous pieces on that power play,” Cavanaugh said. “But they did a great job of killing penalties, Tomas [Vomacka] did a great job of making saves when he had to and it was a good win for us.”
On the other end, the Huskies’ power play set the tone by scoring its first goal with an extra skater. It was the only one they scored on six attempts but it was important for UConn to take the lead and set the tone early on.
Dominant First Period
The lackluster play in the final two periods overshadowed what was arguably the best 20 minutes of the season for UConn in the first period. The Huskies dominated the Terriers, scoring two goals while out-shooting the visitors 13-5. There were stretches UConn didn’t even let BU touch the puck.
“We came out and we had a great, tenacious forecheck where we were able to keep a lot of pucks in and their defense wasn’t able to make that first clean breakout pass,” Cavanaugh said. “That led to some turnovers by them and then we had some zone time.”
When the Huskies play like they did in the first period, there’s few teams in the nation they can’t compete with.
With the win along with a Maine draw, UConn is now just six points behind the 8th and final place in the Hockey East Playoffs with five games remaining (10 possible points). The Huskies have a tough final stretch with a pair of games against No. 2 UMass and a game against No. 13 Providence. UConn needs to pick up ground any chance they can get, and that’s exactly what they did tonight.
Karl El-Mir batted a slapshot from Philip Nyberg into the net on the power play.
Wyatt Newpower with the snipe off the assists from Ruslan Iskhakov and Jonny Evans.
The game-winner from Payusov, assisted by El-Mir and Jachym Kondelik.
UConn heads up to Agganis Arena in Boston for the final game in the season series with BU at 7 p.m.