For the second night in a row, UConn men’s hockey got within one goal of the No. 1 Boston College Eagles in the final minutes and had a chance to tie the game with its net empty. But unlike Friday night, the Huskies couldn’t pull off the late comeback and fell to the Eagles, 4-2.
Carter Turnbull (6-3—9) and Jake Flynn (1-4—5) each scored. UConn went 6-6 on the penalty kill and converted one of five power-play opportunities but also allowed its first shorthanded goal since Feb. 16, 2018 and gave up an empty netter which sealed the game.
UConn comes away from the series with two of the six possible points and falls to 5-6-2 on the year.
“If I’m looking at the series, we’ve played Boston College four times — the number one team in the country,” Mike Cavanaugh said. “There’s 12 points available and they got six and we got six. I’m pretty happy with our effort this weekend and a little disappointed we didn’t fare better tonight but overall I’m pretty happy with our team.”
BC quickly got on the board first 2:31 into the game but UConn responded five and a half minutes later. Turnbull forced a turnover at the blue line and charged at net, only to have his first attempt turned away by Eagles’ goaltender Spencer Knight. However, the rebound bounced straight back to Turnbull, who made a quick move to get past Knight and tie the game at one goal apiece.
The two teams went scoreless for the rest of the first period and deep into the second before BC caught UConn on an odd-man rush and reclaimed the lead. A few minutes later, the Eagles found themselves with a 2-on-1 down the ice again and scored their sixth short-handed goal of the season.
“I think we were pressing a little,” Cavanaugh said. “We had four guys down by the goal trying to win that puck battle and in most cases, we’re going to win that puck battle. We didn’t and their defenseman made a nice play and sprung that 2-on-1.”
Just like their last game, the Huskies found themselves down by two entering the third period. And once again, UConn pushed for the equalizer in the closing minutes. After a BC goaltender interference penalty, the Huskies capitalized on the power play when Flynn fired a shot from the blue line that somehow made its way through all the traffic in front of goal and past Knight into the net.
UConn pulled Vomacka with 1:50 left and had plenty of chances before BC’s Jack St. Ivany launched a 200-foot shot that found the empty net and put the Huskies away for good.
Despite the loss, Cavanaugh was happy with the way his team climbed back into contention.
“I was really happy with the fight we had in the third period,” he said. “I thought we played really, really well, had a big power-play goal, and had another chance to tie that game up tonight.”
The series likely would’ve taken a different turn if not for stellar play in both games by Knight, who turned away an incredible number of grade-A chances from UConn on the weekend. Overall, he stopped 79 of 84 shots he faced on the weekend.
“He’s a special player in college hockey,” Cavanaugh said about Knight. “I saw Jerry [York] briefly afterward and he’s had a lot of good goalies. I think this one may be the very best.”
Vomacka was also outstanding for UConn in net despite taking the loss. He turned away 65 of 71 shots on the weekend and made two of his best saves of the season on Saturday to keep the game level at 1-1 in the second period.
Roman Kinal left the game with a knee injury, according to Cavanaugh, and did not return. The severity of the injury is still unknown, though he’ll likely be evaluated by doctors on Monday.
For the first time this season, UConn allowed friends and family into Freitas Ice Forum. Around 40 spectators were in the stands, including Geno Auriemma and his family.
UConn will learn if and when it plays next weekend by Tuesday, when Hockey East announces the upcoming week’s schedule. The league had announced earlier that it will begin scheduling games on a week-by-week basis.