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UConn men’s hockeys drops heartbreaker to No. 10 BU, 2-1

The Huskies led for 54 minutes before giving up a pair of goals in less than two minutes.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey led for 54 minutes before giving up a pair of goals 1:23 apart en route to a 2-1 loss to No. 10 Boston University at the XL Center in Hartford.

Huskies collapse late

Vladislav Firstov scored his third goal of the season five minutes in to give UConn a 1-0 lead. For a while, it looked like that would be the game-winner.

“I thought our team played really well for 55 minutes,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said postgame.

Despite a strong performance from UConn goaltender Darion Hanson, BU finally got on the board with 5:40 to play in the third period. Hanson appeared to lose track of the puck behind the net after it took an odd bounce off the boards and Sam Stevens snuck in a wrap-around to tie the game at 1-1.

“They got a fortunate bounce when the puck hit the net and I think Darion didn’t realize it came back on the other side,” Cavanaugh explained.

Shortly after, Carter Turnbull went to the box for a minor boarding penalty to give BU its fourth power play. Although the Huskies’ penalty kill had gone 3-3 on the night and was 7-7 on the year, the Terriers broke through. Hanson made two initial saves before the third rebound bounced to Robert Mastrosimone, who fired into the back of the net for the game-winner.

“I really liked the way we we played for 55 minutes. In this league, you need a 60 minute effort to win hockey games,” Cavanaugh said.

Offense goes cold

For the second game in a row, Firstov opened the scoring with an early goal. The junior scored a minute in against Sacred Heart in the season opener and fired the opening salvo five minutes in against BU by beating goaltender Drew Commesso five-hole on a fast break.

After that, UConn recorded 32 shots and zero goals.

“I thought we generated some good chances,” Cavanaugh said. “I think Commesso played really well, too.”

The Huskies were robbed by Commesso on a power play late in the second period. Firstov crossed a pass to Kevin O’Neil, who looked to have an easy goal on a wide-open net only for Commesso to come out of nowhere with a spectacular glove save.

UConn had no shortage of opportunities to extend its lead but just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net after Firstov’s goal.

Turning point

With one minute left in the second period, UConn earned its second power play of the night — during which Commesso stoned O’Neil. On the ensuing draw, BU was whistled for a face-off violation as time expired, giving the Huskies a 5-on-3 power play for a full minute at the start of the third period.

While UConn won the initial face-off, it couldn’t maintain possession or get the puck into the zone, which allowed the Terriers to kill off the 5-on-3 without allowing a shot. Things didn’t get much better on the remainder of the penalty as BU continued to ice the puck and the Huskies spent more time retrieving it from their own end that shooting it on net.

Overall, UConn’s power play went 0-3 in the loss.

“We didn’t get any good looks in the 5-on-3 and that was disappointing because I think our power play has been pretty good and has played with a lot of pace. On that one, we didn’t,” Cavanaugh said.

The Huskies had a golden chance to add another goal and give themselves a cushion in the final period but couldn’t capitalize. Ultimately, that came back to bite them and they lost the special teams battle 1-0 — which proved to be the difference in the game.

Other notes

  • With the loss, UConn drops to 1-1-0 on the season.
  • Nick Capone made his season debut after missing the last game with an upper body injury.

Up next

UConn will travel to Agganis Arena on Saturday for the second game of the home-and-home series with the Terriers. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.