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UConn men’s hockey defeated by BU in overtime, 2-1

The Huskies tied the game in the third period but the Terriers won it eight seconds into overtime.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey dropped a tough decision to the Boston University Terriers on Friday night, falling in overtime 2-1. BU scored the game-winner eight seconds into the extra period to earn the sudden-death victory.

The Terriers took the lead with just under three minutes left in the first period when Matt Brown sent a beautiful back-handed shot into the top-right corner. While both teams traded chances throughout the rest of the game, the next goal didn’t come until seven minutes remained in regulation. Jachym Kondelik had his point-blank shot stopped but BU’s attempted clearance found Chase Bradley, who fired it home to tie the game.

Since neither team could find a winner in regulation, 3x3 overtime ensued. Jonny Evans won the initial draw but BU’s Jay O’Brien claimed the puck, took it towards net and fired it past Darion Hanson for the game-winner eight seconds in.

“I thought we won the draw and (the puck) went under Carter (Turnbull’s) stick and O’Brien came in and John Spetz bailed out because he thought Carter was going to pass him the puck,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said postgame. “It happens. O’Brien’s a good player, he made a good shot far-side to beat [Hanson].

Offense can’t score enough

UConn’s offense did everything except put the puck in the net against BU. The Huskies sent 26 shots on the goal — including 14 in the second period alone — and created more than a handful of grade-A opportunities throughout the night. In fact, UConn’s lone goal was probably more luck than anything. But ultimately, the score is the only stat that matters and in that regard, the Huskies came up short.

“We had chances but you gotta start bearing down on those chances,” Cavanaugh said.

In the first period, many of those opportunities came off the rush but UConn never had a clean breakaway on goal. BU always seemed to be in the right spot to either break up the play or block a shot — a theme across the night. The Terriers blocked 17 shots, third-most by a Husky opponent this season. BU goaltender Drew Commesso made 25 saves but rarely needed to bail out his defense.

It also didn’t help that UConn had just one power play and spent most of the two minutes retrieving the puck from its own end. In fact, the Terriers created the most dangerous opportunity during the two minutes when they nearly hit the Huskies on a shorthanded rush. UConn managed just one shot on net with the extra skater.

Now, the Huskies have scored just one goal in each of its last two games. They aren’t short of offensive talent and know how to set up opportunities for themselves but at some point, they need to find a way to get the puck past the goaltender.

Hanson stands tall

UConn got some puck luck on the other end, too. BU hit the post four times throughout the game and whiffed on a few golden opportunities as well. However, Hanson had his best game with the Huskies and came up with a handful of big saves — including a jaw-dropping stop late in the second period.

“It was crazy,” Cavanaugh said of the save. “I was right on that sight line and I thought for sure the puck was going in. For him to get his pad on, it was just incredible effort.”

In the final seconds before intermission, BU broke free on a wide-open breakaway. A goal would have put UConn in a deep hole down two entering the third period. Luckily, Hanson came up huge with another big stop to keep the deficit at just 1-0.

What stands out most about Hanson’s performance — aside from the incredible save — is that it followed two of his worst outings of the season at Harvard and Boston College. In both games, Hanson allowed too many soft goals and was partly responsible for the loss to the Crimson.

On Tuesday at AIC, UConn gave freshman Logan Terness his first start in net, but that didn’t rattle the veteran net-minder. Instead, Hanson responded with a stellar performance to keep the Huskies in the game to the end.

“I was not concerned about him at all,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s professional about how he goes about his business and his work ethic’s outstanding. He’s really good goaltender.”

Quote of note

“As I said to the team afterwards — I’m always pretty straight with them — and I thought that we lost a lot of battles in the third period against AIC and we didn’t deserve to win that game tonight. We played toe-to-toe with a top team in our league and it didn’t go our way tonight. But we certainly played well enough to win the game.” — Mike Cavanaugh