Coming off of five consecutive defeats, the Boston University men’s hockey team nearly stole a victory late from the University of Connecticut, but were ultimately defeated by the hosts in overtime, 3-2.
“That’s a tough one to take,” said Terrier head coach Albie O’Connell.
BU (10-15-3, 8-8-2 Hockey East) fell victim to another slow start, allowing 13 shots on goal to their five in the first period and surrendering three penalties in the opening eight minutes alone. UConn (9-17-2, 4-12-2 Hockey East) were able to cash in on the second man advantage, as senior forward Karl El-Mir tipped in a shot from junior defenseman Philip Nyberg to get the Huskies on the board first at 7:06.
“Good things [happen] when you’re at the net and you shoot the puck,” said O’Connell.
The Terriers finally showed some life on a power play towards the end of the period, but it would be the Huskies who would tally the game’s next goal. With 2:09 left in the frame, junior defenseman Wyatt Newpower tossed in a shot from range that got through a crowd and found the back of the BU net, making the lead 2-0 at the first intermission.
While BU could not cut into the deficit in the second period, the Terriers did show some tenacity, mainly through physicality after the whistle from junior forward Patrick Curry and senior forward Ryan Cloonan. However, freshman forward Joel Farabee would receive a 10-minute game-misconduct penalty for his role in a scuffle 30 seconds before the buzzer.
“UConn always plays physical,” said Coach O’Connell. “I thought we matched our competitiveness.”
The middle stanza saw few clear-cut chances, maintaining the 2-0 score line going into the final 20 minutes. Junior netminder Jake Oettinger made a pair strong saves on El-Mir efforts late in the second frame, while a breakaway from sophomore forward Shane Bowers was denied by freshman keeper Tomas Vomacka, as well as the ensuing the rebound chance for Curry.
According to O’Connell, “[Vomacka] gave [UConn] every chance to win the game.”
Trailing by two goals into the third, the Terriers finally got one back just past the halfway point in the period. Soaring in from Vomacka’s right side, junior forward Patrick Harper circled the net and snuck in a wrap-around attempt for his third goal of the season, with assists credited to the defensive pairing of junior Dante Fabbro and sophomore David Farrance.
Still down one with time winding down, the Terriers would eventually find their equalizer off the stick of Patrick Curry with just over a minute to play. Farrance and Fabbro linked up for the assists once again, with the former slinging a pass across the attacking zone for Curry to slam in for his team-leading 11th goal of the season, sending the game beyond regulation time.
“We pushed hard to win tonight,” said Coach O’Connell.
BU had the momentum into overtime, but the Terrier excitement would be short-lived. 51 seconds into the extra frame, freshman forward Jáchym Kondelík threw in a shot from range that was knocked down by Oettinger, but junior forward Alexander Payusov was right there to tap in the uncontested rebound and keep the coveted Hockey East points in Connecticut.
“That’s a frustrating one,” said O’Connell. “For it to end the way it did – wow.”
It was déjà vu in multiple ways for the Terriers. Last season, BU came away from their visit to Connecticut with an overtime loss as well. In more recent memory, BU’s overtime surrender brought back memories of Northeastern’s OT win over the Terriers in Beanpot play just two weeks ago, in which the game-winner also came exactly 51 seconds into the extra period.
“It is what it is,” said Coach O’Connell. “The only thing we can do is be ready for tomorrow.”
Still in search of the elusive victory to break the losing skid, the Terriers will return to Agganis Arena for a rematch with UConn on Saturday, 2/16 at 7pm.