Hockey, Ice Hockey, NCAA, Sports

Men’s Ice Hockey beats UConn in comeback, overtime victory

After trailing 2-0, the Boston University men’s ice hockey team stormed back to a 3-2 overtime victory, defeating the University of Connecticut Huskies in their Saturday matchup.

Originally scheduled to play two games this weekend, the Terriers only played Saturday. Sophomore goaltender Ashton Abel slipped on ice and hurt himself last week, leaving freshman Vinny Duplessis as the only healthy goaltender, BU head coach Albie O’Connell said. Fellow freshman Drew Commesso has been unavailable since Jan. 23.

Boston University men's hockey team against the University of Maine
Boston University men’s hockey team in a Jan. 23 game against the University of Maine. The Terriers beat the University of Connecticut 3-2 in overtime Saturday. CAROLINE FERNANDEZ/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Rather than miss the entire weekend, the team chose to play one game with Duplessis. O’Connell expressed his gratitude toward UConn, Hockey East and the school administrations for allowing the game to be played.

“I might have thrown on the pads,” O’Connell said in a press conference Saturday. “We were a little bit worried and just in case something happened … Knowing that [Duplessis] was the only guy to go, he played another terrific game.”

UConn struck early, taking a 1-0 lead just 1:28 into the game. Huskies junior forward Carter Turnbull parked himself in front of the net and put his stick on an outside shot from sophomore defenseman Carter Berger, redirecting the puck past Duplessis to get on the board.

A pair of penalties just over six minutes into the game put the two sides at four-on-four play for almost two minutes. Despite the even strength, the Huskies generated most of the offensive zone time, creating a handful of dangerous chances right on the doorstep. Duplessis withstood the barrage, and the penalty time ticked out without any change in score.

Play evened out from there, as the two sides traded shots. UConn began to pick up momentum, generating more shots on net. BU junior forward Matthew Quercia was called for a checking penalty with 4:28 left, but with the Huskies maintaining possession, the call was delayed.

Working with an extra skater after pulling junior goaltender Tomas Vomacka due to the delayed call, UConn cycled the puck and an outside shot from forward Brian Rigali deflected off Terriers freshman defenseman Cade Webber and Duplessis’ skate before barely slipping inside the post to put the Huskies up 2-0.

With less than a minute left in the period, the Terriers got on the board as sophomore forward Jay O’Brien stalked in from point position and received a pass from the right corner from graduate forward Max Kaufman.

The sophomore used the little space he had to dangle and force Vomacka out of position before wrapping the puck around the netminder’s outstretched leg to cut the deficit to 2-1. The score held for the final 50 seconds of the period before reaching the first intermission.

“It’s enormous,” O’Connell said. “Whenever you can score last minute or the last couple of minutes of a period, it gives you a little bit of momentum.”

The second period opened with strings of attack from each side, but a massive hit from UConn junior forward Kale Howarth on freshman forward Nick Zabaneh put the Terriers on a five-minute power play.

The Terriers got several prime opportunities to even the score on the power play, testing Vomacka on multiple plays on the doorstep. With 1:15 left in the power play time, O’Brien crashed the net hard and collided with the UConn netminder, getting called for goaltender interference and washing out the rest of the man advantage.

The two sides exchanged chances throughout the third period. With 6:01 left in regulation, the Terriers were working on a scrum on the left side of the offensive zone, where the puck popped out to Webber, who fed senior forward Logan Cockerill near the corner. The Terrier captain found Kaufman with space in front of the net, and Kaufman one-timed the centering pass to the back of the net to tie the game 2-2, scoring his first goal of the season.

“I thought that was one of the best games [Kaufman has] had in a Terrier uniform,” O’Connell said. “He’s been looking to pass too much, so it’s nice to see him shoot the puck.”

The Terriers strung together some last gasp chances in the offensive zone in the final minutes, holding a man advantage after a couple UConn penalties, but the Huskies relented and time trickled away to send the game to overtime.

In overtime, the Huskies got the first major chance where a two-on-one rush was sent wide on a shot by junior forward Jonny Evans. The Terriers immediately took the rebound and went up ice with Cockerill leading a three-on-one rush. Cockerill skated in on the right side of the zone, but lost control of the puck.

Freshman forward Luke Tuch, who had been trailing Cockerill into the zone, swooped in on the loose puck, brought it between the face-off circles and whipped the puck high to beat Vomacka and win the game 3-2 just 44 seconds into overtime, completing the comeback.

“It was an unbelievably hard fought game,” O’Connell said. “We didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, but we just kept on getting better as the game went on.”

Hockey East has not yet announced the Terriers’ next opponent. The Terriers are 9-2 on the season.

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