Coming off of five consecutive defeats, the Boston University men’s hockey team nearly stole a victory Friday night at the University of Connecticut, but were ultimately defeated 3-2 by the hosts in overtime.
“That’s a tough one to take,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said.
The Terriers (10-15-3, 8-8-2 Hockey East) fell victim to another slow start, allowing 13 shots on goal but only taking five of their own in the first period. BU surrendered three penalties in the opening eight minutes alone.
UConn (10-17-2, 5-12-2 Hockey East) was able to cash in on the second resulting power play, as forward Karl El-Mir tipped in a shot from defenseman Philip Nyberg to get the Huskies on the board first at 7:06.
The Terriers began to show more life on a man-advantage in the second half of the period, but it would be the Huskies who would tally the game’s next goal.
With 2:09 left in the frame, defenseman Wyatt Newpower tossed in a shot from range that got through a crowd and found the back of the BU net. The opening stanza would finish 2-0.
While BU could not cut into the deficit in the second period, the Terriers did show greater physicality, mainly from the likes of junior forward Patrick Curry and senior linemate Ryan Cloonan. Freshman forward Joel Farabee picked up a 10-minute game misconduct penalty for his role in a scuffle 30 seconds before the buzzer.
“UConn always plays physical,” O’Connell said. “I thought we matched our competitiveness.”
The middle stanza saw few clear-cut chances, and the scoreline stayed 2-0 going into the final 20 minutes. Junior netminder Jake Oettinger made a pair of strong saves on El-Mir and Newpower efforts late in the second frame, while a breakaway from sophomore forward Shane Bowers was denied by Husky keeper Tomas Vomacka, as well as an ensuing rebound chance for Curry.
Trailing by two goals into the third, the Terriers got one back just past the halfway point in the stanza.
Soaring in from Vomacka’s right side, junior forward Patrick Harper circled the net and snuck in a wrap-around shot for his third goal of the season. The assists were credited to defenders junior Dante Fabbro and sophomore David Farrance.
Just over eight minutes later and with an extra attacker on the ice, the Terriers found their equalizer. Farrance slung a pass across the attacking zone, where Curry slammed the puck in for a team-leading 11th goal of the season to send the game into overtime. Fabbro was again the other man on the assist.
BU had the momentum heading into the additional frame, but their excitement was short-lived. Fifty-one seconds after the whistle, Husky forward Jáchym Kondelík threw in a shot from range that was knocked down by Oettinger. Junior forward Alexander Payusov was there to tap in the uncontested rebound, sealing the win and keeping the Hockey East points in Connecticut.
“That’s a frustrating one,” O’Connell said. “For it to end the way it did — wow.”
Friday’s match was deja vu for the Terriers in several ways. A year ago last season, BU came away from a visit to Connecticut with an overtime loss as well. And Friday’s loss echoes the Terriers’ overtime surrender to Northeastern in the Beanpot Feb. 5, in which the game-winner also came 51 seconds into the extra period.
Still in search of a victory to break their now six-match losing skid, the Terriers will return home to Agganis Arena Saturday for a rematch with UConn at 7 p.m.