CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – The UConn Huskies fired 43 shots on Boston College goaltender Joe Woll and the rookie netmider turned away all but one to make two early Eagle goals stand up in a 2-1 win Tuesday night in a Hockey East match-up from Kelley Rink at Conte Forum. The Eagles sweep the season series with the Huskies as UConn dips below .500 at 9-10-6 overall and 5-6-2 in the league.
The No. 13 ranked Eagles raised their league leading record to 11-3-1 and improved to 16-9-2 overall on the season. Woll finished the night making 42 stops, a career-high and the most since a 40 stop performance at Denver in the second game of the season.
UConn’s Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) turned away 24 shots in taking the loss. The Huskies held a 43-26 edge in shots.
The Eagles struck for a pair of goals just 1:28 into the game and held off the Huskies from there. Michael Kim made it 1-0 just 54 seconds in and JD Dudek put his team up 2-0 just 34 seconds later.
UConn cut the lead in half in the second period as sophomore Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) buried his team-leading 17th goal on the season, blasting a one-timer on the power play at 6:11. The Huskies had a power play late in the third and pulled the goaltender for a 6-on-4 advantage but couldn’t find the tying goal.
Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh – “I’m frustrated with the result but I am very proud of our effort. I thought we played a 58 minute hockey game tonight against the best team in our league. Double digits in shots every period, held them to 26. Won the face-off battle, and played a good hockey game. Unfortunately we came up on the short end. I thought (Joe) Woll was excellent and we had trouble getting pucks by him. It wasn’t because we didn’t get traffic or players in front of the net. He had a great night and he probably cost us a couple points tonight.”
Thompson scored his fifth goal in his last four games. His 17 goals thus far marks the highest total by a Husky since the 2011-12 season when Cole Schneider led the team with 23 goals and Brant Harris had 18.
Sophomore Maxim Letunov (Moscow, Russia) had an assist on Thompson’s goal, his team-high 17th on the season. Over his last eight games, Letunov has 10 points (2g/8a).
Nichols made his first start since the Desert Hockey Classic championship game against Brown on December 31st. He has appeared in 12 games with 11 starts this season and is now 4-5-3 on the year.
UConn’s 43 shots were two shy of the season-high 45 they put on Colgate earlier in the season.
The Eagles got off the first four shots of the game and scored twice, all in the first 1:28 of action. Kim made it 1-0 just 54 seconds into the game, weaving a wrist shot through traffic from the high point off a feed from Connor Moore.
Just 34 seconds later, Fitzgerald fed Dudek up the right wing and he walked in and buried one top-shelf, his 10th on the season, for a 2-0 lead.
From there, the Huskies controlled much of the first period, outshooting the Eagles 14-4 the rest of the period. UConn got a two-on-one shorthanded late in the period but Woll denied Thompson and then Ronan on the rebound.
The Huskies continued to control play in the second period and held a 14-8 edge on shots. UConn killed off a 5-on-3 chance for BC then capitalized when they got their third chance on the power play.
Thompson found his favorite spot in the left face-off circle and blasted a one-timer past Woll off a feed from Maxim Letunov (Moscow, Russia) at 6:11. Freshman Philip Nyberg (Linköping, Sweden) set up the play feeding Letunov off the face-off win. For Thompson, it was his 17th on the season, sixth on the power play.
UConn got three power play chances in the third period but could not come up with the equalizer. The Huskies looked as if they found the tying goal just over five minutes into the period when Spencer Naas (Minnetonka, Minn.) backhanded a rebound in from the left post. After a review, the goal was waved off for goaltender interference.
The Huskies got a power play chance with 2:39 left in the game and used their time-out. Nichols came off shortly in for a 6-on-4 advantage, but BC killed it off, limiting UConn to just two shots with the two-man advantage.
UConn is back home at the XL Center on Friday night, January 27th when they play host to the No. 11 ranked Vermont Catamounts. Opening face-off is scheduled for 7:05 pm.
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