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UConn Beats Back First Place Boston College, 5-3

Feb. 2, 2018

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HARTFORD, Conn. – The UConn men’s hockey team picked-up their fourth-straight win Friday night behind a pair of goals from senior Corey Ronan (Franklin, Mass.) as the Huskies knocked off first place and No. 16 nationally ranked Boston College, 5-3, in a Hockey East match-up from the XL Center.

The Huskies improved to 12-16-2 overall and notched two big Hockey East points in the standings while improving to 9-11-1 in the league. The nine wins in league play is the most for the Huskies since joining the conference in 2014-15.

UConn’s Ronan two-goal night marked a career-high for the senior as he notched his third short-handed goal of the season as well as his first game-winner.  Junior Maxim Letunov (Moscow, Russia) and senior Spencer Naas (Minnetonka, Minn.) both found the back of the net and freshman Brian Rigali (Libertyville, Ill.) tacked on an empty net goal to ice the win.

The Huskies took a 2-0 lead early in the first and led 2-1 after one.  BC’s Julius Mattila scored twice for the Eagles and pulled the game even at 2-2 early in the second period. Letunov scored late in the second to send the Huskies into the final frame with the lead while Ronan’s second gave the Huskies a 4-2 advantage.

UConn’s special teams continued their strong play, killing eight of nine Eagle power plays while also picking up a shorthanded goal and twice scoring on 4-on-4 chances.  Senior goaltender Tanner Creel (Arlington Heights, Ill.) made 25 saves to earn the win.

BC’s JD Dudek added a third period goal for the Eagles while sophomore Joseph Woll made 23 save in net in taking the loss. 

1st:
All three first period goals came in a 47 second span and off the heels of a 5-on-3 chance for BC.  Senior Kasperi Ojantakanen (Helsinki, Finland) came out of the box at the 6 minute mark and was able to catch a pass from David Drake (Naperville, Ill.) to start a break-away chance.  Ojantakanen fired on Woll with a trailing Ronan there to redirect it in for shorthanded goal and 1-0 lead at 6:12.

BC’s Aapeli Rasanen went to the box for slashing on the play, making it 4-on-4.  UConn sophomore Benjamin Freeman (Falmouth, Maine) sent Naas up the middle through the netural zone on a break-away and the senior buried his eighth on the season to go up 2-0 at 6:40.

The Eagles got one back at 6:59 as Mattila blasted a slap shot from the right circle that caught Creel’s shoulder but trickled over and just inside the left post for his seventh of the season, making it 2-1. 

2nd:
Boston College tied it up at 2-2 with a power play goal at 6:27, Mattila’s second on the night.  Junior defenseman Michael Kim set up Mattila for a one-timer in the right circle and the sophomore blasted his eighth on the season past Creel to the glove side.

The Huskies pulled back in front late in the second on Letunov’s eighth of the season.  Junior Karl El-Mir (Montreal, Quebec) chipped the puck into the zone and found Drake on the left wing.  Drake threw it on net where Letunov found some space in front and redirected it past Woll for a 3-2 lead at 18:21.8 

3rd:
The Huskies pushed their lead to 4-2 thanks to Ronan’s second on the night coming on a 4-on-4 at 5:39.  Junior Max Kalter (Highland Park, Ill.) fed Ronan up the left wing into the BC zone.  Ronan pulled up, saw and opening and snapped off a wrist shot from the circle that beat Woll, giving the Huskies a two-goal lead.

BC pulled back within a goal at 13:29 as Jacob Tortora broke-up a UConn clearing attempt in the zone and left a loose puck sitting in the slot.  Dudek found it and blasted a slap shot, bar down for his fifth of the season to pull within 4-3.

The Eagles pulled Woll for the extra skater with just under two to play but the Huskies ended the comeback bid as Kalter and freshman Zac Robbins (Glenview, Ill.) chipped the puck away in the neutral zone and Rigali found in and beat the Eagles back for the empty netter, his second goal of the season, at 18:22. 

Notes:
The Huskies snapped a six-game BC winning streak in the series and earn their second win all-time against the Eagles.  The series is still in favor of BC, 6-2-1.

The win was UConn’s fourth-straight, their longest winning streak of the season.  It also marked the program’s first-ever four-game Hockey East winning streak.

Ronan’s two-goal night marked a career-high for the senior forward and was his first multi-goal game and the second multi-point game this season.  His shorthanded goal was the sixth of his career.

Drake finished with two assists in the win, setting a new career-high while Kalter’s two helpers matched his career-high. 

Naas’ eighth goal of the season marked the 45th of his career.  He currently ranks fifth for career goals in the UConn Division I (1998-present) record book.

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