The last time BC played UCONN the result was very different: former Assistant Coach Mike Cavanaugh’s was coaching his first game against his former team, and it was also UCONN’s first game as a member of the Hockey East.
A struggling BC team fell 1-0 in their first ever game against the Huskies.
Last night's game started off quick for the Eagles, with Adam Gilmour and Austin Cangelosi ripping some impressive shots in the first minute of play. UCONN goalie Rob Nichols, however, made some even more impressive saves.
The Eagles were putting a lot of pressure on the Huskies, routinely testing them in the first few minutes. They spent most of the first period in the Huskies zone, but just couldn’t manage to get the ever-important first goal.
About 8:53 into the first, Matt Gaudreau was called for high sticking, leading UCONN’s Ryan Segalla to score a deflating power play goal.
The Eagles struggled to get their momentum back following that first goal. Their closest opportunity came when the puck was jammed into the UCONN net, but an overly eager referee blew his whistle a second too early and disallowed the goal. Further review broke our hearts even more when the call on the ice stood.
During the first, we saw the Eagles attempting to force everything through. Although they had strong possession, they couldn't manage to get any good shots off.
BC started the second half down 1-0; their play in the second started off quite sloppy. They just could not manage to get a handle on the puck or string together a decent amount of passes.
Finally, about 16 minutes in, the Eagles tied it up at one. Fitzgerald beautifully drew the goalie out and maneuvered the puck around a sprawling Nichols, slipping it into the net behind his left skate. The assists were awarded to Michael Matheson and Austin Cangelosi.
Yet even before the fans could complete the sieve cheer, UCONN came roaring back to regain the lead. Both the Superfans and the players, however, did not let this goal get them down. The cheers were the loudest they'd been all game, "Let's go Eagles" echoing through the stadium as the Eagles continued to fight.
And just like clockwork, with less than a minute left to play in the second, the Eagles bounced right back. Cangelosi sent the perfect pass from behind the net to Fitzgerald who fired it home, leaving Nichols dazed and confused. His second goal of the night brought the Eagles back into the game.
With the game tied at two, going into the third, we saw both teams getting shots off early. Sloppy play led to some close chances for each team.
About halfway through the third, the Eagles got their chance when Joona Kunnas went off for hooking. They were firing from all cylinders but still coming up short. Finally, at 12:20 in the third, Fitzgerald, once again, struck gold off a pass from Matheson and Teddy Doherty.
Fitzgerald’s beautiful one timer went right through the five hole. Once again, an electric Conte erupted. Fitzgerald’s third goal of the night would eventually be the game-winning goal; Fitzgerald is now the only BC player who has scored on UCONN so far.
"We had to get traffic and cause some commotion in front and try to bang home dirty goals," said Fitzgerald of their play tonight; that they certainly did.
With 1:20 left in the game, UCONN pulled their goalie for the extra skater and really pressured the Eagles defense. Demko, like the god he is, came up with a Sports Center Top 10 save to keep the Eagles alive and had Superfans literally bowing down to him.
A scary final minute kept everyone on the edge of their seats, but the Eagles continued to fight and were able to hold off the Huskies for the 3-2 victory.
The atmosphere in Conte was electric last night, the cheers echoed through the rink. The Superfans really came up strong, and it was easily one of the best turnouts of the year, behind the BU game.
Cavanaugh recognized that his team's loss did not come from a lack of effort. “I was proud of our effort,” said Cavanaugh, “We made a couple mental mistakes, and that cost us the game, when you play a team like Boston College, those mental mistakes will hurt you.”
We have learned that UCONN is not a team to be taken lightly, and with Mike Cavanaugh at them helm, they are going to be a serious contender in years to come. "They are a legitimate team now, in Division one," said Jerry York, "they are going to be a terrific addition to our league."
For now, however, we will enjoy this victory and the success of the team in recent weeks.
Come out and cheer the Eagles in their next home game on Friday against ninth ranked providence; as Fitzgerald said, "Each game is do or die."
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