Yesterday at the XL Center UConn played their fourth game in Hartford and their third Hockey East matchup. Boston University is ranked 3rd in the country and they are a power house when it comes to college hockey. UConn had proven itself worthy of concern for the Terriers, UConn had beaten Boston College, tied R.P.I., and beaten Vermont in the XL Center.
There was a question on many fans mind as to how UConn would play in back to back games having beaten 10th ranked Vermont the night before.
UConn was awarded a power play chance just 30 seconds into the game, they used their speed and agility to try and take the Terriers off their defensive game. The power play was unsuccessful. UConn did apply some pressure, within the first five minutes UConn had produced seven shots on net and some of them were on the higher side of quality chances. I am sure they wanted to score first and set the tone, plus not have to play from behind but that did not happen.
The Terriers began to apply pressure in the UConn zone. UConns Johnny Austin received a holding penalty around seven minutes into the game. That gave the Terriers the advantage they needed because it wasn’t more than 24 seconds later when they put the puck in the net. The goal by Ahti Oksanen gave the Terriers a 1-0 lead. It also marked the end of streak of 187 minutes and 32 seconds where UConn was either in the lead or tied during games at the XL Center. This goal marked the first time UConn has trailed at the XL Center, they have been much more competitive in games than many thought, including me.
The power play goal was followed by another for the Terriers. The second coming in the four minute mark of the second period. The inability to kill penalties put UConn in a hole that they could not over come.
They were able to whip the crowd into a frenzy when they battled back in the third period to come within one goal. UConn got the Terriers on their heels about seven minutes into the third period. The Huskies scored two goals in 57 seconds, and the crowd of 7,712 went bananas while Brass Bonanza blared.
The crowd got loud and the teams played a goal apart until the Terriers Jack Elchel, a highly touted NHL prospect, took the puck into the UConn zone and pulled UConn goalie Rob Nichols to the right side of the net to make a save. The rebound came right out in front of the net, with Nichols out of position, Danny O’Regan easily put the puck in the net to give the Terriers back their two goal lead. An empty net goal made it 5-2. That must have put painful visions of entrance ramps of Interstates 84 and because half of them headed out of the arena.
UConn would fall 5-2 to Boston University in the end, thats all the record books will say also. However, there were definitely plenty of moments within the game where UConn held its own against the number three team in the country.
Another thing UConn can be proud of is the fan support for games at the XL Center. It has been above expectations. All said and done in four games, two of them on a week night, UConn hockey drew 24,752 people, that is a 6,188 average per game. UConn is ranked number one in Hockey East average attendance for home games. Better than Boston College, better than Boston University, and the other 9 teams in Hockey East.
The reports of the Hartford Hockey markets demise have been greatly exaggerated, cue Brass Bonanza!