- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut brought Hockey East to Hartford with a big upset Wednesday night.

Playing their first season in one of the nation’s premier conferences, the Huskies stunned No. 3 Boston College 1-0 before 8,089 fans who turned out for the team’s home opener at the XL Center.

Rob Nichols made 35 saves for UConn (2-4-2, 1-2 Hockey East) against the five-time national champions.

Evan Richardson, a BC transfer, had the only goal. He stepped into the left faceoff circle and beat goalie Thatcher Demko on a power play in the first period. The crowd broke into towel-waving cheers as “Brass Bonanza,” the old Hartford Whalers’ fight song, blared from the speakers.

Fans were on their feet for the last 2 minutes of the game, as Nichols faced a barrage of shots from the Eagles (4-3, 1-2) before being mobbed by his teammates at the final horn.

“That was pretty special to be a part of,” Richardson said. “As a player, you try not to let that get into your head, but you’ve got to kind of take a minute, look around and realize what you’re doing is pretty fun.”

The win was the Huskies’ first in Hockey East and the first time they beat a top-5 opponent.

Boston College had not been shut out in 106 games, since January 2012. UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh was an assistant coach on that BC team.

“Tonight was a really amazing night,” Cavanaugh said.

His mentor, Boston College coach Jerry York, agreed.

“We saw a fan base tonight that was very excited. We saw a venue that was difficult to play in because of that,” he said.

UConn plans to play in Hartford for the next several years, until a 5,000-seat arena can be built on the school’s campus in Storrs, about 30 miles away.

The downtown arena, which hosts some Huskies basketball games and was once home to the Whalers, underwent a $35 million renovation this summer. The building seats 15,000, but UConn was turning fans away at the door. The school has the arena configured for about 6,000 fans, with giant curtains blocking access to much of the upper bowl in an attempt to create a more intimate atmosphere.

“I don’t think it fills the void of the Whalers, but this is definitely a plus for us,” said 27-year-old Sloan Sandler of Bloomfield, who wore a Whalers jersey to her first UConn game. “We’re going to try and come as often as possible.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who graduated from Boston College, attended the game with his family. He said he will push for UConn to continue to play the bulk of its Hockey East games in Hartford, even after the on-campus arena is built.

“I think tonight is a great demonstration of why - the ability to draw more people here than are going to be drawn for hockey out there,” he said.

UConn has spent two years making the transition to Hockey East from a non-scholarship Division I program in the Atlantic Hockey Association. Since 1998, the Huskies had played in a 2,000-seat, on-campus rink with metal bleachers.

Cavanaugh said he believes the school, which has won 13 national men’s and women’s basketball championships, has the potential to be a hockey draw wherever it plays and for a long time.

“I don’t want to be the Macarena or the Hustle or a one-hit wonder,” he said. “I want to be the team that’s continually packing this building and a team that’s competing for national championships.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide