J.D. Dudek recognized the opportunity.
Ryan Fitzgerald was hanging onto the puck in Boston College men’s hockey’s zone as the University of Connecticut players drifted toward the bench for a line change. Dudek took his shot. He swooped into action, hopping off the Eagles’ bench. He connected with Fitzgerald’s pass, sprinted toward the Huskies’ net. The Huskies’ defense couldn’t keep up, and Dudek glided in and sent the puck past Adam Huska’s glove side. Dudek’s goal brought the score to 2-1 and bought the Eagles into the lead, which they kept for the rest of the game. But that goal wasn’t Dudek’s last—he went on to complete his hat trick with two more goals in the third period.
BC came out of its matchup with Connecticut at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., with a 5-2 win. The Eagles kept the pressure on UConn goalie Huska, and got the win thanks to their offensive speed and energy, which allowed them to deliver on many scoring opportunities.
The Eagles (11-3-1, 6-0-1 Hockey East) came out of the gate hot, outshooting the Huskies 6-1 within the first nine minutes of the first period. After trading multiple power plays with UConn (4-5-5, 2-3-1), neither team had anything to show for them. BC’s best look during a power play was a quick set-up shot from the front of the net by Fitzgerald, but Huska cradled the puck. In the last 30 seconds of what looked to be a scoreless period, Kasperi Ojantakanen swept the puck across the ice to Max Kalter, who rocketed a shot into the back of the Eagles’ net.
Fitzgerald brought BC back on track early in the second. Christopher Brown skated down the center of the ice, and passed back to Austin Cangelosi. Cangelosi then sent the puck toward Huska, which Fitzgerald then redirected into the net. With the score now even, Dudek notched his first midway through the period to give BC a 2-1 lead.
UConn generated some energy in the third period, but the Eagles took the game away with goals from Dudek and Julius Mattila. After ringing a shot off the post minutes earlier during even play, Dudek scored another, this time in the form of a power-play goal. Halfway through the period, Mattila passed the puck up the boards to Connor Moore. Moore lined up out at the blue line, and ripped a shot off at the Huskies’ net. The shot was tipped in by Dudek, causing it to bounce past Huska. Less than a minute later, the puck was brought up the ice by Matty Gaudreau and Chris Calnan. Calnan then passed the puck back to Mattila, who beat Huska glove side to bring the score to 4-1.
The Huskies pushed back, taking advantage of some laziness shown by the Eagles late in the period. Kalter, Corey Ronan, and Miles Gendron easily skated past the BC defense, allowing Kalter to pass to Ronan up the ice. As Ronan began to skate around the net, he passed up to Gendron at the crease. Gendron then whisked the puck past Joe Woll’s right side. Dudek repaid the favor by completing his hat trick with two minutes remaining in the game. Fitzgerald set up Dudek by drawing in the UConn defense and dishing the puck up to Dudek in the Huskies’ zone. Dudek was now free to skate up the ice, and he sent the puck in between the legs of Huska for his first career hat trick.
The Eagles were hungry to pick up a win after their recent loss to Harvard University, and their offensive drive was a key to their success against the Huskies. They also gave up fewer penalties in the game against UConn, which notably plagued them in the game against Harvard. If the Eagles take the momentum and improvements from this game into their upcoming matchup against Minnesota, they will be prepared to meet the Gophers.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor