The University of Connecticut upset No. 3 Boston College, 1-0, in the school's first ever home Hockey East game on Wednesday night at the XL Center in Hartford. Evan Richardson's first period power play goal was the difference thanks to Rob Nichols' 35 save performance.
After the game, Mike Cavanaugh called it "an amazing night." It was a terrific atmosphere and shows the serious potential for the UConn hockey program. Here's three observations this writer had after taking in Wednesday night's tilt.
1. This upset win wasn't just about a goaltender standing on his head. This was no fluke. Boston College is certainly the more talented team, but this was a team win for UConn. The Huskies were aggressive and came out flying which really threw the Eagles off their game plan in the first period and a half.
UConn really took advantage of BC's defense collapsing on the penalty kill. On the other end, the Huskies penalty kill unit was terrific. It gave up a good chunk of shots to the Eagles' power play, but many were from the perimeter. All night long, UConn did a good job of clearing the net front and allowing Nichols to see shots. He saved everything thrown his way. There were very few rebound and second chance opportunities for BC because of this.
2. BC freshman defenseman and top-five 2015 NHL Draft target Noah Hanifin was the best player on the ice all night. It wasn't really even close. His skating ability, from his speed, agility and cutting, is just a step above the rest. He can shut down opposing forwards. He can join the rush. He can get pucks on net. He can transition. Simply put, I'm not sure there is a better defenseman in Hockey East right now than Hanifin.
It's entirely possible that the best forward and the best defenseman in Hockey East are both underaged freshmen.
3. UConn's hockey program deserves an on-campus facility. Cavanaugh and his staff are already upgrading the talent level coming into the Huskies program. This is a program and a team on the rise. There is a lot to be excited about if you're a fan of UConn's hockey program. Playing in Hartford isn't the worst thing in the world, but imagine the excitement and added benefits in recruiting if UConn pulls through with an on campus facility in the next few years.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.