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UConn Powers Past Boston University

Spencer Naas had two assists on Tuesday night.
Spencer Naas had two assists on Tuesday night.
Matt Dewkett

Hartford, Conn. -- UConn freshman Tage Thompson left a powerful impression on NHL scouts in attendance for Tuesday's midweek game against Boston University.

The 2016 NHL Draft prospect scored his first three career goals, all on the power play, for a hat trick, leading the Huskies past the visiting Terriers, 5-2, in front of 5,225 at the XL Center. In total, UConn went four-for-seven on the man advantage to improve to 3-2-0 on the season.

"I'm certainly very proud of our team. Tonight we made a commitment to play 60 minutes. That's a really good hockey team over there. We were right there with them," said UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh.

"It was a very good game by UConn. They were very opportunistic on their power play," said BU coach David Quinn. "Every puck they had at the blue line found its way through. We let everything get through us. We didn't win battles at the net front. That was the story of the game."

The Huskies took advantage of their first power play to draw first blood at the 6:13 mark. Johnny Austin threw a shot on net that hit Spencer Naas before sitting precariously in the crease. Freshman Tage Thompson banged home the loose puck for his first collegiate goal.

UConn had a few golden opportunities to extend its lead later in the period, including a nice individual effort by Spencer Naas with a little over seven minutes to go, and a post-ringer from Evan Richardson with two minutes left.

Boston University drew even on a power play tally with 32.7 seconds left in the opening period. Nice puck movement sent the puck from Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson at the left circle over to Charlie McAvoy at the right circle. He quickly found Danny O'Regan on the backdoor for the easy put away.

UConn regained its lead with 11:53 to play in the second period on yet another power play goal. Evan Richardson's shot from the right point went cleanly into the back of the net with the help of a Shawn Pauly screen. Patrick Kirtland and Pauly were credited with the assists.

A fortuitous bounce helped the Huskies take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. Max Kalter outran a BU defender to a loose puck on the left half wall before turning back around for a two-on-zero with Joey Ferriss. Kalter waited to draw BU goaltender Connor LaCouvee before feeding Ferriss for a one-timer into the back of the net.

"We did a nice job throwing it up. Max Kalter played through that defenseman to get that two-on-zero. Joey didn't waste any time. That's not an easy play with the puck on the forehand to finish that one-timer. That was a big goal for us going into the third period," Cavanaugh explained.

Rob Nichols, who made 36 saves on the night, came up with a huge stop with 7:37 to play in the third period. He came across to make a terrific kick save and made a similar stop a few minutes later with the Huskies on the penalty kill.

"Robbie was strong in net. He made a few. Robbie has been pretty consistent for the past two years. He's worked hard at it. He makes those saves you need him to make," said Cavanaugh.

Then Tage Thompson scored back-to-back power play goals for the hat trick, to put the game out of reach. He gave UConn a 4-1 lead with 3:59 to play on a goal right on top of the crease with assists going to Naas and Max Letunov. The first two of Thompson's goals came from a combined distance of about six feet.

"I went to the net hard today," said Thompson.

45 seconds later Thompson picked up his third of the night. He blasted a one-timer from the left circle off a pretty cross-slot pass from Letunov, a former BU recruit.

Chase Phelps scored a goal in garbage time to wrap up the scoring. Robbie Baillargeon, who had six shots on goal, and Ryan Cloonan were credited with the assists.

Connecticut returns to action Saturday with a home tilt against Notre Dame while Boston University (2-2-0) travels to face Merrimack on Friday night.


Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.