Inside the timeout that helped UConn stun No. 18 Boston College

Jan 9, 2022

Boston College's Kelley Rink was close to becoming a certified house of horrors for UConn men's hockey.

BC’s home ice was the lone Hockey East arena the Huskies had never earned a win at, and they looked to be on their way to changing that when Jachym Kondelik scored – on a power play, no less – with five minutes left to take a 4-3 lead over the Eagles. Then, UConn played "perfect hockey,” according to head coach Mike Cavanaugh, by pinning BC in its zone for over two minutes.

But then, Patrick Giles broke free.

He picked up the puck in the neutral zone and beat UConn down the ice on a breakaway. Giles scored on UConn goaltender Darion Hanson and pulled the Eagles back even with 54 seconds left.

The crowd, which had been subdued to that point, went berserk and Boston College's bench exploded in celebration. Even though the score was still tied, it felt like the Huskies had already lost.

When Giles' shot hit the back of the net, Mike Cavanaugh might've been the only one in the building who felt differently. He chose to use his lone timeout and brought everyone together on the bench. There, Cavanaugh did his best Herb Brooks impression and delivered an inspired speech to his team.

"I just saw [BC] celebrating like they won the game," Cavanaugh said. "I just wanted to let our players know that 'Hey, this is what we practice for. This is a great situation we can show how mentally tough we can be. While they think the game might be over, it's far from over. We just gotta make a play and let's see if we can go with this in regulation.'"

And that's exactly what UConn did.

The coach sent Carter Turnbull, Jachym Kondelik and Kevin O'Neil – who weren't on the same line at the start of the game – onto the ice for the restart.

"I thought they were three of our best forwards all night long," Cavanaugh explained.

They quickly proved him right.

O'Neil stole the puck near center-ice along the boards and quickly turned to attack the Boston College net. Turnbull, who began alongside him on the blue line, skated towards the middle of the ice. In an effort to block a cross-ice pass, Eagles' defenseman Drew Helleson laid out on the ice.

That left O'Neil 1-on-1 with the goalie. The Yale transfer kept it and sniped a shot into the top-left corner. Just like that, UConn was back in the lead, 5-4, with 32.2 remaining.

"I definitely was looking to find Carter a little bit. I thought we had a little mini 2-on-1," O'Neil said. "Luckily, the D took him away and then I just had to shoot it and it worked out."

While O'Neil made the play himself, Cavanaugh made sure to credit Turnbull for his role as well.

"Carter was going to the net and not a lot of people will say much about that," the coach said. "They'll talk about Kevin's shot but I think the goalie was a little worried that that pass could come across and he wasn't able to completely cover the short side and Kevin found it."

When O'Neil scored, he threw his hands in the air, near tripped over Helleson and then celebrated in the corner...all by himself.

"I got to the corner and I was just celebrating," O'Neil said. "I was all alone, didn't really know what to do with myself and then [Jachym] came flying in."

Thirty-two seconds later, the final buzzer sounded and UConn poured out of the bench to celebrate the remarkable victory. In the span of 22 seconds, the Huskies flipped what could've been a euphoric win for Boston College into one of their own.

"I put Kondy (Kondelik) and Kevin and Carter on the ice (after Giles' goal)" Cavanaugh said. "They made a play and they won us a game."

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