BOSTON — What a difference a year makes.
Almost a year to the day after Boston University goaltender Jason Tapp gave up seven goals on only 20 shots in a 7-4 loss to Vermont, the Terrier netminder stopped 27 of 28 shots to lead his team to a 3-1 victory over the Catamounts for its first win of the young season.
Mike Pandolfo and Jack Baker scored power-play goals for the Terriers, who also received a goal from Nick Gillis and two assists by Brian Collins. J.F. Caudron scored the only goal for Vermont.
It was a far cry from the Terriers’ performance last week, when Rensselaer beat them in their home opener thanks primarily to poor play by the BU defensemen.
“A lot better result because there’s a lot better effort by a lot of people — most importantly our defense,” Terriers coach Jack Parker said. “[Chris] Dyment, [Pat] Aufiero, [and John] Cronin all had sharp games. Mike Bussoli played really well.
“And our goaltender played very, very well. He played just the way we’d like him to play: real excited to play and real enthusiastic and real positive out there.”
After the drubbing he experienced last season vs. UVM, it was a night of redemption for the junior netminder from Kelowna, British Columbia.
“I had a bit of a bone to pick with these guys, so I wanted to have a good effort against them. They embarrassed me last year,” Tapp said. “The guys played great too: The defense was great, and that was the difference.”
“I thought BU played a pretty smart game,” Vermont coach Mike Gilligan said. “They capitalized on a couple of mistakes that we made, especially on our penalty kill. We’ve been trying to do something a little bit different; we got mixed up, and they did a good job of putting it away.”
BU came out of the gate hard, skating well and hitting, but Vermont weathered the initial onslaught well. As the teams settled into the game, they traded a few good scoring opportunities before the Terriers took the lead at the 14:56 mark.
On a power play, Mike Bussoli took a slap shot from the left point. Catamount goalie Tim Peters made the initial save, but a fat rebound bounced out to his left. Pandolfo was all alone and easily swatted the puck home for a 1-0 lead.
The Terriers’ next power play led to their next goal. Dan Cavanaugh fought his way around a defender on the right-wing boards before crossing the puck through slot. Brian Collins redirected it before Jack Baker received the puck on the left wing. He snapped a beautiful wrister to beat Peters high, glove side, for a two-goal cushion at 17:55.
Tapp made a terrific save two minutes into the second period. Vermont freshman Patrick Sharp crossed the puck to set up Bryson Busniuk for a point-blank shot, but the Terrier goalie stacked the pads to knock down the shot.
A four-on-three power play helped the Catamounts get their first real offensive assault of the night at the eight-minute mark. Two great defensive plays by Pat Aufiero and another Tapp save held off Vermont temporarily, but the Catamounts finally capitalized. Defenseman Andreas Moborg slipped the puck down to J.F. Caudron at the post, and Tapp dove to cover his low glove side. However, Caudron cleverly wheeled the puck around the back of the net and buried the wraparound before Tapp could recover.
At 17:24, the Terriers regained their two-goal lead when Gregg Johnson’s pass from behind the goal line set up Nick Gillis for a 10-footer from the middle of the slot. Gillis’ shot snuck through Peters’ five-hole. It was Johnson’s first collegiate point.
The third period featured more defensive-minded hockey, as the teams mustered few scoring chances for several minutes. A Carl Corazzini breakaway forced a Vermont penalty and a four-on-three chance for BU, leading to several good shots but no lamplighters.
While the Terriers struggled to put the game out of reach, Tapp’s play made the issue a moot point. As he had in his better moments last season, the diminutive goalie made all the saves he had to make and a few sparklers to boot. At 12:26, he was tested by a Busniuk shot and a Sharp rebound in short order, but he came up with all the stops he needed.
“Must be the same guy, but he played differently for sure,” Gilligan said, reflecting on his team’s change in fortunes against Tapp.
For both coaches, it was a pleasure to be competing against each other again, following the hazing scandal at Vermont last year that resulted in the cancellation of much of the Catamounts’ schedule as well as speculation about the possible firing of Gilligan.
“I couldn’t believe they were talking about Gilligan being the problem up there, or that they were going to make Gilligan the scapegoat,” Parker said. “If Gilligan was at the parties, and if Gilligan was encouraging it … but I know Gilligan was discouraging it, and I know what type of guy he is.
“What they did was absolutely wrong, what they did should not be accepted. But watch where you place the blame.”
“It’s great to be back,” Gilligan said. “It’s more fun playing than not, that’s for sure. And Jack was one guy who was behind me vocally through the whole mess and I really appreciate what he did for me.
“The guys feel great about playing. We’ll get our first win and then we’ll be rolling really soon.”
Vermont (0-2-0) hosts two teams from Canada over the next two weekends: St. Francis (Nova Scotia) and Queens (Ontario).
BU (1-1-0) travels to Providence Saturday night for its first Hockey East game of the season.
“We’ve got a long way to go to become a real good team, but we made some strides tonight,” Parker said.