CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — In a high-octane, penalty-filled game, Boston College outshot, outhit and outlasted Vermont, 8-6.
The game featured 22 penalties for 44 minutes, with only two of those matching. It also saw seven power-play goals between, two of those on a two-man advantage, and two more at 4-on-4.
“That was a different-type hockey game,” said Eagle head coach Jerry York. “It was a race to eight [goals] to see who would win.”
The difference was a three-goal outburst by BC in a five-minute span late in the first and early in the second.
With the game tied at two and just half a minute remaining in the first, Ryan Shannon scored a back-breaking goal as he slipped the puck past Vermont goaltender Shawn Conschafter to regain the one-goal lead, 3-2.
Early in the second period, Vermont was attempting to kill off its second extended 5-on-3 situation of the game. It seemed as though the Catamounts might kill it off, until, with just one second remaining, the rebound of a long shot by BC’s Ryan Shannon was stopped by Conschafter but ended up right on the stick of Dave Spina, who had half an empty goal to shoot at.
“We played on the same line for most of last year, so we have good chemistry together,” said Shannon.
Spina agreed. “We’re all young sophomores on that line, and we enjoy working hard with each other, and I think it shows on the ice.”
The timing of the first goal would become important, giving the Eagles a chance to also score on the remaining 5-on-4 advantage, when the potent combination of brothers Patrick and Ben Eaves converted for the second time in the game, this time Patrick scoring on a feed from Ben. After allowing five goals on 18 shots, Conschafter was chased from the Vermont net, where he was replaced by rookie Travis Russell.
The outing had to be disappointing for Conschafter, who had stopped 34 shots in a 3-3 tie to Northeastern earlier in the season, and Friday had a tremendous game in which he made 42 saves, many of them stellar, while allowing just one goal to Boston University.
“I didn’t want to leave [Conschafter] in there, with the way were playing,” said UVM head coach Mike Gilligan. “I took him out to save him, not because he was playing poorly.”
The mood was set for this game very early, however, when both teams scored on their first shots of the game, both in a specialty team situation.
With a penalty to each side in the game’s first 80 seconds, the resulting four-on-four saw goals for each team. Vermont drew first blood when Scott Misfud took a pass from John Longo, and from the edge of the left faceoff circle wristed a shot over the shoulder of BC goalie Tim Kelleher.
About a half minute later, on the same four-on-four, Eagles sophomore Ned Havern elected not to take a wraparound shot, and instead skated in front and around the crease to the far side of Conschafter, where he tied the score at one.
The scoring spree was well under way in the first when Ben and Pat Eaves combined for their first goal, on the power play, at 12:33 of the opening period. Both Eaves would finish with one goal and two assists.
Having suffered a 10-0 blowout at New Hampshire just a week ago, the Catamounts were determined not to let the game get out of hand early, and evened the score just a few minutes later on a play utilizing the Kelley Rink boards. Vermont’s Gerard Miller took a shot from the blueline which went just wide of the net, but rebounded out in front, where Ryan Miller directed it across the crease to a wide open Jeff Corey, who tapped the puck into the net.
With the score 5-2 following the three-goal explosion, Boston College took another in a seemingly endless stream of penalties called on both teams, when Eagle Ben Lovejoy skated to the penalty box for two minutes for holding the stick. North Dakota native Joey Gasparini converted on a wild rebound of a John Longo shot that came to him all alone at center ice, and pulled Vermont within two goals.
Just minutes later, however, the see-saw game continued, as a drive and stuff attempt by Shannon was finished off by Spina for his second goal of the game and third of the young season.
The momentum swung back to the Catamounts at 14:30 of the second, as a defensive lapse by BC led to a two-on-one Vermont rush. Baron Becker elected to make a sweeping pass across the slot to Brady Leisenring, who potted the goal.
“We were good offensively, but defensively we made some mistakes that Vermont capitalized on,” said York. “We didn’t give them much, but when we did, they took advantage.”
The Eagles answered right back on a perfectly executed pinball machine, power-play goal. Patrick Eaves shot a pass to brother Ben, who redirected it to a waiting Tony Voce. Voce slammed the puck into the net with authority.
BC added another goal before the end of the period, the first of the season by junior Brett Peterson. It was the first time the Eagles had scored five goals in a period since Brian Gionta performed the feat himself on Jan. 27, 2001, against Maine.
“They took it to us from the start,” said Gilligan. “We made a token effort to get back into it at the end, but we were too tired from killing off penalties.”
Vermont (0-2-2) will host Fairfield on Oct. 26, while BC (3-0-0) plays host to Wisconsin on the 25th.