BURLINGTON, Vt. — Boston College’s Tony Voce netted a hat trick to lead the No. 3 Eagles past the Vermont Catamounts 5-3, Saturday afternoon. BC took a 4-0 lead deep into the third period only to have the Cats battle back to make it interesting with three goals in a five-minute span.
BC jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the power play. After Vermont goaltender Travis Russell had made two saves, one on Greg Lauze from the point and another on Dave Spina, the puck squirted free into the slot and onto the stick of Voce. With Russell down and out of the play, Voce popped the puck into the net to end the scramble at 8:42 of the period.
Despite the goal, Russell appeared to be on his game. While it is not yet clear who will get the bulk of the playing time in the Vermont net this season, he made some positive steps toward securing the position. The sophomore netminder made several difficult saves in the period. One of his most challenging stops came on centerman Ty Hennes. The senior broke over the blue line on an odd man rush and snapped a shot. Russell got a piece of it with his glove, directing it over the glass. Russell ended the period with 19 saves.
“Travis played a heck of a hockey game”, First-year Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “He kept us in the game and didn’t let the goals he let in affect him. I’m very proud of him.”
Vermont had some of its best chances to beat Eagles’ goaltender Matti Kaltiainen in the second period, but Voce struck again. Ben Eaves fed a streaking Voce with a centering pass, which he redirected past Russell for a 2-0 advantage at 4:11.
Midway through the period, Catamounts Baron Becker and Tom Collingham had a few chances to break onto the scoreboard from in close, but Kaltiainen stood his ground and turned both away. Later, Jeff Corey darted down the right-wing boards and blistered a shot that Kaltiainen had a good look at and turned aside.
With the Catamounts looking to keep the deficit at two goals heading into the final period, BC’s Spina expanded the lead with less than one minute remaining. Junior Ryan Shannon fed Spina for the 31st goal of his career.
Boston College, which controlled most of the offensive play in the game, tallied the game-winner early in the third period. Freshman Joe Rooney scored his first career goal after taking the puck from a Vermont defender in the slot.
After much of the energy was taken out of Gutterson Fieldhouse by the Eagles’ four consecutive goals, the sell-out crowd finally had something to cheer about. The Catamounts commenced a comeback. Two of last year’s three top-scoring Catamounts hooked up to break up the shutout bid. Brady Leisenring fed Tim Plant who beat the BC netminder at 15:28.
Less than one minute later, Jeff Miles, the third of the three top-scoring Catamounts, scored his first of the year on a power play. Miles deposited a rebound off a Phil Youngclaus shot. Joey Gasparini also assisted on the goal to bring the Cats within a two goal margin at 4-2. The goal was the 33rd of Miles’ career.
After lifting Russell for the extra attacker, Vermont pulled to within one as Corey scored with help from Miles. That was as close as Vermont would get. Voce put the capper on his day and the game, scoring his third goal into the empty net.
“I thought we were really tentative in the first period,” Sneddon said, “But we saw some real good stuff as the game went on. Boston College is a terrific hockey team, and they showed why they are ranked so high in the polls — I wish there were ten more minutes to play.”
“We played very well throughout the course of the game,” said BC coach Jerry York, “Probably the last five or six minutes Vermont caught fire and capitalized on some of the mistakes we made.”
Russell finished the game with 36 saves, while Kaltiainen stopped 19 for the win.
Boston College next plays Friday in the Icebreaker Tournament in East Lansing against Minnesota-Duluth. Vermont Travels to Durham Saturday to continue its tough non-conference schedule with New Hampshire.