BURLINGTON, Vt. — Although Saturday’s game at Gutterson Fieldhouse between No. 7 Boston College and No. 14 Vermont produced the same result, it was markedly different from the penalty-filled, controversial contest of the day before.
The Catamounts got three points apiece from freshman Brayden Irwin and junior captain Torrey Mitchell and another strong 25-save performance from junior goaltender Joe Fallon to complete a surprising weekend sweep of the Eagles, 4-2.
In Vermont’s 3-2 victory, Friday, the Eagles scored a goal that was disallowed by referee Scott Hansen for apparently being touched by a high stick. Viewing replays of the sequence that would have knotted the game, it looked as though the puck was not at all and crossed the goal line legally.
Vermont, on Saturday, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second period, ultimately holding on in the end as the Eagles came dangerously close, once again, to tying things up in the final minutes.
“We have to give credit to Boston College. I thought they played a great third period,” said UVM coach Kevin Sneddon. “We gave them a sniff there that we didn’t want to give, but they obviously played hard all weekend and gave us a great run there. I really thought our guys stepped up in the last 10 minutes and played some great hockey.
“I’m just really proud of our guys,” he continued, “I think they’re very proud of each other. It was a total team effort tonight and certainly all weekend. Big confidence boost for us.”
The win jumps UVM in the Hockey East standings into third place with 20 points. Boston College now sits fourth with 19.
“I thought tonight’s game was an outstanding college hockey game. From our vantage point, we competed just as hard as we did last nigh, but we knocked off the baloney that went on last night,” said BC coach Jerry York. “There was nothing after the whistle, no misconducts, it was all hockey. That type of effort put us in a situation, where we could have won the game.
“It was a weekend that we got swept, but we weren’t that far away from getting a sweep,” York said.
After a slow start to the game for both teams, Vermont opened the scoring at 6:48. At the top of the crease, Irwin tipped a Ryan Gunderson feed past BC goaltender Cory Schneider for a 1-0 lead.
Fallon helped UVM keep the early lead making saves on all 13 shots he saw in the period.
Fallon made stops of three shots from the slot two off the stick of Dan Bertram and another off a turnover in the defensive zone on Matt Price from the top of the circles.
Mitchell extended the Vermont lead to two in the final seconds of the period, breaking in alone on Schneider. The San Jose Sharks draft pick who was all over the ice Friday for UVM, scoring the game-winner made no mistake, lighting the lamp with a terrific move. Irwin earned his second point of the period with an assist on the play at 19:37.
“I kind of looked up at about the blue line and saw Schneider was pretty far out of his net,” said Mitchell explaining the goal. “So I figured I would try to deke him … I held onto the puck until there was some open space and just slid it though.”
Irwin got his second of the night on the power play at 6:33. Just as Mike Brennan came out of the box to make it 5-on-4, Mitchell ripped a shot from the midpoint that hit the crossbar and bounced onto the goal line and out. Irwin was there to corral the rebound for the commanding 3-0 lead. Kenny Macaulay also assisted on the goal.
A little over a minute later, BC finally broke through the Catamount defense.
Ben Smith registered the third goal of his freshman campaign crashing the net for the rebound of a Kyle Kucharski shot from the left circle at 7:51.
The Eagles wasted little time in pulling within one in the third. Brock Bradford cut in front of Fallon and backhanded the puck past the big netminder in the first 19 seconds of the period.
Once BC sliced the deficit in half at 3-2, it had plenty of chances to tie the game. Less than two minutes after Bradford’s goal Nathan Gerbe just put the puck over the top of the net from the slot with Fallon sprawled.
With 15 minutes remaining, Price was robbed by Fallon from the high slot. Later in the period, both Joe Rooney and Brian Boyle hit posts.
Mitchell took a hook 14:22, giving BC a late power play, but the Vermont only allowed one shot on the advantage.
And that was the end of the Eagles threat. Stalberg put the game on ice with an empty-netter with three ticks left.
How does it feel to take two at home from BC, a team that has given the Catamounts more than its fair share of trouble in the recent past?
“Amazing,” said Mitchell. “Words can’t even describe it. It’s the biggest weekend I’ve ever had at UVM. It certainly matches up to my freshman year when we were out in Minnesota against Duluth [and took three points] but even sweeter because I can appreciate it a little more.”
“I think this weekend was a real good statement for the league, for our fans, and certainly for our own confidence, that we can compete with the best teams,” said Sneddon.
Vermont was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Boston College was held scoreless in its four chances.
Fallon made 25 saves; Schneider had 14.
Vermont (14-8-2, 9-4-2 Hockey East) travels to Merrimack for a pair next weekend. Boston College (12-8-1, 9-6-1) has a home-and-home with Boston University starting Wednesday.