BOSTON — With three goals in a dominant second period-two from freshman Colin Vock-Vermont stormed to a 3-0 lead, then held on during a desperate Terrier comeback in the third period to take a 3-2 decision from host Boston University.
Yet another one goal game between these two teams.
Back in November, UVM skated to a 2-1 win in Vermont. Last night, BU took a 2-1 decision (and added an empty net goal in the game’s final seconds).
“When we get some puck luck, things are different than what you saw last night,” said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. “Last night we had some good chances that we couldn’t score on. Talking to Jack [Parker, BU coach] before the game, he couldn’t believe the number of chances we had.
“So we knew BU was going to clamp down in their own end, and so we talked about getting the puck to the net, even if it doesn’t look like a scoring chance. And you can see what happened.”
The close level of play was expected between two of the top three defenses in the country. Boston University entered the game at No. 1 in the nation in allowed goals, surrendering just 1.72 goals per game. Vermont stood at third in the country with 1.94.
“They have a really good squad,” said Parker. “I think they are very similar to us: good goaltending and a tough defense. They don’t get too many goals, but they got enough tonight.”
In this game, the Vermont defense-and goaltending-was just a little bit better. Indeed, the Catamounts did such an effective job limiting chances from BU forwards that the only two BU goals came from defensemen, the first by Matt Gilroy at the end of an extended 5 on 3 advantage, and the second from senior captain Sean Sullivan. Vermont goaltender Joe Fallon finished with 20 saves.
If anything, the surprise tonight was that there were so many goals scored, with the defense that was on display from the two teams. The first shot on goal for either team didn’t come until nearly seven minutes into the game, a slap shot from BU’s Kenny Roche. With the game scoreless after one period, and with just 10 shots between the two teams in that time, it looked like a single goal might be the difference in the game.
The second period featured a Vermont offensive surge, with a 12 to 6 shot advantage, many of them coming in prime ice real estate, from inside the slot, right in front of the goal.
“We played well in the first and third periods, but we really let the game get away from us in the second,” said Parker. “They had more time of possession, more shots and more goals.”
Vermont’s first goal was slightly controversial. Vermont broke into the BU zone, and Jay Anctil passed the puck through the legs of BU defender Tom Morrow. The puck struck the skate of linemate Colin Vock and with the sudden change of direction snuck past BU goaltender John Curry. After a brief conference, the officials determined that the puck was redirected into the goal, not kicked in.
Vermont struck again just minutes later. UVM’s Brayden Irwin stuffed at the puck at the goal mouth, and while Curry stopped the attempt, the rebound found it’s way to the stick of Corey Carlson, who buried the puck with a shot through traffic at the nine minute mark of the frame. Both sides agreed the goal was the difference in the game.
“That second goal was huge for us,” said Sneddon. “It was an example of great cycling that finally got rewarded. It gave confidence to the guys: maybe the hockey gods were smiling on us tonight. They certainly weren’t last night.”
“After that second goal, you could just feel the energy fade on our bench,” said BU senior Kenny Roche. “Guys were hanging their heads, and we couldn’t recapture that energy. We needed to get into the locker room to fire ourselves up.”
The Catamounts increased their lead with a power play goal, cycling the puck until they successfully found the open man, Vock, who’s shot from the top of the faceoff circle scored on Curry’s stick side. It was freshman Vock’s tenth goal of the season, putting him third on the team in that category.
“I think Curry would like to have another chance at that third goal. He doesn’t let that goal get by him too often, but it did tonight.
“I don’t think he played poorly,” said Parker about Curry, who finished with 22 saves. “He just didn’t steal as many as we needed him to steal. But he stole some.”
With a three goal lead, it looked like the game was well in hand for Vermont, but Sneddon said his team knew better.
“As a coaching staff, we certainly knew what BU could do,” he said. “They were down 3-0 but came back for a 3-3 tie at UMass, and we saw the tape from last week, when they came back from a 3 goal deficit against New Hampshire for a tie. So we knew what was coming.”
BU finally got a goal in the opening minutes of the third period, when a pair of Vermont penalties 15 seconds apart gave the Terriers 1:45 of 5 on 3 advantage. With the first penalty just expired, Matt Gilroy cashed in with a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle.
As coincidental penalties were being served, senior captain Sean Sullivan took a drop pass from Kenny Roche and ripped a shot that eluded Fallon.
With the extra attacker on the ice for BU in the game’s final minute, Terrier Peter MacArthur took a pass in front of an open net, but somehow Fallon managed to get a piece of the puck to preserve the win for Vermont.
“I thought MacArthur had tied it up,” said Parker. “But Fallon made a real nice save there.”
The Vermont win tonight spoiled senior night for BU, as it was the last home game for the Terriers in the regular season. With the BU loss, it also means that New Hampshire, despite losing tonight against Providence, secured first place in the Hockey East standings.
“The seniors, not just the captains, really stepped it up in the third period,” said Parker. “When you get to the end of the season, you can really see your career slipping away, so I think that gives them extra drive and motivation.”
“I give our seniors a lot of credit for the win tonight,” said Sneddon.
“They’ve played well the last few weeks with very little to show for it. So it’s great to see they get the win, and it’s nice to see the smiles on the bench. To win the season series against BC and now against BU, that’s a big step for our program.”