CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston College completed a two-game sweep over Vermont on Friday night, winning 5-2 in front of 6,764 at BCs Kelley Rink.
While the goal differential was an identical three goals, following Wednesdays 4-1 victory for the Eagles, the game itself could not have been more different.
Vermont followed up arguable its ugliest performance of the year with a gritty, hard-fought battle on Friday night. Though on the losing end of the final decision, the Catamounts were but a couple of bounces of the puck away from a better fate.
Wednesday night, we beat ourselves as much as they beat us, said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. We tried to drive home the point that we needed a team full of guys to bring the competitiveness to at least give ourselves a chance.
That Vermont did. After falling behind early, 2-0, the Catamounts battled back to even the game at two through one. And even after spotting the Eagles another two-goal lead heading to the third, the Cats had glaring chances to draw closer only to be stonewalled by BC netminder John Muse (17 saves).
Early in the third, Vermonts Corey Carlson walked in alone on Muse with a head of steam. He made a nice move and tried to stuff the puck five hole, but instead was pushed toward the right post, where Muse made a spectacular right pad save to deny him.
No question that was a turning point, said BC head coach Jerry York of the save. [Carlson] beat our defenseman and walked right in. That was a hard save, because he was coming hard.
For the second straight game, the Eagles benefited from the return of senior winger Brock Bradford, who missed 17 games with a broken arm. Bradford followed up his goal and assist in Wednesdays game with two goals on Friday, one shorthanded and one on the power play.
Its been almost nine months since hes been in a game, said York of Bradford, who played the first period of BCs opener this year against Michigan before suffering his injury. He came right back almost in game shape. Its a great boast for [his linemates].
The Eagles picked up where they left off on Wednesday, dominating the Catamounts in the early going.
Joe Whitney got the Eagles on the board at 1:35, tipping home a rebound at the right post. Bradford scored his first of the night and second in two games, this one shorthanded, set up by Nathan Gerbe at 6:18.
But unlike Wednesdays game, Vermont had an answer.
The Cats got on the board at 11:11 when Dean Strong picked up a puck at the left halfboards, skated to the slot and beat Muse under the right arm to pull Vermont within a goal at 2-1.
The Catamounts drew even just 78 seconds later when rookie Jack Downing one-timed a blast from the left point on the power play to knot the game at two.
BC, which finished Wednesdays game even in the shot total with Vermont, despite the 4-1 score, outshot the Cats, 15-4, in the first but had a 2-2 tie to show for the effort.
In the second, though, BC began to take control. Nathan Gerbe extended his goal and point scoring streaks to eight games with a quick wrist shot from the right circle at 4:50 that beat Vermont netminder Joe Fallon (35 saves) between the legs.
At 14:32, the Eagles regained a two goal cushion when Mike Brennan netted his second goal of the year. Skating four-on-four, Brennan joined the rush on a two-on-two, take a pass as the trailer and snapping it over Fallons left shoulder for the 4-2 lead heading to the third.
In the third, it was Muses turn to shine. After stopping Carlson in the opening minute, he made another spectacular save when Colin Vock walked in alone with 4:52 to play.
Minutes later, Bradford pushed him his second goal of the game, tipping a rebound past Fallon on the power play at 16:50 to seal the victory.
The win allowed BC (10-5-5, 6-3-4 Hockey East) to keep pace with front-running New Hampshire, a 3-2 winner over UMass on Friday, and catapult past Northeastern, which fell, 4-2 to Merrimack, into second place. The Eagles sit just a point New Hampshire for the top spot in Hockey East.
Vermont fell to 4-9-5 (3-5-3 Hockey East) and is now tied with Merrimack for eighth place in the conference standings.