CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — There are plenty of words you can use to describe Boston College senior forward Andrew Orpik. The most appropriate one after Friday’s victory for the No. 3 Eagles over 11th-ranked Vermont is honest.
When asked about his goal with 4:35 remaining that gave BC a two-goal cushion at 3-1, a picturesque shot that sniped the upper left corner and left Vermont goaltender Mike Spillane (26 saves) shaking his head, Orpik’s response had truth written all over it.
“[I scored it] with my eyes closed,” he said, when asked if he was aiming for the top corner.
Regardless of skill, placement or just dumb luck, the goal turned out to be a big one for the Eagles. After Vermont answered on a Brian Roloff deflection past BC netminder John Muse (23 saves) with 48.5 seconds remaining, Orpik’s goal became the game-winner as the Eagles held off the Catamounts, 3-2, in front of 5,675 at BC’s Kelley Rink.
The goal was Orpik’s first goal of the season and second of the evening for his line, which includes fellow senior Kyle Kucharski and rookie Paul Carey. The offense couldn’t come at a better time as, for the second straight game, BC’s top line of Brian Gibbons, Brock Bradford and Benn Ferriero was shut down, held to just a single assist on Friday night.
Still Orpik says that’s hardly the job his line is given to accomplish.
“Coach is putting us out there to try not to get scored on and try to get the puck down low,” Orpik said. “We try to be really responsible in the offensive zone.”
Though the Eagels didn’t have a cakewalk putting away the Catamounts, early play wasn’t represented on the scoresheet. For the first two periods, Boston College dominated Vermont, notably the opening 20 minutes in which the Eagles outshot Vermont, 9-2.
However, after a scoreless first period, Boston College came out jets-a-blazing in the second. After Carey appeared to score on quick shot that was ruled to hit the post at 1:30, he did cash in on a power play at 7:39. Tommy Cross’ pass found Carey wide open at the bottom of the left circle and the rookie fired a wrister blocker side for a 1-0 BC lead.
The Eagles struck again at 9:26 when Ben Smith redirected a Joe Whitney shot from the point on a power play. The play went to video review, with concern that Smith had redirected the puck with his skate but referee John Gravallese ruled the play a goal after watching the replay.
Though it was all BC to that point, a late flurry of shots led to the Catamounts getting on the board. Colin Vock fired a Kyle Medvec shot off Muse as the netminder moved right to left and into the net at 15:05 to pull Vermont within a goal heading to the third.
The final period was all Vermont, though, as the Catamounts held a 13-5 advantage in shots and controlled the play territorially. That was when Muse was forced to be at his best, and his steady play early led to Orpik’s goal with 4:35.
Though the Catamounts played right to the buzzer and had ample shots to tie the game with Spillane on the bench, it was the opening 40 minutes of play that head coach Kevin Sneddon will think about the most.
“Theres a lot to be learned in this game game,” said Sneddon. “I thought we played a great 20 minutes, that being the third period. But you can’t play a team that’s as good as Boston College for just 20 minutes.
“We played with a great sense of urgency when we were down 2-0 and again down 3-1. But we needed to play with that sense of urgency from the start.”