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College Hockey:
Four Is A Magic Number

Vermont Sweeps BU

— History repeats, but this is ridiculous.

For the second night in a row, Vermont gave up the game-tying goal to make it 3-3 in the third period before getting a fourth goal to win 4-3, despite being out-shot on the road.

Frustrating No. 2 Boston University with a neutral-zone trap, the No. 15 Catamounts completed the sweep with a win in front of 5,209 fans at Agganis Arena. Viktor Stlberg and Corey Carlson paced Vermont with a goal and an assist each, with Dan Lawson setting up Carlson for the game-winner, while Colby Cohen and Colin Wilson each contributed a pair of assists to BU’s losing effort.

“For our program to come away with two wins here was a great testament to our student-athletes,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I thought they played their hearts out for six periods of hockey, and as a coach I’m very proud of them.

“Obviously, it gets to 3-3 in the third, and I thought again we had an answer. We didn’t get rattled; we weathered the storm. They were coming at us pretty hard, and obviously Lawson and Carlson made a pretty nice play there, shot through traffic. I don’t know if the goaltender saw it.”

Meanwhile, it was another discouraging night for Terriers’ coach Jack Parker.

“To state the obvious, Vermont came in here and ate our lunch this weekend,” Parker said. “They came in and got four points and dominated us in a bunch of different ways. They came in and dictated how the game had to be played on both nights, even more so tonight, I thought.

“We aren’t patient enough to play the way you need to play against a team that doesn’t want to come at you, that wants to play four or five men in center ice to clog up the middle.”

For the most part, it was not a terribly exciting game to watch, but it had its moments. At the six-minute mark, Catamount Josh Burrows had a great look, but BU freshman Kieran Millan flashed his arm for the great save.

Despite being outshot 7-3 in the first ten minutes, BU got the first goal at 10:55. Colin Wilson won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Kevin Shattenkirk at the point. Chris Higgins redirected the defenseman’s ensuing shot. Vermont goalie Mike Spillane made the save, but Higgins tucked in his own rebound around Spillane’s left pad.

Vermont tied it within two minutes on a bit of a fluky goal. Short-handed, Stlberg raced in and got hooked for a delayed penalty call. He basically fanned on the shot, but that ended up fooling Millan. While the goalie drifted back in the net toward his glove side, the puck slid slowly into the net on the stick side.

BU had two great chances in the next five minutes. Freshman Andrew Glass made a nice move to get off a good shot at 13:55, then Chris Higgins made an excellent pass to set up Matt Gilroy, but the Terriers’ co-captain failed to get off much of a shot.

Vermont took their first lead at 19:00 on a power play. From behind the goal line, Colin Vock set up Carlson for a shot. Millan made the save, but Dean Strong took a whack at the rebound. The puck caromed backwards, right onto the stick of Dan Lawson, who shot it in.

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Dan Lawson (28) celebrates Dan Lawson’s goal which put Vermont up 2-1 with one minute left in the first period. Photo by Melissa Wade.

Vermont made it 3-1 at 1:18 of period two. Stlberg got the puck low in the right-wing faceoff circle and passed to Justin Milo in the slot. Again, Millan made the initial save, but Milo knocked in his own rebound.

BU finally got some momentum going after that. Jason Lawrence had a pair of near misses on tap-ins near the post, almost converting a Higgins pass at 7:30 on a power play. Then the Terriers had a terrific penalty kill that led to a shorthanded goal.

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Brayden Irwin watches Justin Milo\’s shot go in 1:18 into the second period to put Vermont up 3-1. Photo by Melissa Wade.

John McCarthy did a lot of the heavy lifting, controlling the puck for a long while, without ending up with a point. Finally, Colby Cohen got the puck at the point, sold the shot, then passed to Wilson on Spillane’s stick side. When the goalie slid over in anticipation of the shot, Wilson passed it over to freshman Chris Connolly for the easy goal.

The crowd really got into it at that point, especially when Brandon Yip had a breakaway coming off the bench after the penalty expired, only to shoot high. Vermont countered with a two-on-one culminating in Brian Roloff hitting a pipe. It was easily the most exciting exchange of the evening.

McCarthy did factor in BU’s game-tying goal at 1:13 of the third. He took a sharp-angle shot skating on the left wing, and Spillane attempted to deflect it out of harm’s way to his left. Instead, he put it right on Yip’s stick for an easy goal.

That set the stage for the best save of the night, by a Vermont right wing of all people.

Connolly skated in for a shot that got through Spillane’s arms, and the puck dribbled perilously close to the goal line. Vermont fourth-line right wing Chris Atkinson dove and cleared the puck away just in time. The play went under video review before it was ruled to be no goal.

“I didn’t see it,” Sneddon said. “As soon as they said they were going to replay, I looked over to our goalie coach and said, ‘Is there any chance that it went in?’ He said no, of course. He’s a goalie coach. That was a tense moment for us.”

Vermont went ahead for good on a power play at 8:07. It looked to be a harmless play.

“The winning goal was a pathetic situation by all four of our guys,” Parker said. “A guy carries the puck from their blue line over our blue line. Everybody’s backing up, backing up. He shoots to the net, doesn’t get through, bounces to another guy and he just puts it home with four of our guys backed up inside our dots.”

Carlson did the honors for Vermont, burying the rebound.

BU responded by attempting to take it up a notch during the waning minutes. David Warsofsky had a great rush, beating three Catamounts before getting stopped. Zach Cohen maneuvered deftly to beat a man at 16:30, with the resulting shot hitting the outside of the post. With the extra attacker on, Colin Wilson had the best chance with 22 seconds left, but Spillane didn’t yield, and the Catamounts had their sweep.

“I can’t say that I’m shocked with the way we played against this club, because this style is tough for us to play,” Parker said. “Their style makes it tough for us to be what we want to be, so we have to try to be something else. They decided not to play up-and-down hockey. They would dump it in there and leave it there and let you have it and see if you can come out and get through us, and we couldn’t come out and get through them.”

“We’re trying to find ourselves, our identity,” Sneddon said. “We look like we’re an all-star team sometimes and then at other times we look like we don’t belong on the ice with the other team. This time our guys adapted really well. We changed up some things on the forecheck. We needed them to be focused. I thought for the first time this year as a team we had a collective energy out there.”

BU (7-4-0, 4-4-0 Hockey East) hosts Holy Cross on Tuesday night, while Vermont (7-3-2, 4-3-1) travels to UMass on the same evening.

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