CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — After No. 7 Boston College put forth what coach Jerry York deemed a disappointing effort on Friday in a 5-3 loss at No. 18 Merrimack, you knew the veteran bench boss wanted to make a change.
That change, namely shifting around his line combinations, paid off in spades on Sunday as the Eagles routed Vermont 6-0 in a display of not just a potent offense but a defense that never allowed the Catamounts to get a sniff at the BC net.
“We talked the other day after the loss to Merrimack with the team. I don’t think we’ve been as cohesive as a unit as we need to be to be successful,” York said. “We were out of sync a little bit and it was creeping into our game where you had one guy working hard and another guy not supporting him. I thought tonight we were a little more cohesive.”
The cohesion, as York calls it, resulted in six different goal scorers and each of the top three lines getting at least one goal.
Reunited for the game were Brian Gibbons, Joe Whitney and Cam Atkinson, a trio that has played often together and on Sunday netted five points. Gibbons led the way on the top line with a goal and two assists.
“Joe has played a lot with Cam and Gibby in the past,” York said. “Maybe that helped us be a little more cohesive.”
As good as the effort was for BC, it was equally as ugly for Vermont. Playing their third game in six days, the Catamounts looked sluggish from the opening bell. Still, coach Kevin Sneddon, who opened his postgame remarks by saying he didn’t even want to answer questions about his team, elaborated enough to say that fatigue shouldn’t be an excuse.
“It was a tough stretch, but we do it every year,” Sneddon said of a schedule that saw his team play Tuesday at Massachusetts, return home for a game Friday against Northeastern and then come back to the Bay State to face BC on Sunday. “The league schedules it every year, so it’s not like we’re not used to it. That’s an excuse. [BC] played on Friday as well. Three hours on a bus isn’t that bad.”
The opening 20 minutes seemed to be dominated by defense by both teams, but the Eagles were able to get on the board late. Gibbons took an offensive-zone faceoff against Vermont’s Wahsontilo Stacey and not only won the puck forward but danced right around the Catamounts center, walked in on Vermont goaltender Rob Madore (20 saves) and slid the puck five-hole for the 1-0 lead.
In the second, the Eagles opened things up thanks in part to taking advantage of a sluggish Vermont defense as well as the power play.
Atkinson extended the BC lead burying a Paul Carey pass at 2:57, the same time a Vermont penalty to Chris McCarthy for interfering with BC netminder John Muse (20 saves) expired.
At 10:46, defenseman Patch Alber jumped into the play and turned an innocent-looking rush into a two-on-one, eventually walking in alone on Madore and burying a shot inside the left post.
At 14:27, with BC again on the power play, it appeared a Vermont penalty killer was tripped trying to break out of the zone. Neither referee made a call — drawing the ire of Sneddon — leading to the Eagles quickly countering, with Gibbons finding Carey at the left post for a 4-0 lead.
BC finished the offensive explosion in the frame with a Jimmy Hayes goal at 19:17, poking home the rebound of Chris Kreider’s shot on a 3-on-1.
Pat Mullane added his third goal of the year with 7:27 remaining. After the Mullane goal, York decided to pull Muse and give third-string netminder Chris Venti (four saves) some ice time. It was the fourth career appearance for the junior, all in similar relief situations. He’s still yet to allow a goal.
The win improved Boston College to 9-5-0 (7-4-0 Hockey East) and makes it a perfect 5-for-5 in winning the game following a loss.
Vermont, on the other hand, still has just a single win, against Boston College earlier this month. The Catamounts are 1-6-4 (1-5-3 Hockey East).
The Eagles now can set their sights on archrival Boston University. They will face the Terriers in a home-and-home series next Friday and Saturday beginning at Agganis Arena.
Vermont has a week to lick its wounds and will take the ice next Sunday at New Hampshire.