CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — At the end of the season, Feb.1 may be looked back on as the night Boston College got its mojo back.
After losing four of five games, including getting swept at home by last-place Maine, BC fell behind yet again in the first period, but roared back, scoring four unanswered goals to defeat Vermont, 4-1. In doing so, the Eagles once again looked like the highly-ranked powerhouse of earlier in the season.
BC coach Jerry York juggled the lines, breaking up the top two units that had left his team top-heavy in scoring, spreading his top six forwards evenly over three lines.
Pat Mullane and Johnny Gaudreau each scored a goal, assisted by new linemate sophomore Danny Linell. Steven Whitney, paired with Bill Arnold and Michael Sit, scored for the 16th time, matching his career best total from last year. Kevin Hayes moved to center with familiar linemate Destry Straight, along with freshman Brendan Silk.
However, it was fourth-liner Quinn Smith who scored the game-winner at 11:17 of the second period, less than a minute after Mullane got BC on the board. The Eagles put the game away in the third with the Whitney and Gaudreau strikes.
“Once again, we fell down early at home,” York said. “You’ve got to be able to play with a lead; you’ve got to learn to play with a deficit. You’ve got 60 minutes to play. The ebb and flow of the game will sometimes do that to you.
“During this stretch, this was the best we’ve played from behind.”
With the win, the Eagles remained two points ahead of New Hampshire atop the Hockey East standings. They also go into the Beanpot on Monday as the only team coming off a win. Massachusetts spanked Boston University, 5-1, UNH defeated Northeastern, 3-1, and Rensselaer shutout Harvard, 3-0.
“Now we’re getting into what coach calls ‘Trophy Season,’ and everything is getting really tight,” Quinn said. “We really want to start playing with a little more desperation into our game. We’re still going to stay calm and collected, but we really want that extra sense of urgency on even and man-up opportunities to get things going.”
Parker Milner stopped 38-of-39 shots for his 15th win of the season.
Vermont, which lost five of six games in January, took a 1-0 lead on an Anders Franzon shot from the left point. The senior recorded his first goal in two years when the puck popped out of Milner’s glove and into the net for a soft goal, but a welcome lead.
The Catamounts fell behind 2-1 in the second. At 10:30, Linell poked the puck across the goalmouth to Mullane on the left side, and he put it into the open net. Freshman goaltender Brody Hoffman then gave up a weak goal, allowing Smith’s shot from the outside top of the right faceoff circle to trickle through his five-hole.
Minutes later, Vermont went on a full two-minute, five-on-three advantage, but failed to capitalize.
“We’ve not been good on the five-on-three this year,” UVM coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We weren’t hungry enough [tonight]. I said to my team, ‘Learn from your opponent.’
“Boston College is extremely hungry in slot area. They’re relentless on the puck in that critical area, those grade A opportunities. We need to learn from that.”
In the third, Whitney dazzled with a goal from his knees after Sit attempted to shoot, but defensive pressure directed the puck to the senior in the slot. The nation’s top third-period scorer promptly added to his totals, putting the puck into the top of the net.
Gaudreau, who’d been stymied on two first-period breakaways, finished the scoring at 14:46 of the third. Carrying the puck on a three-on-two, he ripped a shot from inside the left faceoff circle into the top blocker side of the net.