Boston College men’s hockey didn’t have much margin for error heading into Friday’s game against Vermont. But the Eagles racked up three goals in the first 10 minutes and gave themselves some breathing room. By the end of the night, though, they returned to needing an oxygen mask on standby. The No. 16 Catamounts clawed back from down 3-0—including trailing 3-1 halfway into the third period—to tie the game, ultimately splitting the point with No. 11 BC, 3-3.
The Eagles (18-12-3, 13-4-2 Hockey East) had some chances to snatch a victory from the jaws of stalemate in overtime, but Ryan and Casey Fitzgerald both couldn’t quite convert on prime looks at UVM goalie Stefanos Lekkas. Despite being up three points on Boston University in the Hockey East regular season standings, BC now sits at No. 16 in the PairWise Rankings—right at the cutoff point—with another game against Vermont (19-7-4, 9-7-3) on Saturday and two against Massachusetts Lowell next week. And though head coach Jerry York is pleased with the overall position of his teams right now, he is not happy with the errors and blown lead.
“If you would tell me in July that we would be battling for first place in Hockey East, I don’t think that would have gotten by too many people, because we were picked sixth or seventh in the league,” York said. “We always want to be a mistake free-team, but mistakes happen in hockey.”
The game turned early in the second period, even if the ultimate effects weren’t felt until later. Connor Moore blocked a shot and immediately fell to the ice. It’s impressive that he even got off the ice because he couldn’t put any weight on his leg as he hopped down the tunnel to the locker room. Consequently, BC had to play just five defensemen, and it showed. Fortunately for the Eagles, Moore’s injury wasn’t too serious.
“He took a bruise on a shot from the point,” York said. “[The trainer] said hopefully he’ll get back tomorrow.”
Brian Bowen’s breakaway brought the Catamounts within one with 11 minutes left, the result of an egregious turnover in the neutral zone Casey Fitzgerald. Senior blue liner Scott Savage couldn’t catch up with the 224-pound Bowen as he lumbered toward goaltender Joseph Woll before putting a backhander top shelf.
“An unforced error in the neutral zone,” York said of the sequence leading to Vermont’s second goal. “We had full puck possession. Offensive line turnovers, that’s a number one priority in hockey is to stay away from those. We gave them once and they went right down and score a goal.”
York didn’t want Moore’s injury to be an excuse for blowing the lead, but it was definitely a reason. About eight minutes after Bowen’s breakaway, Savage and his partner, Luke McInnis, were hemmed in their own zone for almost a minute on the game-tying goal. No one was near Catamounts defenseman Rob Hamilton as he lined up a half-open net for his second goal of the night.
“A scrambling D-zone coverage,” York said. “A great pass [to Hamilton].”
Until Vermont completed its comeback, the story of the game was Senior Day at Conte Forum, which came a day early. Fourth-year forwards Austin Cangelosi, Ryan Fitzgerald and Matthew Gaudreau pressured Vermont all evening and immediately distanced the Eagles from the Catamounts with two early goals.
The trio’s first goal came at the start of a long period for Vermont’s senior defense pairing of Jake Massie and Ori Abramson. Early in the scoring shift, Fitzgerald got behind the backline for a clean look at Lekkas, but couldn’t convert. Soon after, BC’s first line returned to the Catamounts’ zone and Fitzgerald outmuscled their blue liners to bang in the opener. The goal stood after a long review for goaltender interference, and Massie and Abramson were on the ice for BC’s next two tallies, as well.
The Catamounts did complete that comeback, though, and Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon had a different perspective on the game than York, despite experiencing the exact same result.
“In terms of good tie or bad tie, I would say for us, that was a good point to earn,” Sneddon said.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor