The seniors on the Boston College men’s hockey team entered Saturday night’s second quarterfinal game having never lost a single contest in the Hockey East Tournament. On Sunday morning, that fact is still true.
Boston College defeated the Vermont Catamounts, 4-1, in the Hockey East quarterfinals, sweeping the best-of-three series. The Eagles, the tournament’s second seed, will advance to the semifinals at the TD Garden in Boston next weekend. Notably, BC will have a date with Boston University in that contest, marking the final time the Eagles will face rival coach Jack Parker. This also was the final home game for the current senior class.
The story of this game was penalties — many thought that Friday night’s contest featured a few too many, but Saturday night’s Game 2 crossed into absurdity. By the end of the matchup, twenty penalties were levied to both teams combined, with an astounding 14 being charged to Vermont. Boston College had a grand total of eleven power plays, and rather disappointingly from a BC perspective, only scored once on the man-advantage. Two of Vermont’s penalties were majors, kneeing and misconduct.
The Catamounts are not known for their shutdown abilities on the penalty kill, but in the face of eleven disadvantages of manpower, they stopped Boston College ten of those times. For one of Hockey East’s top teams on the power play, that was a bit underwhelming. That one score came in the first period on Steven Whitney’s 25th goal of the season at 12:12 (Mullane, Gaudreau). On the other end of the ice, BC stopped all four Vermont power play opportunities.
Defense had something to do with the Eagles’ 4-1 victory over the Catamounts, but one might also be able to attribute Vermont’s 17 shots on goal (BC: 33) in part to the fact that they were on the penalty kill eleven times. Though Boston College did not do a great deal of damage on the power play, they did score at even strength. Following that one man-advantage goal, the Eagles would find the net three more times.
Patrick Brown picked up the game-winner at 16:45 of the second (MacLeod), Johnny Gaudreau scored his 20th of the season at 3:53 of the third (Arnold, Straight), and captain Pat Mullane got BC’s fourth goal at 12:45 of the third to put the game out of reach (Whitney, Linell). Vermont added a late goal from Matt White just 21 seconds after the Mullane goal to make it a 4-1 game (McCarthy), but the Catamounts would be silent for the remainder of the contest.
This series resulted in a Boston College sweep, though there are still a few issues to be corrected as the games take on a larger significance each time. The Eagles went just 2-for-15 (13.3%) on the power play over the course of the weekend and took 14 penalties in the two games. Neither game felt particularly in doubt, except perhaps the first one when it was 3-2 BC in the third, but it was as good a collective performance as it had to be for the Eagles to advance.
On the plus side for BC, Johnny Gaudreau managed three points in two games, signaling that perhaps he is ready to heat up again, while getting goals from five other players. Boston College will need Gaudreau and all the rest at their finest as the Eagles head to the TD Garden.
The next game is the Hockey East semifinal on Friday night at 8pm against Boston University.