BOSTON – Boston University and Vermont have played some strong battles on the ice in recent years, and Friday’s contest was no different as the Terriers and Catamounts went down to the final whistle.
Coming into tonight’s game, UVM has lost just once at BU since 2007 and sports a 2-1-3 mark in that span. The series has also featured some close matches in recent years, including six of the past nine being decided by one goal or less.
That streak did come to an end, despite a very tight final period, as the Terriers won back-to-back games for the first time since last March with a 4-3 win over the lowly squad from Burlington, which is still in search of its first Hockey East victory.
“I thought it was a pretty good hockey game,” said UVM head coach and Harvard graduate Kevin Sneddon. “I am very proud of our team. I thought 5-on-5 we did a lot of great things tonight. I really could not ask for much more from our team in that aspect.”
“Special teams hurt us tonight, but credit to BU for capitalizing on our opportunities. … They are frustrated, but hopefully they will be able to see all the good we’ve done. Our 5-on-5 game from the UNH game [last weekend] to tonight has been so much better. … There’s a number of situations where I can point to the positives from our team, but we just need to fix a few things.”
It was a scoring-happy first period between a pair of teams in the bottom half of the scoring ranks in Hockey East, and the league’s worst offense got on the board first just 5:27 into the contest.
Senior Grant Rollheiser made his second start this season and his lack of game time this year showed when he misplayed the rebound on the first collegiate goal for Catamount defenseman Blake Doerring.
The play started on an initial shot from captain Brett Leonard, but Rollheiser came out of his net and the puck hopped to Doerring before he found the open net for the 1-0 lead.
“I thought we had great jump right out of the gate,” Sneddon said. “I thought it was almost the same in every period. We came out…and kind of took it to BU in their own zone for a while.”
The Terriers bounced back with two goals to close the period with a 2-1 lead.
Their first score came at the 9:02 marker as Sahir Gill centered a backhanded pass into the slot, finding an open Corey Trivino for the one-time goal through the five-hole of Vermont’s Rob Madore.
The Pittsburgh native was beat cleanly by sophomore Charlie Coyle as he cashed in for the go-ahead goal, coming off a turnover behind the net at 10:21.
It was a pretty even first period and the 17-17 count of total chances was definitely indicative of the play in the stanza. The Terriers held a 13-8 advantage in shots on goal for the period.
UVM tied the game again at the 2:38 mark of the second as freshman Kyle Reynolds made a nice individual play through the offensive zone and backhanded a shot past Rollheiser on his right post.
The Terriers jumped back ahead at 6:47 when Wade Megan banged in a loose puck on a pass from Chris Connolly, beating Madore in front of the cage. BU made it a two-goal lead at the 16:34 mark when Garrett Noonan’s wrist shot from the center of the left circle fluttered past Madore through a screen.
BU had the large majority of the second-period chances with its 28-16 lead in shot attempts, despite just 13 of them finding net.
“I thought we played a really solid game for a while,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “Once it was 4-2, we reverted back to stupid, selfish [play]…”
In what was a mostly uneventful third period, the Catamounts had a strong chance to make it a game again as the Terriers were called for a too many men on the ice penalty with just under four minutes remaining while trailing by two goals.
After cycling the puck around on the man-advantage, Sebastian Stalberg found the back of the net on a shot through traffic that dribbled past the BU defense and in for his team-best fourth goal of the season at 16:42 to make things interesting at 4-3.
Madore was pulled late in the third period and his squad was unable to put anything past Rollheiser late as the Terriers held on for the victory.
In the third, the Catamounts doubled up the hosts in shots at 14-7 and 23-11 in total chances. UVM held a 34-30 edge in shots on goal for the entire contest.
“I could not have been more disappointed with the third period,” Parker said. “But, I thought Rollheiser played great. … We did a good job staying out of the box because we kept our sticks to ourselves. Rule No. 1 is don’t beat yourself, and you do that if you take stupid penalties.”
“We took a too many men there at the end and gave them a goal,” added Parker. “That was a real stupid penalty. Other than that, special teams won the game for us, obviously.”
The Cats have averaged more than 30 shots per game in each of the last four and have registered at least eight in every period through all four games. The first period of tonight’s game was their only stanza during their current stretch in which they have not registered double-digit shots on goal.
“We have a mindset to do what we want,” Parker concluded. “Play the way we want to play. … Vermont’s not that good, they are in last place. Vermont should have won that game, I thought. They had some unbelievable chances in the last few minutes to tie the game.”
Both teams return to the ice in Boston on Saturday night as the Terriers host UNH and the Catamounts head down the road to Northeastern.