Raise your hand if you saw that coming. Okay, put that hand down!
In a stunning upset, the Vermont Catamounts came back from a 2-0 deficit to score four in a row and force a game three with the #1 seeded Eagles. What can I say? Give Vermont all the credit in the world, they had a tough time early on but after the first period, they were the much better hockey team. Both clubs had to deal with absences but you wouldn't have known it by the way UVM battled. They were physical, did not give BC many scoring opportunities late in the game, shut down nearly all of BC's big guns, and controlled the face-off dot.
I thought the first twenty minutes of that game consisted of some of the best hockey BC has played in two months. Austin Cangelosi continued to light the world on fire as he notched BC's first goal, giving him four points in two games. It was BC's second power play goal of the weekend but in reality, the man advantage had a tough time generating any opportunities as the game went on. Shortly after, Alex Tuch roofed a snap shot past Packy Munson, giving the Eagles an all important two goal advantage heading into the middle frame. I'd say Tuch was one of three BC forwards that looked solid out there- you could tell he was hustling all over the ice looking to make a play each and every shift.
After Tuch's strike, things went completely downhill. Vermont knotted two second period goals, one coming just under three minutes into the frame when Brian Bowen redirected a Rob Hamilton point shot. Vermont dominated the first couple minutes of the period as BC's second line of Fitzgerald-White-Gaudreau looked out of sorts, which, unfortunately, was the case for the majority of the night. Many fans are wondering whether or not White is still hurt but either way, I think he'll have a big impact today. They need him to take over from time to time and although Saturday was not his best game, he will bounce back. Halfway through the second, former BU commit Liam Coughlin roofed a shot past Thatcher Demko, who appeared to be screened by his own defenseman on the play. No matter what happened, I don't think many goalies would have stopped that shot but BC did miss out on a few chances to clear the puck just moments before the goal. Coach York called a timeout immediately after UVM tied the game and to BC's credit, they swarmed the UVM net over the final ten minutes of the period but Munson was there to make every stop. Vermont's penalty kill is one of the worst in the country but they have been exceptional this weekend, despite giving up two goals. BC has some of the most talented players in the country on both units but for the better part of the contest, UVM completely shut them down.
The opening parts of the third period seemed to favor the road team and they were finally rewarded when Brendan Bradley gave them their first lead of the weekend. It would be the only advantage UVM needed as they stopped BC from creating any offense in the final minutes before adding an empty netter to seal the deal.
Disappointing, no doubt, but not the end of the world. They played a bad game, perhaps their worst of the year, but they still have a chance to get to The Garden next weekend and secure a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The staff will be forced to make some tough lineup decisions with Ian McCoshen back in the fray- do they move Doherty back to forward? Any changes to one of the top three lines? Personally, I like Doherty on the blue line because I think Calnan is more than capable of holding his own in a top three role but towards the end, they limited Calnan's shifts in favor of moving Doherty back up. This afternoon's outcome will not be decided on who plays and who doesn't, it's about who goes the extra mile to make a play. BC's forward core looked a bit listless towards the end of the game, maybe because they figured UVM would pack it in but whatever the reasoning, they need to bring their A game tomorrow. As I said earlier, I thought Tuch's line was very good as those three combined for 16 shots, but the White and Cangelosi lines did not create much after the first period. For a fourth consecutive game, I liked what I saw out of Joey Dudek, Travis Jeke, and Chris Brown- they certainly did their job and deserved every bit of ice time they got. On the defensive side, you could tell the loss of McCoshen was hurting them. He logs so many key minutes, especially late in the game, and Vermont just generated too many odd man rushes. The box score will say BC garnered 45 shots but over three quarters of those came in the first period and last ten minutes of the second. I'm concerned about this pattern of starting off well, getting out to a lead, and then proceeding to play down to an opponent's level. If they are fortunate to start hot once again on Sunday, they need to keep up the pressure and force Vermont into some unforced errors.
Last night's result aside, I am excited to see what BC brings to the table this afternoon. These guys have come a long way in 365 days and if they give it everything they've got, I think they'll play Northeastern next weekend. We all remember what happened a season ago against this very team in this very same situation. No coach will get his team more fired up for a winner take all game than Coach York- they'll be ready to go but it's up to the players to come through and execute. If they do that, everything will be just fine.
Why BC lost-
1. Not enough offense in the latter half of the game. Yes, they had shots but not many of them were of the "grade A" variety.
2. Power play could not come through in the third. Just before UVM scored the winning goal, BC had a man advantage but they didn't even generate much zone time.
3. Poor forechecking. Vermont moved the puck out of the zone with ease on almost every breakout. Need to be more aggressive.
1. Tuch's line was great. #12 was BC's best player in my mind. Gilmour had another strong game.
2. Penalty kill was terrific. They have not given up a goal in the past 24 tries.
Notes- McCoshen back tomorrow.
Next- UVM today at 4.