MEN'S HOCKEY: Role Players Spark Win In Game One Of Vermont Series
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 17, 2013 21:03
Entering Friday night’s quarterfinal matchup against Vermont, BC’s six seniors looked to build upon their flawless 12-0 career record in Hockey East Tournament play.
Yet it took key contributions from freshmen and upperclassmen alike for the Boston College men’s hockey team to skate away with a 4-2 victory over the Catamounts. Claiming the first matchup in a best-of-three home set while watching nine different players tally a point, the Eagles began their journey through “Trophy Season” with a complete effort on both sides of the puck.
“It’s always a different type of atmosphere with playoffs,” said head coach Jerry York in response to his squad’s postseason win. “It’s hard to describe, but the dressing room, the feel of the game is just different.”
The playoff intensity brought itself to the forefront early in the contest, as both sides played hard-hitting hockey against the boards while trying to gain the upper hand. Bolstered by the presence of senior defenseman Patch Alber, who made his return after being sidelined for 20 games by a knee injury, BC worked to rattle Vermont’s offensive attack.
“I thought there was a physical part of the game tonight,” York said. “That’s part of hockey.”
Amid a scoreless deadlock, however, the Eagles drew first blood with just over five minutes left in the initial frame. After being denied at the net by the Catamount goalie Brody Hoffman, senior forward Brooks Dyroff corralled his own rebound and fired a wrister as his momentum led him away from the goal. The puck eluded a surprised Hoffman to give BC a 1-0 advantage.
As the Eagles thwarted Vermont’s power-play opportunities thanks to sharp play from goaltender Parker Milner, who recorded 24 saves on the night, BC’s offense continued to chip away. Almost halfway through the second period, captain Pat Mullane controlled the puck in Catamount territory as his squad looked to capitalize on a power play of its own. Mullane sent a perfect feed that was one-timed into the goal by a wide-open Michael Matheson, who completed the senior-to-freshman connection for the Eagles’ second score of the game.
Despite Vermont’s physicality, BC’s offensive attack remained persistent. Less than four minutes after Matheson’s slap shot beat Hoffman, sophomore Cam Spiro collected a loose puck behind his opponent’s net and quickly skated past the front of the net. He sent an off-balanced, backhanded attempt into the goal right as he fell to the ice, collecting his second career goal while giving the Eagles a commanding 3-0 lead entering the final frame.
With their backs against the walls in a pivotal postseason matchup, the Catamounts began to rally less than five minutes into the third. Senior Ben Albertson took advantage of the Eagles’ inability to clear a puck behind their own net, found an opening, and beat Milner for Vermont’s first goal of the game. Albertson’s effort was soon matched by teammate Matt White, who stole an errant BC pass and deposited a breakaway score to draw the Catamounts within one at 3-2.
Yet late in the game, the Eagles displayed veteran poise in order to maintain their slim lead, finishing off a defensive performance that left the visiting team scoreless in seven power-play opportunities. Sophomore Johnny Gaudreau provided all the insurance York’s squad needed with a late empty-net goal–the 40th goal of his career–en route to a timely 4-2 victory.
Alber recognized the significance of BC’s widespread contributions and the importance of depth heading into a postseason run.
“Those guys are unbelievable,” Alber said of his teammates. “They come to practice every day and work so hard. They’re staying out, they’re skating in the mornings, and do everything they could to improve their skill. It really shows that all their hard work is paying off.” n