Top Story, Men's Hockey

Vermont Forces Game Three in Hockey East Quarterfinals

Last year, Boston College men’s hockey won 4-2 in the opening game of its Hockey East Quarterfinal series with the University of Vermont. In the process, the Eagles chased goaltender Mike Santaguida, allowing head coach Kevin Sneddon to replace him with senior Brody Hoffman. In the next two games, Hoffman stoned the Eagles, as the Catamounts won 3-1 and 1-0 to earn a trip to TD Garden.

As the great Yogi Berra once said, “It’s like deja vu all over again.” At least, it’s starting to appear that way.

In Friday’s game, the Eagles destroyed Vermont 3-0 behind a strong performance by Thatcher Demko. Sneddon, again not pleased with Santaguida’s performance, pulled his starting goaltender, this time in favor of freshman Packy Munson. Like Hoffman, Munson didn’t disappoint.

After a strong opening period in which they took a commanding 2-0 lead before the first media timeout, the Eagles (25-6-5, 15-2-5 Hockey East) collapsed for the remaining 40 minutes in a 4-2 loss. While Northeastern, UMass Lowell, and Providence all punched their tickets to TD Garden, BC will have to take on Vermont (16-21-3, 6-13-3) Sunday at 4 p.m. at Kelley Rink in a winner-take-all game.

With Ian McCoshen sidelined because of a disqualification from Friday night’s game, head coach Jerry York was forced to shake up his lines. Team captain Teddy Doherty moved from the second line with Alex Tuch and Zach Sanford back to his natural position on defense. Adam Gilmour moved off Austin Cangelosi and Miles Wood’s line, where he had found success most of the year, to play with Tuch and Sanford while Chris Calnan took his place.

Early on, that dysfunction didn’t seem to matter. Only four minutes in, the Eagles pounced all over Munson by taking advantage of a Jake Kearley interference penalty. The Wood-Cangelosi-Calnan line led a bull rush at Munson that resulted in a scrum in front of the net. While the goaltender was on his bottom, Cangelosi poked the puck through the mess to put BC up 1-0 with his 18th goal of the year.

Three minutes later, Tuch slammed home a booming shot off his own rebound. His top-shelf wrister from between the circles—Tuch’s 14th goal of the year—gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead that Munson and Vermont looked helpless to overcome.

But after that, Munson became a steady force. In the latter two frames, the freshman goaltender stifled every BC attempt. His head coach credited him as the driving force behind Vermont’s comeback victory.

“Down 2-0, he’s gotta be perfect the rest of the way to give us a chance and he did,” Sneddon said.

Offensively, the Catamounts came alive. Brian Bowen started the rally by redirecting a deflection that Demko never saw. After that, third-line forward Liam Coughlin rocketed a clap bomb that beat Demko high over his shoulder to knot the game at 2 apiece. Coughlin, typically a distributor, felt a need to step up for his team. The Catamounts were without star Brady Shaw (suspension) and a number of forwards and blue liners with a stomach flu that came up this morning.

“I usually think pass first,” Coughlin said as his head coach patted him on the back, “but tonight I thought I should take the shot and see what happens.”

It wasn’t until midway through the third period that the Catamounts took the lead. On the initial shot from Mario Puskarich, the puck took a bad bounce in front of Demko. A scrum again ensued in front of the net, with the red light going off after Brendan Bradley raised his hands in celebration. After a lengthy review, the referees determined that the puck must’ve gone off either Bradley or Demko’s pads rather than be deflected in via a kicking motion. Although he admitted he had not yet seen the replay, York felt skeptical about the call, especially given his team’s reactions.

“I’m kind of curious to look at it myself,” York said.

That doesn’t, however, excuse his team’s poor play, and York will be to admit that. The Eagles were terrible on the power play after Cangelosi’s goal, and York mentioned in the postgame press conference that he felt there were several opportunities in which his team failed to convert on wide-open nets.

“We’ll have to wake up and get ready to play a game at 4 o’clock tomorrow afternoon,” York said.

And he’s spot on. Because if the Eagles don’t, they’ll miss heading to TD Garden for the third consecutive season. And they certainly don’t want to have deja vu all over again.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

March 12, 2016