Boston College men’s hockey and Vermont could not have been in more different situations entering their matchup in Conte Forum on Friday. While the Eagles have suffered just two regulation losses since Nov. 11, the Catamounts were winless in their last three games.
None of that mattered Friday night.
The two teams battled for 65 minutes to a 1–1 time, and Vermont came out on top in a five-round shootout. While the game will officially be marked as a tie, Vermont earned an extra point in Hockey East standings.
“We knew they were going to play a desperate, angry hockey game and they did,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “We didn’t respond as well as we needed to. I think they were able to dictate the game more than we were.”
After referees called Vermont’s Timofei Spitserov for a five-minute major penalty for cross-checking 5:45 into the first period, the Eagles pounced. Cutter Gauthier, BC’s leading scorer, ripped a shot past Vermont’s goaltender Gabe Carriere for his 12th goal of the season.
With both teams at even strength minutes later, Vermont found its best scoring chance of the first period, as Massimo Lombardi slipped behind the Eagles’ defense with only goaltender Mitch Benson left to beat.
Benson set Lombardi’s shot aside, and BC remained ahead.
Sixty seconds later, Vermont sent the Eagles back on the power play for the second time in the period, as officials sent Luca Münzenberger to the box for holding. Just as the Catamounts killed off BC’s power play, Benson came through again, making a quick glove save.
It wouldn’t take long for the Catamounts to finally capitalize on their chances. Nineteen seconds into the Catamounts’ first power play of the game, Vermont’s Isak Walther evened the score with his fourth goal of the season.
Despite BC recording five more shots than Vermont in the opening frame, Walther’s goal kept the game tied 1–1 entering the first intermission.
Less than a minute into the second period, Gauthier threatened to score again, with the Eagles charging ahead on an odd-man rush.
This time, though, Carriere denied Gauthier with a critical pad save.
A hint of chippiness emerged midway through the period, as a number of minor scuffles broke out in front of Carriere’s crease.
With less than eight minutes to play in the second, Vermont created an odd-man rush opportunity similar to Gauthier’s, but Benson—like Carriere did earlier—kicked Simon Jellus’ shot away.
Neither team could convert on their scoring chances, and the 1–1 stalemate carried into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
“Second period, we got some great looks,” Brown said. “You know, we thought we could build some momentum off that, and we were decent in the third, but still, we’d like to create more offense.”
Both goaltenders swallowed up shot after shot as the third period began. With 10 minutes to play, neither team showed signs of buckling.
Even after another five-minute major penalty against Vermont put the Eagles back on the man advantage 9:46 into the third frame, the Catamounts’ defense refused to cave and cleared away a number of pucks.
Despite a late power play for BC, the score remained tied as the horn sounded, sending the Eagles into a 3-on-3 overtime period for their second straight game.
Marshall Warren, who scored the overtime game-winner six days earlier, threatened to deliver again in the overtime period, but Carriere held strong. As the clock wound down, neither team could find the back of the net and the game went to a shootout.
“Some overtimes are better than others,” Brown said. “Tonight wasn’t our best, but you like having the guys go through that.”
The two teams traded shots until Joel Määttä netted the winner for the Catamounts in the fifth round of the shootout.
“I think we lost our edge a little bit,” Brown said. “When you do that, it’s hard to get it back.”