Boston College men’s hockey’s matchup with Vermont on Saturday was riddled with power plays, penalties, and punches. The two teams combined for 11 penalties throughout the night, and scrums regularly broke out after the whistle.
But Vermont outdueled BC in the special teams battle.
A first-period power-play goal from Nikita Nesterenko gave the No. 18 Eagles (9–7–5, 5–4–4 Hockey East) an early lead, but BC recorded 40 penalty minutes—the equivalent of two full periods—and as a result, dropped a 3–2 decision to Vermont (8–13–3, 3–10–1).
“You can’t be in the box that long because it’s too hard to generate offense,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “On the whole it was an undisciplined, immature game where we didn’t manage our emotions.”
Just one of the teams’ combined five goals came at even strength.
The Eagles converted on one of their four power plays, while Vermont scored on three of seven.
BC and Vermont skated to a 1–1 Hockey East tie before the Catamounts prevailed in a shootout on Friday.
Just under one minute into the first period, officials sent Vermont’s Eric Gotz to the box for interference. Cam Burke won the ensuing faceoff, and 30 seconds later, Nesterenko fired a shot from the circle past Catamount goaltender Oskar Autio for the 1–0 BC lead.
“You want to score first, but then you have to keep your foot down,” Brown said. “Keep going. Keep pushing. There’s so much hockey left after that.”
Vermont had a similar opportunity to start the second period after officials sent Lukas Gustafsson to the box for a hit after the whistle at the end of the first period. BC started the second frame on the penalty kill, and Vermont cashed in 56 seconds after the puck dropped.
Andrei Buyalsky scored the power-play goal for the Catamounts to tie the game at one apiece.
Throughout the rest of the second frame, BC’s special teams units began to fall apart, and Brown attributed it to the team’s lack of aggression.
BC returned to the power play four minutes later but couldn’t repeat the success it found on its first man-up opportunity. But just as Vermont’s Massimo Lombardi returned to the ice, BC went on the attack, and Colby Ambrosio scored an even-strength goal 10 seconds later to regain the lead at 2–1.
Vermont’s Will Zapernick tied the game up again with a power-play goal four minutes later.
With 10:37 left in the second frame, officials called Vermont’s Finn Evans for tripping, and the Catamounts killed the penalty.
Thirty seconds after the penalty expired, the Catamounts notched a power-play opportunity of their own, and Zapernick, with his second goal of the game, gave them a 3–2 lead—their first lead of the game.
“We weren’t as aggressive in the second period on those minors, but our goal was to be really aggressive,” Brown said. “And we were slower to pressure in the second period and they were able to capitalize and create some good chances.”
BC faced the first of two five-minute major penalties early in the third period after Seamus Powell made contact with a Vermont player’s head. The game misconduct penalty sent Powell to the locker room, but for the second time of the night, BC’s penalty-kill unit stood its ground and escaped without allowing a goal.
The second five-minute major came with just 2:50 left on the clock, when officials called Cutter Gauthier for game misconduct and contact to the head. BC made an early push for a shorthanded goal that would have tied it up, but Autio stood firm in net.
The game returned to even strength with a minute to play after Vermont’s Isak Walther went to the box for tripping. Brown opted to keep goaltender Mitch Benson on the bench for the final minute, but even with an extra attacker on the ice, the Eagles failed to find the net.
“Our discipline got away from us, and we started to go in the box, and that really turned the momentum,” Brown said.