Avenging a 3-1 loss to Vermont in last season’s Hockey East semifinals, No. 3 Boston University scored four unanswered goals and demolished the No. 14 Catamounts 7-2 on Saturday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Eight different Terriers had multiple point games while freshman goaltender Grant Rollheiser finished with 22 saves. The lopsided win improves BU to 5-1-0 (2-1-0 HEA) while Vermont slips to 2-2-1 (0-2-0 HEA).
“I thought the pace of the game was more to our liking,” said Terriers’ Coach Jack Parker. “If Vermont gets up on us they can slow it down and be much more tactical through center ice. But once we get up on them they have to come after us a little more, and that helps us out as far as our style of game.”
The Terriers jumped out to 1-0 lead just 3:51 into the first period. Deflating a festively raucous crowd, BU sophomore Colin Wilson split the defense and lifted a backhanded shot past the glove-side of Vermont goaltender Mike Spillane.
Carrying the play, the Terriers extended their lead to 2-0 on a power play less than three minutes later. Parked at the top of right face-off dot, senior Chris Higgins found Wilson streaking down the middle, and he deflected it past Spillane for his second goal of the game.
Vermont responded on a power play midway through the opening period to cut the deficit to 2-1. Set up outside the left face-off dot, Catamounts’ senior captain Dean Strong sent a cross-ice feed in the direction of senior assistant captain Peter Lenes. Instead, the puck pinballed through a maze of skaters and found its way onto the stick of junior Viktor Stalberg, who slid the puck past Rollheiser for his second goal of the season.
BU re-established their two goal lead at 3:52 of the second period. Securing a face-off draw to the right of Spillane, Terriers’ freshman Chris Connolly spun around and unloaded a blistering wrister that squeezed between Spillane’s left pad and the post.
Vermont fought back once again less than two minutes later to make the score 3-2. Junior Colin Vock found Lenes streaking in from the blue line Lenes blasted a one-timer in stride past Rollheiser. The tally was Lenes’ third of the year and extended his current points streak to five games.
“I thought the biggest problem for us was once we made it 3-1 we had the biggest letdown,” said Parker. “We gave them an opportunity because we stayed out too long because guys were worrying about getting a point and that’s the first time that’s crept in this year.”
The turning point in the game occurred at the end of the second period, when Rollheiser stoned Vock on a breakaway. Less than two minutes later, BU senior Brandon Yip secured a face-off draw at the top of the hash marks and fired a wrister top-shelf blocker side past Spillane to make it 4-2.
“I think we did a good job fighting back and then we kind of just got the wind knocked out of us there,” said Stalberg of Yip’s goal. “It’s obviously huge momentum there, we miss a breakaway and we get a penalty and they score right away.”
“Up until that point, it was a real hard fought [game],” said Parker. “It was going to go either way.”
The Terriers pulled away in the final period, scoring three of their four unanswered goals. Just 28 seconds in, senior Jason Lawrence, the reigning Hockey East Player of the Week, buried a juicy rebound by Spillane on a power play to make it 5-2.
“I think that power-play goal just kind of let us relax a little bit,” said Parker.
Higgins added a tally and sophomore Bonino capped off the scoring with a wrap-around power-play goal at 12:04 of the final period to send the Catamounts’ faithful to the exits early.
“I just think we got rattled tonight and from the head coach down I don’t think we did a very good job,” said Sneddon. “BU was very good tonight, no question about it, from start to finish. We just kept getting worse.
“Our penalty kill is typically a strength for us. “They lit up Michigan for five on the power play last week and they certainly made us look like a Junior B team tonight. I thought we made it so easy for them in front of our net compared to what we faced at the other end. They were tough, they were physical, strong on their sticks. We were the opposite.”
Bonino and Higgins each had a goal and two assists while Cohen registered three assists. Spillane finished with 22 saves.
“I thought it was a hard fought game for 35 minutes or so and then we kind of just messed it up for ourselves,” said Stalberg.