A common theme in Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon and Boston College coach Jerry York’s postgame opening statements was the playoff-like atmosphere of the games between the teams this weekend.
As the Hockey East regular season winds down, each game becomes more and more important. For a weekend series between two teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble, No. 11 Boston College and No. 16 Vermont, the games become much more important.
Yet neither team was able to take advantage, with the Catamounts and Eagles tying each other twice, by scores of 3-3 Friday night and 2-2 Saturday night.
“As Jerry and I talked at center ice after the game, it sure felt like [the] playoffs,” Sneddon said. “Every point is certainly crucial at this point in the year, and everyone is fighting to either improve their standings, or trying to win the regular-season championships. I thought that’s what it felt like tonight.”
Both games were tight, save for the opening 10 minutes of Friday night’s game. From the 8:21 mark of the third period Friday, neither team led by more than one goal the entire weekend.
“I thought every possession was contested, just a hard, tough hockey game.” York said.
The ties left the Eagles, who got goals from Julius Mattila and Austin Cangelosi on Saturday, in a precarious position in terms of their lead in Hockey East. With a very difficult series coming up against No. 6 UMass-Lowell, the Eagles can potentially fall as far as the No. 3 spot in the conference depending on the results of the upcoming series between No. 4 Boston University and No. 15 Notre Dame.
What makes the situation even more dire for the Eagles, however, is the potential NCAA Tournament situation. Once as high as No. 9 in the Pairwise just a week from Friday ago, Boston College, after losing to Northeastern in the Beanpot consolation and two ties to Vermont, teeters at No. 17 in the Pairwise as of late Saturday night — tied with Vermont — below the cut line for the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re not concerned about Pairwise rankings, we’re concerned about winning a trophy,” York said.
At the other side of the ice, Vermont, having already clinched home ice in the opening round, could finish as high as No. 4 in conference, which would give the Catamounts a bye in the Hockey East tournament. The Catamounts, who got two goals from Brian Bowen on Saturday, will take on Merrimack next weekend, a team that has a recent history of upsetting strong Hockey East teams.
Hockey East roundup
No. 4 Boston University 8, New Hampshire 4
Five unanswered goals powered the Terriers past the Wildcats at Durham, N.H. after a tie Friday in Boston. Jake Oettinger had 20 saves for Boston University.
No. 10 Providence 3, No. 15 Notre Dame 3
A back-and-forth contest in South Bend, Ind., couldn’t yield a winner, as the Friars and Irish skated to a 3-3 tie. Cal Petersen had 39 saves for Notre Dame.
No. 6 UMass-Lowell 5, Massachusetts 2
The battle of the UMass’s resulted in a decisive victory for the system’s Lowell campus, as the River Hawks defeated the Minutemen at Amherst. C.J. Smith had a goal and three assists.
Northeastern 4, Connecticut 1
A hat trick for Zach Aston-Reese helped Northeastern defeat Connecticut. The win means Northeastern can finish as high as sixth in the conference.
Maine 4, Merrimack 4
Despite 45 shots on goal the Warriors were unable to defeat the Black Bears, who clinched the eleventh spot in the conference with the tie. Merrimack’s Jace Hennig had two goals.