Improbably, the out of town scoreboard played out perfectly for BC last night. Providence jumped out to a stunning 3-0 lead at UMass-Lowell, and Maine handled UNH at the Whittemore Center. It was all in the Eagles' hands: with a pair of wins at Vermont, BC would sew up the #1 seed in the Hockey East playoffs.
And for most of the game, BC played well enough to do their part. They jumped out to leads of 1-0 and 3-2; they responded every time they fell behind; they outshot Vermont 35-21, though at times the dominance felt even more profound; and Johnny Gaudreau finally got his game going again with a goal and an assist, plus numerous opportunities to add more.
But it was not to be. Costly errors allowed Vermont to skate to a 4-4 tie with BC. Most frustratingly, the Eagles gave up just four shots in the second period, but two of them hit the back of the net. It was that kind of night.
The defense actually played considerably better than they have in some recent games, making strong outlet passes and generally keeping the puck out of the BC end (you didn't see much of BC running around in their own zone for long stretches, the way we have in some games).
And the offensive performance was stout - BC dominated in terms of possession and time in the attacking zone, and came tantalizingly close to scoring a few more goals: Billy Arnold hit a crossbar in the third period that could've won the game; Gaudreau had a wide open net that he missed - I don't really know what happened, because I was watching on Vermont's Extra Low-Def free web stream. Pat Mullane was robbed early in the game by UVM's Brody Hoffman.
But ultimately, at this point in the season, it's about getting the two points, and BC still can't find a way to do that consistently.
Steve Whitney looked good in his return to action, with a pair of goals, including a big one to tie the game 4-4 in the third after BC had fallen behind in the early minutes.
Destry Straight finally got on the board with a power play goal to open the scoring in the first period, but Chris McCarthy answered for UVM to tie the game 1-1 going into the first intermission. Vermont nosed out to its first lead 2:48 into the second period, but the Eagles got a huge power play goal by Johnny Gaudreau to tie it back up.
Steve Whitney's first goal of the game three minutes later put BC up 3-2, and you were hoping that it would finally be the moment where the Eagles seized control of the game. But UVM had other ideas. Just over two minutes later, at 13:49, Caylen Walls tied it up on UVM's fourth shot of the period.
Robert Polesello gave the Catamounts the advantage back less than four minutes into the third period, but Whitney's response salvaged the tie. BC had the better of the overtime period, outshooting Vermont 4-1, but never really looked like scoring, and the game ended 4-4.
The scenarios going into the final night in Hockey East are complicated enough to require their own post, which will go up on BCI shortly; attaching them to this post would definitively make it tl;dr. But let's put it this way: the top six teams (Lowell, Providence, BC, UNH, BU, Merrimack) are separated by THREE POINTS going into the season's final night.
The only certainty is that we know which eight teams are in the playoffs. Maine's win at UNH, combined by a crushing OT loss for UMass at Merrimack, eliminated the Minutemen from contention and locked Maine into the postseason.