The Saturday curse is over. Each of Boston College's last five Saturday games ended in a tie. Not so tonight - BC finished strong and comfortably pulled away for a sweep of the Vermont Catamounts with a 4-1 win on Saturday night at the Gutterson Fieldhouse.
BC's win, combined with Notre Dame's loss to Providence tonight, puts BC just one win away from clinching the #1 seed in the Hockey East tournament and at least a share of the Hockey East regular season title. The Eagles will go in to the final weekend two points up on Providence and three points up on Notre Dame. PC plays UMass twice while Notre Dame hosts BU for a pair.
Tonight's game was remarkably similar to last night's. Once again, BC took way too many penalties - giving Vermont 8 power play opportunities for the night and a total of 17 on the weekend. But once again, the Eagles' penalty kill came up huge, killing off 7 of Vermont's 8 power plays to help secure the win.
The Catamounts drew first blood on a power play goal by Mario Puskarich at 14:18 of the first period. Puskarich took the puck down low and caught Demko cheating off the post looking for the pass across the net; instead Puskarich stuffed it home to put UVM up first for the second straight game.
It would once again not take long for BC to respond. The Eagles earned a late power play in the final few minutes of the period and generated a lot of zone time, but not many solid opportunities. But shortly after the power play ended, Adam Gilmour knocked home a rebound off a Casey Fitzgerald shot to tie the game up just over a minute prior to the period ending.
The second period was defined by BC's penalty kill as they successfully stymied UVM on all three power play opportunities. BC didn't generate much, getting outshot 14-10 in the period; it's hard to do much when you're killing penalties all the time. But the Eagles did enough to get the game in to the locker room tied and give themselves a chance to win it in the third.
That's exactly what they did, as the ever-opportunistic Austin Cangelosi picked a corner short side on UVM goalie Packy Munson at 2:51 of the third period to give the Eagles a lead they would not relinquish.
The key sequence of the game came with about 13 minutes to go. Miles Wood went to the penalty box for goalie interference after his momentum carried him in to Munson. UVM proceeded to create a frenzied opportunity for themselves in the attacking zone, as two BC players - including Thatcher Demko - played without sticks for what in reality was over 30 seconds but felt like an eternity. Demko got through the situation using someone else's stick and BC made it through without giving up a tying goal.
Just over 30 seconds later, BC sprung Ryan Fitzgerald on a partial breakaway; he beared down on Munson, ripped home a shot, and gave the Eagles a critical insurance goal. Fitzgerald would score again with an empty net with 2 seconds remaining to provide the final margin, 4-1.
BC polished off a big weekend sweep with tonight's victory at a hugely opportune time. The win temporarily moves BC past North Dakota in to 3rd in the pairwise, though as we write this North Dakota is tied 1-1 going in to the third period of their game and will move back in to 3rd if they win. Locally, the Eagles navigated the landmine of a two game road series with their Hockey East playoff standing in great shape.
BC now controls their own destiny with a pair of games coming next weekend against UMass Lowell to close out the regular season. If BC splits and PC sweeps UMass, the Friars will tie BC for the regular season league title, but since BC holds the tiebreaker they will end as the #1 seed for playoff seeding purposes. A split guarantees BC at least a share of the trophy, while 3 points guarantees it outright.
We'll see you next Friday night at Conte Forum when it all begins again.