Chestnut Hill, Mass. -- Brady Shaw supplied the offense and Brody Hoffman held down the fort to lead Vermont past Boston College, 3-1, on Saturday night in front of 3,349 at Conte Forum.
The 3-1 Catamount win forces a decisive game three in the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series on Sunday at 6 p.m. on NESN.
"I'm proud of our hockey team," said UVM coach Kevin Sneddon. "I thought Mr. Hoffman was really the difference in the game for us."
It was a big win for a Vermont team that has now played two elimination games this post-season and won them both including last Sunday's overtime victory over Maine.
"We've played well with our backs up against the wall all year. We haven't had much success in the past at BC so it's a huge step for us to get this win and to have the opportunity to come back tomorrow," said Shaw.
Two very similar power play tallies by Shaw gave UVM a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. With Michael Matheson off for roughing, the Catamount power play went to work. After working the puck around the offensive zone, Shaw took a feed from Brendan Bradley. Shaw skated in from the half wall and fired a hard shot that cleanly beat Thatcher Demko at the 8:54 mark.
"Our power play got us off to a good start," said Sneddon. "We just wanted to get pucks to the net. We wanted to challenge the half way. It was two absolute bullets of shots. He had time and space, attacked the seam and released it as quickly as possible."
Later in the period, Shaw made a similar cut in from the half wall, but just a little closer to the goal line for a 2-0 UVM lead. Michael Paliotta and Jake Fallon assisted on the man advantage strike with 3:24 to go in the opening period.
"Good puck movement by the power play," said Shaw. "It opened up a seam for me. They gave me the same shot twice in a row. I'm happy to take it."
The second period was all Eagles. Boston College outshot UVM, 20-8, in the middle frame, but only found the back of the net once. After receiving a pass down from Matheson at the point, Ryan Fitzgerald whistled a shot past Hoffman from the left circle.
"We had the puck an awful lot. We had some sustained pressure, but just weren't able to capitalize," said York. "That was as probably as good a period as we've played. It was very thorough. We had a lot of really good opportunities. We generated a lot of offense and played good, solid defense."
Hoffman was terrific the rest of the way, keeping BC out of the net, until UVM added an insurance tally with Demko pulled for the extra attacker. Yvan Pattyn fired the puck down ice from his defensive zone, but Shaw beat out the icing and slid a pass out front to Bradley for the tap in.
"Hoffman played very well in goal," said York.
Hoffman stopped 39 shots on the night in his first decision in exactly a month. The junior from Wilkie, Saskatchewan struggled in the second half and lost the starting job to sophomore Mike Santaguida.
"[Hoffman] had some tough times in the second half. We wanted to make sure when we put him back he was feeling confident. It wasn't until recently that he started to feel really confident in practice," explained Sneddon.
"It feels good. The most frustrating thing is wanting to contribute and that's tough as a backup goalie. You just try to stay positive and do what you can in practice, but it's always nice to contribute on Friday and Saturday," explained Hoffman.
Hoffman came on in relief Friday night and played well enough to earn the trust of his coaching staff for a start in Saturday's game two.
"Hoff came in and made some unbelievable saves [last night]. He looked confident. I felt like he was going to give the team the best chance to win tonight. He certainly answered the call," said Sneddon.
Both Sneddon and York were upbeat about the excitement of a do-or-die game three on Sunday.
"They're going to be extremely hungry [Sunday] night. The winner goes to the Garden. It doesn't get any better than this. We're excited to have the opportunity to stay alive and move forward to [Sunday]," said Sneddon.
"Three of the series are going to Sunday. Hockey East is a just a tight, hard league to play in," York said. "The series is dead even again now."