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Hoffman shutout leads Catamounts past BC, to Garden

Junior Brody Hoffman pitched a 36-save shutout and freshman Jarrid Privitera scored 2:53 into the third period to lift the Catamounts to a 1-0 win at Boston College in Sunday night's deciding Hockey East Quarterfinal.

Brody Hoffman
Brody Hoffman
Matt Dewkett

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Entering Sunday night's deciding third quarterfinal game, it was known there would be gold in the crowd during Hockey East's Championship Weekend at TD Garden.

But Vermont goaltender Brody Hoffman wanted to make sure the primary color would be green and gold and not maroon.

The junior pitched a 36-save shutout, and freshman Jarrid Privitera scored 2:53 into the third period, to lift the Catamounts to a 1-0 win over third-seeded Boston College at Kelley Rink.

After BC scored the first four goals of Friday night's series opener against UVM sophomore Mike Santaguida, head coach Kevin Sneddon was quick to make the move to the veteran netminder.

From there, Hoffman allowed just one goal in the series from that point and lifted the Catamounts to the Garden for the first time in five seasons. They draw two-time defending Hockey East Tournament champion UMass Lowell after UNH pulled off an overtime upset of Providence.

"I couldn't be any more proud of our guys," Sneddon said. "We made some adjustments, starting with the goaltender. Nothing against Michael (Santaguida) because he did a great job for us in the playoffs as well, but Brody Hoffman was our MVP of this series for sure. He was sensational last night and tonight."

Vermont dominated the first period, grasping a significant territorial edge and a 10-5 shots on goal advantage. BC sophomore Thatcher Demko was equal to the task as he stopped everything he saw, but even that was not without a little drama.

Freshman Travis Blanleil looked to have put the Catamounts ahead on a deflected goal with 3:35 left in the frame, but a quick review overturned the call. It was deemed UVM senior captain Mike Paliotta interfered with Demko in front of the net, hindering Demko's ability to play the puck.

BC took 13 of the 21 shots put on net in the second, but the officiating crew controlled period by calling seven penalties. Freshman Alex Tuch was called for goaltender interference just before the midway point, a call which seemed to be the tipping point for the crowd's frustration as he was run into by Paliotta while controlling the puck in front of the net.

UVM also played more than a period with a short bench after sophomore Malcolm McKinney went down with a lower-body injury and freshman Anthony Petruzzelli received stitches after being taken to the hospital with a bad cut in the second frame.

"We had a couple players go down, we were short benched," Sneddon said. "That's six games in ten nights (after last weekend's first-round series against Maine). That's a lot of heart, the heart of a lion in that locker room. I'm very proud of them."

The power plays turned out to be a wash, but the Cats cracked the board for a 1-0 lead as Privitera and junior brother Alexx connected. Alexx sent a beautiful outlet pass ahead to his younger sibling who broke free of outstretched BC sophomore Steve Santini and the defense, sneaking a puck through Demko's five-hole for his sixth goal of the season.

"I was able to sneak behind their defenseman (sophomore Steve Santini) and Alexx hit me with a nice crisp pass," Jarrid said. "Once I settled it down, right from there I was just thinking five-hole and was able to shoot it there."

As he's done so often in his career, Demko saved the day for BC and kept its deficit at 1-0 with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation. After Paliotta's shot from the left point clanked off iron, Demko made a diving save across the crease to his left to rob UVM sophomore Mike Stenerson on the rebound.

BC controlled the remainder of the stanza and finished with a 13-8 shots on goal advantage, but was unable to find the back of the net and extend the game.

"It's a tough loss," BC head coach Jerry York said. "I told the players though that when you sign up to play at this level, in this city, with the expectations we have, there's no guarantees. I liked our effort, I thought we were solid and strong through the 60. But two nights in a row now, we only scored one goal."

Hoffman made several key stops down the stretch, including multiple on Eagle sophomore Ian McCoshen from the point, and received some help from the post as Tuch clanked the outside of the post in the final 20 seconds.

"They went back door a couple times and they were getting bounces," Hoffman said of his night in goal. "There were a couple in the second, they tried to go cross-crease a couple times. Our defensemen did a great job, taking away sticks but they weren't able to elevate it."

The loss eliminates the Eagles from Hockey East title contention for the second straight season after Notre Dame came in for a three-game series win last season. BC had not missed advancing to the conference semifinals in back-to-back years since 1995 and 1996.

While UVM's next destination is sealed, the Eagles will have to spend next weekend scoreboard watching. BC is not ensured of a NCAA Tournament berth despite sitting tenth in the PairWise Rankings.

"One of the bright things I told our team is that our body of work (should) get us into the national tournament," York said, "and then it's four games to win a national crown. I think this team can do that."