CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Friday night at Conte Forum, Vermont did not get off to the best of starts.
The No. 16 Catamounts played their best hockey when it mattered most ― and, thanks to third-period goals from sophomore Brian Bowen and senior Rob Hamilton ― rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to salvage a 3-3 tie against No. 11 Boston College.
“I thought once our team showed up after the 10-minute mark, we played a heck of a hockey game,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “Obviously, not the way we want to start and spot a team of BC’s skill a field goal, but I’m proud of our team for being resilient and finding a way to chip away at that deficit.”
Hamilton scored the game-winning goal with 3:23 remaining in regulation, shooting a one-timer from the right circle after freshman defenseman Jake Massie faked a shot from the high slot.
The senior from Calgary, Hamilton posted his first career multi-goal game as he also got the Catamounts on the board at 11:17 of the first period. He has a career-high seven tallies this season, leading UVM’s defensemen.
“In terms of good tie or bad tie, I would say for us, that was a good point to earn,” Sneddon said after his team improved to 9-7-3 in Hockey East play, remaining in sixth place.
There was scoring aplenty in the opening period as the Eagles scored three straight goals on 10 shots before entering the first intermission with a 3-1 lead. It was BC’s third three-goal opening period of the season.
Just 1:37 into the contest, senior Ryan Fitzgerald finished a loose puck in a scramble in front of Vermont goaltender Stefanos Lekkas, following up classmate Austin Cangelosi’s try for his eighth goal of the season and first in three games.
Cangelosi finished off Matthew Gaudreau’s brilliant lob to the front of the net 2:01 later, while freshman David Cotton redirected senior defenseman Scott Savage’s shot from the right point for tenth goal of the season to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead at 10:21.
“These late-season, playoff-type atmosphere games are where you grow as a team,” Tonight, we did some good things with our team, but also gave up a two-goal lead in the third period, which is a concern of ours. One was an unforced turnover in the neutral zone and the other was a scramble in D-zone coverage.”
BC is 13-4-2 in league play and remains three points ahead of rival Boston University in the standings after the Terriers tied New Hampshire, 4-4.
The visitors started the comeback trail 11:17 into the first period as Hamilton beat BC freshman Joseph Woll at the end of an odd-man rush, finishing a rebound from the left circle off Bowen’s shot.
The Eagles’ offense was shut down after the opening period, although the tie ensured BC a first-round bye in upcoming Hockey East postseason play.
“If you would tell me in July that we’d be battling for first place in Hockey East, I don’t think that would have gone by too many people without, ‘Woah, wait a second,’” York said. “The kids have done a nice job.”
Lekkas stopped all 12 shots he faced in the second period as the Eagles held a decided territorial advantage, but neither side found the net.
“I thought the game was kind of strange in that we looked very slow and shocked by what Boston College was doing and I thought the second period was kind of a nothing period,” Sneddon said. “And, it opened up again in the third and got exciting.”
Open up, it did.
Bowen and Hamilton scored on two of UVM’s ten third-period shots, lifting the visitors into a tie game. Senior Mario Puskarich sent a perfect pass down the slot for Bowen’s breakaway goal at 8:27, while Hamilton caught Woll out of position after Massie’s pass at 16:37.