CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Two weeks ago, Boston College was entering its Hockey East bye week without a win in seven straight games.
The regular season ended with back-to-back losses to UMass Lowell, so head coach Jerry York hoped that his team would develop a renewed energy and focus during the extended break as the quarterfinals approached.
What a difference two weeks makes.
Thanks to two-goal nights from senior Austin Cangelosi and sophomore J.D. Dudek and a whopping 4-for-7 showing on the power play, the Eagles accomplished that mission with a 7-4 win Saturday night at Conte Forum.
“Winning is hard,” BC head coach Jerry York said. “But to win at this level where you end the other team’s season, it makes it that much harder of a goal to accomplish.”
The goal is accomplished. For the second time in three years, it’s onto TD Garden for the semifinals, and it will head there with 20 wins for the eighth consecutive season.
With its NCAA Tournament future far but settled, each game from here on out is seemingly do or die for the Eagles. Either Boston University or Notre Dame is on the horizon next Friday night, and the must-win mentality will still remain.
“Going into this week, it was the same mindset. For all we knew, these could have been our last games,” said Cangelosi. “It’s the same thing now. We’re on a roll.”
At first, it looked like winning would, in fact, be easy for the Eagles on this night.
Dudek scored twice on man advantages, while freshman Connor Moore’s first collegiate goal was sandwiched between at the 7:10 marker. The Auburn, N.H., native blasted home both goals on power plays, firing a long shot through traffic from the center point at 3:17 and pumping a one-timer home from the left circle off Cangelosi’s feed at 8:57.
“I thought our team was dynamic on the power play tonight, and I haven’t said that too often over the course of the year. We certainly moved pucks well and had some good opportunities,” said York. “Joey Dudek has been a real help for us, going back to the point on the power play. … He does things in practice that create some shots that get to the net from the blue line.”
In between Dudek’s markers that ensured his third multi-goal effort of the season, Moore added one for the defensemen as his shot from just inside the right side beat Vermont freshman goaltender Stefanos Lekkas up high.
“We wanted to get off to a quick start and try to demoralize Vermont,” York said. “But, we went up 3-0 and there was no quit at all in the Catamounts. They came right back. Before you knew it, it was a hockey game.”
There is no way it would be that easy.
The Catamounts moved within a 3-2 score on a pair of power-play strikes of their own, as freshman Ross Colton wristed one high on the net from the left circle at 13:14 and senior Rob Hamilton shot a trickler through BC freshman Joseph Woll’s legs with just 18.8 seconds left in the frame.
Dudek’s effort was matched in the second period as Cangelosi scored back-to-back goals on power plays to lift the Eagles’ lead back to three, first tapping in a puck that slid to the right post after sophomore Colin White redirected freshman David Cotton’s pass at 7:24.
At 11:22, Cangelosi added his 20th goal of the season as he took a pass from White alone through center ice and sent a backhander over Lekkas.
“They threw a lot at us in terms of speed,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “And, I think that shocked us a lot all weekend.”
The visitors did the scoring for a second straight period at 17:14, thanks to Hamilton shooting his 10th of the year home after junior Anthony Petruzzelli fed the puck from the corner.
Two seniors added insurance for the Eagles in the third as captain Chris Calnan rushed down ice off a faceoff and slid home a backhander at 13:25 and Ryan Fitzgerald scored a rebound off his own initial shot a little more than four minutes later.
Vermont closed the scoring with 1:58 left in regulation as senior Brady Shaw fed freshman defenseman Matt O’Donnell at the top of the crease for his third goal of the season.
“I didn’t think we played our best hockey,” said Sneddon, whose team finishes the season at 20-12-5. “Obviously, as a staff, you feel pretty bad about that. You want them to be able to play their best when it matters most, and I just didn’t think we played well enough defensively to give ourselves much of a chance.”