BURLINGTON, Vermont — A three-goal advantage almost was the most dangerous lead for the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team Friday night.
The Terriers (14-4-4, 9-2-2 Hockey East) opened up a 3-0 lead early in the third period, and staved off a late rush by No. 12 University of Vermont to come away victorious 4-2. The win, coupled with a No. 5 University of Massachusetts Lowell loss to No. 18 Providence College, puts BU into sole possession of first place in Hockey East.
Here’s a breakdown of what went right and wrong for the Terriers:
Hohmann’s scoring drought ends
Not since Nov. 22 at the University of Connecticut had Cason Hohmann lit the lamp. Two months, one day and one lengthy video review later, he finally broke the streak.
During the midst of a BU power play at the end of the second period, sophomore center Robbie Baillargeon fed Hohmann near the goal line, who roofed the puck into an almost empty net.
After the refs initially ruled the puck didn’t cross the goal line and the period came to a close, the officials took a long look at the replay and overturned the call.
The wait was worth it.
The power-play streak continues
Speaking of Hohmann’s tally, the goal extended BU’s stretch of games with a power-play goal up to seven. You have to go all the way back to Dec. 6 for a game in which the team did not score a goal on the man advantage.
“We’re just focused on getting people in front of the net, getting shots,” Hohmann said of the power play. “Just crowding people around the net, making smart passes up top. You just can’t be careless on the power play, that’s a big part of it.”
Even when it’s not scoring, the power-play unit, save for a few shifts, has moved the puck well, and gotten good shots to the net. In all, the Terriers finished 1-for-5 on the night, garnering 12 chances on net.
This was against a UVM (15-7-2, 7-5-1 Hockey East) team that came into the game as the best penalty-killing group in Hockey East with a success rate near 93 percent. Not too shabby.
Baillargeon plays mailman
When Baillargeon scored BU’s first goal of the season against the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he picked up right where he left off during his freshman campaign.
Then the mononucleosis kicked in.
He missed significant time in the first half of the year because of it, and only returned to the lineup after winter break. He had looked good in his games back in the lineup, but nothing as sharp as tonight.
Baillargeon skated well and made two crips passes that turned into primary assists on BU’s first goals of the game. The two helpers earned him well-deserved No. 3 star of the game.
A good-looking (and important) third goal
It was a thing of beauty.
Taking the puck from the defensive zone, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues skated down the left side of the ice, deked around defenseman Ori Abramson and picked the top corner of the net to finish off a pretty goal 3:02 into the third period.
An impressive end-to-end tally, yes, but it also proved to be pretty important in the long run of the game. Vermont rallied off a goal not even a minute later, and then added another in the closing minutes.
Rodrigues’ goal at first looked like window dressing on a win, but ended up as the game-winner.
Slow response to goaltending switch
When goaltender Brody Hoffman let in his third goal of the night early in the third frame, coach Kevin Sneddon pulled the netminder in favor of Mike Santaguida.
It didn’t take long for the Catamounts to get the message. The Terriers, on the other hand, didn’t look ready for the surge.
Forward Colin Markison snuck one past junior goaltender Matt O’Connor 52 second after the Rodrigues goal to cut the BU lead to two goals. And although it took over 11 minutes for UVM to get that second goal, it wasn’t as if the Catamounts didn’t have their chances.
“I still haven’t seen the first goal, but I thought when we came on the ice, we didn’t puck up the right people and our D was a little flat-footed,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “All of the sudden, they got the first goal and they get a lot of life and a lot of momentum.”
Whether or not replacing the goalie was the reason Vermont played better in that span in the third, there was no arguing the ice tilted some in the Catamounts’ favor.
The ghosts of BU’s past
If you had forgotten about defenseman Alexx Privitera, he made sure you remembered him Friday night.
The former Terrier, playing in his first season with the Catamounts, already had a respectable 15 points in 23 games coming into this one. By the end of the game, he added one more point to his season total, a rebound goal at the 15:17 mark of the first period.
It ended up as just a footnote in this game, but it would’ve been something if Privitera scored a game-winning or tying goal against his old team.