BURLINGTON, VT – Facing the University of Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Friday night, the Boston University men’s hockey team emerged victorious from a chaotic third period by a score of 4-2.
Despite remaining winless through 15 games in Hockey East competition, the Catamounts (3-17-4, 0-13-2 Hockey East) are never an easy team to get past in Burlington, BU head coach Albie O’Connell said.
“It was a grind,” O’Connell said. “They play hard, they play heavy and they play fast.”
Catamount senior forward Derek Lodermeier put Vermont on the board before their opponent for just the seventh time all season, converting a breakaway 8:41 in to give Vermont the 1-0 lead.
The Terriers (10-8-6, 7-4-5 Hockey East) responded 5:17 into second period with a milestone goal for freshman defenseman Case McCarthy.
Skating into space along the boards, McCarthy whipped a shot on net and past Vermont senior goaltender Stefanos Lekkas, giving McCarthy his first collegiate goal in 19 games played.
In the first-year Terrier’s eyes, McCarthy said his breakthrough was a result of his increased aggressiveness on offense.
“I guess it’s just me trying to up my offensive game, just trying to get more pucks to the net [and] hit the net more,” McCarthy said. “I just got a lane and tried to get it as quick as I could at the net and it just happened to go in.”
Senior forward Gabriel Chabot made it 2-1 BU 1:40 into third period with a rebound effort to pot his second goal in as many games, but Vermont junior defenseman Christian Evers answered 59 seconds later with a drive that found its way in from distance.
The Terriers went on to commit five third-period penalties, and when they finally earned a power play of their own, freshman forward Trevor Zegras made it count with a shot from the left circle that beat Lekkas to the near post.
O’Connell said it wasn’t the prettiest of the eight goals the freshman has scored this season, but it did cap off an impressive period of special teams play for his fellow Terriers.
“[Zegras sent] kind of a greasy one on net and it slid in,” O’Connell said. “Special teams made the difference in the third period.”
Senior forward Patrick Curry added a 100-foot empty-netter in the final minute and freshman goaltender Ashton Abel shut the door with 28 saves, including 10 in the final frame.
O’Connell said it wasn’t an easy game for Abel, but he was impressed with the goaltender’s performance in just his fourth collegiate start.
“He handled himself in a kind of funky game,” O’Connell said. “He’s been solid.”
It was BU’s second road win in Hockey East play this season, and its fourth victory away from Agganis Arena. To O’Connell, these two points meant more than most.
“It wasn’t an easy win,” O’Connell said. “We found a way to win a game on the road in the third [period].”
Now within a point of the Hockey East lead, the Terriers will take a break from league play to begin the Beanpot, where they will face off against No. 5 Boston College (16-7, 10-5 Hockey East) in the first round.
With BU heading into the matchup unbeaten in its last three games, McCarthy feels the team is ready to make some noise under the bright lights.
“The win here tonight was big,” McCarthy said. “[We have] big momentum going into Monday.”
The Terriers and Eagles will square off at 8 p.m. on Feb. 3 at TD Garden.