It was after a team meeting Saturday that Boston College hockey coach Jerry York realized he was experiencing gray vision in his right eye, which had been surgically repaired twice in January.
He sought medical attention, and was diagnosed with another detached retina, keeping him from the bench in the second game of BC’s quarterfinal series against Vermont in the Hockey East tournament.
But despite not having their coach at Conte Forum, the second-seeded and fifth-ranked Eagles managed to beat Vermont for a second straight night, winning the best-of-three series with a 4-1 victory and advancing to the semifinals on Friday at TD Garden.
“The first thing when we got in the locker room, he had sent a text, he was really excited to be moving on to the Garden,” said Mike Cavanaugh, who shared York’s duties with fellow associate head coach Greg Brown.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate not having Coach York on the bench,” captain Pat Mullane said. “He’s so enthusiastic and brings so much to the locker room that it’s noticeable when he’s not there.
“But it’s one of those things that whoever’s name is called, they have to perform, whether it’s players, coaches. I think Coach Cavanaugh and Coach Brown stepped up and handled our bench and our locker room just the way Coach York would have wanted it.”
Thanks to 11 power plays — BC had set a season high for power-play chances midway through the second period — the Eagles outshot Vermont, 33-17. BC’s first goal came on a two-man advantage, scored by Steven Whitney at 12:12 of the first.
“I thought we handled a lot of adversity,” Cavanaugh said. “It was a bit of a discombobulated first period with all the penalties. I think there was only four minutes of five-on-five hockey. We did a pretty good job staying with that.”
The Eagles (22-10-4) added another goal in the second period, with Patrick Brown getting his fifth of the season at 16:45. Their third goal came from Johnny Gaudreau, with assists by Bill Arnold and Destry Straight, at 3:53 of the third. Mullane capped the scoring for BC at 12:45 of the third.
BC’s third and fourth lines performed particularly well. As Cavanaugh said, “That’s something that we focus on. When you’re chasing trophies, we’ve realized over the years it’s not only your marquee players that win you those trophies. It’s the entire team that wins you championships.”
Vermont (11-19-6) got its goal at 13:06 of the third, with Matt White tallying.
Vermont was assessed 14 penalties — BC had six — though the Catamounts gave up just one power-play goal. Still, all that work on the penalty kill cost Vermont a chance at tying the series.
“I’m going to be honest with you. I thought we deserved better tonight, and I won’t go much further than that,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We were great on the kill. They get one five-on-three, that was it. We were on the kill all night.
“We took some dumb penalties tonight. I’m not going to go into it. I’ll take the high road.”
York is scheduled to have surgery on Monday at Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston. That was where York underwent both of his eye surgeries in January. York had been symptom-free for two months, according to a BC spokesman.
It was not known how long York would be away from the team, but he’s unlikely to be coaching the Eagles next weekend at the Garden.
Said Sneddon, “I want to wish Coach York a speedy recovery. That’s bigger than hockey right now.”