At the annual Beanpot Tournament luncheon at TD Garden leading up to Monday’s semifinals, all four coaches cautioned against looking past their Friday night games because points are so important as college hockey gets deeper into the season.
That seems especially true this year because none of the four participants could be remotely considered on a roll, except maybe rolling in the wrong direction.
For defending NCAA champion Boston College, it was important to get back on the right track after dropping four of its previous five games.
The No. 5-ranked Eagles went up against Vermont, which entered the game in eighth place in Hockey East and fighting for a playoff spot.
BC fell behind in the opening period but rallied for a 4-1 victory in front of 6,672 at Conte Forum. Of the four Beanpot teams, the Eagles were the only victor. Boston University, Northeastern, and Harvard all lost.
“I thought tonight, during this stretch, was the best we’ve played from behind,’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “Even though it was 1-0, I thought we made some good plays and really good effort. We had some jump and it was clearly important for us to score some goals because we’ve been snakebitten a little bit in that area.’’
The Catamounts (7-14-4) took the lead when senior defenseman Anders Franzon fired a shot from long range that bounced out of the glove of goaltender Parker Milner (38 saves) and over his shoulder at 4:14.
BC (15-7-2) displayed some remarkable penalty killing at 6:03 when freshman Travis Jeke was whistled off for slashing. Junior center Patrick Brown, who had lost his stick, managed to block two hard shots by junior defenseman Nick Bruneteau and then leveled a heavy check on another Catamount just to the side of the net.
Later in the period, Brown also added a scoring chance to his repertoire when he took a feed from freshman defenseman Michael Matheson and backhanded a shot on freshman goaltender Brody Hoffman (26 saves), which was turned back.
The Eagles tied it at 10:30 when senior center Pat Mullane skated through the left circle and tapped in a shot from the doorstep.
Just 47 seconds later, BC took the lead for good when sophomore left wing Quinn Smith took a shot from the right circle that got behind Hoffman. Sophomore defenseman Michael Paliotta tried to get a stick on it, but it crossed the goal line and it was a 2-1 game at 11:17.
BC got into penalty trouble at 14:18 when Mullane and Teddy Doherty were sent to the box for hitting from behind and cross-checking, respectively, giving Vermont a five-on-three advantage for two minutes. The Eagles’ penalty killing rose to the occasion and negated any scoring threats.
Vermont had a lopsided edge in shots through the first 40 minutes, 31-18.
BC made it a two-goal lead at 8:05 of the third. Sophomore left wing Michael Sit, in the right circle, passed the puck into the slot through traffic for senior right wing Steven Whitney. Whitney got knocked to his knees but still managed to swat the puck past Hoffman for his 16th goal of the year, tying his career high.
Sophomore left wing Johnny Gaudreau put it away at 14:46 when he beat Hoffman on a shot from the left circle, his 13th of the season.
Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said he saw some positives on which to build.
“The difference in the game is they finished the opportunities that they had,’’ said Sneddon. “We certainly did not. I thought our guys played hard. I thought it was a good college hockey game, a lot of transition opportunities up and down. They finished their opportunities, we did not. [BC] is relentless on the puck in the critical areas. We need to learn from that.’’