At last, the UVM men’s hockey team has made it to Boston for the Hockey East semifinals and, with some luck and some great hockey, hopefully the championship game.
The Cats played one of their most impressive games of the season to close out the Northeastern Huskies and earn their first Hockey East playoff series win. Vermont won 1-0 on Friday night, but followed up with a heart-breaking 2-1 overtime loss in game 2 of the three-game series.
After jumping out into a quick 1-0 lead in the opening period’s first two minutes, UVM played a superb first period, one that I’d vote their best of the year. They were hustling, physical and crisp. The urgency was noticeable from the get-go and makes you wonder what their body of work would have looked like this season had they shown that sort of gusto in every game since October.
After a lackluster second period during which senior goalie Joe Fallon put his team on his back (with the student section at his own back) and did his best Soup Nazi impression for Northeastern, coming up with several critical, spectacular saves to keep the Cats in the lead.
Northeastern leveled the score four minutes into the final period, but UVM bounced back, rattling off 3 unanswered goals before the period was over. It was another example of Vermont doing things that they had not been able to do in their first two years of Hockey East play –– seal the deal and finish strong –– with arguably their least-gifted (and certainly youngest) team since joining the conference.
The end result: a date with B.U. this Friday at 8 p.m. at the TDBanknorth Garden.
What to look for: Vermont needs a semifinal win at the very least to have a shot at making the NCAA tournament, in what would be their first appearance since the golden years of now-NHLers Martin St. Louis, Eric Perrin and Tim Thomas in the late 90s.
It’s going to be a fun weekend.