March 22, 2008 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Vermont to Play For First Hockey East Title

Long Delay Worth the Wait for Catamounts; BU Can't Shake Cobwebs, Reverts to Old Form

by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer

BOSTON — After Boston College's 5-4 come-from-behind overtime win over top-seeded UNH, the TD Banknorth Garden had a much different feel for the second semifinal between Boston University and Vermont.

In fact, you could say that outside of the Vermont and BU boisterous fans, the building was eerily quiet.

Despite the subdued atmosphere, the Vermont fans that made the three-hour ride from Burlington got their money's worth. The Catamounts trailed early, but two goals in 29 seconds in the second period sealed the deal, and gave the Catamounts a 3-1 win, and their first trip to the Hockey East final.

Boston University's wacky season came to an end. Vermont is close to an at-large NCAA bid, but cannot get one, and so must win Saturday's final to make it for the first time since 1997.

While the fans at the Garden were drained after the triple-OT affair, the teams kept themselves busy.

According to Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon, the Catamounts were joking, jumping, and even dancing around their locker room.

"Here I am, of course I'm a coach so I over analyze everything," said Sneddon. "Then I walk into our locker room and our guys were so relaxed."

Senior Peter Lenes also said that the Catamounts just hung loose waiting for their game to start. In case you were wondering, the puck drop was almost three hours late.

"We were just hanging around, we're a great group of guys," he said. "Just telling jokes, we were ready to go."

Well, not everyone was telling jokes.

"I just took a nap," said goaltender Joe Fallon, who made a calm and collected 25 saves.

BU on the other hand looked sluggish. The Terriers were beat to loose pucks and behind a lot of plays. As a result, the Terriers took 12 penalties to UVM's six. Vermont didn't score on any of their power plays, but, it kept BU's high-powered offense from ever getting in a rhythm.

"Vermont had to wait too," said BU coach Jack Parker, who wasn't using the delay as an excuse. "We weren't mentally prepared to play tonight. We were making a lot of mistakes that we were making at the start of the year."

The loss almost guarantees that BU will miss the NCAA tournament.

"It's a shame that this team isn't going to be competing in the national tournament," said Parker. "The run we went on, we were 12-3 over our last 15 before tonight. But, we deserve what we get. We didn't play well at the start of the year, and those games count too."

For the Catamounts, they'll be playing for a spot in the NCAA's in the title game with the Eagles. While BC is playing for a better seed, even a loss in Saturday's title game would still see them make the tournament.

"I am just hoping like hell that Vermont wins tomorrow," said Parker. "That's not me saying I don't want BC to win, or that I want Vermont to win. What I mean by that is that if Vermont wins, we'll have three teams in our league in the national tournament. And, after the way everyone in our league beat each other up all year the way we did, it would be a shame to not have three teams in the tournament."

Also for Vermont, the game served as a bit of redemption from BU's 9-1 triumph over the Cats at Gutterson Field House earlier this season.

"It's funny, because we're up two goals with 39 seconds left. Our guys are celebrating, but I'm nervous," said Sneddon. "Look, I saw them score about five goals on us earlier this year in that 9-1 game.

"Once we got to 15 seconds, I was OK."

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