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Men’s hockey completes sweep of Vermont with Duplessis’ first shutout, O’Brien hat trick

The Boston University men’s hockey team enjoyed a weekend sweep of the University of Vermont Catamounts on the road, picking up six more points. The Terriers took down the Catamounts, the last-ranked team in Hockey East, with a hard fought 1-0 victory Friday and a 5-1 win Saturday.

The Terriers, who are still missing their Hobey Baker Award nominee and leading points-per-game scorer in the nation David Farrance, were able to play a complete 120 minutes of hockey for two wins, with points coming from all over the ice. 

Sophomore defenseman Alex Vlastic in a Nov. 26, 2019 game against Sacred Heart University. Vlasic scored the Terriers’ only goal in a 1-0 win over the University of Vermont Friday. COURTESY OF MATT WOOLVERTON

The Catamounts, who haven’t played since Jan. 9, started out aggressively and continued their momentum when Terrier defenseman Joseph Campolieto was sent to the box for a hooking call a minute 45 into the first period. The UVM power play had a few good looks during the man-advantage, but they were unable to capitalize as the penalty came to an end.

The Catamounts had one close opportunity when sophomore forward William Lemay found himself alone against freshman goaltender Vinny Duplessis. However, the netminder was able to beat Lemay to the post and keep the game tied at zero. The rest of the period remained quiet, excluding two power-play chances for the Terriers on which they weren’t able to score. 

The second period offered much of the same, with just one penalty early on. The Terrier power-play unit saw a couple of opportunities, but neither could get past freshman netminder Gabe Carriere. Both teams came out with a little more bite to their game in the second stanza, but Carriere and Duplessis kept their poise and the game headed into the second intermission still locked at zero.

Heading into the third, the Terriers’ more consistent schedule proved the determining factor as sophomore defenseman Alex Vlasic netted the lone goal of the night three and a half minutes into the period. The goal was Vlasic’s third in the last three games, putting him at seven points for the season.

“[Vlasic’s] really made a big step,” Terriers head coach Albie O’Connell said in a press conference Friday.  “He was like a man amongst boys out there.”

Vermont’s best scoring chance came in the final three and a half minutes of play when freshman forward Nick Zabaneh got an interference call and put the Terriers down a man. Duplessis was able to keep the Catamounts at bay and secured his first collegiate shutout, stopping all 18 shots he faced.

“I thought [Duplessis] was terrific tonight,” O’Connell said. “He didn’t make a mistake and he made some really high level saves … Pretty mature for a young guy.”

The teams met again Saturday night for the rematch at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vermont.

In what was a more offensive and Terrier-dominated game, the Catamounts were the ones who opened up the scoring. Dovar Tinling, the youngest player in NCAA hockey at 17 years old, scored his first collegiate tally with a wrister from a sharp angle. Tinling’s goal gave the Catamounts a 1-0 lead two and a half minutes into the game, but the Catamounts wouldn’t produce any more goals in the rest of the game. 

Less than two minutes after the UVM goal, sophomore forward Jay O’Brien scored the equalizer, putting BU on the board. Senior captain Logan Cockerill, in what was his first series appearance back in the lineup since Jan. 18, set up O’Brien for the tap in.

“I think [Cockerill’s] just getting back going,” O’Connell said post-game Friday. “It was pretty obvious that he didn’t have quite the same level of energy that he normally has throughout a game, but his speed was dangerous. I thought he played pretty good considering he’s been off so long.”

The first goal set off a spark in O’Brien, and he would go on to deliver two more goals that night. After a faceoff against senior forward Vlad Dzhioshvili, O’Brien set off to the right circle and potted his second goal over senior netminder Tyler Harmon’s shoulder. 

“We’ve been trying to get the team to shoot pucks off the rush and [O’Brien] was rewarded, he threw one in the net,” O’Connell said in a press conference Saturday. “He was a major factor in us sweeping this weekend.”

Minutes after O’Brien’s second, the Terriers were able to secure the lead with another goal. Junior forward Matthew Quercia received the puck from sophomore forward Jamie Armstrong and was able to extend the Terrier lead to two in front of net. 

The Terriers continued to dominate throughout the second period, stifling all of Vermont’s chances, even when down a player. Seven minutes after the Vlasic hooking penalty, sophomore forward Wilmer Skoog improved the Terrier lead to three with a shot that went in the five-hole.

Just under four and a half minutes into the final stanza, O’Brien secured his third goal of the night on his own rebound. Graduate student forward Max Kaufman — who previously played at UVM as an undergraduate — cleared the puck to O’Brien whose shot slipped between Harmon’s legs. This marked O’Brien’s first collegiate hat trick and Kaufman’s second point against his former team.

Being a bit more well-rested, the Terriers came and secured the sweep with a 5-1 victory.

“All in all, it was a great weekend for us,” O’Connell said. “I thought all four lines played well, I thought all our D played well, and our goalie was good, so really happy with the weekend.”

This result marks the third time in the last 19 years the Terriers have had seven wins in their first nine games. The other years were 2008-09 and 2014-15, when BU finished as national champions and runner-ups respectively.

The Terriers will find out their next opponent in the coming days. They are yet to play Hockey East teams Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Merrimack College, University of Connecticut and the University of New Hampshire.

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