Men Survive Hockey East Weekend

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Vermont’s Shawn Conschafter put one of the greatest goaltending performances in recent memory as the University of Vermont men’s ice hockey team continued its early-season swing through Hockey East Friday, playing the powerful Boston University Terriers to a 1-1 overtime tie at a sold-out Walter Brown Arena.

Conschafter finished with 42 saves, including one at the final buzzer on Brian McConnell, as the Catamounts bounced back from a 10-0 loss to New Hampshire last Saturday to earn a well-deserved tie against the fourth-ranked team in the nation.

“Shawn (Conschafter) was just fabulous tonight,” Vermont coach Mike Gilligan said. “That was as good a goaltending performances as I’ve seen since he beat Clarkson up there in the playoffs two years ago.”

Conschafter was brilliant throughout the game, but he might have saved his best for the five-minute overtime period, when he stoned BU’s David Klema with a pair of pad saves and then preserved the tie with the save on McConnell as time expired.

“BU is a really fine team,” Gilligan said. “We were very fortunate to get some bounces and some great goaltending tonight to get out of here with a tie.”

The Catamounts did get some breaks, but they also played an inspired hockey game against the team picked to win Hockey East.

Freshman Joey Gasparini, playing in his first collegiate game, was terrific, as were classmates Jaime Sifers, Phil Youngclaus, Jeff Corey and Baron Becker.

The first line of Brady Leisenring, Tim Plant and Becker was outstanding all night long, and Miles was brilliant offensively.

Add these performances to a great penalty-killing effort, holding BU scoreless in seven tries, and arguably the greatest game in Conschafter’s career, and it all adds up to a well-deserved tie against one of the nation’s top teams.

Boston University coach Jack Parker, one of the greatest college hockey coaches of all time, was so impressed with Vermont’s performance, he went into Vermont’s locker room after the game to congratulate the Catamounts on their effort.

Boston University took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when junior Mark Mullen tipped in a shot from Freddy Meyer that just eluded Shawn Conschafter’s glove and found the net just inside the left post at 9:31.

The Catamounts responded early in the second on the power play, with Jeff Miles tipping in a pass from defenseman Oriel McHugh at 3:17. Skating four-on-three, Scott Mifsud started the play by digging the puck out of the corner before getting it back to McHugh at the point. McHugh, seeing Miles alone just to the right of BU goaltender Sean Fields, rifled a pass that Miles deftly deflected past the Terrier netminder.

On Sunday, the hockey team continued their tour through Boston and had an old-fashioned shootout with the seventh-ranked Boston College Eagles at Kelley Rink.

BC’s David Spina scored a pair of goals and Patrick Eaves had a goal and two assists as the Eagles moved to 3-0-0 with an 8-6, penalty-filled victory over the Catamounts.

Vermont is now 0-2-2 after its early-season, four-game swing through the best that Hockey East has to offer.

Vermont jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 94 seconds into the game when Scott Mifsud scored his first of two goals on the afternoon while the teams were skating four-on-four.

Boston College tied it 36 seconds later when Ned Harvern scored from the slot, with Chris Collins getting the assist. Time of the goal was 2:10.

After a parade to the penalty box, a sign of things to come, the Eagles took a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal by captain Ben Eaves at 12:33. Eaves’ younger brother, Patrick, assisted on the goal, as did defenseman J.D. Forrest.

The Catamounts tied it a 2-2 late in the period with yet another power-play goal at 16:46. Freshman Jeff Corey got his first of the year from his knees, sliding the puck past BC netminder Tim Kelleher while in front of the net. Ryan Miller, who dug the puck out from behind the net, and Gerard Miller, who started the play from the point, assisted on the goal.

Boston College took a 3-2 lead with 30 seconds remaining in the first period when sophomore Ryan Shannon scored from right in front. Ryan Murphy and Dave Spina assisted on the goal, the only five-on-five tally of the period.

The Eagles added to their lead early in the second period with a pair of power-play markers in the first five minutes. Spina scored a 5-on-3 tally at 3:53 and Patrick Eaves scored a 5-on-4 goal at 4:38 to give BC a 5-2 advantage.

At that point, UVM Coach Mike Gilligan replaced Shawn Conschafter with freshman Travis Russell.

Moments later, Vermont scored its third goal of the game when another freshman, Joey Gasparini, scored his first of his career at 5:55 on the power play. Longo picked up his second assist of the game, and defenseman Oriel McHugh recorded his second assist in as many games on the play. Gasparini banged in a rebound of a Longo shot as Kelleher lay prone in his crease.

Boston College recaptured a three-goal advantage at 9:11 of the second period on Spina’s second goal of the game from just outside the crease, but the Cats made it 6-4 at the 14:30 mark on Brady Leisenring’s first goal of the season.

The Eagles then made it 7-4 at 15:54 with a power-play goal from Tony Voce, assisted by both of the Eaves brothers, and then stretched the lead to four goals on Brett Peterson’s goal on a shot from the point.

Mifsud scored his second of the game while Vermont was skating 5-on-3 midway through the third period. Miles then scored with 4:57 left in the third to make it 8-6, with Corey getting the assist.

Conschafter allowed five goals and recorded 13 saves for Vermont, while Russell allowed three goals and had 30 saves. Kelleher stopped 15 for Boston College.

-Sports Info