WASHINGTON, D.C. - Boston University scored two goals in the final seven minutes to rally for a 5-4 victory over Vermont in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night.
The win moves the Terriers into Saturday's NCAA Championship game against the upstart Miami University RedHawks. The Terriers are in the finals for the first time since the 1997 tournament and will be playing for their first title since 1995 and the fifth in school history. They enter Saturday's game with a 34-6-4 overall record.
OTHER LINKS: Jack Parker Audio (mp3) - BU Players Audio (Chris Higgins, Matt Gilroy, Colin Wilson-mp3) - Kevin Sneddon Audio(mp3) - (Vermont Players Audio- Drew MacKenzie, Dean Strong, Justin Milo-mp3)
Vermont, which was playing in its second Frozen Four in school history and first since 1996, finished the season 22-12-5.
It was the fourth meeting this year between the two teams and Vermont had swept the Terriers in Boston on November 22-23 by identical 4-3 scores, and was just seven minutes away from ending the Terriers' season.
But BU's Chris Higgins tied the game at the 13:06 mark when his cross in front of the Vermont goalie was deflected into the back of the net by a sliding Vermont defenseman, and then just one-minute, 13-seconds later, Colin Wilson scored his second goal of the contest, the game-winner, on a rebound of a Higgins' shot to send BU to the finals.
The forward line of Higgins, Wilson and Jason Lawrence scored a combined nine points between them. Higgins had four (1 g, 3 a), Wilson had three (2 g, 1 a) and Lawrence had two points (1 g, 1 a).
Boston University dominated the first period of the contest, outshooting the Catamounts, 14-7, and spending most of the first 20 minutes in its offensive end.
The Terriers received goals by Wilson and Lawrence at the 11:19 and 16:27 marks, respectively, and had several chances to add to the lead in the final three minutes of the first period.
Wilson started things off when he re-directed a Kevin Shattenkirk blast from the left slot past Vermont goalie Rob Madore's glove at the 11:19 mark for a 1-0 Boston U. lead.
The Terriers added to the lead five minutes later when Lawrence and Higgins played give-and-go, with Lawrence chipping the puck into the top of the net from the right doorstop for a 2-0 BU advantage at the 16:27 mark.
As much as Boston University dominated the first period, Vermont did so in the second stanza. The Catamounts outshot the Terriers, 16-6, in the second frame, scoring three consecutive goals in a six-minute span to take a 3-2 lead.
However, a Boston University power-play goal with just 1:21 left in the second period tied the game at three heading into the third period.
Vermont got on the board when Wahsontiio Stacey wristed a shot from the right face-off circle at the 3:50 mark of the second period.
The Catamounts then tied the game with a Justin Milo power-play goal at the 9:04 mark following a scramble in front of the goal. Viktor Stalberg took a shot that hit BU goalie Kieran Millan's pad. Milo picked up the rebound and took a chip shot that bounced off Millan's pad into the goal.
Just moments later, the Catamounts' Josh Burrows pulled in a loose puck in the neutral zone and sent a wrist shot past Millan glove side at the 9:49 mark for a 3-2 Catamounts' lead.
The Terriers had a golden opportunity just two minutes later when Colby Cohen came in unimpeded on Madore, but his wrist shot clanged off the right post and the Catamounts' defense cleared the puck out of trouble.
The Terriers then tied the game with just 1:21 to play when Nick Bonino deked a Vermont opponent and sent a pass across the crease to Vinny Saponari, who sent the shot into the top of the net to tie the game at three after two periods.
The Catamounts got the first big break of the third period with a power play opportunity midway through the frame and Vermont took advantage. Drew MacKenzie sent a wrist shot from between the circles that found its way through traffic and trickled through Millan's legs into the net for a 4-3 advantage at the 9:40 mark, before Boston U. started its rally.
Boston U. outshot Vermont, 28-27, and held the Catamounts to just four shots in the final 20 minutes. The Catamounts went 2-of-7 on the power play, while the Terriers were 1-of-3. Both goalies stopped 23 shots in goal.
Millan, who entered the game with a 1.85 GAA on the season, gave up four goals in a game for only the fourth time all season and for just the second time since Nov. 29, a span of 28 games.
Saturday night's title game will begin at 7:00 pm in the Verizon Center and will be carried nationally by ESPN.
PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE GAME