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BU fends off feisty Vermont

WASHINGTON -- It may be a tournament of underdogs, but Goliath is still here.

Boston University, which spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the country and is the NCAA tournament's top overall seed, used a late rally in the third period to escape with a 5-4 win over Vermont Thursday night and advance to the national championship.

Chris Higgins scored with 6 minutes, 54 seconds left to tie the game and Colin Wilson got the game-winner with 5:41 left to send the Terriers to their first title game since 1997, when it lost to UND.

"It was a great game for college hockey," Boston University coach Jack Parker said. "The emotional swings, the tide turning one way and then the other. . . there were a lot of positive things going on. Sometimes, big players make big plays."

That's what happened for the Terriers.

Hobey Baker Memorial Award candidate Wilson scored two goals and added an assist, while linemate Chris Higgins had a goal and three assists to head up the country's most potent offense.

It appeared that the Terriers were going to cruise to the championship game when Wilson and Jason Lawrence scored in the first period, but Vermont didn't go away.

The Catamounts scored three straight goals in the opening 10 minutes of the second period to take the lead 3-2. Vinny Saponari tied it up for Boston University later in the second and the game went into the third tied 3-3.

Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said the Catamounts could taste victory when Drew MacKenzie scored his first goal of the season with 10:20 left for a 4-3 lead. MacKenzie threaded a point shot between the legs of BU goalie Kieran Millan.

But BU, searching for its first title since 1995, tied it up on a strange play. Higgins centered a pass on a rush and it went off of MacKenzie and into the net.

On the winning goal, Wilson won a faceoff back to Higgins, who flipped a wrist shot on goal. The rebound came to the bottom of the left circle and Wilson pounced on the rebound.

"It's tough to put in to words the emotions that are going on in our locker room right now with our student-athletes, myself, the coaches and our fans," said Sneddon, whose team entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 seed. "We had a taste of it, but it slipped through our hands. Boston University put up the offense that they needed to in order to get the win. We didn't play as well defensively as we needed to.

"That being said, I couldn't be more proud of our student-athletes and what we accomplished this season. They'll be able to look back to this moment in time for the rest of their lives and think of it as a very positive experience -- one they know full well they left on the ice. Good seasons don't always need to end up in championships, but I have a lot of champions in that locker room."

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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