BURLINGTON, Vt. — Brady Leisenring scored at 3:36 in overtime to give the Vermont Catamounts a 5-4 win over the Princeton Tigers at Gutterson Fieldhouse Friday.
On a two-on-one with Scott Mifsud, the sophomore winger had his initial shot stopped by Princeton netminder Nate Nomeland, but tracked down the rebound and put it past Nomeland to send 3,453 Vermont faithful into delirium.
Princeton’s Dan Hursh had given the Tigers a 4-3 lead in the third, and Princeton looked content with sitting on its advantage until Vermont senior co-captain Thomas Hajek scored the first goal of his career with only 1:02 left in regulation.
Vermont pulled goaltender Shawn Conschafter for the extra skater with under 1:30 remaining, and the Cats were able to get deep in their offensive zone to press for the equalizer. Hajek received a pass from Bryson Busniuk and tallied past Nomeland. John Longo also assisted on the goal from the slot.
“It was a tough game. Vermont came out and they dominated play at times. We got a great effort from our goaltender, Nate. When they pulled their goaltender, obviously we didn’t adjust in our defensive zone,” said Princeton coach Len Quesnelle. “I am speechless right now. We’ve got a young team. We are going to make mistakes. We’ve got to find a way to start winning.”
Of Hajek’s first goal Vermont coach Mike Gilligan said, “We decided to wait a while — four years.
“That was a great goal, because he had problems with that one-on-one, and he felt real bad about not playing the body on the one on one. The puck bounced to him. So it was extra-special for Thomas.”
Vermont (4-5-2, 2-3-0 ECAC) opened the scoring at the 12:50 mark of the first period when sophomore Tim Plant scored his first of the season. Leisenring took the puck off the boards and found Plant, who curled in from the circle and beat Nomeland with a well-placed wrist shot high to the glove side.
Princeton (1-6-0, 1-4-0 ECAC) answered just 23 seconds later on the power play. Patrick Neundorfer scored from between the circles at 13:13 of the first period. Neundorfer put a low shot past Conschafter for his second goal of the year.
Gilligan said, “I thought the first period, we had quite an edge in play, and their goaltender was really up to the challenge. We gave up a hard shot from the middle of the slot. That has been our problem. We’ve got to cover. Our weak-side forward’s got to cave down and grab their high slot guy. And we just haven’t been doing it. That’s one thing we just have to adjust to.”
Princeton took a 2-1 in the second period, again on the power play. Chris Owen deposited this one after a scramble in the Vermont defensive zone. Trevor Beaney assisted with Mike Patton on the goal.
Vermont got on the board again after another power-play goal. Joey Gasparini scored his third of the season with a turnaround flip shot to pull the Catamounts within one before the intermission.
Oriel McHugh scored at 7:19 of the third period. A delayed penalty was called on Princeton, but Mifsud fed the puck to McHugh, who put a shot through a crowd to tie the score at 3-3.
Princeton retook the lead on the goal by Hursh before the equalizer by Hajek.
Conschafter made 12 saves in the win, while Nomeland was tested early and often, stopping 33 of 38 shots.
Vermont continues its six-game homestand with number four against the Yale Bulldogs Saturday. Princeton travels to Dartmouth for a matchup with the Big Green.