BURLINGTON, Vt. — Clarkson’s Brodie Rutherglen scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Golden Knights the win, 3-2 over Vermont in front of 3780 at Gutterson Fieldhouse Saturday.
Clarkson improves to 10-8-5 and 5-4-2 in ECAC play, while Vermont, the hard-luck losers, fell to 3-15-3 overall and 1-9-0 in the conference.
“We play 58 minutes of perfect hockey then we have a complete meltdown in the final two minutes of regulation, and then a complete meltdown of what made us successful in overtime,” said an obviously frustrated Vermont coach, Kevin Sneddon. “There’s no sense in playing the game, if you can’t finish them.”
The game was scoreless for 45:47 until Brady Leisenring broke the deadlock on the power play. He curled out of the left wing corner, shot, and gathered his own rebound. It was his sixth of the season. Jeff Miles and Ryan Gunderson assisted on the goal.
Miles was then hit with a ten-minute misconduct with 8:35 left for arguing a no-call of a dangerous hit on a Vermont player.
With 7:02 to play in the final frame, a goal, which would have given the Cats a two-goal lead, was disallowed. Leisenring was whistled for being in the crease after redirecting a pass from Scott Mifsud into the net.
That potential goal loomed large, as less than three minutes later, Clarkson’s Mac Faulkner finally solved Vermont goalie Travis Russell (19 saves). Mike Sullivan threw the puck to the net and Faulkner tipped it past Russell for his tenth goal of the year.
Vermont came storming back to take the lead, once again. Jeff Corey rushed into the Clarkson zone and wound up for a big slapshot. Dustin Traylen (35 saves), kicked out his pad to make the save but allowed an equally big rebound. Tim Plant pounced on the puck and deposited it in the net for his second goal in as many nights, his fifth of the season.
Just as Vermont seemed to have escaped with the game won, Clarkson battled back a second time. With :46 remaining, Sullivan converted on a wrist shot that sailed over Russell’s glove. The goal assisted by Chris Blight was Sullivan’s fifth of his freshman season, and set up Rutherglen for the winner at 1:46 of the extra session.
“It’s like a nail right through your heart,” said UVM captain Jaime Sifers. “We just let it go. It should have never gotten to overtime. We were haunted by another defensive lapse.”
In the first period, the goaltenders for each team controlled the play. Traylen, fresh off a career high 43-save performance one night earlier in a tie against Dartmouth, stopped all 13 shots faced. Russell turned away nine Knights’ attempts, in a wide-open, entertaining, but scoreless period.
The Catamounts, who came out looking to atone for a lack-luster performance against St. Lawrence on Friday, were firing shots from all angles. Their best opportunity of the opening frame came as Sophomore Joey Gasparini tipped the puck away from a Clarkson pointman and up the boards. The Grand Forks, N.D. native collected the puck and darted down the right side in on Traylen. The netminder was equal to the task and the game stayed scoreless.
Clarkson’s best opportunity came from captain Tristan Lush on the power play. Lush shot the puck through a maze of players in front of the goal. Somehow, Russell was able to corral the shot long enough to get a whistle.
The second period was a more defensive game, but neither team could convert due to the outstanding play of the goalies.
Vermont had the best chance of the period while on the power play. Jeff Miles zipped a pass across the slot from the left wing to Scot Mifsud parked at the far post. Traylen went post-to-post making a spectacular diving save, snaring the puck with his glove.
“We were lucky to take advantage of the chances they gave us,” said Clarkson coach George Roll. “Every game for us has been a battle. We didn’t have a lot of energy tonight. Vermont, especially on the power play was very good. Hopefully we can build on [the win].”
Clarkson heads to St. Lawrence next weekend. Meanwhile Vermont will hope to right the ship, when it travels to Cornell on Friday and Colgate on Saturday.