BURLINGTON, Vt. — With power-play goals from Tim Plant and Chris Smart, Vermont erased a two-goal deficit in the third period to salvage a well-deserved 2-2 draw with No. 9 Cornell Friday at sold-out Gutterson Fieldhouse.
The tie stretches the Catamounts’ unbeaten streak to seven games. Vermont is 4-0-3 after starting the season 1-4. It is the longest such streak for Vermont since two guys named Eric Perrin and Martin St. Louis starred for the Cats in 1995-96, when that team didn’t lose in 11 games. Vermont also broke a nine-game Big Red winning streak in the series between the two.
“We showed a lot of heart tonight,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon, whose team is now 5-4-3, and 3-0-2 in ECACHL play. “Cornell is a real, real tough team to play when you’re down two goals. Their whole game plan is to get up on you and then take away the offensive opportunities. We did get fortunate with some penalty calls and our play finally came through. We hadn’t done anything through the first two periods. I challenged then a little bit in the locker room in the second intermission.
“We showed signs of frustration, and to this point, our whole season has been based on composure, and we came out in the third period and I thought we really showed that.”
The two teams played a scoreless first period, but it wasn’t your garden-variety frame in which teams feel each other out. Vermont killed a seven minutes in penalties, including a major and game misconduct penalty dealt to Matt Syroczynski for hitting from behind at 5:52.
Fallon made a bevy of saves on the Cornell power play to keep his team in the game, including several in a row, on Shane Hynes and Matt Moulson in the slot with 11:00 left. Fallon made another sparkler on Mike Knoepfli sprawling across the crease to keep Cornell at bay.
Up until the major penalty, Vermont controlled play, getting a handful of scoring chances on Cornell goaltender David McKee, who also was solid in net.
Vermont had a great opportunity at with 6:38 left, when Chris Myers found the puck, which was on edge, at the side of the net but fired it high and wide of McKee.
Cornell held a 9-6 shots advantage after one.
Cornell got on the scoreboard first, as Vermont broke a cardinal rule in hockey, giving up a goal in the first minute of the period. Defenseman Charlie Cook scored his second of the year from the right point, with Fallon screened and on the play, from Jeremy Downs and Mike Iggulden at :39.
Vermont nearly got the equalizer with 12:31 remaining in the period when Chris Smart curled out of the left-wing corner and fired a pass across the slot to Tim Plant, but Plant wasn’t able to get good wood on the shot as the puck went wide.
The Big Red made it 2-0 on the power play when Moulson converted on a feed from Shane Hynes behind the net. Down also assisted on the goal at 7:54, for his second point of the night. The goal was Moulson’s fifth of the year.
Vermont came on later in the period, ending up with a slim 7-6 shots advantage in the second.
Moulson was slapped with a major and a game disqualification of his own when he hit Vermont’s Scott Mifsud hard from behind just inside the blue line on the far boards at 5:52 of the third.
Cornell did a great job killing the major, clogging shooting lanes, not allowing the Cats a clean view at the net. That was until Ryan Gunderson found Plant down low with a shot/pass, and Plant put it past McKee for his first of the year at 3:58 and cut the lead in half to 2-1.
Cornell killed the remainder of the power play, but looked to be on its heels. The Red took another penalty before the major expired, and Smart made the visitors pay. Smart came down the slot, made a move, and beat McKee at 7:03. It was the Morgantown, W.V., senior’s second goal in 82 career games.
“Getting ready for the power play,” Sneddon said, “we just kind of relaxed and moved the puck a little better, and we obviously finished our opportunities.
“I’m just so happy for Smarty,” he added. “Because he’s had opportunities this year, he just hasn’t capitalized. It’s nice because he’s going to get some credit tonight. He’s not a guy who shows up in the boxscore [often], so I think he was trying to prove me wrong.
Cornell put the pressure on late in the period, but Fallon stood tall, sending the game into the Cats’ third straight overtime. The teams played an even extra session for the tie.
“I’m just real pleased with our guys right now, Sneddon said, “That’s a huge come-from-behind tie for us.
Vermont outshot Cornell 24-22, with McKee making 22 saves. Fallon, steady as usual, made 20 for the Cats.
Vermont was 2-9 with the man advantage. Cornell was 1-6.
“I thought our team played very solid, I don’t think we gave up much offensively,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer. “I thought we just did a real good job kind of controlling the pace of the play on the road. It’s one of those things that slipped away from us on the road.”
Cornell (4-1-2, 2-0-1), after going 0-1-2 in its last three, will try to get back on the winning track Saturday at Dartmouth. Vermont, owner of the nation’s second-longest unbeaten streak, faces Colgate at home.