BURLINGTON, Vt. — Chris Myers didn’t hear a thing.
The roar of the 4,003 in attendance was deafening, when the sophomore from South Boston, Mass., one-timed a backdoor pass from Mark Lutz to the back of the net past Dartmouth goaltender Dan Yacey on the power play 18:14 into overtime, defeating the Big Green 3-2 Saturday. Ryan Gunderson got the second assist on the play.
“Coach came in before the [overtime] period and said, [if] you think the crowd was loud for those [last-second] wins [against UNH and Brown], wait until you hear them tonight,’” said Myers.
“I don’t really remember hearing them, but I was underneath everybody.”
The win ensured the Catamounts they would live to play another day, tying the best-of-three ECACHL quarterfinal series at one with the rubber match slated for Sunday at 7 p.m.
“I’m awful proud of our guys tonight,” said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. “I think they should really be proud of themselves.
“I thought Dartmouth played a great game,” he said. “I thought that was just a fantastic college hockey game.”
As it did Friday, Dartmouth trailed from the beginning of the contest only to erase a two-goal advantage for Vermont before finally succumbing to the game winner late in the fourth period.
“It’s never easy to lose, but this is playoff hockey,” said Dartmouth assistant coach Dave Peters. This is fun, this is what the guys work hard for all year.”
Vermont came out flying in the first period, feeding off another raucous sell-out crowd, and scored two goals. UVM had its fore-check working early and it created both tallies. The first came from Baron Becker, when he took a pass from Jeff Corey. Becker backhanded it home by Yacey, low. It was Becker’s second goal of the year; Jeff Corey also got the assist on the play at 6:30.
The Cats increased their lead, nearly 11 minutes later, this time on the power play. Corey was the beneficiary of a Scott Mifsud feed, as he deposited his 17th into the net from the right side, at 15:13. Torrey Mitchell got the second assist on the play. Mitchell’s assist marks the first time since the 1996-97 season that the Cats have had three players with 30 or more points in a season. The other two are Mifsud (one point tonight, 47 on the year), and Corey who has 33 with a goal and assist in the win.
A difficulty for the Cats throughout the season has been the amount of penalties they take. Vermont was whistled for three minors in the opening twenty minutes, putting its lead in jeopardy. Luckily for UVM, though, goalie Joe Fallon was sharp and made ten stops in the period, including six to backbone the penalty kill. He made two on Nick Johnson from opposite sides of the crease and one on Lee Stempniak in the slot. Vermont went two for seven on the power play, while they were perfect on the kill, holding Dartmouth scoreless in seven opportunities.
Dartmouth cut the lead in half just over seven minutes into the second, when David Jones busted over the blue line and into the UVM zone, putting a move on a defender, and wristing one upstairs over the glove of Fallon at 7:11. It was the ninth for Jones, the highly touted freshman from North Vancouver, B.C., and he was assisted by J.T. Wyman.
Other than the goal for the Big Green, The Cats controlled play in the middle frame outshooting Dartmouth by a 12-3 margin. Yacey (32 saves) stood on his head to keep his team in the game, thwarting Myers, Corey and Mitchell, all from in close. Vermont went into the third with a slim lead and a history of holding them after two periods on its side. The Cats were 16-1-0 entering the game in that category.
With 2:05 gone in the third, and Dartmouth on a power play, Eric Przepiorka had a shot from the slot to even it at two, but Fallon flashed out his left pad and covered the rebound with Tanner Glass hovering, to preserve the one-goal lead.
But, Dartmouth was finally able to knot the game a second time on a quirky goal. Mike Ouellette took the initial shot, which went to the back glass and floated back in front off of Stempniak. Johnson was there to collect it. He spun and fired to beat Fallon (24 saves) high stick side. Johnson’s 18th goal was enough to send the game to overtime.
Both squads had a handful of quality chances in the extra session but neither could make good on any, until the Big Green found themselves down a man, due to a too many men on the ice call.
That set the stage for Myers’ heroics, which ultimately sent the Gutterson Faithful home happy, knowing they will get to see one last ECACHL tilt in the venerable barn.
“This was a big goal,” Myers said of his 12th goal of the year. “One that I’ll remember for a long time. A feeling quite like that in front of all these fans, you don’t get everyday.”