BURLINGTON, Vt. — Two nights, two teams, two ties, and two coaches the same sense of accomplishment.
For the second consecutive night, fourth-ranked Boston University and No. 16 Vermont went toe-to-toe at Gutterson Fieldhouse only to come away with a 2-2 tie.
Similar to Friday’s game, Vermont (18-10-6, 10-9-6 Hockey East) carried a one-goal cushion into the third period but saw it evaporate. This time, though, BU’s tying tally came much earlier in the period at 5:24 off the stick of Kevin Schaeffer and was a goal that UVM senior goaltender Travis Russell (25 saves) would want back.
They say good things happen when you throw the puck on net. Schaeffer did that from above the circles, and it found its way into the cage, for the Terriers (19-9-4 15-7-3) to salvage another point on the road.
“I lost track of it, and it’s entirely my fault. It’s inexcusable,” said a disappointed Russell of the soft goal that squared the game.
The Terriers are tied for second with Maine, two points behind BC, while the Catamounts are sixth, three points in back off Providence.
Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said that his team’s performance against a very good team is a big confidence boost.
“Obviously, we would have like to have held the lead in both games, but when you look back at it, I think this is gonna be a big weekend for us,” he said. “I think our guys are confident, now, they are able to compete against arguably one of the best teams in the country. They could be a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. I think our guys have confidence, now, that we can play with anybody in this league.”
The Terriers scored on their first shot of the game at the 1:35 mark of the first period. Kenny Roche put it past Russell, who was making his final start at home as a Catamount. Roche’s shot, a wrister from one stride in from the blue line, beat Russell through a crowd, for the junior’s 13th of the season.
From that point on, Russell settled down in net, finishing the period with eight saves.
Vermont had a golden opportunity to tie the game midway through the period. With Brian McGuirk already in the box, Jekabs Redlihs took an obstruction-interference penalty, giving Vermont 1:20 of a 5-on-3. But Ryan Gunderson’s charging penalty negated the two-man advantage, almost immediately.
The Cats stormed back in the second period with two goals, both power-play tallies, to take the lead going into the third.
Peter Lenes netted his 11th, deflecting a Torrey Mitchell point shot past John Curry (17 saves) at 8:09. The second assist on the play went to Dean Strong.
For the beginning of the period, the Cats were unable to get much going and were hemmed into their zone, but the goal seemed to energize them.
UVM took the lead at 15:30 of the period on Kenny Macaulay’s fourth of the year. The point shot found its way past Curry, on his right. Jaime Sifers fed Macaulay and got an assist on the goal with the other going to Mitchell.
“We did not kill penalties well tonight,” said Parker whose team only killed three-of-five UVM power plays. “We had a couple of real bad reads to back off, when we should have been jumping them . . . these types of mistakes happen, and good plays are made off of those types of mistakes, too. So, credit Vermont for making good plays off of them.
“They got points this weekend because of the two things they do well: They’ve been winning games with great team defense in front of their goaltenders, and they’ve been winning with opportunistic power plays. If you look at their point scoring, most of their guns have got points on the power play. They don’t have a lot of 5-on-5 goals, so they’ve been winning with a good power play.”
Both goalies were busy in the middle frame, but especially Curry, who made four stops from in close. Russell also made quality saves on Pete MacArthur and Chris Higgins-both from the slot.
After Schaeffer’s goal, the Terriers took it to the Cats, as the period went on. If it wasn’t for some stellar play from Russell in the third and in the extra session that followed, it might have been a different story. BU out shot Vermont 8-1 in the third and 3-0 in overtime. Russell played well, helping his team earn the tie.
Parker was again happy with how his team battled back for the tie, and in general with its play.
“I thought it was another great game,” he said. “I thought we played better tonight, than we did last night. I was really pleased with how hard we played. I thought we really did a great job on our forecheck. We had a lot of good chances. We moved the puck much better tonight. Last night, I thought, as I mentioned, we were in a hurry. Tonight I thought we were much more poised with the puck. Power plays and penalty kills kept it a tie. . . . I told coach Sneddon, we’ll both win a lot of hockey games, if we play like that for the rest of the year-hope we don’t play each other.”
BU finishes out the regular season with a home-and-home series with Northeastern next Friday and Saturday, while Vermont is in Lowell to play the River Hawks the same two nights.