BURLINGTON, Vt. — Northeastern battled back from two one-goal deficits to earn a hard-fought 2-2 tie with No. 10 Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse Saturday.
The Huskies, who hadn’t scored on UVM’s Joe Fallon (19 saves) in 126 minutes and 33 seconds coming into the game, controlled large stretches of play in the middle frame, erasing 1-0 and 2-1 cushions for the Catamounts.
NU coach Greg Cronin was pleased with his team’s play in a rink that can be a hostile place for visitors.
“I thought the key for us was trying to just play well the first ten minutes and keep it down in Vermont’s end,” he said. “I think they really feed off the crowd here, it’s an exciting place to play. … I was really proud of the fact the guys stayed in there. They stuck to the game plan. It was a good college hockey game. It was a fun game to watch, a fun game to be a part of.”
Vermont struck for the only goal of the first period on a five-on-three advantage. With Joe Vitale already in the box, Louis Liotti took another minor for the Huskies, leaving UVM 1:27 to work with on the two-man advantage. The Cats took the opportunity and ran, as Dean Strong beat freshman goaltender Brad Thiessen (24 saves) from the left circle at 7:10 for his second of the season.
“We did a little bit of shooting ourselves in the foot,” Cronin said of the early penalties. “Their power play is really, really good, obviously. … They picked up four or five power-play goals [last weekend in the Ice Breaker Invitational].”
The Huskies weren’t without quality chances in the period, though. Joe Fallon had to be on his game early, turning away five shots from close range, including two from sophomore Dennis McCauley.
The second period saw NU dispose of two one-goal leads, sending the game to the third frame tied, 2-2.
Joe Santili evened the game at one at the 8:15 mark off of a feed from Kyle Kraemer. UVM was running around in its own zone and Santili beat Fallon low from the slot.
Northeastern was able to take the capacity crowd out of the game with the goal if only for the time being. Just when the Cats needed something to jump-start them, they got it, a goal from the most unlikely of skaters.
Six-foot-seven senior defenseman Art Femenella tallied just his second career-goal from the right point at 11:14. But, that advantage would be short-lived.
Less than two minutes later defenseman David Strathman knotted things again on what UVM coach Kevin Sneddon called “a breakdown from start to finish.
“Our first forechecker ran into the goalie and that left a huge gap between their five guys,” explained Sneddon. “It became a five-on-three, essentially, on the rush. That’s a goal that I know Joe would like to have back. Beat him glove side. I think he thought it was going wide. He might have been off his angle a little bit there.”
The third period was even with both squads getting some good chances, though neither could convert, sending the game to an extra session. That, too, was not fruitful for either side, as the Huskies went home happier than their hosts.
“I just don’t think we played real well, to be honest,” Sneddon said. “We fought ourselves tonight. I can’t put my finger on it … but we bobbled the puck a lot on our breakout. We never came through the neutral zone with a lot of speed. … we had a heckuva time trying to get shots off.”
Northeastern (0-1-1) is at BU on Friday and home to Union on Saturday. Vermont (2-0-1) hosts Michigan for a pair starting Friday.