BURLINGTON, VT — Captain Lars Helminen found the back of the net thirty-nine seconds into overtime, completing a third-period comeback for Michigan Tech, 4-3 over No. 10 Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse Friday.
“Obviously, it was an emotional win for us. Coming into a tough, loud building to play in and getting an overtime winner is rewarding,” said Tech coach Jamie Russell. “I thought our guys showed a tremendous amount of character twice being down two goals and clawing our way back.”
The game-winning strike, a one-timer from the point, capped the come-from-behind win for the Huskies, in the first game of the weekend series with the Catamounts.
Vermont looked to be cruising to its first home win of the year, midway through, but as the game grew older, the teams went in opposite directions UVM lost its early edge in play, and Tech gained traction.
Vermont’s Colin Vock tallied his second of the year on the power play when Corey Carlson (two assists) walked out of the left-wing corner, before feeding the freshman in front. Chris Myers (two assists) got the second assist on the marker at 13:16 of the first for the 1-0 lead.
Both teams started a constant march to the sin bin in the period with much of it played on special teams. At one point the Huskies took four consecutive penalties in rapid succession, killing a twenty-five second 5-on-3 in the process, and were fortunate to not be further behind the eight ball come the end of the first.
“Our PK did a good job. I thought Michael-Lee Teslak made some big saves for us,” said Russell, noting that his team built momentum off of the two-man kill.
The Huskies held the Cats to 1-for-8 on the power play in all, while Tech went 0-for-5.
Play opened up in the middle frame. With the teams skating 4-on-4, the Cats opened their lead to two. Off of a draw to the left of Teslak (15 saves), Brian Roloff, unmarked, gathered a juicy rebound, and deposited it past the sprawling Tech netminder. Myers tallied his second assist of the night on the goal at 2:20.
The Huskies didn’t waste much time getting that one back, though. Just after the matching minors came to an end, Geoff Kinrade got the visitors on the board on a screen shot from the point at 4:19.
UVM grew the lead back to two on Vock’s second of the night a turnaround shot from off of another face0ff in the Huskies’ zone.
It took Tech only thirty seconds to respond this time, connecting on a home-run pass down the middle of the ice with Tyler Shelast beating Joe Fallon (14 saves) at 8:59. The junior’s first goal of the year cut the Cats’ lead to one at 3-2.
That’s how it stayed until five minutes into the third when Eli Vlaisavljevich got the equalizer. Peter Rouleau found Vlaisavljevich from behind the net in the slot.
And then came Helminen’s OT blast.
Russell praised the work of the third line of Tyler Skworchinski centering Jordan Foote and Jimmy Kerr on the winner.
“[They] did a great job down low,” he said. “We worked hard along the wall; we protected the puck; we moved our feet; we forced Vermont to collapse down low; we got it out to the point; and Lars hit a nice one-timer.”
“As disappointed as I am in our play, I think, certainly, hats off to Michigan Tech,” said UVM coach Kevin Sneddon. “That’s a tough trip to make and to play as well as they did the second half of the game is a true testament to their team.
“We got up 3-1, I thought we made a real crucial mistake right after on the 4-on-4, giving up the breakaway we made three really bad mistakes tonight, they ended up in the back of our net. When they made mistakes, we just weren’t able to capitalize. Goals two, three, and four are inexcusable in my book . . . a 3-1 lead in our own building with a team that had to travel 3000 miles, I think we should come away with that one.”
Michigan Tech (2-1-0) and Vermont (2-1-1) meet again tomorrow night.