NORTH ANDOVER, Mass — In case you missed it last night, Vermont and Merrimack made sure you saw it again on Saturday.
In a case of dj vu, the two teams skated to a second 1-1 tie in two nights at Lawler Arena, though not everything was the same.
“It was a different game tonight,” Warriors coach Mark Dennehy said. “It was a little choppier. We had to change some of the things we did. The game was momentum changes, and I thought we did a good job defending off their momentum swings.”
The Warriors were able to flex some early offensive muscle on a power play at 12:25 of the first. After some heavy pressure, John Goebel was able to slip the puck past Vermont’s Mike Spillane for a 1-0 lead.
Vermont’s attempts to even the score were thwarted by Jimmy Healey, who for the second night in a row was able to count on some help from his friend, the crossbar, on a point blank shot from Ryan Gunderson.
“When they play as physical and work as hard as they did this weekend, they made it really hard for us to generate anything,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said.
Gunderson made up for it in the second when he picked up the puck at the top of the circle and fired a write shot over Healey’s shoulder at 5:22. The power play goal was the only tally of the second, though the Merrimack goalie had his work cut out for him, with fifteen Vermont shots in the period.
After a scoreless third, the teams met again in sudden death overtime. Chances came from both sides, as Dean Strong was turned back 1:06 into the extra period by Healey. At the other end of the ice, Spillane stood tall and stopped the Warriors’ Carmen Postertaro in close.
“Two ties is as good as a win,” Dennehy said. “Both teams battled and the ice bags will be everywhere.”
For the second straight night, the Catamounts had a hard time trying to figure out Healey, who stopped 37 of 38 shots on the night, and 77 of 79 on the weekend.
“Anyone can go out and have a big night, but doing it consistently is a key for me,” Healey said. “I just try to go in an stay focused. Whatever I’m doing I’m going to keep doing it.”
Whatever it was, he kept Vermont at bay, much to the dismay of the Catamounts.
“He had a career weekend,” Sneddon said. “Tonight was a great goaltender’s dual. Our goalie wasn’t quite as busy, but he made a couple big saves, including one in overtime. Healey was the difference all weekend.”
Spillane saw 28 shots on the evening, with Goebel’s goal the only blemish on his record.
The tie left the Warriors with a 3-18-4 record (3-13-2 HEA) and brought Vermont to 14-8-4 (9-4-4 HEA) on the season, while both teams took home two points on the weekend. The Catamounts will host Providence twice at home next weekend, while Merrimack will meet Northeastern on Friday night.