BURLINGTON, Vt. — Buoyed by a sensational 35-save performance by sophomore goaltender Mike Spillane, Vermont tied No. 13 Harvard 2-2 Saturday at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Spillane made 25 saves in the first and second periods combined, allowing the Catamounts time to solve the second-ranked defense of the Crimson (1.40 goals per game), which was stingy as usual.
“I thought he was spectacular tonight,” said UVM coach Kevin Sneddon. “I think when they had the momentum in the second period; I think they were pumping in about 13 shots to our two. We kind of felt like the energy was on their side and Mike really kept us in there.
“It was a great college hockey game. It was up and down. They played great defense, we played pretty well from a defensive perspective and we had pretty much a full bench of guys that were really paying the price for each other and that’s what I’m pushing for, is that consistency of that kind of effort.”
“I felt very good,” said Spillane. “I felt like I was seeing the puck well. [I] just really wanted to help be a calming influence back there for the guys, let them know [there was] nothing to worry about.”
Vermont got on the board first, off of a hard-working shift early in the second for a 1-0 lead. Brayden Irwin banged home the rebound of a Peter Lenes shot at 2:05.
“We just got to understand that getting shots against good defensive systems is not easy,” said Sneddon. “They’re not always going to be from the area where you expect to score. What you have to do is take shots from off angles that may create rebound opportunities.”
With less than nine minutes left in the period, a Crimson skater split the UVM defense with a pass onto the tape of Steve Rolecek who was in alone on the goalie. Spillane shut the five-hole to keep the lead. Seconds later, he made another great save, sliding to the right to deny Dufault cutting to the net.
Spillane’s best stop of the night came with less than three minutes remaining in the period. Parked at the right post, Matt McCollum collected a rebound with a lot of net in front of him, but the goalie slid over to keep the puck out.
“He made a couple of point-blank saves that could’ve very easily cost us the game, so, he allowed us the opportunity to still be in it,” Sneddon said.
The Crimson tied things 1-1, at 17:46 when Nick Coskren scored from inside the left circle.
Coskren tallied again at 11:14 of the third to give Harvard the lead on a puck that pinballed into the net off of an Ian Tallet shot.
Coskren also gave Vermont a chance to get back into the game when he took a cross-checking minor at 12:47. Colin Vock made him pay, collecting the rebound of a Dean Strong point shot and depositing it behind Kyle Richter (20 saves) to knot the game, 2-2, at 13:19.
“Dean got a nice shot off through the point, the goalie kicked out the rebound, it went behind the net, and I just pulled it to my forehand and put it in the empty net,” said Vock of his third goal of the season.
Spillane was solid in overtime as well, making four saves to preserve the tie for the Catamounts.
“We felt we left a lot on the table scoring chance-wise,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “We had a couple of breakaways, a handful of 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s and their goaltender played well. We’re disappointed because we had opportunities we just didn’t take advantage of.”
Harvard (6-3-2) hosts the USA Under-18 Team Sunday at 7 p.m. while Vermont (3-6-3) hosts another former ECAC rival, St. Lawrence, next Saturday, also at 7.