BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont freshman Jack Downing’s power-play goal 3:32 into overtime gave the Catamounts a 4-3 come-from-behind victory against St. Lawrence Saturday at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
“[Brian Roloff] got the puck, moved it down to the goal line, and it went through [a defenders] legs,” said Downing, explaining the play. “I just kind of took a whack at it, knowing the goalie was on the other side of the net, and, fortunately, it went in.”
The goal, Downings second of the year, helped UVM to its first win when trailing after two periods since December 20, 2003 against Connecticut, coincidentally head coach Kevin Sneddon’s first victory behind the Catamounts’ bench.
“It’s a nice way to break,” said Sneddon. “I think we needed one of those games, one of those tight, one-goal games that we find a way to win. It wasn’t always pretty out there; we had a tough 20 minutes in the second period. They found a way in the third period to notch the equalizer, and then to go after it overtime.”
Vermont opened the scoring 7:25 into the first when Josh Franklin beat goaltender John Hallas. Hallas made the first save with his right pad on Downing, whose follow-up shot ended up behind Hallas before Franklin put it in.
Colin Vock added to the Vermont lead, making it 2-0 at 13:27. Vock took a pass from Dean Strong on the right and fired a shot from the top of the left circle.
Jared Ross answered for St. Lawrence 10 seconds later with a shot from the left point that beat Mike Spillane glove side.
Kain Tisi replaced Hallas in net for the Saints to start the second period. St. Lawrence took the play to Vermont in the period, scoring twice to take a 3-2 lead.
Spillane did well to deny Aaron Bogosian on a breakaway, but it shortly thereafter St. Lawrence notched the equalizer.
At the tail end of a Saints’ power play, the entire shift seemingly spent in the UVM end, a shot off the stick of Brock McBride from the point caromed off the glass. Mike McKenzie collected the puck and put it past Spillane at 9:48.
Bogosian put SLU on top at 13:56 of the period. Nic Pitsikoulis fed Bogosian to the right of Spillane, and he rifled it in.
Vermont called a timeout after the goal and Sneddon tried to re-energize his team.
“As a coach, you’ve got to know when to press buttons,” he said. “I felt we were getting tired. I felt we were losing a lot of battles because of fatigue, we were making dumb decisions with the puck because of fatigue, and I just felt like if I didn’t give them a spark right now, this is just going to continue to go south.”
At 6:34 of the third, Carlson evened the game at three from the slot. He put the puck past SLU’s third goalie of the night, Alex Petizian, five-hole, setting the stage for overtime.
McKenzie took a cross-checking minor at 1:47 of the extra session to give Vermont a power play, and Downing and the Cats put the game away.
“You hope your power play can execute at those times,” said Sneddon. “That’s two games in a row that they’ve got the job done.”
“I thought it was a great hockey game, I really did,” said Saints’ coach Joe Marsh. “It was kind of disappointing, obviously. It was another overtime ‘L’ for us, but I was really happy with the effort we had, and it was great energy.
“We’ve talked a lot about such a fine line between winning and losing, and we seem to be teetering on that line quite a bit. Is it a disappointing loss? Sure, but the bottom line is, we would have been pretty happy with a tie, I’ll be honest with you.”
Vermont has faced St. Lawrence more than any other school in its history, playing for the 80th time Saturday. Marsh was quick to compliment Gutterson and the SLU-UVM rivalry.
“It’s a great place to play, and I’ve said that for 23 years since I’ve coached. It’s one of my favorite buildings to come into. I don’t think you’re going to find a better hockey game anywhere in the country. I don’t care where the two teams are record-wise or any of that.”
Vermont is off until Dec. 29, when it will face Holy Cross in the Catamount Cup. St. Lawrence is at New Hampshire on Jan. 6.