BURLINGTON, Vt. — Northeastern scored twice in the third period Friday at Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse to take a 2-1 lead, but Dean Strongs power-play goal with just 2:32 left to play salvaged a 2-2 tie for the Catamounts.
Vermont had an exceptional game against the ninth-ranked Huskies after being challenged by its coaches following a two-game sweep by Boston College last week.
“I thought we had a great game tonight,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “Now the challenge [is], they’ve got to bring it every night. They’re not smiling in that locker room right now. They’re disappointed, which is good. I think they saw tonight that they played as a team. They did a lot of great things out there, had a lot of great chances.”
Most importantly, though, Sneddon was pleased with his teams defensive effort, adding, “We looked like a team that was well-organized tonight.”
“I thought Vermont controlled the play, for the most part,” said Huskies’ coach Greg Cronin. “I thought they had better second effort on pucks. We looked like we were a step slow and a second short.”
Vermont carried the play for most of the first period before Northeastern came on late in the frame. NU goaltender Brad Thiessen and Mike Spillane of Vermont kept the game scoreless through one, but that wasn’t for a lack of quality chances.
Thiessen made 11 saves, four of which came on UVM chances from the slot. Spillane did the same for the Catamounts, making stops on Ryan Ginand, Dennis McCauley and Steve Sliva from in close.
Vermont nearly got on the board with 15:43 left in the second if not for a terrific glove save on Strong from the rim of the right circle. Ticketed for the upper left corner, Thiessen snatched the puck out of the air while falling to the ice.
Seconds later, Thiessen denied Colin Vock on a breakaway when he made a pad save on a low wrist shot.
Brian Roloff put Vermont on top 1-0 with 4:32 remaining in the period when he rifled a Viktor Stalberg feed from the goal line past Thiessen stick side for his first goal of the season.
Just 78 seconds into the third, the Huskies tied the game on what looked to be an obvious penalty committed on Downing by a Northeastern skater. While Downing was apparently hooked to the ice, Randy Guzior stole the puck at the top of the circles and beat Spillane inside the left post.
The Huskies went up 2-1 at 5:37. McCauley stepped over the blue line at the right boards and blasted a slap shot that Spillane didn’t get enough of with his pad before the puck found its way into the net.
“Obviously, you want that one back,” said Spillane of the go-ahead goal. “That one is completely on me. I think I cost us a point on that goal, so [I am] pretty disappointed on that one.”
Guzior went off for a trip in the offensive zone with 4:12 left in the third. The Catamounts took their timeout to refocus a power play unit that was lackluster in its previous two attempts in the game, and it worked.
Shooting from the goal line to Thiessen’s left, Strong banked the puck off of an NU defenseman to tie it 2-2.
“The [power play has] done a good job this year,” said Sneddon. “I mean, our power play isn’t, by any means, the best in college hockey. But you talk about timely goals, that’s the third [or] fourth game where they had to score. That’s a lot of pressure, and they’ve done it.”
“The bottom line is its a cardinal sin in hockey to take an offensive-zone penalty at any point in the game, let alone with four minutes to go in a 2-1 game,” Cronin said.
Both teams had quality chances in overtime, but the goalies stood their ground for the tie. Northeastern (11-5-3, 8-4-2 Hockey East) and Vermont (4-8-6, 3-5-4) meet again Saturday.