BURLINGTON, Vt. — It ended in a 3-3 tie Friday night as the Vermont Catamounts battled, coming back from a 3-1 deficit against the UMass-Lowell River Hawks at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
The game was a rematch of last seasons Hockey East quarterfinals during which Lowell swept the Catamounts in the series.
Juniors Wahsontiio Stacey and Justin Milo scored goals for the Catamounts, along with senior Brayden Irwin. Seniors Nick Schaus, Paul Worthington, and Chris Auger scored for UMass-Lowell.
River Hawks coach Blaise McDonald was disappointed with the result of the game while Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon was pleased with his teams effort.
I would say it was a very disappointing game for us and I think you have to credit UVM for making us play that way, McDonald said. We need to and we can play a lot better than we did tonight.
I just love the way our team played tonight, Sneddon said. You can look at the result and say its not a win but if we play like that the rest of the year, were going to be a tough team. I thought we played 65 of the hardest minutes weve played all year.
The Catamounts took an early lead in the first period when Stacey scored, putting the puck past the glove of Lowell goalie, senior Nevin Hamilton at 7:09. Assists were credited to Irwin and junior Jack Downing.
The 1-0 advantage would not last long for Vermont as the River Hawks scored a power-play goal to tie things up 1-1 at 13:32. Schaus scored, assisted by junior Ryan Blair and junior Scott Campbell.
The early part of the second period was marked by penalties for Vermont as senior assistant captain Patrick Cullity went to the box for interference at 3:13. Junior captain Kevan Miller joined Cullity soon after for cross-checking at 4:33.
The River Hawks took advantage. With Miller still serving the cross-checking penalty, Worthington slid the puck past sophomore goalie Rob Madore at 5:49, assisted by senior Ben Holmstrom and junior Maury Edwards.
UMass-Lowell (4-2-1 overall, 2-1-1 in Hockey East) increased their lead to 3-1 when senior Chris Auger scored, assisted by Holmstrom and senior Jonathan Maniff.
The goal was put under video review but was upheld.
The penalties would continue when Vermont received a bench penalty for too many men at 9:22. Schaus joined the box for slashing at 9:31 along with junior Scott Campbell for tripping at 9:48.
I dont think our penalties were any more than playing aggressive, Sneddon said.
This time it was Vermont that took advantage of the power play. Brayden Irwin put the puck straight through to the back of the net past Hamilton at 10:44, assisted by Milo and sophomore Drew Mackenzie.
UMass-Lowells 3-2 lead would carry over into the third period, until Vermont tied the game 3-3 when Milo scored at 8:55 from just outside the right circle, assisted by senior captain Brian Roloff and freshman Anders Franzon.
It was a nice rush by Brian Roloff, he came in, never stopped stick-handling, he cut into the middle, looked for his options, I was streaking down that right side, he made a little pass to me and it just kind of snuck under the goalies glove, it felt good, Milo said about the goal.
After Milos goal, Worthington received a charging penalty at 15:51, Burrows served a hitting after the whistle penalty at the same time. Seconds later, Holmstrom went to the box for boarding, giving Vermont a 4-3 advantage.
Though Vermont (2-3-1, 1-2-1) largely kept the puck within the offensive zone, the Catamounts were unable to score, keeping the score at 3-3 going into overtime.
Neither team was able to score in the five minute overtime, leaving the game in a 3-3 tie.
Hamilton had 34 saves for UMass-Lowell compared to 19 for Madore. Vermont out-shot the River Hawks 37-22.
The game was a big return for Vermonts Justin Milo, who was returning to the team following an injury.
Hes a very special athlete, Sneddon said. To play in a high-tempo game like that without much practice or conditioning just speaks volumes for what kind of athlete he really is.
It felt good to be a part of the team again, added Milo.
Irwin is Vermonts team leader in career goals against the River Hawks. He added to that with his goal and assist in this game.
It was a collective effort, Irwin said. Thats what got us back into the game.