DURHAM, N.H. — New Hampshire forward Mike Borisenok scored a power-play goal early in the third period to propel the No. 13 Wildcats to a 3-3 tie with the No. 17 Vermont Catamounts in the teams’ second overtime game in consecutive nights at the Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, N.H.
New Hampshire fought back to tie the game when Borisenok slapped a one-timer through goalie Rob Madore’s legs to capitalize on the Wildcats’ second power play of the night at 4:27 of the third.
The Wildcats clinched home-ice advantage in the Hockey East quarterfinals with Boston College’s loss last night, and they kept their grip on first place in the conference with the tie. Their season record stands at 15-10-5 (14-5-4 in Hockey East) while Vermont moved to 13-11-6 (7-10-6) and still remains eighth in Hockey East.
Both coaches spoke to the parity in the conference this season.
“There’s still a lot of points out there to be had,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “Looking at the standings, there’s not a lot of difference between fourth and 10th, so we’ve just got to keep chipping away and try to get our points when we can and hope that’ll be good enough to keep crawling up the standings.”
The game was a tale of two periods, as New Hampshire scored two goals in the first period while Vermont countered with three of its own in the second before Borisenok sent the game to its eventual tie.
“I liked the way we came out tonight, especially the first period,” New Hampshire coach Dick Umile said. “And then it just turned around in the second period and we had a couple bad breaks where we came down and they transitioned back.”
New Hampshire senior co-captain Bobby Butler opened the scoring in the first when he chipped in a rebound over Madore, who was sprawled helplessly in the crease after making a save on New Hampshire forward Paul Thompson. Butler now has six goals in his last three games and is widely considered a legitimate Hobey Baker award candidate. Chants of “Ho-bey But-ler” rang through the student section at the Whittemore Center after his first-period goal gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
“He’s having a fabulous season,” Umile said of Butler. “He should be considered for the Hobey Baker. He’s up there, leading the country in goals. I’m obviously biased, but he’s a terrific hockey player.”
Freshman forward Greg Burke scored to put New Hampshire up two goals after his soft wrist shot from the left side boards clipped Madore’s glove hand and dropped into the net at 18:38 of the first.
New Hampshire dominated the opening period with 22 shots to Vermont’s eight and spent much of its time in the offensive zone. The Wildcats also rang a couple shots off the post before finally skating to the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
Vermont woke up quickly after the intermission though, and they cut the Wildcats’ lead to 2-1 at 2:46 after freshman forward Sebastian Stalberg slipped a rebound through the legs of New Hampshire goalie Brian Foster. Senior forwards Brayden Irwin and Colin Vock set up the play with a pass and shot through the crease that Foster initially stopped before Stalberg scored on the rebound.
The Catamounts then tied the game, 2-2, later in the second after a New Hampshire turnover led to a three-on-one break down the ice. Junior forward Brett Leonard finished the play by skating patiently to the slot and flipping a wrist shot over Foster’s stick and into the top-left corner of the net.
Vermont scored its third goal of the second period at 18:25 when a bouncing puck fluttered through a trio of New Hampshire players before Vock slapped it in past Foster to take the first lead of the game, 3-2. The Wildcats outshot the Catamounts 33-21 through two periods but watched their two-goal lead evaporate after a few untimely miscues led to Vermont goals.
“I’ll take three out of four against Vermont; they’re a tough team,” Butler said. “We’ll take the three points and move on.”
Vermont has a pair of home games against Boston University next weekend on Friday and Sunday, while New Hampshire starts a home-and-home series on the road at Northeastern on Friday.