A high-energy game resulted in a 2-2 tie at Gutterson Fieldhouse, as Merrimack and Vermont battled in a Hockey East contest.
Senior Chris Barton and freshman Shawn Bates tallied the goals for Merrimack while senior Jack Downing and sophomore Ben Albertson scored for Vermont.
Both coaches noted that the game had an intense, playoff-like feeling to it.
“That was like a playoff game,” Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said. “The ebb and flow, and guys were blocking shots and guys were playing hard; that was an exciting game to watch. I haven’t been in a game that intense in probably four months.”
“I thought both teams played extremely hard,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “Extremely aggressive, great momentum swings both ways, both goaltenders played outstanding; that’s a great early Hockey East game right there, felt like a playoff game.”
At 7:54 in the first period, Merrimack sophomore Stephane Da Costa tried to get things going for the Warriors when he sent a hard shot from the right circle. Junior goaltender Rob Madore made a reaching glove save to stop Da Costa’s shot though, and the score remained tied at zero.
When Vermont freshman Anthony DeCenzo was called for a tripping penalty at 11:26, Downing quickly turned the situation in Vermont’s favor at 11:36 when he scored a short-handed goal, unassisted. Downing avoided defenders and carried the puck to the left circle where he sent a snap shot past junior netminder Joe Cannata.
The Warriors answered just as quickly at 12:09, on the same penalty, when junior Karl Stollery sent a pass to Barton, who then tied the game with a low wrist shot.
Vermont junior Matt Marshall had a prime scoring opportunity early in the second period when freshman Connor Brickley sent him a pass from behind the net. Marshall shot the puck hard, but was unable to get past Cannata.
Instead, Merrimack took the lead at 5:27 when Bates slid the puck past Madore.
The Catamounts were not finished scoring in the second yet though, as they tied the game 2-2 at 10:48. Albertson picked up a rebound off a shot from senior Brett Leonard and sent a wrister past Cannata from the edge of the crease.
Vermont sophomore Chris McCarthy thought that he had given the lead back to Vermont early in the third when he took a snap shot from the right circle and then knocked his own rebound into the net. This was reviewed and ruled a no-goal though, due to a player in the crease.
“You don’t like to have to go upstairs, but it’s there for a reason,” Dennehy said of the replay use on the overturned goal.
When asked about the play, both coaches expressed that the announced reason for the no-goal was not what had been explained to them by the officials.
“I actually thought it was goalie interference; I think that at the end of the day, the puck was out of the crease and you need to allow the goalie enough room in his own crease to play his position,” Dennehy said.
“They [the officials] told us that it was goaltender interference; if it was goaltender interference or goalie contact, it should have been a penalty,” Sneddon said.
A string of penalties came for both teams as the third was winding down. None of these opportunities resulted in a score though, so the game continued into overtime.
During the overtime period, Downing got the puck to senior Josh Burrows, who one-timed it toward the net. Cannata blocked the shot with his right pad though, leaving the score tied at two.
Neither team scored in the remaining minutes of overtime and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.