BURLNGTON — Vermont’s first-period lead evaporated as the game wore on, and Vermont and Northeastern skated to a 2-2 tie at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Senior captain Tyler McNeely scored the game-tying goal just seconds into the third period for Northeastern. Freshman Luke Eibler also recorded a goal for the Huskies while junior Drew MacKenzie and sophomore Chris McCarthy netted the goals for the Catamounts.
“The first two periods, I was happy with the way we played,” Northeastern coach Greg Cronin said.
“It just seems like pucks are finding a way into the back of our net in strange ways and it’s not going in for us as easy,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “It’s disappointing. I think we did a lot of good things in the third period; we did everything but put the puck in the net,”
The Catamounts struck first in the game at 7:01. Senior Brett Leonard picked up a pass from freshman Matt White and Leonard sent the puck to a waiting MacKenzie near the Northeastern net. MacKenzie sent a one-timer past sophomore goaltender Chris Rawlings to put the Catamounts on top 1-0.
The Huskies tried to retaliate with a goal of their own soon after, but senior Josh Burrows intervened and stopped a Northeastern shot from passing the goal line.
Vermont failed to score during a five-on-three power-play opportunity when Northeastern freshman Anthony Bitetto was sent to the box for holding, along with Eibler for cross checking at 10:19. Senior Dan Lawson came close to capitalizing at 11:30, but his shot from the point hit the post instead of hitting the back of the net.
“I don’t think it [the five-on-three] changed our momentum because I thought we actually did a pretty good job on it,” Sneddon said. “Obviously, you want to score on five-on-three and I think we hit two posts and had a couple real close calls. Rawlings, obviously a tough guy to beat he’s a pretty big body back there. I wasn’t too disappointed in that, I don’t think it really stole momentum by any means.”
The Catamounts increased their lead at 10:28 in the second period, this time converting on the power play. While Northeastern sophomore Drew Ellement was serving a holding penalty, Rawlings made the initial save on a shot from Vermont sophomore Sebastian Stalberg. McCarthy was waiting though, and when his attempt to knock in the rebound was unsuccessful, he found the puck again and still managed to knock it in.
Northeastern cut the lead in half quickly after at 11:13. Eibler’s wrist shot from the right circle got past sophomore goalie Rob Madore and brought the score to 2-1.
McNeely had a breakaway at 15:50 and tried to tie the game, but he couldn’t get the puck past Madore.
McNeely got his revenge very early the third period though at 26 seconds. After a shot from Eibler deflected off a player, McNeely was able to collect it and he sent it past Madore on the glove side.
This forced the game into overtime, as neither team was able to score in the remaining minutes of the third period.
“After we scored, Vermont took their game up to another level and we weren’t able to match it,” said Cronin. “Part of that inability to match was our unwillingness to get pucks deep. We kept turning pucks over, we didn’t get pucks out of our zone so Vermont was able to sustain pressure and I think they fed off that momentum all the way down to the end.”
In the final minute of the overtime period, the puck was dangling close to Northeastern’s goal line. Rawlings took control though and covered the puck with his glove, preserving the tie.