BURLINGTON, VT — Despite a 2-0 lead heading into the third period, Vermont almost let this one slip away entirely, as UMass Lowell was able to surge back in the third period. At the end of overtime both teams had to settle for a 4-4 tie in Hockey East action at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
After a scoreless opening period, Vermont scored twice in the second. This left six goals for the third period, with Lowell recording all of its goals in the final frame of regulation.
Freshmen Anthony DeCenzo and Connor Brickley scored for Vermont, along with juniors Matt Marshall and Drew MacKenzie.
Sophomore Chris Ickert scored twice for UMass Lowell while junior Michael Budd and sophomore Riley Wetmore netted the other two goals.
This was game one of the final regular season series for both teams. With the tie, Vermont secured a trip to the Hockey East playoffs.
“I thought it was a pretty resilient point, from our standpoint. We showed a lot of resolve…we were able to bend but not break,” UMass-Lowell head coach Blaise MacDonald said.
“I thought we were 12 players shy of being a good team tonight. I literally think half of our team showed up and half didn’t…it wasn’t about clinching playoffs, it was about playing as well as we possibly could this weekend going into the playoffs,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said.
Vermont sophomore Sebastian Stalberg was called for a hooking penalty 24 seconds into the first period. During the penalty, players surrounded the Vermont net and the puck appeared to find a gap and slide just over the goal line past junior goaltender Rob Madore. The play was ruled a no-goal after official review though and the game remained scoreless.
Vermont sophomore Chris McCarthy sent a wrister from the right of the UMass-Lowell net soon after but freshman goalie Doug Carr caught the puck in his glove to make the save.
Lowell freshman Joseph Pendenza picked up a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for hitting from behind at 18:45 to end the period, the score was still 0-0.
The shots were as even as the score, with 10 for both teams.
The Catamounts took the first lead of the game at 7:28 of the second period. DeCenzo got the puck from freshman Nick Bruneteau and fired it low from the right circle.
At 19:25, Brickley succeeded at giving Vermont a two-goal cushion, knocking in a loose puck from close to the crease.
“The second period was very challenging for us,” MacDonald said. “I thought we hung in there.”
The game changed dramatically in the third period, beginning with Lowell’s first goal of the night at 6:10. Ickert scored the first of his two goals, knocking the puck in from the left of the net.
The Catamounts briefly took back momentum soon after at 7:06. Marshall was there to backhand a rebound after senior Brett Leonard took the initial shot.
It only took a few seconds for the River Hawks to jump back into the game though as Budd scored at 7:15, redirecting a shot into the net.
“That certainly transmitted a lot of life to our team when we scored that,” MacDonald said.
When Vermont freshman Arthur Griem was called for a boarding penalty at 14:04, Lowell seized the opportunity and tied the game at three. Ickert lit the lamp for the second time when he sent in a rebound.
Lowell kept rolling at 17:45 when Wetmore scored with a hard shot from the slot, giving the River Hawks their first lead of the night.
The teams took back-to-back timeouts with less than a minute remaining in the third. After play resumed, Madore was pulled from the Vermont net for an extra skater and MacKenzie scored, tying the game for the final time.
“I’m pleased that we scored the extra-attack goal but we shouldn’t have been in that situation,” Sneddon said.
At the end of the resulting overtime period, the puck ended up in the Lowell crease as players scrambled to slide it through. Time ran out though, leaving the score at a 4-4 tie.