BOSTON — Massachusetts pulled off a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory against Vermont in the first game of Hockey East’s Frozen Fenway double header Saturday night at the home of the Red Sox.
It was a back and forth physical battle, lots of hits, so to speak, at the ballpark-turned-outdoor hockey rink, but it was the Minutemen (7-8-5, 3-6-4 HEA) who rallied with the game-winning home run.
“I think I can relate to Big Papi hitting a walk-off home run in the 11th,” UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon said. “That’s what it felt like given the nature of the overtime with the penalty killing for five minutes and then getting the power-play opportunity. It was the emotion of it the intensity of it was everything that it was built [to be].
“It was a playoff atmosphere.”
In the extra session, UMass’ Troy Power sent the puck down in the Vermont zone where a penalty was called on Michael Paliotta for boarding and also a 10-minute game misconduct at 3:41. Cahoon called a timeout and then the Minutemen continued on power play. Gaining possession, Daniel Hobbs sent a shot at Rob Madore, but it bounced out to Conor Sheary whose shot was blocked and then Michael Marcou came in from the point to score the winner with 22.3 seconds on the clock.
“Every time you play a big game like this outdoors in front of a lot of people you always envision yourself scoring the overtime winner,” Marcou said. “You know, it’s my first one ever, so it’s a pretty good experience to have it here at Fenway.”
The teams skated outside in a surprising 58 degree Boston climate, which in turn, caused the puck to bounce around.
“It comes down to a game of inches,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “It comes down to a puck squirting under Rob there in overtime. Certainly a congratulations to UMass, it was a hard-fought game both ways.”
Vermont (4-15-1, 1-11-1 HEA) got on the board first with a power-play goal at 9:38 in the first stanza after UMass’ Eric Filiou was sent to the box for boarding. Sebastian Stalberg sent the puck bouncing right off of Massachusetts goalie Jeff Teglia (24 saves) into a cluster of bodies in front of the net where Kyle Reynolds took a whack on the doorstep, sending the puck past Teglia for his seventh tally of the season.
But the Minutemen didn’t even wait a minute to fight back, because as soon as Filiou stepped out of the penalty box, the sophomore sped down the ice to score, tying it up 1-1 just 15 seconds later at 9:53.
The second half of the period was back and forth penalties, but neither team was able to capitalize on the power play. Vermont had one chance with the man advantage and UMass with two.
UMass regained momentum early in the second period when Vermont turned over the puck to Hobbs. The co-captain slipped it through Madore (25 saves) five-hole for his sixth goal of the season at 1:10, pushing his team on top 2-1.
Vermont had another chance on the power play just seconds later when UMass sophomore Adam Phillips was called for boarding. It wasn’t until Hobbs got two minutes for tripping at 6:14 when the Catamounts capitalized for the second time on the power play. Senior defenseman Drew MacKenzie rushed down the left slot, passed the puck across to Stalberg on the right wing, and then got the puck back where he was then able to redirect the shot past Teglia, tying the game 2-2.
With less than two minutes left in the second period, there was offsetting penalties for Marcou and Reynolds for hitting after the whistle. It was four-on-four, but time quickly ran out before anyone could break the tie.
It was a scoreless third period, but fast-paced with back and forth action. About four minutes in, UMass kept the pressure on in the Vermont zone, but then the Catamounts regained control in the neutral zone where Brett Bruneteau skated down the right side, shooting right at Teglia who made the save.
Towards the end of the period, at 17:17, Patrick Kiley was whistled for a five-minute major for slamming MacKenzie into the boards. The senior Catamount lay motionless, face down on the ice, but eventually got up. Kiley also got two minutes for embellishment and a game misconduct. Vermont went on the power play for five minutes, which carried into overtime.
At the start of over time, Vermont had 1:19 remaining with the man advantage, but despite attacking the UMass net, nothing could slip by Teglia.
It was a game of firsts for more than one Minuteman. It was also Teglia’s first win of the season. The sophomore found out Saturday morning that he was starting the game.
“I can’t tell you how much it meant to me getting the start tonight, you know it was a great opportunity,” Teglia said. “And I thank my teammates for helping me make the most of it. Obviously, it was my first win – couldn’t have asked for anything else. It’s just an unbelievable experience. I’ll never forget this.”