A third-period goal from Vermont defenseman Thomas Hajek meant that the consolation game of the Auld Lang Syne Tournament between Vermont and Notre Dame ended in a 3-3 tie at Thompson Arena Sunday afternoon.
The first period was dictated by Notre Dame (8-7-3, 6-6-0 CCHA), with much of the play occurring in the Irish offensive zone, before Vermont was able to get scoring chances. Unlike on Saturday afternoon, the Catamounts got those chances.
Notre Dame had the territorial advantage in the opening 10 minutes with Vermont goaltender Shawn Conschafter making the necessary saves.
The tide was turned when on the Notre Dame power play, the point man telegraphed a pass which Vermont freshman Brady Liesenring stole and went in on goaltender Morgan Cey, shorthanded. A Notre Dame backchecker caught up to the centerman before he made his move, and hooked him to the ice.
Later in the period, Vermont had a 4-on-3 advantage. Just as it expired, Notre Dame defenseman Derek Smith skated a bouncing puck out of the offensive zone, through center, and in on Conschafter, who shut the five hole. With three minutes remaining in the period, Vermont had a 2-on-1. John Longo skated into the offensive zone and made a cross-ice pass to Scott Mifsud. Mifsud rang the right post squarely.
Notre Dame got on the scoreboard first, when Cory McLean converted a centering pass from Brett Lebda at 18:18. Jake Wiegand also got an assist.
Vermont (5-8-3, 2-4-0 ECAC) answered less than one minute later. On another 2-on-1, Liesensring faked a slapshot to get Cey down and gave it to Longo who, with a gaping net to shoot at, didn’t miss.
The Irish took the lead at the 4:33 mark of the second period, at the end of a long shift for the Catamounts. Matt Amado received a pass from Neil Komodoski at the circle and fired a shot that beat Conschafter. Tom Gavin also assisted.
Vermont answered yet again on another 4-on-3 power play. At 9:49 of the period, Vermont defenseman Gerard Miller barreled over the offensive blue line, made a great deke, and beat Cey top-shelf, far side.
Notre Dame had a power play shortly afterward, but Conschafter stacked the pads on John Wroblewski, and Vermont was out of trouble for a time.
Notre Dame held the edge in shots after two periods 21-18.
The Irish took their third lead of the contest early in the third period with a fluke goal. Galvin scored from the slot as Conschafter misplayed a dribbling puck that found the back of the net. Yan Stastny and T. J. Mathieson collected the assists.
The Cats answered one final time as team captain Hajek unleashed a wicked wrister off a beautiful feed by Bryson Businiuk. The goal was Hajek’s second of his career.
“Each time we got up, we gave up a goal almost immediately,” Notre Dame head coach Dave Poulin said, “All three times, actually, that we got a lead, we weren’t able to play the same way when it was tied as when we were a goal ahead. You leave a good team like Vermont around, they’re going to hang around, and they’re going to be successful.”
Said Vermont head coach Mike Gilligan, “I was pretty happy with the way we finished the game, and also how we responded to their goal leads, they had a couple of leads and we bounced back.”
“I thought Thomas [Hajek] had a real nice weekend — especially tonight. He deserves this. He has been getting a lot of assists for us. It’s nice to see him get up there.
“He made a beautiful play coming in from the blue line.”
The final three minutes of the period belonged to the Catamounts. Vermont looked poised to win the game in regulation, as Ryan Miller hit the post in the same spot as Mifsud had earlier, at the joint of the post and crossbar on the right side.
That was at the tail end of a power play in which the Catamounts put on immense pressure, but Cey stood his ground.
In overtime both teams had chances which neither could bury.
Cey finished with 26 saves while Conschafter made 28.
“I am disappointed in the weekend as a whole,” Poulin said. “We came out here to win a tournament and we weren’t successful, so any time that’s the case and we don’t play particularly well all weekend, I am disappointed.”
Vermont plays all ECAC opponents the rest of the way, and will take on Dartmouth Saturday at home in Gutterson Fieldhouse. Notre Dame travels to Omaha for a series with the Mavericks.