In round two of the weekend series at Gutterson Fieldhouse, the 17th ranked University of Vermont overcame a two goal deficit in terrific fashion to tie No. 7 Miami 3-3.
Senior assistant captain Peter Lenes scored on a five-on-three advantage at 5:25 of the third period to even the score. Despite the deadlock, redshirt sophomore Justin Milo played the hero for a second straight night, beating Miami goaltender Connor Knapp in the fourth round of the shootout to send the Catamount faithful home in a frenzy. Freshman goaltender Rob Madore made his collegiate debut for Vermont and finished with 26 saves. The tie brings Vermont to 2-0-1 (0-0-0 HE) on the year while Miami moves to 1-1-2 (1-0-1 CCHA).
“I’ve been associated with hockey a long time and I don’t remember two games that were that exciting from start to finish,” said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. “It was just a toe-toe battle from start to finish for 125-plus minutes including the shootout.”
Unlike Friday night’s opener, Miami scored first at 16:04 of the opening stanza. Securing a turnover at the Vermont blue line, RedHawks forward Tommy Wingels skated in alone on Madore and snapped a wrister between the freshman goaltender’s pads to make it 1-0. The unassisted strike came shorthanded and was Wingels’ second tally in as many nights.
The RedHawks extended their lead to 2-0 at 15:01 of the second period. After splitting the Catamount defense, Miami forward Bill Loupee lost control of the puck just inside the left hashmarks, but Alexandre Lacombe jumped on the loose puck and fired a wrist shot past Madore. Brandon Smith picked up the second assist on the play.
Displaying the resilience that trademarked the weekend series, Vermont responded just 57 seconds later to cut Miami’s lead in half. Streaking up the left side, Lenes connected with fellow assistant captain Corey Carlson who secured the centering feed, deked a Miami defender and slid the puck by RedHawks goaltender Connor Knapp on the backhand. The goal was Carlson’s first of the season.
“We get down 2-0 and then we have a couple of shifts where it didn’t look great,” said Sneddon. “Peter Lenes made that great move on their defenseman. Great hand eye coordination by Corey Carlson. That really ignited our team to get back in it.”
Riding the momentum, Vermont tied the score at 2 less than a minute later. Sophomore defenseman Andrew Miller blasted a slapshot from the right point that eluded a maze of skaters and beat Knapp top shelf. Senior captain Dean Strong and sophomore Wahsontiio Stacey picked up the assists.
Miami fought back to take a 3-2 lead at 1:35 of the third period. RedHawks captain Brian Kaufman intercepted a Vermont breakout pass and unleashed a blistering wrister from just inside the left faceoff dot that beat Madore five-hole. The unassisted tally was Kaufman’s second goal of the series.
Vermont tied the game less than four minutes later. Quarterbacking a five-on-three power play, Carlson fed Strong down low to the right of Knapp’s net. Instead of shooting, Strong passed across the crease to Lenes, who buried the crisp feed into the net for his second goal of the season.
“Stalberg created a screen, I just cut across the middle and Dean gave me a good feed,” said Lenes of his game-tying goal.
The Catamounts nearly won the game shorthanded with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. Miami defenseman Chris Wideman, recently named CCHA Rookie of the Week, fumbled a pass at the Vermont blue line and Catamount junior Brian Roloff stole the puck and broke free. Miami was forced to drag Roloff down and the forward was awarded a penalty shot with just 1:54 remaining in the game. However, Knapp denied Roloff and the game went into overtime.
Both teams had opportunities with the man advantage in the extra period but neither capitalized.
Catamount forward Viktor Stalberg and RedHawk Pat Cannone exchanged shootout goals before Milo ended the contest with a wrister that eluded Knapp high, blocker side.
“I thought that was a pretty entertaining game,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. “Both teams had their opportunities to win the game. I think our goal for us for our program is to get better every night and I think we got a little bit better again tonight.”
Madore stopped 26 of 29 shots in regulation and three of four in the shootout.
“It’s always good to get that first one out of the way,” said the Catamount goaltender of his collegiate debut. “The team played a phenomenal game — they allowed me to see all the shots. It’s definitely a thrill to win the shootout.”
Vermont now leads the all-time series with Miami 7-2-1.
“I certainly appreciate Miami’s style of play,” said Sneddon. “They’re a great team and they play hockey the way it should be played. There isn’t a non-talented player on that team. I feel very fortunate that we were able to come way with a win and a tie and a shootout victory.”