No Gusto

Amidst a thunderstruck-laden sellout crowd of 4,003, Saturday’s home opener at Gutterson Fieldhouse saw the #9 ranked University of Vermont men’s ice hockey team tie Hockey East adversary Northeastern 2-2. The Catamounts, fresh off their Ice Breaker Invitational tournament win, picked up goals from senior defenseman Art Femenella and sophomore forward Dean Strong in support of junior goaltender Joe Fallon’s 19 saves. Although the tie saw the Catamounts preserve their undefeated record on the young season (2-0-1), Vermont Head Coach Kevin Sneddon conceded that his team’s performance was less than stellar, especially in the wake of recent upsets over then No. 14 Colgate and No. 8 Miami of Ohio. “We learned a lesson tonight,” Sneddon said. “Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. Northeastern came in and worked really hard and did a nice job against us. We made a lot of mistakes and have to learn from it. We didn’t make a lot of mistakes last weekend, so it will be an important teaching week.” The Catamounts, looking to build upon their recent tournament success, aggressively dominated play in the first period, using four power plays to outshoot Northeastern 10-7. Still, Vermont goaltender Joe Fallon had to make several key saves to keep Northeastern off the scoreboard. The Catamounts, after three futile attempts on the power play earlier in the period, finally capitalized on the man advantage at the 7:10 mark to take a 1-0 lead. Vermont sophomore forward Dean Strong, taking a pass from junior co-captain Torrey Mitchell, unleashed a wicked one timer from just inside the left circle that beat Husky goalkeeper Brad Thiessen. Senior defenseman Ryan Gunderson also picked up an assist on Strong’s second goal of the season. Northeastern, already down 1-0 and looking to bounce back from Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to No. 1 Boston College, finally showed a sense of urgency and went on to dictate play after the puck was dropped in the second period. Scoring on their 10th shot of the game, the Huskies got the equalizer at 8:15 of the second period when forward Joe Vitale deflected a wrist shot from senior forward Joe Santilli past Fallon. The Catamounts quickly responded to the Huskies’ goal by picking up one of their own and retaking the lead 2-1. Vermont senior defenseman Art Femenella put the Cats back on top when his slapshot from the right point evaded a maze of traffic and Thiessen. Sophomore forward Peter Lenes and junior co-captain Torrey Mitchell picked up the helpers on Femenella’s first goal of the season, the second of his career. Northeastern responded by finding the back of the net just 2 minutes later. Capitalizing on a tripping penalty by Vermont freshman Colin Vock, the Huskies evened the score at two at the 13:04 mark thanks to a wrister from defenseman David Strathman. Taking a breakout feed from the goalie Thiessen, Strathman raced up the right boards and beat Fallon glove-side from just outside the right faceoff dot. Entering the third period tied at 2, both goalies exchanged saves as the game tightened into a heavy-hitting, defensive battle. The Catamounts, feeding off the energy of the Gut’s 38th consecutive sellout crowd, took control midway through the third. After forcing several Northeastern icings, Vermont nearly took a deciding 3-2 lead but senior Tom Collingham’s blistering wrister sailed just high and wide of the Huskies’ goal. Regulation ended in a 2-2 tie as Vermont outshot Northeastern 7-6 in the final period. As the five minute, sudden death overtime period began, the Catamounts looked to put away Northeastern and send the crowd home with a win. However, despite sustaining pressure in the Huskies’ end, Vermont was unable to break the 2-2 tie. Fallon, recently named the Hockey East Player of the Week, finished with 19 saves while Thiessen collected 24. Vermont ran its record to 2-0-1 on the season (0-0-1, Hockey East) while Northeasten remains winless at 0-1-1 (0-1-1). The Catamounts will look to build upon their undefeated record when they return to action against Michigan Tech on Friday, Oct. 20 at 7:05 p.m. at “The Gut.”