A Thriller at “The Gutt”

Two game misconducts, two tough goalies, one exciting game. This is college hockey at its best; fierce competition and an electric home crowd, some so electric it could be said they short-circuited and were forced to leave.

Gutterson Fieldhouse, sold out for the 36th consecutive game, was packed full of screaming fans for Friday night’s game. This was the second meeting between Boston University and Vermont this year (BU won 4-2 in November), and was of utmost importance for the Catamounts as the Terriers entered the game in second place in Hockey East.

With senior night on Saturday, the Cats were looking to put on a show for the home town fans. However, to do so they had deal with one of the hottest teams in the country. Over the past 13 games the Terriers went 12-1-0 and lead the all-time series with Vermont 29-10-3. But previous records meant nothing on this night. The Cats had come to play.

The first period was evenly matched and although it was a defensive twenty minutes, each team got their fair share of opportunities. Vermont was able to kill off two penalties and netminder Joe Fallon looked strong between the pipes. BU outshot UVM 6-4 during the period.

The second period was dominated by the Cats. The first goal of the game came on a power play 3:30 into the period by UVM freshman Corey Carlson, his sixth of the season. Assists were credited to Brady Leisenring and Ryan Gunderson. For Leisenring, a senior, it was his 116th career point, tying him with NHL star John LeClair as the all-time point leader for a native Vermonter at UVM.

The game took a more physical turn when BU’s Jason Lawrence picked up a five minute major and game misconduct. Lawrence’s penalty was followed shortly by another game misconduct on Catamount defenseman Slavomir Tomko. Both penalties were for hitting from behind.

The Cats outshot the Terriers 13-4 in the 2nd period, but entered the 3rd having to kill off the Tomko major.

The final period had everything a hockey fan could have asked for. Joe Fallon played like a man possessed. He stopped 14 shots in the period, with a little help from senior captain Jamie Sifers who made a tremendous diving stop on a rolling puck which had dribbled past his goalkeeper. Along with the scrappy play of Peter Lenes and the leadership of Brady Leisenring, it appeared Vermont had the game under control.

With just under a minute and a half remaining, a controversial holding penalty was called on UVM’s Kyle Kuk. With time running down, the Terriers pulled their goalie. It was 6 on 4 and the Cats were overwhelmed. With just twenty-seven seconds remaining in the game, BU’s Dan Spang got a pass from Brad Zancanaro at the top of the zone and rifled a slapshot past the outstretched glove of Joe Fallon for the tying score.

Neither team scored in the waning seconds of the third period, sending the game into overtime. Vermont, who is undefeated in the extra session this season, were able to shut the Terriers down for the final five minutes.

The game ended in a 1-1 tie, with BU out-shooting Vermont 26-20. Fallon ended the game with 25 saves, while Curry had 19 for BU. The Cats ended the game going 1 for 6 on the penalty kill, while BU was 1 for 5.

After the game, coach Sneddon was very positive about the overall team play. “You can’t ask for a more complete effort. I’m so proud of my guys. I think the fans were treated to some of the best hockey of the year. We executed our game plan to perfection, and while we would have liked to go out with two points, we’ll take the one.”

Sifers wrapped up the night by setting a positive tone for Saturday’s game. “We played 65 full minutes of Catamount hockey, but those late goals can kill you. We’ll get ’em tomorrow night.”