BURLINGTON, Vt. — The University of Maine men’s hockey team exhibited resiliency Saturday night.
After being thoroughly outplayed by a motivated University of Vermont team for two and a half periods, the Black Bears received third-period goals from freshman center Klas Leidermark and junior center Tanner House to erase a two-goal deficit and come away with a 4-4 overtime tie.
Maine is now 12-9-3 overall, 9-6-2 in Hockey East, while Vermont is 12-9-3 and 6-8-3, respectively.
It is the first time this season that Vermont didn’t answer a Friday night series loss with a Saturday night win. The Catamounts were 4-0 in Saturday games after losing to the same team on Friday.
“Last year, this was a game that certainly would have slipped away from us,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead, whose Bears beat Vermont 6-3 on Friday night. “When that fourth goal went in [by Brian Roloff], instead of the body language slumping down for Scotty [goalie Scott Darling] and the rest of the team, we really stuck with it and found a way to come back and earn a really valuable point on the road.”
He added that his team had “no business being in this game after the first two periods. Vermont really outplayed us. But we hung in the game long enough to give ourselves a chance to win it.”
“When you come from behind [to earn a tie], especially on the road, it feels like a win,” said sophomore defenseman Will O’Neill, who had a goal and set up House’s tying power-play goal with 4:14 remaining.
Sophomore goalie Scott Darling kept the Bears in the game with an impressive 29-save performance, including 13 Grade-A (high-percentage) stops.
His counterpart, Rob Madore, was forced to make just 17 saves and only five Grade-As.
David deKastrozza supplied Maine with a 1-0 first-period lead with the first of three Bear power-play goals.
Drew MacKenzie drew things level in the second period before O’Neill converted on the power play at the 11:19 mark.
But goals 2:57 apart by Wahsontiio Stacey later in the period gave Vermont its first lead of the weekend.
And Roloff expanded the lead to 4-2 early in the third period when he wheeled out of the left corner and threw a shot toward the net that deflected past Darling into the short side.
The Bears received a lifeline off a well executed three-on-two by the freshman line of Leidermark, Adam Shemansky and Kyle Beattie with 9:53 remaining.
Shemansky fed the puck to Beattie along the right wing and drove to the net. Beattie slipped it across to Leidermark, who took a stride and roofed a wrister from the middle of the slot over Madore’s blocker.
“It was a nice pass from Beattie and when Shemansky drove the net, he was open, so I could have passed it to him.” said Leidermark, who had scored his first career goal on Friday night. “[Madore] saw that and cheated over to Shemansky and that left the right side open for me.”
A Patrick Cullity holding penalty with 5:51 left created the power play that tied it.
O’Neill took a pass from Jeff Dimmen at the left point and maneuvered around a Catamount checker.
“Their guy went down [to block a potential shot] and I just kept bringing it, bringing it, bringing it across until I saw Tanner’s stick in the middle and I just shot it off his stick,” said O’Neill.
Maine went 3-for-6 on the power play to complete a 7-for-13 weekend with the man advantage. The Black Bears, who have the nation’s best power play, went 10-for-23 on the power play in going 2-0-1 against Vermont this season.
Vermont had killed off 50 of its previous 53 disadvantages entering the weekend.
DeKastrozza opened the scoring against the run of play when he was set up perfectly from behind the net by Shemansky and one-timed the puck past the helpless Madore.
MacKenzie tied it by flipping home a rebound after Darling had made a terrific reaction save on a deflected puck.
O’Neill regained the lead on the power play as he moved from the point down to the slot and one-timed a pass from behind the net by Gustav Nyquist past Madore.
Stacey equalized when deKastrozza made an ill-advised pass behind his net to Jack Downing, who passed it out to Stacey for an easy one-timer.
Stacey put UVM ahead with a tip-in off a Cullity point shot.
In addition to scoring three power-play goals, Maine held Vermont scoreless in its five power-play chances.
“Special teams were huge again for us. Our penalty-killing is improving, and we have to keep working on that,” said House, whose Bears had to kill a late third-period hooking penalty on deKastrozza. “And Scott [Darling] came up big when he needed to.”
“It was big for us to take three out of four points on the road in a rink like this against a great team. It’s hard to do in this league,” said Darling, who added that he was happy with the way he played after coming off a three-week absence due to a knee injury.