Durham, NH.- Vermont used a late goal by H.T Lenz with 13.3 seconds left to go in regulation to propel them into overtime and Drew Mackenzie scored 1:38 into overtime to give Vermont the 4-3 win over New Hampshire at the Whittemore Center. The win was their sixth of the season and had to be deflating for a UNH team that held the lead with just 14 seconds left in the game.
New Hampshire came out quick in the early going off a Scott Pavelski goal 7:18 into the game, but Vermont came right back 35 seconds later to tie the game at one, on the first goal of the night by H.T Lenz. With 50 seconds to go in the first New Hampshire would take a 2-1 lead into the dressing room off a power-play goal by Eric Knodel. The score would stay at 2-1 until midway through the third period, where Vermont would tie it up off a shot by Michael Paliotta. UNH would take the lead again 45 seconds later off a goal by Kevin Goumas, but the lead would not hold as Lenz would score his second in the last minute against UNH this season, the other earlier in the season up in Burlington.
With the loss New Hampshire drops to 12-15-3 overall and 9-12-2 in Hockey East. The loss puts any hopes of a home ice berth in the first round of Hockey East playoffs essentially out of the question and keeps them only four points ahead of UMass for the final playoff spot. Northeastern who tied with Providence tonight moves to within three points of UNH, with a game in hand, but the Wildcats stay in seventh place, despite the loss, two points behind Providence for sixth place.
What I saw
-Vermont was paying the price to win the game. They were blocking shots, to the tune of 15 in the game. The effort and willingness to win puck battles was evident. With the season going so rough for them they are obviously still fighting and working hard toward building momentum for next season.
-Michael Paliotta was impressive on the big sheet for Vermont tonight. The defenseman had a goal and an assist on the night. He was arguably the best player on the ice for Vermont, as his speed and ability to get pucks to the net played a huge role in the win. The Whittemore Center ice is not always an easy place for a freshman defenseman, such as Paliotta, but he seemingly relished in the experience. His play coupled with the play of H.T. Lenz in front of the net attributed to three of the four goals on the night and was instrumental in giving UVM the win.
-New Hampshire was flat for most of the game and played two periods, at best. It seemed as though they thought the game was in hand after the second period with a 2-1 lead and just relaxed to the point they were lax on coverages. Men wide open in the slots gave Vermont all the chances in the world to tie it up and eventually win the game, which they eventually did. It seems as though New Hampshire relishes being the underdog and this was clearly evident on this night.
What I thought
-Rob Madore played one of his best games of the season. He made some impressive stops in the third period to keep the Catamounts in the game. Madore loves playing at the Whittemore Center. He has had some big games in this building over the years. This may have topped all those performances as he made the saves that he needed to and the young Catamounts took the energy he brought to the game and ran to the bank on it, for the win.
-There are stretches in every loss this season that UNH just seems to fall asleep and tonight was no different. With the game in their grasps with a minute left to go, they were doing a great job preventing Vermont from getting the chance to pull Madore. A hand pass called on UNH with 58 seconds to go gave Vermont the chance to pull Madore, in which they did. UNH has been streaky this season and this could lead them back down going into the last few weeks. They will need a big effort tomorrow night.
What they said
UVM Coach Kevin Sneddon said, “This week was one of our better weeks of practice this season. I am very proud of our team; again it just shows the character that they have. I thought we did a pretty good job defensively and we were paying the price to win. I am very pleased with the effort and resilience tonight.”
Vermont sophomore HT. Lenz said, “I think this one of the only times I have been on the ice for a 6-5 this season (the other being another goal against UNH with the goalie pulled in Burlington.) I just wanted to get it to the net. The reason I was at the blue line is because I was too tired to forecheck but I got a lucky break I guess. I wanted to just get it to the net I did and it went in to tie the game.
Vermont freshman defenseman, “Obviously we wanted to get on top of them early being on the road. Their goalie is a young guy, we wanted to get pucks to the net and our forwards did a great job in front of him.”
What they didn’t say
Umile benched John Henrion tonight. Henrion was a healthy scratch on the night and the move must have been based on his recent play. Henrion has the gift of a great shot, that is hardly accurate in many cases, but it is nonetheless one of the most lethal in the conference. His lack of production this season is one of the many reasons that New Hampshire has been inconsistent at best this season. His presence was missed in the lineup, but maybe this was the move he needed to move him forward this year and his senior year next season.
What else you should know
These two teams will meet once again tomorrow night. New Hampshire needs a win badly, as this is their last home game of the season and they are fighting for the final playoff spots. If UNH loses on Saturday night, their path to the seventh or eighth seeds will get that much more difficult. They head to UMass next weekend, one of the teams they are fighting for the last playoff spot. I will go so far as to say this game is a must win for them. Tonight was in their grasp and this was the second time in less than a month where a sure win turned into a loss at the end of the third period.