Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
ORONO, Maine –– The Vermont Catamounts (10-18-6, 8-15-4 WHEA) fought the Maine Black Bears (14-15-5, 7-15-5 WHEA) for a tie to secure the final playoff spot in the Hockey East playoffs Saturday afternoon at Alfond Arena.
“This team has been resilient all year long and today was no exception,” said head coach Jim Plumer. “This was a hard fought battle on both sides and credit to the leadership on our team for stepping up. In particular, Sammy Kolowrat was immense in this game we’re excited to start the playoff season!”
HOW IT HAPPENED
Maine jumped out to an early lead when Brittany Colton netted her fourth of the season at 1:26 in the first period. Ali Beltz dished a pass out to Colton in front of the Catamounts’ goal where she lifted a shot over Blanka Škodová (20 saves).
Sammy Kolowrat answered for Vermont with 4:56 left in the opening frame on a powerful wrist shot from the point. After establishing zone control on a power play that had expired, Kristina Shanahan found Kolowrat above the circles where she whistled a shot to beat Carly Jackson (22 saves). Theresa Schafzahl had the secondary assist on the goal.
Vermont took a 2-1 lead with 5:42 left in the second period when Ève-Audrey Picard slipped a shot past the pads of Jackson for her eighth goal of the season. Shanahan and Schafzahl registered their second assists of the day on the go-ahead goal.
Škodová made a crucial stop for the Catamounts late in the second period when she denied Ida Press on a breakaway. The rookie goaltender read the play the whole way and swallowed up the shot attempt to stymie the Black Bears’ best opportunity of the period.
UVM faced adversity in the third period when they were assessed their first penalty of the night. Škodová made a pair of saves as Maine swarmed the front of the net and Lilly Holmes made an important block before icing the puck to kill off the penalty.
However, Colton tied the game when she netted her second goal of the day with 14:39 left in regulation. The Maine forward snuck past the Catamounts’ defense and chipped the puck over the shoulders of Škodová.
The teams exchanged chances throughout the third period as Škodová and Jackson stood tall for their teams to force overtime.
In overtime, Vermont held off a strong push by the Black Bears who pulled Jackson with 1:37 left to bring on the extra attacker. Škodová made her biggest save of the game when she snatched the puck out of the air after a heavy slap shot by a Maine skater.
The Catamounts begin the Hockey East Quarterfinals Friday (Mar. 3) when they travel to Boston to face the top-seeded Northeastern Huskies in the first game of a best-of-three series at Matthews Arena.