Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
DURHAM, N.H. – Marcus Vela finished a rebound on the power play with 2:34 left in regulation as New Hampshire forced a 2-2 tie with Vermont on Saturday night to close a weekend set between the longtime rivals at the Whittemore Center.
UVM (9-15-6, 6-9-5 HEA) extended its unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2) and earned its second straight three-point Hockey East weekend. The Catamounts also pushed their unbeaten run against UNH (10-14-6, 5-10-5 HEA) in Durham to six games (4-0-2).
“It’s big for us to get three out of four points this weekend. We need to accumulate points every weekend,” said head coach Kevin Sneddon. “We can’t take our foot off the gas at all, it’s so tight in this area of the standings.”
UVM retained sole possession of the eighth and final home ice playoff spot with four regular season games remaining. The Catamounts trail UMass Lowell by three points for seventh, and have one and two point cushions on UMass and UNH respectively.
The two teams exchanged chances in the opening period, but remained scoreless as the Wildcats outshot Vermont 12-10.
New Hampshire opened the scoring when Ara Nazarian buried his second goal of the weekend with 9:50 left in the middle frame. Charlie Kelleher fired a shot on goal and Vela tried to slap the rebound through Stefanos Lekkas (39 saves). Kelleher eventually nudged the puck past Lekkas near the goal line, and Nazarian snuck past a Catamount defender to poke home the rebound.
UVM closed the second period with several Grade A chances, including a whistling one-timer off the left post from Ross Colton, but trailed 1-0 entering the third.
Vermont tied it up just 41 seconds in to the third period on Max Kaufman‘s fifth goal of the season.Jarrid Privitera recovered the puck in the corner and quickly dished it off to Kaufman, who foundLiam Coughlin in the slot. Coughlin collected the puck and fired a shot on target, and Kaufman wheeled around the UNH goal to tap in rebound on his backhand.
Privitera gave UVM its first lead of the night seven minutes later when he buried another rebound for his third of the year. Coughlin deked to the left corner and fed a trailing Owen Grant in the high slot. Grant’s forehand attempt was partially blocked by a UNH defenseman and kicked out by Danny Tirone (36 saves), but Privitera was all alone to bury the loose puck. Coughlin collected his third assist of the series on the play.
UNH began to push back and earned a power play chance with four minutes to play. Nazarian thought he had tied the contest after batting the puck out of mid-air off the end glass, but it was waved off due to a high stick.
Later in the same man advantage, Nazarian sent a cross-crease pass to Kelleher, who one-timed a shot that was stopped acrobatically by Lekkas. The puck kicked off Lekkas’ right pad to the top of the crease, but Vela was waiting in front to clean it up.
The Catamounts return home next Friday (Feb. 16) and Saturday (Feb. 17) for Senior Weekend as they face the 11th-ranked Northeastern Huskies. Both games are scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. from Gutterson Fieldhouse.