Merrimack's Joe Cannata made 38 saves and Vermont's Rob Madore stopped 36 shots
BURLINGTON, Vt. - Junior Rob Madore (Pittsburgh, Pa.) stopped 36 shots and sophomore Ben Albertson (Williston, Vt.) scored his first career goal as Vermont skated to a 2-2 tie in its Hockey East opener against Merrimack at a sold out Gutterson Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
Senior assistant captain Jack Downing (New Canaan, Conn.) added a shot-handed tally for UVM (0-1-2, 0-0-1 HEA).
Senior Chris Barton notched a power-play goal and freshman Shawn Bates scored the first goal of his career for Merrimack (1-0-2, 0-0-1 HEA). Junior goalie Joe Cannata turned away 38 shots while Stephane Da Costa added a pair of assists.
"I thought it was a game of momentum shifts," Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "That's what I said to our guys, I was pleased because when we lost momentum we found a way to gain it back. That's why it was a great college hockey game. They carried the play for a while then we came out of it and found our game and took it to them for a while. It was back and forth."
Trailing 2-1 in the second period, Albertson tied the game for Vermont at 10:48. Senior Brett Leonard (South Burlington, Vt.) attempted a wrap around but Cannata made the left pad save. Albertson collected the rebound at the top of the crease and squeezed a wrist shot past the outstretched pad of Cannata. Senior captain Kevan Miller (Los Angeles, Calif.) was credited with the second assist.
"I think it was a big goal for the team," Albertson said. "It was a big momentum change, we really picked it up after that and personally of course it feels great. It's something that I've been dreaming about for a long time and it's awesome to see that become a reality."
Vermont out shot Merrimack 18-8 in the second and appeared to take the lead just over three minutes into the final period. Sophomore Chris McCarthy (Collegeville, Pa.) tracked down his own shot between the circles and lifted the puck past Cannata for an apparent goal. But after a video replay it was ruled no goal.
The two teams combined to go 0-for-5 on the power play the remainder of the period sending the game to overtime tied 2-2.
Both teams had five shots in the extra frame and the Warriors couldn't convert on their power play opportunity leaving both teams with a point in their league opener. It marked the 11th time in 16 meetings in Hockey East play that the Catamounts and Warriors have played a game that ended in a tie or that was decided by just one goal.
Despite being out played for most of the first period, Vermont took a 1-0 lead 11:36 into the game on Downing's short-handed tally. Downing took advantage of a Merrimack turnover at the Vermont blue line and on a breakaway used a quick snap shot to beat Cannata inside the left post.
The Warriors responded on the same power play just 36 seconds later when Barton scored to tie the game 1-1.
Bates put Merrimack in front at 5:27 of the second period on a breakaway before Albertson answered with the equalizer later in the period.
"Obviously we would've liked two points," Rob Madore said. "But anytime you can get a point in Hockey East that's big as we saw last year."
Vermont returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 30 when it hosts Maine at 7:05 p.m.
NOTES: Check back to www.UVMathletics.com for game highlights and postgame comments from Kevin Sneddon, Ben Albertson and Rob Madore ... The Catamounts went 0-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill ... Matt Marshall finished with a team-high six shots ... Dan Lawson and Kevan Miller both finished with a plus-2 rating ... Vermont leads the all-time series against Merrimack 11-7-5.