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March 15, 2010 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

Vermont Does it Again, Advances With 1-0 OT Win

Stunned New Hampshire Awaits NCAA Fate

CHN Staff Report

It was a strange year in Hockey East throughout. Call it parity or call it mediocrity, but this weekend's result between Vermont and New Hampshire was indicative of the whole thing.

For the second straight game, Vermont defeated top-seeded UNH 1-0. The Catamounts became the first team in the 86-year history of the UNH program to shut out the Wildcats in their own building in back-to-back games. Prior to Game 2 of the series Vermont had never shut out New Hampshire in 90 all-time meetings.

"It's very nice to be able come back and have two more solid performances after kind of costing the team the first night," said Vermont goalie Rob Madore, who has four shutouts on the season and five in his career. "That was as much of an offensive shutout as I've seen. Forwards were blocking shots and we just outmuscled them in their defensive zone and they couldn't handle us down low."

Vermont had a 4-2 lead in Friday's game, then allowed five straight goals. Coach Kevin Sneddon called out his sophomore goaltender, who helped take the Catamounts to the Frozen Four last season. And it seemed to work — whether it be Madore's play and/or his defense rallying around him.

"I really felt like we played a solid series," Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "There wasn't a lot of room out there the last couple of nights. I was pretty hard on our goaltender to try and spark him. He certainly rose to the occasion. I thought he was the difference; especially in overtime."

Madore played 135 minutes and 52 seconds of shutout hockey in the final two games of the series - each 1-0 wins for Vermont. That was after allowing six goals on 21 shots in a 7-4 loss in Game 1.

And oh by the way, Jay Antcil scored the game winner in overtime.

"I got the puck on my stick, I got a screen from their defenseman and it went in, luckily," Anctil said. "I was just happy to see all my teammates coming to celebrate with me."

It's been a strange year for the Catamounts. They won some big non-conference games early, and were very up and down in the league. They finished eighth, just a few points from fourth in a tightly-compacted race. And if things ended today, they would remarkably qualify for the NCAAs.

New Hampshire had the opposite issue — winning the league but playing poorly non-league. As a result, both teams have exactly 17 overall wins, even though they were the 1 and 8 seeds in Hockey East.

The Wildcats didn't score a goal for the last seven periods of the series. They played with fire down the stretch, falling behind in a lot of games and then managing to rally — as they did Friday. But they got burned with that in the last two games.

"Definitely didn't think it could happen two nights in a row," said senior co-captain Bobby Butler, who scored 27 goals this season, including two Friday, and is the likely Hockey East Player of the Year. "But it happened. Not much you can say about that.

"You've got to create your own bounces. The goalie stood on his head. Give him a lot of credit. We needed to bury one when we had a chance but it didn't happen tonight."

But New Hampshire can still qualify for the NCAAs if things break right. So it will sit home and await the other results. Of course, you can figure out its chances by using CHN's You Are the Committee tool.

Vermont, meanwhile, will play Boston College in next week's semifinals at the Garden in Boston.
 

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