BURLINGTON, Vt. - Brett Bruneteau deflected a wrist shot from Anthony DeCenzo past Doug Carr at the 2:12 mark of overtime, and Vermont came back with three unanswered goals to upset 10th-ranked UMass Lowell 3-2 in Hockey East action at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Friday night in front of 3,514 fans.
The Catamounts (5-15-1, 2-11-1 HEA) trailed 2-0 entering the third period but tied the game with a pair of goals in the span of 23 seconds and netted the winner in OT. UVM earned its third win over a nationally ranked team this season, as the River Hawks (12-6-0, 7-5-0 HEA) fell for just the second time in their last nine contests.
"I think the guys turned the switch on, it really is a character win more than anything," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "Our guys were very resilient. That third period might have been the best period I've seen our guys play all year. We were first to pucks and we finished every check. I'm hoping this is a learning game for us that if we play that way all the time we'll be a pretty good hockey team."
UMass Lowell took the early lead about six and a half minutes into the first period after Colin Markison was called for high sticking at 4:58. Derek Arnold collected the puck at the right point and slid it across the blue line to set up Chad Ruhwedel for a one-timer. Ruhwedel blasted a low shot on goal and it was tipped past Rob Madore by Josh Holmstrom to open the scoring.
With nearly the same time elapsed in the second period, the River Hawks doubled their lead courtesy of an even strength goal from Shayne Thompson. Terrence Wallin cycled the puck in deep to Michael Budd in the left wing corner, and Budd quickly centered it out to the slot. Thompson was wide open and buried a one-timer under Madore's blocker to make it 2-0.
After back-to-back penalties against Arnold and Daniel Furlong, the Catamounts had a two-man advantage for 1:07 midway through the hockey game. UVM worked the puck below the faceoff dots in the UML zone as Sebastian Stalberg sent a cross-crease pass to Kyle Reynolds, but the rookie blasted a one-time shot off the right post. Later in the frame, Madore stoned Stephen Buco on a 2-on-1 to keep it a 2-0 game.
At 5:17 of the third period, the Cats finally found a way to beat Carr. Reynolds fed Markison with an indirect pass down the left wing boards and the freshman skated into the Lowell zone. With three teammates to his right, Markison fired a wrist shot low glove side on Carr to cut the lead in half. Reynolds and Drew MacKenzie picked up the assists on Vermont's first goal.
Less than 30 seconds later, MacKenzie was a catalyst again off the ensuing draw as he fed Stalberg in the left faceoff circle. Stalberg held the puck patiently as he drifted through the slot and whipped a hard wrist shot through Carr's five-hole to knot the game up at two. The junior collected his team-leading ninth goal of the year and his sixth against a ranked team.
Later in the third, Reynolds was stopped on a breakaway by Carr as he tried to deke a backhand through the sophomore's pads. Nick Bruneteau then rang the right post on a low slap shot from the center point with only a few minutes remaining in regulation. Vermont out-shot UMass Lowell 16-5 in the final stanza and took a 32-26 edge into the extra session.
Two minutes into overtime, Bruneteau reached in to create a turnover at center ice and the puck deflected to DeCenzo at the red line. The sophomore turned and led the puck forward to Leonard who skated across the River Hawk line toward the left faceoff circle. Leonard dropped it back off for DeCenzo, who whistled a quick shot that was tipped down in by a crashing Bruneteau to win the game.
The goal for Bruneteau was was third in a UVM jersey and marked Vermont's first overtime game-winner since it upset No. 2 seed New Hampshire in Game 3 of the 2010 Hockey East Quarterfinals in Durham, N.H. Madore finished the night with 24 saves to pick up his fourth win of the season, while Carr stopped 30 Catamount shots and suffered just his third loss.
"We were pretty passionate as coaches in between the second and third and each and every one of them responded very well," said Sneddon. "This team is fun to be around right now in terms of their togetherness. When they rely on each other the way they did tonight it's great to see. I think one thing our guys know is when it gets late in the third or overtime we play to win, the energy in the building was sensational."
The Catamounts return to action on Sunday (Jan. 15) as they host Providence (8-9-2, 6-5-1 HEA) at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Hockey East play. Vermont is 5-2-4 in its last 11 meetings with Providence but was swept by the Friars in early November. All the action on Sunday can be heard live on WVMT-620 AM and online at SportsJuice.com, as Alastair Ingram calls the play-by-play with pre-game coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. Live video is also available online for free on CatamounTV.
NOTES: Brett Bruneteau netted his first game-winning goal as a Catamount on Friday night ... In his last 10 games, Sebastian Stalberg has 15 points on five goals and 10 assists; He entered the night tied for seventh in scoring in Hockey East ... Drew MacKenzie is riding a season-high seven-game point streak and has a point in nine of his last 10 games ... Vermont extended its home unbeaten streak against UMass Lowell to four games (2-0-2) ... The Catamounts failed to score a power play goal for the first time in their last seven contests ... Three of UVM's five wins this year have come over top-11 opponents ... UMass Lowell entered the night 11-0-0 when leading after two periods of play and 8-0-0 when scoring first.