By Matt Noonan
BOSTON, MA – For a moment, it appeared Massachusetts and Vermont were going to skate to a tie, and leave the crammed Fenway faithful eager for their series finale in Amherst.
Yet, this is Fenway Park, America’s Most Beloved Ballpark, which means Bostonians can’t go home without late inning drama, right?
So, with 22.3 seconds remaining in overtime, senior Michael Marcou crashed the net, and registered his biggest goal of his college career that helped the Minutemen defeat University of Vermont, 3-2.
“Every time you play a big game like this outdoors in front of a lot of people, you always envision yourself scoring the overtime winner, and [it’s] my first one, ever, so it’s a pretty good experience to have it here at Fenway,” said Macou.
The victory marks UMass’s seventh of the season, and third in the Hockey East conference, too.
“I think I can relate to Big Papi when he hits a walk-off home run in the 11th [inning because] that’s what it felt like,” said UMass head coach Don “Toot” Cahoon.
Despite winning the opening face-off, UMass spent a majority of the first period in the penalty box, which allowed Vermont’s freshman Kyle Reynolds the opportunity to net his seventh goal of the season, as well as his team’s first of the contest.
UMass responded literally 15 second later on the ensuing face-off, as sophomores Patrick Kiley and Colin Shay connected with sophomore third-line center Eric Filiou, who tied the game with his first goal of the season before senior Danny Hobbs (one goal, one assist) scored the team’s second goal to start of the second period.
However, UMass resorted to its careless first period play, and sent three different players to the penalty box, which once again allowed the Catamounts to score, as senior Drew MacKenzie registered the team’s second power play goal that tied the game.
The Minutemen continued their lackluster play during the final frame, and allowed the Catamounts the opportunity to play with a man advantage during the final two minutes of regulation due to sophomore Patrick Kiley’s hit from behind and game misconduct.
Vermont’s freshman Michael Paliotta was also whistled for the same action in overtime, which allowed Massachusetts to score their only power play goal of the game when Hobbs and sophomore Connor Sheary set up Marcou for the game winner.
“I didn’t see [Paliotta’s game misconduct]. I saw him standing over a body, [and] that’s never usually a good sign,” said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. “Marcou did a nice job of just finding a little space there and getting it through.”
UMass will return to the ice next Friday, Jan. 13 when they host Boston College, while Vermont will host UMass-Lowell.
“Just being in the environment, [and knowing that] the guys obviously on both teams wanted to make a credible showing [by] making sure they left it all on the ice,” said Cahoon. “It was a playoff type of environment, and so that brings out a lot of good in teams, and will help us hopefully down the stretch, so it was a great event from my perspective.”