March 7, 2014

Women's Journal: Marathon victory for Vermont

By Arielle Aronson

Brittany Zuback's game-winner on March 1 ended the longest game in the history of the Hockey East women's league, a triple-overtime quarterfinal win for Vermont against Maine at Gutterson Fieldhouse. (Brian Jenkins/UVM Athletics)

The Vermont Catamounts were looking to make a mark on the Hockey East Tournament with their first home-ice advantage in program history, but the Catamounts probably did not expect their quarterfinal matchup against the University of Maine to make Hockey East history.

Yet that is exactly what happened when Vermont beat Maine in triple overtime on March 1, in the longest game in Hockey East women’s history. Junior forward Brittany Zuback’s game-winning goal 17:12 into the third overtime also made the 117:12 game the sixth longest in Division 1 history.

“We were having so much fun we just didn’t want it to end,” joked Vermont coach Jim Plumer.

Plumer previously coached a triple-overtime game as the head coach at Amherst College in 2007 when Amherst topped Middlebury in the NESCAC conference championship game. That game ended 1:54 into the third overtime, and Plumer said he did not expect last Saturday’s game to last longer than five minutes into the third overtime either. That it lasted more than 17 minutes was both impressive and concerning.

The Catamounts had their pre-game meal at 9 a.m. since the game was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. When it did not end until after 5 p.m., the Vermont women were hungry, dehydrated and worn out both physically and emotionally.

To help his team recover before this Saturday’s semifinal match-up against Boston College, Plumer took the team bowling Monday instead of holding practice. They scheduled light practices for Tuesday and Wednesday while aiming to return to normal practices on Thursday and Friday.

Beating Boston College will be a tough task to tackle. The Eagles have lost just one game since the end of November, and they swept their three-game regular season series against Vermont.

“When we played them the last time, we lost 2-0 and I think we had something like six 2-on-1s in that game but didn’t score a goal,” Plumer said. “So it’s going to fundamentally take a great defensive effort by us and we have to find a way to put some pucks in, convert some chances. We’re not going to be able to hold BC to not generating offense. They’re a very talented team at both ends of the ice.

“If we can have a great goaltending performance and a good team defense and bury some chances, that’s really the blueprint. It’s probably not rocket science.”

BC and Vermont are joined in the semifinals in Hyannis on Saturday by Boston University and Northeastern. The Terriers went 2-1 against the Huskies in the regular season with both wins coming on the road.

Over in the ECAC, Harvard and Quinnipiac are the final two New England teams left in the conference playoffs. Quinnipiac advanced to the semifinals by sweeping St. Lawrence in the best-of-3 quarterfinal series last weekend. The Bobcats’ second win of the weekend was their 22nd victory this season, which ties a single-season program record. They will face off against top-seed Clarkson in the single-elimination semifinal on Saturday afternoon.

Harvard required three games to advance to the semifinals, as it dropped the first game of the series against Yale but came back to win a tightly contested second game, 3-2, in double overtime and earned a 4-0 win to clinch the series. Harvard will face No. 3 Cornell in the semifinal on Saturday.

Player of the Week

Shiann Darkangelo, Quinnipiac

The junior forward was a catalyst in the Bobcats’ quarterfinal series sweep of St. Lawrence last weekend. She potted two goals and added an assist in Friday night’s 5-0 win, then scored the game-winner and tallied an assist on the other goal in Quinnipiac’s 2-1 series-clinching win on Saturday. Darkangelo garnered first star honors in both games.

Weekend Schedule

Hockey East Semifinals (at Hyannis Youth and Community Center)

No. 4 Vermont vs. No. 1 Boston College, Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

No. 3 Northeastern vs. No. 2 Boston University, Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Championship game Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

ECAC Semifinals (at Cheel Arena in Potsdam, N.Y.)

No. 4 Quinnipiac vs. No. 1 Clarkson, Saturday at 1 p.m.

No. 3 Cornell vs. No. 2 Harvard, Saturday at 4 p.m.

Championship game Sunday at 1 p.m.

Power Rankings:

  1. Boston College (Overall: 26-5-3, Hockey East: 18-2-1) – The Eagles keep rolling. They decimated New Hampshire, 8-1, in their quarterfinal matchup, and sophomore Haley Skarupa set a women’s Hockey East quarterfinal record for points in a game with a 2-3-5 line in the win.
  2. Harvard (Overall: 22-4-2, ECAC: 16-3-3) – It took the Crimson three games to top Yale in the quarterfinals, and interim head coach Maura Crowell tried to wake up her team by starting freshman goaltender Brianna Laing (Marblehead, Mass.) in Games 2 and 3 instead of Patty Kazmaier finalist Emerance Maschmeyer. The move worked out, but it remains to be seem if Crowell will stick with Laing for the semifinals.
  3. Quinnipiac (Overall: 22-5-9, ECAC: 11-4-7) – Although the Bobcats never beat St. Lawrence during the regular season, they looked strong against them in the quarterfinals. Quinnipiac will need to continue to play well in the semifinals when they take on top-seed Clarkson.
  4. Boston University (Overall: 22-12-1, Hockey East: 14-7-0) - Senior goaltender Kerrin Sperry (North Reading, Mass.) won her league-record seventh career Hockey East playoff win when the Terriers topped Providence last weekend. BU will look to get out to a better start against Northeastern than it did against Providence, as the Terriers were out-shot 26-8 through the first two periods of their quarterfinal game.
  5. Northeastern University (Overall: 19-13-2, Hockey East: 13-6-2) – The Huskies were nearly upset by Connecticut in the quarterfinals last weekend but managed to score twice in the final three minutes of regulation to earn a 2-1 win. The game against BU this weekend, a rematch of last year’s tournament final, should be a dogfight.

Twitter: @aharonson28