Vermont, New Hampshire skate to tie in front of record crowd

The Catamounts broke their own Hockey East attendance record, but couldn’t hold off a late Wildcat rally.

A record crowd at a packed Gutterson Fieldhouse got their money’s worth on Friday night.

Third period goals by Hannah Touzos and Jonna Curtis helped New Hampshire rally to tie hosts Vermont 3-3 in front of a Hockey East record crowd of 2,136 in the fourth installment of the Pack the Gut Challenge.

The previous record was also held by the Catamounts, who set it in the first season of the Pack the Gut Challenge when a 2,028-strong crowd showed up to witness their 6-1 defeat to Boston College in November 2013.

The Catamounts opened the score late in the first. Cassidy Campeau skated down the right wing and fired a shot that Hilary Cashin stopped, but Saana Valkama pounced on the rebound for her fifth of the season to put Vermont up 1-0.

The hosts doubled their lead less than a minute later. On a two-on-one, Bridget Baker centered the puck for Victoria Andreakos, who tapped home past Cashin to double the lead.

New Hampshire changed goalies after the first, replacing Cashin with Kyra Smith, and would score first in the second. Vermont goaltender Madison Litchfield made a save to deny Kate Haslett, and thought she had the puck covered. However, Ali Praus saw that it wasn’t covered and buried it for her third of the year to cut the lead in half.

The Catamounts would restore the two goal cushion midway through the third, as Ève-Audrey Picard fired a one timer off a feed from Valkama for her team-leading eleventh goal of the season to push the Catamount lead to 3-1.

New Hampshire, however, came crawling back.

With just over five minutes to go, Litchfield made a save to deny Jonna Curtis, but the rebound was whacked out of the air by Hannah Touzos. Touzos’s deflection hit Litchfield’s pad and in for her first collegiate goal to cut the lead to 3-2.

UNH would tie the game 80 seconds later, as Curtis cut in from the left wing and beat Litchfield high for a shorthanded goal to tie it at 3-3. Though both teams had chances late in the third and in overtime, neither could find the winning goal.

Litchfield made 21 saves for the Catamounts, while Smith and Cashin combined for 31 saves. Both teams pull into a four-way tie for third in the Hockey East Standings, joining Providence and Boston University on 20 points.

The two teams rematch Saturday at 4pm at Gutterson.