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St. Louis Hoping Vermont Takes Next Step

by Mark Pukalo / Tampa Bay Lightning

The game was delayed two hours when the rink was flooded. It ended in double overtime with controversy.

Vermont’s greatest hockey season was over in the 1996 NCAA semifinals on one strange day in Cincinnati.

Thirteen years later, the Catamounts may be getting paid back.

“We lost on a hand pass,” said Martin St. Louis, Vermont’s all-time leading scorer who had a remarkable 85 points in 35 games the 1995-96 season. “Ever since then, they have video replay. Then Vermont goes to the Frozen Four on a video-replay goal.”

Yes, in double overtime.

Dan Lawson’s shot appeared to miss the net 14:10 into the second OT. Play went on as usual, but when there was a stoppage more than five minutes later referees looked at the television monitor for 12 minutes. They saw that the shot went into the Air Force goal and ripped through the twine in the back.

No doubts. It was a winning goal.

Lightning prospect Matt Marshall, a 6-foot-1, 172-pound forward for the Catamounts, celebrated the unique ending with his teammates.

St. Louis, who scored 267 points in his college career, still has friends in Burlington and has kept up with what goes on with the program. He is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame. Former Lightning forward Eric Perrin and Vezina candidate Tim Thomas of the Bruins were also on the Catamounts team that won 27 in 1995-96 and lost to Colorado College, 4-3, in that fated Frozen Four semifinal.

“I’m really excited for the program,” St. Louis said. “They switched to Hockey East a few years back [from the ECAC] and it has really helped them.”

Vermont plays Boston University in the national semifinals Thursday night at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. at 8:30 p.m.

St. Louis and Lightning assistant coach Mike Sullivan, a former BU standout, have wagered a dinner on the game. Marshall hopes to help St. Louis win his bet. The freshman played in 24 games, battling an “annoying” ankle injury, with a goal and three assists this season.

“It was a struggle at first, going from prep school to college” said Marshall, a fifth-round pick of the Lightning in 2007. “But as the year went on, I think I progressed as a player … My game is based around my skating. Anytime I can use my speed to make something happen, I’ll try to do it.”

That sounds a little like a player whose picture is on the wall in Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse.

“[St. Louis] is always moving on the ice,” Marshall said. “Every shift he gives the team some energy. He is such an exciting player to watch.”

Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon has been pleased with Marshall, a Hingham, Mass. product.

“[Marshall] has been a great addition to our program and has been able to fill different roles for us throughout the season,” Sneddon said. “He’s played on an energy defensive line as well as a more offensive-minded line. He is versatile, extremely eager to learn and easy to coach. With added strength in the off season, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be a go-to player for us next year.”

The Catamounts (22-11-5) beat BU (33-6-4), the Hockey East champs, two of three this season. Marshall said there are no doubts they can win.

St. Louis wishes this Catamounts team has the luck his team didn’t seem to have in the 1996 semis.

“I hope that they have a better result and it goes a lot smoother for them, too,” St. Louis said. “There’s things you can’t control as a player. I’m just excited they are back there again.”

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