The most memorable moment of Vermont senior goaltender Andrew Allen’s hockey career almost became Yale’s most forgettable.
Almost three years ago to the day, the then-freshman led his ninth-place Catamounts to a gutsy 4-3 win over Yale’s best hockey team ever on Senior Weekend at Ingalls Rink.
But then, the Bulldogs went on to a memorable sweep of Union and defending national champion Rensselaer on the road. It gave them their only ECAC Championship and made everyone forget about the Vermont loss.
But Allen did not forget the game, the highlight of a freshman year in which he was named ECAC Rookie of the Year. Allen almost made Catamount fans forget about losing All-American goaltender Tim Thomas from their NCAA Frozen Four team of the previous year.
“It was unbelievable,” Allen recalls. “I just remember playing in front of a huge crowd and beating them as a ninth-place team. I still have the game on tape.”
Allen followed up his auspicious first year with another impressive campaign, tallying a .910 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA on a team that finished in the bottom half of the conference.
“I felt like I was making a difference,” Allen said. “The team started to have confidence in me and I started getting a lot of attention from pro scouts.”
But then, just when things started going well for the Catamounts, it all came crashing down.
Allen played 11 games in his junior year before Vermont’s president cancelled the hockey season amidst a major hazing scandal that involved a former player’s suing the university, the team and some of its players.
“The whole team struggled with the scandal,” Allen said. “It was just one of those things that weighted on you every single day. It affected me very badly; everything just kind of snowballed,”
Now, as a senior, Allen has new things to make the fans forget and plenty of memories to forge with his teammates.
The Catamounts, seemingly back from the dead, were the early season surprise in the ECAC. They won six straight conference games, packed Gutterson Fieldhouse for every home game, and broke into the national rankings before Christmas.
“It was just a great feeling to know that we were playing again,” Allen said. “There was a lot of excitement and electricity around school, and everyone was in high spirits.”
Vermont has slumped badly since then, dropping 11 of its last 15 and slipping into a seventh place tie with Yale and Princeton, but the swoon hasn’t broken the spirits of the Catamounts.
“We have a good enough roster to be winning games,” senior captain Jerry Germander said. “We just have to play solidly on offense and defense.”
Germander didn’t even have to mention Allen, who been solid all season between the pipes for the ‘Cats, ranking third in the ECAC with a .914 save percentage and 2.36 GAA.
If solid goaltenders can be called rocks, then Allen would have to be a boulder. At 6-foot-4, Allen is one of the biggest goaltenders in the nation, an asset that he utilizes to the fullest with a “butterfly” style of goaltending.
“He’s just huge, he takes up a ton of the net,” Yale goaltender Dan Lombard ’02 said. “Looking down from the other end of the ice, there’s just nothing to shoot at. He smothers everything.”
In addition to his size, Allen cites his athletic ability and quickness as his greatest strengths.
At 24 years old, Allen is also one of the ECAC’s elder statesmen, but he has not given up his dream of playing in the NHL after graduation.
“I’d like to play professionally next year,” Allen said. “I’d love to get an NHL contract, but I’m going to try to play at whatever level I can.”
No matter what he does next year, one thing is certain about Allen — he won’t soon be forgotten.
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