BURLINGTON, Ver. — In a key early-season matchup, Vermont got the upper hand, dealing the Yale Bulldogs a 5-2 defeat in front of a crowd of 3,874 at UVM’s Gutterson Fieldhouse. The Catamounts used four goals from four different players in the first 31 minutes of action, and goalie Andrew Allen held off the
potent Yale offense with his fourth straight strong outing.
It was a matchup of two of the most explosive teams in the ECAC; Yale and Vermont entered Saturday night’s Division I men’s hockey game with high-powered offenses led by two of the top forwards in the league, Jeff Hamilton and J.F. Caudron. Both teams were coming off one-goal wins the night before, and both sat in the top third of the league standings.
It is the first time Vermont has won its first four league games since going Division I in 1974-75, and the win put the Catamounts alone at the top of the league standings with eight points.
“That was the best period of hockey we have played in maybe four years,” Vermont coach Mike Gilligan said of the first stanza. “I can’t remember a mistake we made in the first period. We did a great job.”
Yale coach Tim Taylor, a close friend of Gilligan’s who was once his boss in the early 1980s before Gilligan came to Vermont, agreed that the first 20 minutes were college hockey at its very best.
“I think the first period was very well played by both teams,” Yale coach Tim Taylor said. “We had two turnovers and they went up, 2-0. But it wasn’t like we were back on our heels territorily.
“Clearly, though, it is hard to come back after spotting them two goals.”
Vermont came in on a major roll, having won their first three league games for the first time ever under Gilligan, the former Yale assistant and 17-year Catamount mentor. Vermont was coming off an exciting 3-2 win over Princeton Friday night at raucous Gutterson Fieldhouse, and the partisan crowd was looking for much of the same against the Bulldogs.
The Catamounts opened the scoring in the first minute of the game on Ryan Miller’s third goal of the season off a 3-on-2 rush just 42 seconds in. After a Yale flurry in front of Vermont goalie Andrew Allen, Vermont broke out on an odd-man rush, with Mike Torney leading the way. Torney’s initial shot was stopped by Yale’s Dan Lombard, but captain Jerry Gernander kept it alive and Miller fired a high shot that beat Lombard high to the glove side.
Vermont made it 2-0 11:55 into the period on a beautiful three-man play that ended with Bryson Busniuk’s first goal of the season. Freshman Jeff Miles picked up the loose puck at center ice, fed it to classmate Patrick Sharp down the right side, who then sent the puck across ice to a streaking Busniuk, who slammed it home past a prone Lombard.
The Catamounts made it 3-0 early in the second when sophomore J.F. Gamelin snapped off a wrist shot from the left circle that eluded Lombard up high to the glove side. John Longo assisted on the goal as he won the draw and pulled the puck to Gamelin, who ripped the accurate shot into the net.
Vermont’s Ryan Cox brought the crowd to its feet midway through the second period with a tremendous individual effort. Cox took the puck at center ice, moved in on the Yale defense, put the puck through the defenseman’s legs, gathered it in front of Lombard and then deposited the puck into the far corner along the ice.
Yale (4-2-0, 2-2-0 ECAC) cut into the lead with 3:30 remaining in the second on Spencer Rodger’s short-handed goal. Rodgers and Bryan Freeman broke in on a two-on-one, and Rodgers finished the play off with high shot to Allen’s stick side.
The Bulldogs then cut Vermont’s lead to two goals 6:07 into the third period when Rodgers scored again after taking a pretty feed from Denis Nam, who made a rink-long rush, beat the Catamount defense and fed Rodgers, who scored into the open net.
Vermont got its final goal in the last two minutes when senior defenseman Jim Gernander scored on a shot from the point through a maze of legs. Allen finished with 21 saves, while Lombard stopped 20 for the Bulldogs, 4-2-0 overall and 2-2-0 in league play.
“Andrew Allen has done just what we have asked him to,” Gilligan said of the 4-0 start. “We are playing well defensively as a team, and getting points from all over the place. This was a great win for us.”
Vermont hosts UMass-Amherst on Tuesday night, and Yale travels to Princeton on Tuesday night.