SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — UMass-Amherst scored two goals in the first six minutes of the game and never looked back in a 2-0 shutout victory over Vermont at the Springfield Civic Center.
The Minutemen exploded out of the gates but the sheet leveled off from that point on as the teams traded chances for the remaining two and a half periods.
“I thought we played pretty well in the first period,” Minutemen coach Don Cahoon said. “But I thought we were too soft up the middle and on defense until the third period.”
Tim Turner put the Minutemen on the board just 1:11 into the opening period. UMass-Amherst’s leading scorer with nine points coming into the game, Turner picked off a pass deep in the Vermont zone, skated in on goal, deked to his backhand and slid the puck underneath a sprawling Shawn Conschafter.
Martin Miljko made the score 2-0 less than five minutes later, with a power play tally. As a five on three power play expired, Martin Miljko fired a pass from Toni Soderholm, past Conschafter’s glove and into the back of the net.
“We made two big mistakes,” Vermont coach Mike Gilligan said. “It was tough fighting back from that.”
The second period of play saw a goaltending exhibition from both goalkeepers. Conshafter and Mike Johnson made 10 saves each in the middle period.
The UVM goalie turned numerous chances on a UMass power play to begin the period, including a left circle one-timer from Thomas Pock and a goal-mouth chance by Greg Mauldin.
After the Maroon and White extra man opportunity, it was Mike Johnson’s turn to stone the opposition. Johnson made three consecutive goal-crease stops on a UVM power play, before sniffing out a five-on-three for the Catamounts.
Kelly Sickavish caused the initial opportunity with a holding penalty at 5:15, while Darcy King made it a two-man disadvantage with a slashing call just 27 seconds later.
Johnson ended up outdueling his counterpart in net, as he recorded his fourth career shutout and his first in two seasons with 26 saves on 26 shots. His last shutout came on January 22, 2000 in a 0-0 tie with Hockey East foe Merrimack.
“I wasn’t happy with my performance last game [3-2 loss to Lowell],” Johnson said. “This was a chance to reestablish myself as the go-to-guy in net.”
Turner’s goal, which turned out to be the game-winner is his fifth on the year and makes him the first Minuteman to reach double digits in points with 11.
Miljko on the other hand recorded his third goal of the season, all of which have come at the Springfield Civic Center.
With the out of conference win, the Minutemen move within one victory of the .500 mark at 5-6. UMass has already eclipsed its non-conference success from last season with its third victory away from Hockey East.
“We really struggled out of league last season,” Cahoon said. “For whatever reason we’ve had some success this year.”
Vermont on the other hand falls 1-6-1 on the young season.