BURLINGTON, Vt. — Massachusetts outplayed Vermont in all aspects of the game en route to a 6-2 win at Gutterson Fieldhouse in front of 3,574 Tuesday night.
Tim Turner scored twice for the Minutemen, and, after the first period, Vermont played an uninspired game. The Catamounts looked to bounce back from a devastating loss to Yale, in which Vermont was up by a score of 4-1 and wound up losing a close one, 5-4.
Vermont (4-7-2, 2-4-0 ECAC) was unable to do so as UMass featured a stifling defense all night. Opposing attackers were stood up at the offensive blue line. Even when it gained entrance to the zone, Vermont did not do much right offensively. UMass outshot the Cats by a 26-11 margin.
“They are a nasty team to play against,” Vermont head coach Mike Gilligan said, “They clog up the neutral zone; they pick up the forecheckers. They do all the little things that we haven’t learned to do. That’s why they’re successful.”
Vermont’s goaltending kept it in the game, as freshman Matt Hanson was superb at times. Although his 20 saves on 26 shots may not stand out, the Catamounts allowed six uncontested breakaways — many of which left the backstop with no chance.
“Matt kept us in the game. It could have been 5-1 at the end of two,” Gilligan added.
Vermont struck first when Oriel McHugh fired a quick wrist shot past UMass netminder Gabe Winer from between the circles. Bryon Busniuk and Tim Plant assisted on the sophomore defenseman’s second goal of the season at 5:57 of the first period.
UMass (6-5-0, 3-4-0 Hockey East) answered less than two minutes later, when a sloppy line change led to the UMass goal at 7:39. Turner took a pass from Winer and went in alone on Hanson. Scoring chances were at a premium in the first, as Vermont took a 4-2 edge in shots on goal.
After an even first, the middle period was a different story. The ice was tilted in the direction of the Minutemen, who held a decided advantage in shots and odd-man rushes. Vermont was outshot 16-2 in the period.
The only goal of the stanza was Turner’s second of the night. The goal, scored on a rebound, was assisted by Thomas Pock and Mike Warner.
The floodgates opened in the third period as UMass scored four goals. The eventual game winner by Nick Kuiper came from the blue line after a faceoff, assisted by Matt Anderson and Stephen Werner.
UMass finished its scoring with Mike Fetzer’s first career goal and goals by Jeff Lang and Werner.
Assisted by Jeff Miles and Ryan Miler, John Longo tallied a meaningless power-play goal for Vermont late in the game.
UMass head coach Don “Toot” Cahoun was very satisfied with his team’s performance.
“It was a good game for us tonight, because of the energy we played with,” said Cahoon. “We also did a good job of standing up in the middle of the rink and really controlling that end of things. That has a lot to do with the forwards supporting the D, and the D reading situations. So I was very pleased.”
“The puck wasn’t bouncing for us. We didn’t work hard enough for it to bounce for us,” concluded Gilligan.
Vermont is back in action on Saturday, when it faces off with Army, while UMass skates Saturday with Dartmouth. The contests will be home games for both.