BURLINGTON, Vt. — In a completely different sort of contest than the game played one week ago — a 7-5 shootout at Dartmouth’s Thompson Arena — Vermont defeated its Interstate 89 rivals 4-2 at Gutterson Fieldhouse Saturday.
Jeff Corey scored twice for the Catamounts while Brady Leisenring and had a goal and an assist in the win.
“I’m just real proud of how our guys competed for 60 minutes tonight,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I thought we did some things, that we haven’t done all year. I think they are feeling pretty good about the way we played defensively tonight, and I thought [netminder] Travis [Russell] was outstanding tonight.”
Special teams were the order of the night, as both teams scored a pair of goals on the power play. Vermont went two for seven with the man advantage, while Dartmouth was two for five.
With the win, Vermont (3-13-3, 1-7-0 ECAC) snapped its seven-game losing streak in ECAC play, while handing Dartmouth (6-3-5, 4-1-3) its first loss in the conference.
“I think the guys are starting to get it, and now it’s my job to demand that kind of effort every night,” Sneddon said. “We’ve shown we can play with teams like Dartmouth, which is one of the best teams in the country.”
Six seconds into the game Vermont’s Scott Mifsud was whistled for obstruction-interference. Dartmouth wasted little time with the power play. Lee Stempniak unloaded a shot from the point along the ice. Russell made the save, but Stempniak gathered the rebound and deposited into the net for his team-leading 11th on the season. The goal was assisted by Grant Lewis and Tanner Glass.
Stempniak led the Dartmouth scoring with a goal and an assist in the loss.
Minutes later the Big Green came oh-so-close to adding to its advantage. Sophomore Eric Przepiorka was sent in alone on Russell (26 saves). A hustling Vermont backchecker helped to negate the chance as Russell made a great save with the stick.
Later, the Catamounts cashed in on a power play of their own. Walk-on Ryan Gunderson, who is having an unexpectedly good freshman season, slid a cross-ice pass to captain Jaime Sifers, who potted his second of the year — a slapshot past Dartmouth’s Dan Yacey at 4:31.
Stempniak and Sifers were ordered to the sin bin after a scrum with roughing penalties but the Dartmouth forward was called for an extra infraction, a ten-minute misconduct.
Dartmouth — the No. 12 team in the nation — had its chance to break the deadlock with under five minutes remaining in the period. Przepiorka came away with the puck from a battle along the right boards. He walked in unmolested on Russell, but, as he did all night, Russell stifled the play.
Vermont went into the locker room with an advantage in shots on goal of 11-9.
The two teams skated to a scoreless second period. It was hardly devoid of penalties. The Big Green was called for five, while the Catamounts had four. Most of the scoring chances in the period came off the Vermont power play as the Cats used their tremendous team speed to create opportunities.
Late in the period, senior Jeff Miles carried the puck into the offensive zone on the power play and whipped a pass, which had Yacey sliding right to left, to Mifsud, streaking to the far post. The puck glanced off his stick and went wide.
Sophomore forward Mike Ouellette put Dartmouth on top in the third period, again on the power play. Lewis sent a pinpoint feed across the ice to Ouellette, which he one-timed past Russell, going post-to-post before the netminder could square himself to the puck. Stempniak and Lewis got the assists.
The Cats answered just 1:23 later when the speedy sophomore, Jeff Corey tallied his first of two goals. He put in the rebound of a Leisenring shot past Yacey (24 saves), to send the Gutterson fans, who braved extreme cold, into a frenzy.
Leisenring then scored the game-winner on the power play from the left side. The goal was assisted by Miles and Sifers. It was Leisenring’s sixth of the season.
Dartmouth put pressure on for the equalizer but Corey capped off the win with an empty-net goal.
“They played well,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said. “They earned it, they deserved it. I thought our kids played hard. We weren’t able to generate as much as we’d like, and that’s to their credit.”