BURLINGTON, Vt. — Freshman goaltender Joe Fallon made 15 saves for a shutout in his first collegiate start, and senior assistant captain Scott Mifsud tallied two goals and three assists as Vermont skated past Sacred Heart, 6-0, Friday.
“He made some great saves — the thing I really liked about him tonight is he just looked composed. He looked like a senior in net,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “I think that bodes well for the future for Joe.”
Fallon’s blanking was the first shutout by a UVM freshman goalie since Tim Thomas accomplished the feat on January 29, 1994, when the Catamounts defeated Union. Meanwhile, Mifsud was the first Catamount to amass five points in a game in almost five years.
Brady Leisenring, another senior assistant captain, got into the act as well by adding two goals and two assists. The first line of Mifsud, freshman Torrey Mitchell, and Leisenring totaled five of the six goals and 11 points altogether.
Vermont rolled four lines all night, keeping constant pressure on the Pioneers’ end, and wore Sacred Heart out in the third period, scoring four goals in the final stanza. Last season, Vermont didn’t win its first game until nearly Christmas (vs. Connecticut, a 4-3 overtime thriller). Sneddon joked that he was glad the team didn’t have to wait long for its first victory.
“I leaned over to our assistant coaches on the bench and said, ‘Geez, this sure beats December.’”
Mitchell got the Cats on the board at 17:34 of the first period when he knocked down the puck in the slot, spun and beat Sacred Heart’s Kevin LaPointe for a 1-0 lead. Leisenring and Mifsud assisted on Mitchell’s first collegiate goal.
While that was the only marker of the period, Vermont had a couple of good chances to score in the frame.
Freshman Mike Arcieri charged down the left-wing side. He snapped a shot that rang the right post less than three minutes in. And, with under two minutes left, Scott Mifsud worked his way around a Pioneer skater and put a shot low on LaPointe, which he stopped.
Eight minutes into the first, Fallon saw his only two shots of the period, which came on a Pioneer power play. After winning the faceoff in the Vermont zone, Sacred Heart worked the puck around the perimeter. Garrett Larson took a shot that Fallon saw all the way, stopping it with his stick. He gave up a juicy rebound, though, which came out to left circle onto the stick of Brad Holland. Fallon kicked out his pad to make the flashy second save.
Sacred Heart almost knotted the score at one in the closing seconds of the period, but Kenny Macauley (two assists), a sophomore transfer from Findlay, made a tremendous diving play, breaking up an opportunity in front.
Vermont led in shots 11-2 in the first period and by a margin of 29-15 in the final statistics.
In the second, Fallon saw a few more shots but turned them all aside. He made stops on Peter Giatrelis and Rocco Molinaro.
Right after a Sacred Heart penalty had expired, a long clearing pass hit Kalen Wright just out of the box. Wright went in alone on Fallon but pushed a backhand attempt wide with Fallon sprawling to cover the net low.
Later, Fallon made a couple more key stops, highlighted by a great glove save from close range to keep the Pioneers off the board.
Leisenring scored his first goal from Mifsud and Ryan Gunderson. While Vermont was on a 5-on-3 power play, Gunderson, who had two assists of his own, held the puck at the right point and found Mifsud low on the hash marks. Mifsud sent a rocket of a pass to Leisenring for the goal at 15:55 of the second.
The Cats broke the game open in the third, as Leisenring scored his second of the night on a slapper through the legs of Lapointe assisted by Mifsud and Macauley
Mifsud then added his second goal of the night on the power play from Mitchell and Gunderson, and Chris Myers got his first of the year, cleaning a rebound left by a rifle shot off the glass from Macauley.
LaPointe stopped 23 Vermont shots and took the loss for Sacred Heart, which falls to 0-1-0 on the young season.
“They’re a good hockey team, and it’s our first night out, and we looked rusty,” said Sacred Heart coach Shaun Hannah. “It was a good game for us, because the tempo that UVM played with is the tempo that we’re gonna get in our games, too.”