BURLINGTON, Vt. — For the third staight game, Vermont goaltender Joe Fallon dazzled players and fans alike, backstopping the Catamounts to a 2-0 win over Princeton Friday at sold-out Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Fallon’s second shutout in just a handful of collegiate starts came a week after the Cats rode his stellar goaltending to a win and a tie on the road against the then No. 1 team in the nation, Minnesota-Duluth. That earned the Bemidji, Minn., native USCHO/ITECH National Defensive Player of the Week and ECACHL Goaltender of the Week honors. Friday he was at it again stopping all 29 shots the Tigers took.
Even though Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon was glad to have the win, He didn’t feel his team played particularly well.
“Joe Fallon won that hockey game for us tonight,” said Sneddon. “We didn’t pay the price like we did last weekend. We need to get back to that. I think it’s a good sign for our guy that there isn’t a lot of hooting or hollering in the locker room right now. The guys don’t feel great about how they played, tonight.
“At the same time, we got two points in the ECAC, tonight. Maybe we’re expecting perfection, but I’m going to push them pretty hard. I think we had more in the tank but didn’t get great leadership all the time. We need our key guys to be our key guys all the time.”
Vermont broke on top at the 6:25 mark of the first period. Chris Myers potted his third of the season from Mike Arcieri on the power play for a 1-0 lead. Arcieri found Myers down low on the left side of Princeton goaltender B.J. Sklapsky, He put the puck past Sklapsky to bring the Thunderstix-wielding Gutterson faithful to its feet.
Just prior to Myers’ goal, Fallon’s most difficult stop came a little under five minutes into the contest. He stoned Princeton’s Brian Carthas, who had gotten behind the defense and had a shorthanded chance. Fallon kicked out his right pad to make the save.
Princeton came on in the second period firing 10 more shots at Fallon. The Vermont goalie was equal to the task.
Carthas, once again, had a golden chance for Princeton but was unable to convert on his opportunity. With 13:30 remaining in the period, Carthas caught a home-run pass and went in alone on Fallon. Carthas shot high to the glove side, but Fallon got enough of the puck to direct it over the net.
Fallon kept Vermont on top in the second thwarting Carthas ,once more, followed by nice saves on Grant Goeckner-Zoeller and Seamus Young in quick succession.
Fallon continued his great play in the third. He made big saves on Daryl Marcoux and Darrol Powe at the 2:23 mark.
Powe was then tagged with a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for hitting from behind at 4:11. Although Vermont had a couple of excellent chances on the prolonged man advantage Sklapsky kept Princeton in the game and the Tigers killed it off.
Princeton got a power play of its own later and Fallon was again challenged by Goeckner-Zoeller with 6:41 remaining in the game. He made the stop.
Princeton was unable to pull Sklapsky for an extra attacker as Vermont continued to penetrate the Tigers’ zone. Sklapsky was finally called to the bench with 0:40 left. It was to no avail, as Scott Mifsud tallied his team-leading fourth goal of the season to salt the game away.
“I think there are positives we can take out [of the game],” said Princeton first-year coach Guy Gadowsky. “But, bottom line in the ECAC you play 22 league games and every one is huge, and you certainly can’t be happy coming away with nothing.”
Sklapsky was also very sound in net for Princeton making 29 saves for Princeton.
Vermont has not allowed a power-play goal in the opponents’ last 22 attempts.
“To be honest with you, I just don’t think we played very well tonight,” Sneddon said. “Princeton is certainly a much improved team, but I just felt like we got away from playing good defensive hockey. We gave away a lot of Grade-A opportunities.”
Princeton (0-2-1, 0-1-0 ECACHL) travel to Dartmouth Saturday, while Vermont (3-4-1, 1-0-0) plays host to Yale.