BURLINGTON, Vt. — It wasn’t exactly pretty, but Vermont got the job done.
The No. 11 Catamounts skated past Northeastern, its third straight Hockey East victim, 2-0 Saturday. On the strength of freshman goaltender Joe Fallon’s 28 saves and his third shutout of the season, Vermont showed it could win without playing its best hockey.
The win matches UVM’s Division I record for consecutive games without a loss set in 1995-96. The nation’s longest unbeaten streak now stands at 11 games. Next in the Cats’ sights is all-time unbeaten mark in the history of the program — 15 set in 1973-74 while Vermont was a Division II institution.
Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon was not particularly happy with his team’s performance, but, with that said, was pleased that his goalie bailed the Cats out of some sticky situations.
“We played undisciplined,” said Sneddon. “I thought we took some really unnecessary penalties, and we just felt like we kind of got away from the things that have made us successful over the last little while. Not playing disciplined, not making the simple play with the puck, and, boy, our defensemen had a tough night back there. But, thankfully, we’ve got Joe Fallon, who played a tremendous game to kind of keep us in there.
“We’ve got 27 guys in the locker room right now, who know we didn’t play well tonight,” Sneddon continued. “I think it’s a good sign of a good hockey club, when you can win a game, when you don’t play well. We found a way, and as well as Northeastern played, they just kind of knocked us off our game plan tonight. We just didn’t have it, but to come away with a 2-0 win is obviously a good sign for us.”
Vermont scored the only goal of a fast-moving first period. Slavomir Tomko started a nice passing play finished off by Jeff Corey for his sixth of the year. Tomko found Torrey Mitchell, who deked a Husky defender before firing a bullet of a pass to Corey in the slot, who put it past into an open net.
Vermont threw everything it could at NU netminder Keni Gibson (19 saves) in the opening minutes, but the Hockey East goalie of the month for November played well keeping the Huskies in the game.
Fallon, CSTV’s National Player of the Month, went relatively untested in the period until Evan Stoflet went off for a roughing penalty at 15:02 giving Northeastern 83 seconds of a five-on-three advantage.
Vermont did well keeping the puck to the outside giving the goaltender clean looks at the puck. Fallon, though, did make three tremendous stops on Brian Swiniarski and one on Jason Guerriero on the kill keeping NU off the board.
Northeastern controlled play in the second, but Fallon was again strong. He made a great save while the Cats were killing another penalty seven and a half minutes in. He robbed junior Mike Morris going from left to right and making a stellar glove stop. Minutes before that, Morris caught the post solidly to the right of the goalie with 5:00 left in the period. Morris swatted the post once more with 2:02 remaining, this time shorthanded.
“I think it was one of those games that could’ve gone either way. Second period, we hit a goalpost and a crossbar,” NU head coach Bruce Crowder said. “Our kids played hard, I have nothing against the way they played. The only negative thing is we have to find ways to get some offense on the power play.”
Both squads went 0-6 with the man advantage.
Both teams had chances in the third, but neither was able to do anything. Fallon made his best save of the period with 1:57 remaining to preserve the shutout on Morris on a three-on-three.
Fallon is now one blanking away from tying the Catamount mark for four shutouts in a season.
Scott Mifsud tallied his 12th of the year into an empty net as the seconds ticked away for the final margin.
Vermont (9-4-3, 4-0-2) ECACHL) plays at Harvard on Tuesday, while Northeastern (6-7-1, 2-3-0 HE) is on the road at Boston College on Friday and then back home for Massachusetts-Lowell Saturday.