HANOVER, N.H. — Jeff Corey tallied a hat trick and Travis Russell made 19 saves to lead Vermont over Providence 3-1 in the opening game of the Ledyard National Bank Classic Wednesday.
Corey tallied all of Vermont’s goals: a power-play goal, a shorthander, and one into an empty net to seal the deal.
The win for the 14th-ranked Catamounts moved them to 10-1-3 in the last 14 games.
“I thought we battled tonight,” said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. It wasn’t a great hockey game. It looked liked two teams that were kind of on break. There wasn’t much flow to it. But, they are a very good hockey team. It’s sometimes tough to get any offense going against a team that is so good defensively. We scored when we had to, and held on at the end there.”
Both teams seemed sluggish early, coming out the holiday break. The best chance for either side came with 7:20 left in the first when a long pass out of the Vermont end caught the Friars defense napping. Andy Corran found the puck on his stick on the right side and had Matt Syroczynski with him. Corran elected to dish to his linemate and the puck hopped over his stick.
Vermont (11-5-3) held a modest 6-4 shots advantage after one.
The second period saw a little more flow and a few more chances for both squads. Just :50 in, Vermont’s Tim Plant stole a PC pass at the blue line, skated to the circles and fired a wrister over the net.
The best scoring chances for Providence came midway through the game. John Rheault skated along the right boards and fired a shot on Russell that he saved up high.
The Cats finally broke the deadlock at 11:45. Corey tallied his first of the night on the power play. Jamie Sifers rifled a shot from the left point that Corey tipped neatly over the glove of Providence goalie Tyler Sims. Kenny Macaulay got the second assist on the play.
Providence (5-10-2) nearly evened the game with 1:35 left in the period on the power play. Defenseman James Pemberton took a shot that Russell smothered for a faceoff.
Seconds later Vermont lengthened the lead with its first shorthanded goal of the year. Corey tipped the puck away from a PC skater at the blue line and raced in alone on Sims (25 saves). He beat the freshman from Fort Worth, Texas, high to the stick side for his second of the day.
“Every day before a game, we have a breakaway contest,” Corey explained. “Yesterday, I probably went about 20 times and lost, so I’m wearing a flower-colored pair of socks tomorrow. So, I guess that was helping my breakaway tonight.”
Vermont controlled play in the period with 16 shots on the Providence net, while the Friars had seven on Russell.
The Friars poured it on in the third, but Russell stood tall until the 15:53 mark, when Nate Myers scored on a big rebound. Assists on the play went to Eric Lundberg and Vince Goulet.
But that was as close as Providence would get. Corey finished off his hat trick at 19:10 with an empty-netter.
Vermont led in shots 28-20. The Cats converted on one of five chances on the power play, while the Friars were scoreless in five opportunities.
“There was not much going on in the first, and in the second they came out and really started to play well,” said Providence head coach Paul Pooley. “Obviously, the power play cost us. We had to pump ourselves back up again.”
Vermont moves into the championship game of the tournament Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. ET, and will play the winner of the nightcap between Bowling Green and Dartmouth. The Friars take on the loser of that game at 4 p.m.