SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Vermont showed up for its ECACHL showdown Friday against Union ready to play. The Dutchmen, who were tied for second place with the Catamounts, stood around and watched.
The Dutchmen were passive from the opening faceoff, and never recovered. The speed of the Catamounts overwhelmed the Dutchmen in a 4-0 victory at Messa Rink.
The win moved Vermont (12-6-3, 6-1-2 ECACHL), ranked 14th in the USCHO.com/CSTV NCAA poll, passed Harvard into first place. The Crimson lost to Colgate, 3-1.
Vermont, which is leaving the ECACHL for Hockey East next season, also ended a four-game losing streak at Messa Rink.
Union coach Nate Leaman didn’t mince words about his team’s poor effort, although he took offense to a question about his team playing scared.
“We’re not scared of anyone, let’s make that clear right now,” Leaman said. “For one thing, we didn’t do a good job of taking away their team speed. We got away from making simple plays. We were making a lot of plays that were difficult. Their pressure was too much for our team.”
Nothing went right for the Dutchmen (9-10-1, 6-3-0), who dropped into a third-place tie with Colgate. They were outshot, 34-15, making it easy for Vermont goalie Joe Fallon to earn his fourth shutout of the year. The Dutchmen lost the battle on faceoffs, 41-27. Their power play managed just seven shots in eight opportunities.
And, to top it all off, Union accidently helped Vermont score its final two goals. Matt Vagvolgyi’s clearing attempt in front of goalie Justin Mrazek went off the leg of Vermont’s Tim Plant and went in midway through the second period. Kenny Macaulay’s third-period power-play goal went off a Dutchmen stick.
“We were back on our heels the whole game,” Union captain Jordan Webb said. “We had a couple of power-play opportunities where, if we score, we could turn the game around. But we failed to score. We didn’t play the we wanted to play.”
Vermont came out flying in the first period, and Union played timid. The Catamounts outshot the Dutchmen, 15-3, and were skating circles around the slow-footed Dutchmen, and winning the battles for loose pucks.
“I don’t know if Union played passive,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “In all honesty, I thought we had one of our better games. We had four lines that were jumping with a lot of speed. One of the keys to success for our program is when we’re first to loose pucks. It’s awful tough for the opposition to make plays if we’re right there [for] that loose puck.”
The Catamounts grabbed a 2-0 lead late in the first. Mike Arcieri got the first one, flipping a soft wrist shot from the left point past the glove side of a screened Mrazek.
Jeff Corey scored the second one. A Scott Mifsud shot went wide of the net, then caromed off the backboards out in front. Mrazek couldn’t contain it, and that allowed Corey to fire it home.
“We were focusing on coming out with a lot of intensity in the first game of the new year, and on the road,” Vermont captain Jamie Sifers said. “We wanted to establish ourselves in the first period, take it shift by shift and work from there.”