PRINCETON, N.J. — Vermont rode a three-goal second-period outburst and a 26-save performance by Joe Fallon to a 4-1 win over Princeton Saturday night at Hobey Baker Rink.
“It was a great team effort tonight,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We were awfully tired tonight but we found a way to win.”
“Princeton was a good team tonight but we outnumbered them down low,” Fallon said of his team’s defensive effort.
Princeton held Vermont off the scoreboard in the first period despite being outshot 12-5, but the Catamounts jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second. Fallon robbed Tiger forward Dustin Sproat with a kick-save 15 seconds into the second period, and on the ensuing faceoff, Vermont went back down the ice and scored the game’s first goal. Forward Ben Driver set up Chris Smart, who beat goalie Eric Leroux short side 34 seconds in to make it 1-0.
The Catamounts made it 2-0 at 14:09. Baron Becker received an Andy Corran pass, skated down the right wing and ripped a shot from the edge of the faceoff circle that beat Leroux.
Then at 8:13 forwards Jeff Corey and Scott Mifsud rushed down the ice with the puck, and Mifsud capitalized on Corey’s cross-ice pass for his 17th goal of the season.
“He works hard game in and game out and makes an impact out there offensively every game,” Fallon said of Mifsud. “He just doesn’t quit and works very hard. Our teammates look up to him to be that kind of player.”
“They capitalized on a few breaks,” Princeton defenseman Luc Paquin said. “You have to give them some credit. They capitalized on their chances. They came out pretty hard and they skated down the ice and scored a few goals and that hurt us.”
The Tigers answered back 23 seconds later when defenseman Mike Moore received a Christian Read pass and zipped a shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Fallon stick side to make the score 3-1.
But that was all Princeton could get past Fallon, despite outshooting Vermont 13-4 in the third, and Kenny Macaulay added an empty-net goal at 18:44.
“They’re getting some really good goaltending this year. Their freshman goaltender played really well,” Paquin said of Fallon.
Vermont returns home for the final weekend of the regular season and will play Brown Friday night. Fallon stressed that his team needs to play well to maintain its momentum.
“We need to win those games. We’re going to take it as a playoff game,” Fallon said.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s loss for Princeton eliminated the Tigers from home ice for this year’s playoffs. Sproat, whose NCAA eligibility expires at the end of the season, hopes to end the regular season strong in anticipation of the playoffs.
“Anything can happen once you get in there,” Sproat said. “We’ve seen some underdogs come in and end up making it really far, so we’re pretty excited about that. And that’s definitely something that would leave me with a lot better taste in my mouth leaving this program.”