BURLINGTON, Vt. — Not everyone thought Peter Lenes could play at the Division I level, but he certainly validated the Vermont coaching staff’s recruitment of him.
At 5-6, 160 lbs., the freshman, playing in his first regular season game on home ice at UVM, tallied a hat trick, leading the Catamounts to a 5-1 victory over Minnesota-Duluth Friday.
The No. 15 Cats scored goals in bunches, including the final three in a 2:42 span.
“That was our game plan from the start,” said captain Jaime Sifers. “We knew Duluth was going to come out strong. We just felt if we got on them early, it would set the pace of the game in our favor.”
The first period, and really the whole game belonged to Lenes on the scoresheet. The local boy, from nearby Shelburne, Vt., netted his first two collegiate goals just 2:25 apart.
The first came on the power play at 16:29. Kenny Macaulay took a shot from the left point that UMD goaltender Nate Ziegelmann (15 saves) stopped. Lenes pounced on the rebound for the 1-0 lead. Brady Leisenring, the Most Outstanding Player of the Nye Frontier Classic last weekend in Alaska, got the second assist on the play.
Then, Lenes struck again to make it 2-0. Another freshman, Dean Strong, found Lenes in practically the same spot in front of the net. Lenes deposited it past Zeigelmann at 18:04. Chris Myers got the second assist on the play.
“For a Vermonter who just grew up idolizing this team for so long,” Catamount coach Kevin Sneddon said of Lenes, “this is probably going to go down as one of his top nights of his young life.”
Vermont goalie Joe Fallon (19 saves) kept the game scoreless in the early going.
He made three stops on shots from point-blank range, including one on a two-on-one going from left to right.
Vermont went into the second with a 12-6 advantage in shots.
Early in the second it seemed like momentum might be shifting in the Bulldogs’ favor. Fallon relinquished a goal off his glove from a long shot on the left side by Michael Gergen just 1:40 into the period.
The Cats then spent the next four minutes in the box after penalties to Jeff Corey and Kenny Macaulay, but both were killed well.
A little over a minute later, though, Lenes put the game out of reach for UMD capping a tremendous home debut. He cashed in on a UVM power play, scoring off of passes from Corey and Macaulay at 9:42.
Seconds later, Sifers broke in alone on Ziegelmann and found the back of the net on a terrific glove-side shot at 10:35. Corey and Syroczynski assisted on the fourth goal, causing the Bulldogs to take a timeout to try to stem the tide.
“I haven’t been on a breakaway in eight years,” joked Sifers. “I only go one place, so it just happened to work out.”
Leisenring added his third goal of the year on a lightning quick wraparound at 12:24.
Ziegelmann was pulled in favor of UMD’s regular starter, senior Isaac Reichmuth, who fared better, making seven stops, but the damage had already been done.
Duluth came on in the third with three chances on the power play, one a five-minute major to Strong and also an extended two-man advantage.
The Cats killed both, for a total of six on the night, with tenacious defense, blocking six shots on the major.
“Our guys just make the sacrifice,” Sifers said on the penalty-killing unit. “It’s something Coach really harps on We showed tremendous patience, and we really shut them down.”
UVM itself went 3-for-4 on the power play.
Vermont is now 5-0-2 in its last seven games against the WCHA.
“You gotta look for some positives, said Duluth coach Scott Sandelin, trying to find the silver lining in the loss. “We had some opportunities with the five-minute major, some power plays to get back into it a little bit. So, I was hoping we could do that. We didn’t lose the third period.
“They’re a good hockey team,” said Sandelin, “You can’t make mistakes against good hockey teams.”
The teams play each other again on Saturday.