BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont goaltender Joe Fallon heeds his father.
In just 47 games played, Fallon notched his eighth career shutout, 1-0, turning in an 18-save performance in game two of the TD Banknorth/Sheraton Catamount Cup at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Friday.
“I talked to my dad earlier today, and he told me to go out and get a shutout,” said Fallon. “So, I thought I might as well.”
In giving up only the 18 shots, the UVM defense lowered its shots-per-game average to a paltry 20.2, and its goals-against average dropped to 1.76 per game.
With the win, the Catamounts (12-4-1) advance to the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. against Clarkson, which prevailed in a shootout 1-0 after playing Bemidji state to a 3-3 tie.
“I was pleased with our effort,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “I thought we played great for 60 minutes, kept it real simple tonight, and I think, coming off break, that is one of the keys to success.
“It was like we didn’t skip a beat defensively. I thought we were right back to where we were, before we left off [in the first half of the season].
The Cats came out flying, pressuring the Dartmouth end and goaltender Mike Devine (25 saves), while allowing the Big Green just one shot in the first nine-plus minutes of play. Devine stood tall stopping all 12 shots faced in the period, including nine on three UVM power plays.
One of those man advantages was courtesy of Grant Lewis, who got a five-minute major and was given the gate for hitting Vermont’s Ben Driver from behind at 13:39. The visitors killed the extended power play by disrupting the timing of the nation’s second-ranked man-up unit.
“That was the only five minutes in the whole game I wasn’t really pleased with,” Sneddon said.
Vermont broke the draw with four minutes left in the second. Matt Syroczynski pumped in a rebound for his first of the year, for a 1-0 lead. The six-foot-five, 225-pound senior winger pounded it in from the slot, after an initial shot from the blue line was tipped. Assists on the play went to Kenny Macaulay and Brady Leisenring at 15:58. Syroczynski described the feeling of his first goal of the year as a “monkey off the back.”
The Cats defense, after only allowing seven shot attempts through one, was tested a bit more in the middle frame. With 8:34 left in the period, sophomore wing David Jones got behind the defense on a partial breakaway. Fallon went into the splits, but Jones pushed the puck wide, and the game remained scoreless, to that point. Fallon also stopped bids from Mike Ouellette and two from Rob Pritchard in the period.
One of the Big Green’s best chances to knot the game came midway through the third. Jones took a big slapper from the right circle; Fallon got a piece of it with his glove; but he couldn’t hold on. The rebound bounced to Ben Lovejoy who rang the base of the left post.
The Vermont defense did its job, limiting Dartmouth to shots from the perimeter, and held onto the slim lead.
Vermont was 0-for-3 on the power play, while Dartmouth went 0-for-2.
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet felt his team played well enough to win.
“We created enough offense to score a goal, and we just didn’t do it,” he said. “I don’t think it was the goal coming up big and denying us. I think it’s the difference of a bounce. They created one, throwing the puck at the net, and they got a good bounce that came onto a stick. We didn’t.
Dartmouth (5-8-0) will face Bemidji in the consolation game at 4 p.m.