DURHAM, N.H. — A Sunday-afternoon matchup between New Hampshire and Vermont, the top two teams in the Hockey East standings, was what Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon called a great college hockey game.
On paper, it was the league’s top offense facing the league’s top defense. Before Sunday, UNH had scored 46 goals in just 10 league games and on the other side of the spectrum, Vermont had only allowed 10 goals in eight league contests.
Sunday, though, New Hampshire’s offense was just too powerful as the Wildcats defeated the Catamounts by a final score of 4-1. UVM goaltender Joe Fallon made 21 saves on the night, and UNH goalie Kevin Regan ended the night with 22 saves.
“Two of the league’s top teams coming here — supposedly we’re the offensive team, they’re the defensive team and I think the challenge for us was to play well defensively and yet try to still score some goals. So I thought it was one of our better performances,” said UNH coach Dick Umile.
New Hampshire started the scoring early in the first period. Jerry Pollastrone made a back pass to Kevin Kapstad, who fired a shot that found the back of the net to make it a 1-0 game at 1:28.
UVM scored the equalizer on a two-man advantage. With UNH’s first penalty almost expired, freshman Brayden Irwin scored on the rebound of Colin Vock’s original shot. The first period ended with the teams tied at 1.
The second period was a solid one for both teams. Vermont had eight shots in the period, and Regan was able to stop all those he faced. Fallon almost held UNH scoreless in the stanza, but at 19:26 Mike Radja scored the eventual game winning goal, which gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
Vermont put some offensive pressure on in the third, but New Hampshire’s defense and goaltending held strong.
Coming into Sunday, anytime UVM had lost this season, it had been by one goal. That statistic was defied when UNH captain Josh Ciocco scored after being set up by defensemen Brad Flaishans.
UVM called timeout with 1:17 left in the game and then the Catamounts decided to pull Fallon in favor of an extra skater. UNH’s Jacob MicFlikier shot wide of the open net, but Radja went on to score his second of the night and secure a Wildcat victory.
“What it really boiled down to was they finished their opportunities, and we didn’t,” said Sneddon.
UNH now has a 10-game unbeaten streak. The Wildcats improved their record to 11-2-1, 9-1-1 in league play. 18th-ranked Vermont fell to 9-5-1, 6-2-1.
UNH plays its final Hockey East game of the 2006 season on Wednesday when it travels to Lowell to face the River Hawks. UVM is finished with league play for the first half of the Hockey East season, but is slated to play the US Under-18 Team in an exhibition game on Saturday.