BURLINGTON, Vt. — Chris Murray’s power-play goal with 3:36 remaining in the third period lifted fourth-ranked New Hampshire over No. 15 Vermont 2-1 at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Saturday.
The senior defenseman’s shot from above the right circle found its way through a maze of bodies in front of Vermont goaltender Joe Fallon to secure a sweep for the Wildcats (16-3-1, 12-1-1 Hockey East).
Contrary to Friday, when UNH beat UVM from the opening faceoff in a 7-1 drubbing, the Catamounts (11-8-1, 6-4-1) played a much better all-around game, getting back to what has made them successful. Vermont, known for smothering defense, limited the high-flying New Hampshire attack to 27 shots and outshot UNH by eight.
“They came out and did a great job, Vermont,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “It was a great college hockey game. Two good teams going at it up and down, and obviously, it’s a huge win for us.
“We just beat a real good hockey team for the weekend,” he said. So, I’m really pleased with the overall effort of the team, and how well they played.”
UVM coach Kevin Sneddon began his post-game comments singing a far different tune from the night before, “We came into tonight’s game worried about the process and that we had to quickly mend some things in a short turnaround time,” he said. “I’m just very, very proud of the guys. Obviously, they’re very disappointed right now — they played a heckuva hockey game. … It’s unfortunate that we lose on a penalty kill, one of our strengths, but I don’t know if we could’ve played much better.”
Vermont tallied 10 shots in the first period, one less than it had all game in the series opener.
Joe Fallon was on his game in the period, stopping 12 UNH attempts on goal, including a stellar pad save on Jacob Micflikier in the slot. The Hockey East goaltender of the month for December also stoned Trevor Smith three times from the slot.
UNH got on the board first just :48 into the second period. Smith registered his third goal of the weekend collecting a rebound of a Matt Fornataro shot off Fallon’s pad, The goal, Smith’s 14th of the season, also was assisted by Jerry Pollastrone (two assists).
Colin Vock knotted the game for Vermont just :55 later. Vock and Chris Myers had multiple whacks at a loose puck in front of UNH goaltender Kevin Regan before Vock potted his seventh.
From that point on, UVM outshot UNH 16-7 in the period, buzzing around the offensive zone for much of the period.
UNH had a great opportunity to break out on top again, late in the period, when Patrick Cullity took a hooking minor. The penalty kill did its job limiting the Wildcats to one shot, setting the stage for a tight third period.
Each team had opportunities in the final period, but both goalies did their part to keep the game deadlocked.
“They had their chances,” Umile said. “We got some penalties [in the third] and Kevin kept us in there until we had an opportunity to win it.”
That came when Kyle Kuk took an interference penalty at 15:03, which led to the game winner.
“[Craig Switzer] slid it over to me, there was a few guys screening Fallon,” Murray said explaining the play. “So I just tried to pick a spot … and it ended up going in the corner for me.”
UNH went 1-for-4 on the power play while UVM was held scoreless during its seven chances.
Regan made 34 saves; Fallon had 25.
New Hampshire faces in-state rival Dartmouth Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., while Vermont travels to Boston for two with Northeastern.