BOSTON — For the second straight night the Vermont Catamounts scored a goal with less than a minute left in a period. This time, however, it proved to be the game winner.
Vermont notched a three-point weekend at Matthews Arena and widened the gap with Northeastern in the Hockey East standings. Vermont goaltender Joe Fallon notched his 16th career shutout, his fourth against Northeastern in his career.
“I thought we were excellent from the net out. Joe [Fallon] played extremely tough in there for us tonight; they had a lot of scoring opportunities on second and third chances and he certainly was a wall back there for us.” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said.
The first period started off where Friday night left off, that being very physical with neither team getting many quality chances to score. As the second period continued the physicality seemed to dwindle, but the scoring chances were still few and far between.
Northeastern almost escaped the second with a scoreless tie intact, but on a clearing miscue UVM opened the scoring with only 40 seconds left. After Northeastern netminder Brad Thiessen made the first save on a shot from the slot, the rebound came to Torrey Mitchell, who banged the puck into the open net. Brayden Irwin and Arthur Femenella got assists.
“It was good [to get that goal], they did such a nice job of preventing us from really mounting any sort of offensive attack when we had sustained possession in their zone. They made it really difficult for us to get shots through — it came down to a shot and a rebound. They aren’t always going to be pretty goals when you play a team that does such a good job defensively.” Sneddon said.
“It should have been a 0-0 game going into the third period; instead it’s 1-0, and they are a team that’s really difficult to come back on when they have the lead.” Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin said.
With Fallon’s shutout intact going into the third, Vermont seemed to switch to defensive mode. But UVM added an insurance tally at 16:04 when Jonathan Higgins took a pass from Jay Anctil and backhanded it in. Thiessen got caught a little off-guard as it seemed he and the defense were anticipating a pass; instead Higgins took the shot. Reese Wisnowski collected an assist on the play.
Mitchell sealed the deal with an empty-net goal at 18:38, a shot from near the red line that was deflected by the Northeastern defense and went soaring in the air before finally landing in the back of the net. Kenny Macaulay and Dean Strong each collected their 10th assists of the season.
Fallon tallied his fourth shutout against Northeastern in six starts against the Huskies. Fallon ended the night with 23 saves. Thiessen made 23 saves.
Both teams had a good night on the penalty kill, with UVM going 0-4 when a man up and NU 0-5.
Northeastern (6-11-4, 3-9-4) has a home and home with Massachusetts-Lowell next Friday and Saturday. Vermont (12-8-2, 7-4-2) will travel back to Boston for a pair at Boston College on Friday and Saturday night.