BURLINGTON, Vt. — Coming into Friday’s contest at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Providence had only surrendered nine goals in five games and boasted the nation’s fifth leading penalty kill.
The Friars came up against No. 14 Vermont, which had surrendered only six goals in the same period and boasting the nation’s leading penalty kill.
The Catamounts scored all of their goals on the power play, building a two-goal lead after two periods and held on for the 3-2 win.
The win extended the UVM’s unbeaten streak to seven games (4-0-3), tying North Dakota for the longest current streak without a loss (the Sioux at 6-0-1 in that span).
The two points also moved UVM into third place in the Hockey East standings. The Cats are now just three points behind Boston University (with three games in hand) and five back of New Hampshire.
Vermont’s power play was only clicking at a 16-percent rate entering play on Friday; while Providence countered with its penalty kill, stopping 89.1 percent of opportunities against. UVM man-down unit was at 90.5 percent.
“Our power play, for the most part did a nice job for us [it] finally came through,” said UVM coach Kevin Sneddon.
The Vermont power play went 3-for-9; Providence went 0-for-3.
“I certainly thought they played a better game than we did five-on-five tonight. It’s become a forechecking league; everybody’s using a very aggressive forecheck. I think they’re trying to contain our speed by throwing a very aggressive forecheck at us.”
Vermont opened the scoring on the power play 6:45 into the first period. Corey Carlson tallied his eight goal of the season from low in the right circle. Brian Roloff and Peter Lenes assisted on the goal.
Late in the period, Vermont nearly added to its lead while killing a penalty. Colin Vock took a pass in the neutral zone and raced in alone on Friars goalie Tyler Sims (19 saves). Vock made a move, but missed, ringing the post going glove side.
PC would get the tying marker with just over seven minutes left in the second period. Jon Rheault potted his team-leading seventh goal. Skating in unmarked on UVM’s Joe Fallon (20 saves) slipped the puck past the Catamount netminder low.
Vermont retook the lead on another power play with Trevor Ludwig off for hooking at 16:19. Torrey Mitchell’s drive from the blue line deflected off of Cody Wild over Sims’ right shoulder 20 seconds into the advantage. Kenny Macaulay and Brayden Irwin assisted on Mitchell’s 11th of the year at 16:39.
Vermont wasn’t done in the period, scoring its third goal of the evening on the power play. After holding the puck in the PC zone for nearly all of the advantage, Colin Vock pounced on a big rebound from a lowangle Lenes shot with 43 seconds left in the period.
“That was huge, that was probably the difference in the game,” said Sneddon. “We go into the third period with a nice two-goal cushion based on good work by the power play.”
Colin McDonald, though, added an unassisted shorthanded breakaway goal at 7:22 on the backhand to pull within one.
But that was as close as the Friars would get, as penalties got the better of them.
With Jaime Carroll already in the box for interference, Tony Zancanaro joined him on a boarding which gave Vermont one minute, 43 seconds of a five-on-three. While they didn’t score, the penalties did take precious time off the clock, not allowing PC to mount much offense.
If that wasn’t enough, four more players were sent to the sin bin at 13:50 as a result of a scuffle after the whistle. It took a lengthy delay in the action to finally sort out the penalties, but when everything was figured out Ludwig got a charging major along with
Lenes, Carlson, and Chase Watson getting minors.
That ended any hopes of a comeback for the Friars, who suffered their third loss in a row, and tenth defeat in 12 games. PC coach Tim Army said that his team lost its discipline Friday.
“I sound like a broken record, because we’ve played like this really all year long,” said Army. “We’ve played pretty good hockey all year long. We’ve been in these tight games, and we’re not getting a lot to show for it. I said to the guys afterward ‘there’s a lot more good to our game than there isn’t. You just gotta stay with it, and, at some point, you hope that something breaks your way, and you make a little charge.”
UVM (15-8-4, 10-4-4 Hockey East) and PC (6-18-1, 5-12-1) meet again Saturday.