BURLINGTON, Vt — Two streaks came to a halt in Providence’s 4-1 victory over No. 14 Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse Friday.
The Friars hadn’t won a game in the series which dates back to 1969 since a four-goal triumph at the Gut, Dec. 27, 1997. The loss for the Catamounts snapped what had been the nation’s longest winning streak, seven games.
Senior Tony Zancanaro and sophomore Nick Mazzolini each tallied a goal and an assist to lead their team to its first win in four games. Mazzolini’s goal, the game-winner, came with just 12 seconds to play in the first period.
“I thought we played well-much like we played last night,” said PC coach Tim Army. “We didn’t take as many penalty, which was good; . . . we limited their opportunity on the power play, so it kept it more 5-on-5; and I thought we played similarly as to how we played last night [at even strength].”
Providence scored the first and last goals of the opening period to take a 2-1 lead to Intermission.
After a slow start, in the first few minutes, PC got on the board first at 5:19. Defenseman Cody Wild poked home the rebound of a Chase Watson shot from the right side.
UVM answered to tie the game on the power play at 8:03. Defenseman Kenny Macaulay’s blast from the midpoint found its way past goaltender Tyler Sims (19 saves). Brian Roloff and Dean Strong assisted on the senior blueliner’s third of the year.
It looked as though that’s the way the it would stay, heading into the second, save for Mazzolini’s well-placed wrister from the left circle over the shoulder of Joe Fallon (20 saves) at 19:48.
“It was nice to get the lead,” said Army. “It’s always nice to play in front particularly against a team like Vermont that does defend so well, because when they get the lead, they really suffocate you. It’s very difficult to get back in the game on them.”
“I thought we played soft [in the] first period,” said UVM coach Kevin Sneddon. “We didn’t play as physically as we needed to.
“We almost eased into the game, and I don’t know what the answer is there other than to challenge the guys.”
The game opened up a bit in the second as both teams had some good chances in the period. Viktor Stalberg nearly erased the Friars’ second lead of the evening when he picked up the puck and went wide, beating a defender, before putting a backhander on Sims that the goalie saw all the way.
Midway through the period, though, the Friars added to their lead.
Zancanaro won a faceoff back to Dinos Stamoulis whose shot came off a skate in front at 10:33 for the 3-1 lead.
“We got a couple of breaks we haven’t had too many of those, but we got them tonight,” Army said.
Fallon kept his team in the game, later in the period, making at least three solid saves on a scramble in front of the net. With PC buzzing in its zone, the Friars forced Peter Lenes to take a holding minor, but he visitors didn’t score on the resulting power play.
Just like in Friday’s game, a 3-2 win for UVM, the team that trailed in the final stanza took themselves out of the game with penalties. Vermont took four minors in the third, not allowing sufficient time to mount a comeback. Tom Collingham, Roloff, and Colin Vock all took penalties in the latter half of the period.
As a result, PC dominated the period territorially and, by game’s end, had attempted 20 more shots than their opponents.
Zancanaro added an empty netter with 17 seconds left for the final margin.
“All in all, as much as I hate to say this, this weekend series probably went the right way,” Sneddon admitted. “They played great all weekend, certainly deserved two points out of it.”
Vermont, facing two of the lower echelon teams in the Hockey East in Merrimack (the Warriors came away with two ties) and Providence over the last two weekends, probably hoped to get more than four points.
“We just have to realize it’s February now, we’re down to crunch time,” said Macaulay. “Obviously, [we're] looking to finish as high as possible in this league; and you can’t take any nights off; and to come out soft in our own building-it’s just not what the Catamounts are all about.”
Vermont (15-9-4, 10-5-4 Hockey East) heads up to Orono for a series with the Black Bears starting Friday, while Providence (7-18-1, 6-12-1) faces Boston College at home and Massachusetts on the road next weekend.