OXFORD, Ohio — A pair of third-period goals by Miami overcame 38 saves from Vermont goalie Joe Fallon as the RedHawks earned a 2-1 victory over the Catamounts in front of a crowd of 3,125 on Friday night in the regular-season opener for both teams.
Junior Justin Mercier scored a power-play goal and senior captain Ryan Jones scored at even strength for Miami.
Junior Peter Lenes scored with 2:22 left in the game with an extra skater on the ice for the Catamounts. The goal was the 22nd of his career.
“We saw an awful lot of good things out there tonight from the net out,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We’re disappointed in the final outcome but in the process we were a lot better than we were last weekend which is obviously good progress for us. Coming into this building it’s a tough challenge and Miami came at us very hard. They are a very good hockey team.”
Miami outshot Vermont 25-16 through the first two periods and the game was scoreless going to the third.
The RedHawks took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Mercier at 4:59 of the final period. Junior defenseman Ray Eichenlaub fired a shot from the right point that Mercier tipped past Fallon. Prior to the goal Miami had gone scoreless on its first five power play chances of the game.
Jones gave Miami a 2-0 advantage with the 60th goal of his career at 12:17 of the third. Jones redirected a shot from inside the slot through Fallon’s five-hole for the score. Defenseman Kevin Roeder set up the goal with his shot from the point.
With less than three minutes to play in the game and trailing by a pair of goals, Vermont called timeout and pulled Fallon for an extra skater. The Catamounts won the ensuing faceoff in Miami’s zone and Lenes stuffed a rebound past Miami junior goalie Jeff Zatkoff with 2:22 to play. Sophomore Brayden Irwin assisted on the goal that pulled the Catamounts within one.
Vermont continued to put the pressure on Miami in the final two minutes but a late flurry came up empty as the RedHawks held on for the win.
Fallon’s 38 saves marked the second-most shots he has turned away in a game in his career. He stopped a career-high 40 shots at then-No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth back in November 2004 in a 2-2 tie.
Zatkoff finished with 24 saves in the win for the Red Hawks. Vermont went 0-for-5 on the power play and Miami was 1-for-6.
Vermont faces Miami again on Saturday night at the Goggin Ice Center at 8 p.m.
Notes: The win for Miami was its first-ever against Vermont. The Catamounts had won the previous six meetings against the RedHawks. … Miami is 16-5-1 at Steve Cady Arena since its opening last October. … Vermont is 2-3 in season openers under head coach Kevin Sneddon. … Miami graduate and Super Bowl XL MVP Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers is in Oxford this weekend to have his number retired prior to Saturday’s Miami-Bowling Green football game. Roethlisberger is staying at the same hotel as the Vermont hockey team.