BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont got goals from five different players Saturday to beat Northeastern, 5-2, taking three league points from the No. 9 Huskies at Gutterson Fieldhouse for the weekend.
For the second straight game, UVM outplayed NU in most every facet of the game, but unlike Friday, was able to come away with victory and begin to show what it is capable of as a team.
“I’m just so happy for our men in the locker room,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “They really worked hard this week to try to get things going in the right direction. They were individually accountable and everybody can look themselves in the mirror after this weekend and say they gave it their all for 125 minutes.”
The difference in Vermont’s play from this weekend to that of last weekend at Boston College was evident to Northeastern coach Greg Cronin.
“This is the ninth time in my three years in the league [we've played them] and that was the best hockey I’ve seen them play against us. They had a physical element that was impressive; they had a good pace to the game; they did a good job. Clearly, they pointed at this weekend as a catalyst to turn the season around.”
The Huskies started fast, getting the game’s first five shots, but Vermont came on strong as the period progressed, dominating play.
Vermont made it 1-0 at 6:08 when Northeastern goaltender Brad Thiessen (27 saves) got a piece of Dean Strong’s shot from just above the left circle. The rebound deflected to Corey Carlson at the right post. With Thiessen down and out, Carlson buried his sixth of the season.
The Carlson goal gave Vermont its first lead in a game started by Joe Fallon (16 saves) since Nov. 25, a 5-5 tie at Maine.
Vermont was able to keep Northeastern back on its heels with great pressure on the Huskies’ end and eventually lengthened the lead.
Viktor Stalberg gave Vermont a two-goal cushion at 10:22 on a pretty play as his left-to-right wraparound completely fooled Thiessen and the Huskies.
“We weathered the storm,” said Sneddon. “They came out at us pretty aggressive right out of the gates and never gave up on that.”
The second period was scoreless, but the Catamounts continued to control play and make things difficult for Thiessen, getting traffic in front of Huskies’ net.
Northeastern’s Drew Muench scored the first of his two goals on the night with 32 seconds gone in the third to pull the Huskies within one. Muench popped in a rebound in front to shift the momentum.
Vermont then dodged a bullet, killing a Mark Lutz holding penalty at 2:07. Just as it seemed the Huskies may again pull even in the third, as they did Friday, Peter Lenes’ one-time blast made it 3-1. The puck squirted out of a scrum in the corner to the left circle, and Lenes unleashed a slapper that beat Thiessen top shelf at 7:25.
Vermont scored its first shorthanded goal of the year at 9:30 for a 4-1 lead. With Kyle Medvec in the box for holding the stick, Brayden Irwin finished off a textbook two-on-one when he forced Thiessen to make the first move and slid the puck into a wide-open net.
Muench countered with a shorthanded tally when Joe Vitale got a five-minute major penalty to pull Northeastern back to within 4-2 at 14:50.
Wahsontiio Stacey rounded out Vermont’s scoring with a power-play goal with 1:01 to play.
“I think our guys proved that we can skate with one of the better teams in the country, and when we play together, we can accomplish some great things,” said Sneddon. “It’s a step in the right direction. We have a long way to go, we really do, and that’s how excited I am for this team, because this was just a big step, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
“We had guys that were uncharacteristically bad this weekend, just did not play well,” said Cronin. “A lot of it has to do with Vermont’s pressure they put on us. I mean, you play that way against any team in the country, whether you’re ranked ninth or 50th, you’re going to have success.”
Northeastern (11-6-3, 8-5-2 Hockey East) faces Providence in a home-and-home series starting Friday in Boston, while Vermont (5-9-6. 4-5-4) is on the road for two at Massachusetts.