BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont goaltender Joe Fallon made 20 saves to record his 20th career shutout, and sophomore Colin Vock scored the games only goal as the Catamounts took Game 1 of the Hockey East Quarterfinals, 1-0, over Northeastern Friday at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
The shutout is the third in six games for Fallon, who ranks second all-time in NCAA history.
A goaltenders duel, Northeasterns Brad Thiessen made 27 saves himself, allowing only Vocks second-period tally.
At 6:48 of the second, Vock jumped out of the penalty box and Reese Wisnowski found him with a long pass skating through center. His wrister from the right circle beat Thiesessen stick side, just inside the post.
Vocks seventh goal of the year was enough to beat the Huskies on a night UVM head coach Kevin Sneddon said his team didnt play its best.
I was impressed with our team at points in the game, but I wasnt impressed with our team in several others, he said. So, I think the challenge now is thats three periods out of the six, and weve got to be much better in the next three periods.
I thought it was a great goaltenders game, he said. I thought Brad Thiessen played fantastic; I thought Joe Fallon was sensational. So when you get those two guys playing the way they did tonight, you knew it was going to be a one-goal game, quite frankly.
It was a great college hockey game, said NU head coach Greg Cronin. A lot of excitement, a lot of posts and pucks rolling across [the] crease. I give Vermont credit; theyre just a tough team to play against. Defensively they block shots, and they try to keep you out on the perimeter, and they did a very good job of that.
The first period was scoreless, but not void of scoring chances for either side. Brad Thiessen made 11 saves in the period, including several good ones to keep his team from being down heading to the second.
The Catamounts were buzzing with less than eight minutes to go in the period. Brayden Irwin forced Thiessen to make two solid saves on the same shift from the hash marks. Shortly thereafter, with the teams skating four-on-four, Dean Strong rang the post from the slot, with 7:11 to play.
Vock took an interference penalty at 4:31 — one of his three minors in the game — but the Catamounts killed it, and enabled him to score.
I just came out of the penalty box, and Reese Wisnowski made a nice play, didnt ice the puck, and I just came out two-on-one. [Jonathan] Higgins drove the net really well, and I just shot it low blocker, explained Vock.
We had good net drive, said Sneddon. Thats kind of [Vocks] patented move to cut across the tops of the circles and be patient, get the goalie to move and then shoot.
Northeastern wasnt able to get many quality chances in the third, and the eight shots that it did get to Fallon, he turned aside.
I think weve got to come up with a way to penetrate the middle third of the ice on them, Cronin said. Theyre a stingy team. They try and squeeze the enthusiasm out of you with second and third shots in that paint area because they defend so well. And they clear pucks well, they dont mess around, they get the puck and its out of that area quickly.
Bad turnovers, bad coverage, Sneddon said of the Catamounts early play. Our defensemen, I think, had some jitters early on. I think we got better at moving the puck [as the game progressed], but I think we had some early jitters back there and made some poor plays, poor decisions with the puck. So, there are areas that can certainly improve, and we need to improve tomorrow night, because Northeastern will play their hearts out like they did tonight.
With the win the Catamounts (15-13-7) improve to 11-4-2 in their last 17 games.
The strength of our team as of late has been mistake management. Sneddon said. So when a team has possession, we dont panic, we block shots, we do the little things ” [win] net-front battles ” those are all strengths of our team and have been strengths of our team during this second half.
Vermont and Northeastern (15-17-3) play the second game of their series Saturday at 7 p.m.