DURHAM, N.H. — Just a day after combining for 11 goals with UNH, Vermont kept its tournament hopes alive, taking a defensive struggle, 1-0, in front of 4,067 fans at the Whittemore Center last night.
Fourth-liner David Pacan made the play of his young career, taking the puck from the right corner into the slot before throwing a wrist shot top shelf, beating UNH goalie Brian Foster glove side, all while absorbing a hit to give the Catamounts the only goal and, in turn, the win.
The 6-foot-3 freshman forward used his size to barrel roll in front of the net and score the game-winner 5:16 into the third period.
“That was a power forward move,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “Talk about using his size to his advantage. He was able to use his strength with the man on him to get the puck on the net.”
Friday night, in game one of the best-of-three series, UNH scored five unanswered goals on its way to a closer-than-it-sounds 7-4 win.
Goalie Rob Madore keyed Vermont’s success, stopping 17 shots, many in the game’s final five minutes, rebounding from a shaky game Friday.
The sophomore, who started all but one game this season, was pulled in game one of the series after allowing six goals.
Tonight though, he kept the Wildcats’ faithful from throwing the infamous fish on the ice, as Madore and the rest of the Catamounts shut out UNH’s 10th-ranked offense for the first time all season.
“We all know he had a tough night last night,” Sneddon said after the game of Madore. “I challenged him and he came up huge tonight.”
The UNH loss snapped the Wildcats’ conference home unbeaten streak, which had approached 14 months against Hockey East schools. UNH was 10-0-4 in that time.
The Wildcats had several chances at the end of the game, including a two-on-one, but weren’t able to execute, even after drawing up a faceoff play during a timeout with 4.4 seconds remaining.
“When we did have a chance to score, we didn’t get it done,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “They executed on their goal and we didn’t get it done when we had a chance.”
The first two periods were slow and featured eight penalties and many icing and offside calls.
Hobey Baker hopeful Bobby Butler had the Wildcats’ best scoring chance, but sent his slap shot from the right slot ringing off the post at the end of the first period.
Both teams made major changes defensively after Friday’s offensive showcase.
“I think it was more of a change in execution,” Sneddon said. “Our guys identified and stayed on their guys a little better tonight.”
Vermont’s improved defense held the Wildcats to just three shots in the second period.
Umile isn’t expecting much to change heading into game three of the series.
“I expect it’s going to be another very defensive game,” he said.
Sneddon seemed to agree.
“It’s far from over,” he said. “It’s going to be a very tight game. I think both teams are going to go back to the drawing board.”
Bad blood brewed after the game between UVM’s Kevan Miller and UNH’s Mike Sislo, setting the stage for a huge game tonight which will determine the winner of the quarterfinal series and could be the last game the losing team plays all season. The puck drops at 7 p.m.