BOSTON — Rob Madore stopped 32-of-33 shots, leading Vermont to a 3-1 win over hosting Northeastern. The Catamounts seized a 2-0 first-period lead, weathered a strong second period by the Huskies, then traded third-period power-play goals for the final score.
Anthony DeCenzo, Jack Downing, and Sebastian Stalberg all contributed goals for Vermont.
“Our team played real hard from start to finish tonight,” UVM head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “Everybody contributed in one way or another to make a special play, whether it was a shot block, a backcheck, taking a hit to make a play, or making an offensive play. We just did a lot of really good things.
“It was a total team effort. We weren’t relying on one line or one part of our game. It was a well-balanced effort by all of our guys including our goaltender.”
Vermont started the season in rough fashion, winning only a single game through Dec. 8, but has now won three of its last six, albeit this being the first of those within Hockey East.
“It’s been tough,” Sneddon said. “I give our guys a lot of credit. They’re resilient. They brush it off and keep swinging. I’m proud of their effort tonight.”
The Catamounts dedicated the win to one of the program’s founding fathers, Wendall Barwood, who was celebrating his 86th birthday. Sneddon said the team would be sending him the game puck.
“We hope he feels some joy in this win tonight,” Sneddon said.
The loss was a disappointing one for Northeastern. The Huskies came close with many opportunities—one goal was disallowed and another glittering opportunity hit the post. Even more so, however, was the lost opportunity within the standings after taking four points last weekend to insert themselves into the home ice race.
“It’s frustrating,” NU head coach Greg Cronin said. “We hit posts and had the goal disallowed. It’s frustrating because it would have made us 6-6 [in Hockey East] and right up there with Maine and Merrimack.
“Vermont played a real smart road game. They played it for 60 minutes, They got pucks deep. They threw pucks to the net. We had some chances and just didn’t bury them.”
The Catamounts seized control of the game in the first period, taking a 2-0 lead.
The Huskies had an extra jump in their stride in the opening minutes, but Vermont rallied and got on the scoreboard at the 7:00 mark. Stalberg put a shot on net and the rebound caromed to the far post where DeCenzo backhanded it into the wide-open net.
Three minutes later Drew MacKensie hit Downing with a home run pass and the senior took off on an uncontested breakaway. He put a great fake to the forehand on Chris Rawlings, then tucked it in backhanded.
At 13:23 Northeastern went on essentially back-to-back power plays, the only man advantages of the period, but mustered only two shots and nothing on the scoreboard. The period ended with Vermont leading, 2-0.
Nearly six minutes into the second period and on the power play, Northeastern put a loose puck in the crease into the net but the potential goal was waved off. Referee John Gravallese had lost sight of the puck.
The Huskies threatened again on the same power play with Tyler McNeely redirecting the puck from the right post to a wide-open left post, but Steve Silva couldn’t control it and knock it in.
The close-but-no-cigar opportunities continued minutes later when Garrett Vermeersch made a terrific move to gain separation from a defender to the left of the slot only to hit the post with a backhander.
Rob Madore and Rawlings then traded excellent saves, Madore’s coming off a scramble in front of the net and Rawlings foiling Connor Brickley on a brief breakaway.
The period ended with the Catamounts still holding a 2-0 lead.
Two minutes into the third period Rob Dongara took a breakaway pass and broke in on Madore but the Catamount netminder again stymied the Huskies.
Northeastern made it a 2-1 game at 6:35 on a Steve Silva power-play goal assisted by Wade McLeod, but Stalberg reestablished the two-goal margin less than three minutes later, helped by a great Connor Brickley screen.
The two teams face off again at Matthews Arena on Saturday night at 7:00.