BURLINGTON, VT — One period turned out to be enough for the Vermont Catamounts as they toppled the Massachusetts Minutemen, 2-1, Friday night in Hockey East action at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Seniors Josh Burrows and Jack Downing scored for Vermont while freshman Conor Sheary netted the lone goal for UMass. All of the game’s scoring took place in the opening period.
“I though in the first period Vermont had the edge and they obviously scored the two goals and getting that goal back was big in terms of us getting into the game and making a little bit of a run that could have possibly turned the tide. But as it turned out the difference in the game was their power play goal and our inability to convert on special teams,” Massachusetts head coach Don Cahoon said.
“We can finally say that our special teams were special, we moved the puck around on the power play, obviously a nice goal, but had some really good chances on other power plays and I thought our penalty killers did a fabulous job tonight,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said.
UMass freshman Michael Pereira picked up a cross checking penalty at 8:20 in the game’s opening period. While he was serving his time in the penalty box, players from both teams scrambled around the corner of the UMass net as the Catamounts tried to capitalize on their first power-play opportunity of the game. The puck didn’t make it past senior goaltender and captain Paul Dainton though and the game remained scoreless.
It wouldn’t last that way for long though as the Catamounts came firing back to the UMass net on the same power play, this time breaking through for the first goal of the night. Burrows shot the puck from near the blue line and it stayed low as it slid past Dainton at 9:22.
UMass freshman Branden Gracel just missed getting his stick on a rebound within striking distance of the Vermont net. Instead, the Catamounts added their second goal soon after at 16:54, when Downing tipped in a shot taken by senior Dan Lawson from the right of the UMass net.
The Minutemen did not give up on the first period though as they closed out the scoring in the period by cutting Vermont’s lead in half. Sheary sent a one-timer to the top corner of the Vermont net at 17:24, beating junior goalie Rob Madore and putting his team on the board.
Vermont began the second period by successfully killing off a 5-on-3 when penalties charged to Lawson and Downing carried over into the second from the first period.
Vermont senior assistant captain Kyle Medvec later sent a wrist shot from the right circle, trying to get some momentum started in the period for the Catamounts. Dainton made the stop though when he secured the puck in his glove.
Pereira tried to do the same for the Minutemen, shooting the puck forward toward Madore as he was falling to the ice. Pereira wasn’t able to propel the puck over the goal line though and the second remained scoreless.
The Minutemen outshot the Catamounts 11-8 in the period.
In the final period, Vermont junior Drew MacKenzie shot a wrister in the slot but Dainton stopped another puck, catching it close to his chest.
Later on, Pereira set up Sheary near the Vermont net but Sheary wasn’t able to stay in control of the puck.
As another scoreless period was winding down, with less than two minutes left to play in the game, UMass took a timeout and Vermont did the same almost immediately after.
Following the timeouts, UMass freshman Joel Hanley made a final effort to tie the game for the Minutemen.
Hanley sent a hard shot toward Madore from the left of the net. The puck didn’t make it in though and this proved to be the end of the night for UMass. A Vermont player got control of the puck and sent it across the ice and into an empty UMass net. Because time had expired, the goal did not count but the Catamounts still secured the 2-1 victory.