College Hockey:
McCarthy scores two to lead Vermont past Northeastern

— The University of Vermont completed a season sweep of Northeastern on Saturday night, riding a wave of pressure late in the second period and through the bulk of the third to defeat the Huskies, 3-1, at Matthews Arena.

Despite struggling to find scoring chances early on, junior forward Chris McCarthy provided all the offense the Catamounts would need. McCarthy scored two goals — including the game-winner midway through the third period — and freshman Brody Hoffman turned in another impressive performance in net, stopping 29 shots en route to the victory.

“We were just fortunate to have a player like Chris McCarthy step up when we didn’t have a lot of things going offensively,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I thought we played very smart in the third period.”

The game was chippy throughout, as scoring chances were mixed in with solid checks. As the game went along, things began to escalate, but throughout, the physical edge favored Vermont.

Early in the second period, Northeastern began to turn a persistent forecheck into higher-percentage looks. Five minutes into the frame, it paid off when the Huskies scored on a power play. With Beanpot MVP Kevin Roy drawing attention from the UVM defense, the extra open ice left Vinny Saponari wide open on the back door. When he was forced to settle the puck, he opted to pass to a wide open Cody Ferriero just 10 feet away, who slapped the puck into the net.

While the goal gave the Huskies a wealth of momentum, it was quickly snapped when McCarthy carried the puck in alone, swarmed by four backcheckers. Undeterred, he snapped the puck past both Dax Lauwers and Huskies goalie Bryan Mountain (26 saves) to tie the game, 1-1.

At 8:24 of the third, McCarthy, in a play eerily similar to his earlier goal, carried the puck in with NU defensemen surrounding him, then wristed a shot, this time going through Mountain’s five-hole, to give the Catamounts a 2-1 lead.

The narrative became oddly reminiscent of Friday night, when the Huskies went up 1-0 (also on a power-play goal), only to have the game tied minutes later and see the game slip away in the third.

“We had some good quality looks — we didn’t have quantity, but we had some quality,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan noted, “I don’t think we’re gripping the sticks any tighter. Up until this weekend, we converted more chances.”

Despite a late push and a slew of inviting rebound chances right in front of the UVM goal, Hoffman withstood the pressure to backstop the Catamounts to the win.

Hoffman’s poise and composure was something that Sneddon highlighted after the game.

“You want to talk about maturity, mental toughness, and all those type of things, he’s not a freshman,” Sneddon said. “He’s as mature a young man as I’ve coached.”

For Northeastern, the loss equaled the Huskies’ longest home winless drought since 1997, something that has left Madigan searching for answers.

“I wish I knew,” Madigan said. “It’s frustrating. We’ve always had success at home, and we had success early [this year] at home. I feel sorry for our student group who comes out every night and supports us… we just haven’t been able to get [them] any wins.”

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