BURLINGTON, Vt. – A wild finish ended in Vermont’s first win at Gutterson Fieldhouse over Maine since Feb. 15, 1983. Both teams combined for a total of three goals in the final 31 seconds with the Catamounts holding on for a 3-2 win over the second-ranked Black Bears in front of the 44th straight sellout of 4,003 at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon. Vermont has won five straight games to improve to 7-4-1 on the season and 5-1-1 in Hockey East to gain sole possession of second place in the league. The loss drops Maine to 8-3-1 overall and 3-3-1 in conference play.
“It was a great college hockey game from start to finish,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “A couple of those shifts were some of the best college hockey I’ve seen in quite some time. I thought they played very well but we did a nice job of shutting them down. Joe (Fallon) played very good for us again. Unfortunately we made a couple of mistakes late to keep the fans in the stands but certainly it’s nice to come up with a big win against the No. 2 team in the country.”
Freshman Colin Vock (Plymouth, Mich.) and senior Dan Owens (Clinton, N.Y.) both scored even strength goals for the Catamounts and sophomore Dean Strong (Mississauga, Ontario) added an empty-net tally with 25 seconds to play in game.
Vermont junior goalie Joe Fallon (Bemidji, Minn.) made 27 saves and did not allow a score until Billy Ryan found the net for the Black Bears with 31 seconds remaining in the third period. Before the score Fallon set a new Vermont record by going 170 minutes and 41 seconds without allowing a goal dating back to the first period of the Merrimack game last Saturday. His new scoreless streak breaks his old mark of 158 minutes and 33 seconds set last season.
Vermont took a 1-0 lead at 8:16 of the second period when Vock scored his fifth goal of the season. The freshman fired a shot from the right circle that was deflected high into the air. Maine sophomore goalie Ben Bishop reached up and tried to glove the puck but could not hang on and fell to the ice after a collision in front. The puck came out into the slot and Vock scored on an open net.
Freshman Brayden Irwin (Toronto, Onatrio) and senior Arthur Femenella (Annandale, N.J.) both assisted on Vock’s goal. It was the first assist of Femenella’s career and the fourth this season for Irwin.
Fallon turned away 14 Maine shots in the second period including a terrific stop on a short-handed bid by senior Keith Johnson with 6:20 to go. Vermont’s defense also held the Black Bears scoreless during a five-minute major for hitting-from-behind early in the period; including 62 seconds of 5-on-3 during that stretch.
The Catamounts opened up a 2-0 advantage at 8:30 of the third period when Owens scored his first goal of the season and his first goal since Oct. 30, 2004 in a 2-2 tie against then No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth. The senior flicked a wrist shot from inside the right circle past a shielded Bishop. Junior Reese Wisnowski (East Middlebury, Vt.) and senior Tom Collingham (Yonkers, N.Y.) each picked up an assist.
The Black Bears cut the deficit to 2-1 on Ryan’s goal with 31 seconds left in the game.
Vermont responded when Strong put in an empty-netter from center ice with 25 seconds to go in the third period to make it 3-1 Catamounts. Strong has scored in five straight games and has a team-high nine goals on the year.
However, Maine scored again with just three seconds left in the game. Junior Keenan Hopson notched his fourth goal of the game to make it 3-2.
The Catamounts would hold on for the win against the second-ranked Black Bears to improve to 5-2 on the season against ranked opponents. It was the highest ranked opponent Vermont has beaten since a 3-2 win over No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth on Oct. 29, 2004.
Both teams went 0-for-5 on the power play and Maine outshot Vermont 29-26.
The Catamounts return to action on Tuesday (Nov. 28) when they visit Harvard at 7:00pm. The game will be televised on CN8.
GAME NOTES: Vermont has held its opponents to a total of seven goals in the last six games ... Only twice in 12 games this season has Vermont allowed its opponent to score more than two goals in a game ... Torrey Mitchell recorded his 12th assist of the season on Strong’s empty-net goal ... Mitchell has registered at least one point in 10 of 12 games this season.