BURLINGTON, Vt. – Vermont junior goalie Joe Fallon (Bemidji, Minn.) extended his school record for shutouts to 17 with 32 saves and three different players recorded goals as the 16th-ranked Catamounts blanked No. 19 Massachusetts 3-0 in front of the 55th straight sellout crowd of 4,003 at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Saturday night. UVM moves to 16-12-4 overall and 11-8-4 in Hockey East with the win to jump into sole possession of fourth place in the conference. UMass drops to 14-11-5 and 11-9-3 in league play with the loss.
“I’m just so proud of the team from top to bottom,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We had a great effort from everyone tonight. Dean (Strong) and Torrey (Mitchell) really stepped up offensively. I’m really proud of Joe (Fallon) as well for the way he rebounded from a couple of tough games. He was the difference tonight.”
Freshman Brayden Irwin (Toronto, Ontario), junior co-captain Torrey Mitchell (Greenfield Park, Quebec) and sophomore Dean Strong (Mississauga, Ontario) all scored goals for the Catamounts. Fallon’s shutout was also his sixth this season to match his own UVM single-season record.
UMass outshot Vermont 16-4 in the first period but for the second straight night the Catamounts took control in the second period.
However, early in the second period the Catamounts were whistled for a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind. Soon after an interference call against UVM left UMass with a 5-on -3. But the Catamounts were able to kill off the penalties and UVM held the Minutemen to 0-for-6 on the power play in the game.
Then Irwin gave the Catamounts a 1-0 lead at 7:52 of the second period with a power-play goal. Junior assistant captain Mark Lutz (Stevens Point, Wis.) setup the score with a perfect pass to Irwin at the right circle just as he skated onto the ice. Irwin then flicked a wrist shot top shelf past UMass sophomore goalie Jon Quick for his sixth goal of the season. Sophomore Corey Carlson (Two Harbors, Minn.) also picked up his third assist of the weekend on the play.
Vermont took a 2-0 lead early in the third period on Mitchell’s 12th goal of the season. Freshman Brian Roloff (West Seneca, N.Y.) skated up the left side of the ice and fired a pass to Mitchell at the right circle. Mitchell faked right and went to his backhand in the slot to beat Quick for the goal. Freshman Colin Vock (Plymouth, Mich.) also assisted.
The Catamounts opened up a 3-0 advantage on Strong’s team-high 13th goal of the season at 8:39 of the final period. Strong used a wrist shot from the right circle to record his first score since Jan. 12. Mitchell and sophomore Peter Lenes (Shelburne, Vt.) both assisted.
UMass outshot Vermont 32-24 for the game. Quick made 24 saves in a losing effort for UMass. Fallon’s 32 saves were the most in his career in any of his 17 shutouts.
The Catamounts went 2-1-0 against the Minutemen in the regular season series.
Vermont returns to action next weekend when the Catamounts travel to Agganis Arena in Boston, Mass., to play Boston University on Friday (Feb. 23) and Saturday (Feb. 24). Friday's game will start at 8: 00pm and will be televised on CSTV. Saturday's game will start at 7:00pm and will be televised on CN8. Vermont won this season's first meeting against BU at Gutterson Fieldhouse 2-1 on Nov. 14.
GAME NOTES: Vermont is 8-7-1 at home this season ... Vermont’s 11th Hockey East win surpasses last season’s total ... UVM leads the all-time series against UMass 27-11-4 ... UVM is 17-4-2 all-time at the Gut against the Minutemen ... Vermont is 14-2-3 when scoring first this season ... Vermont is 26-6-4 in the last two seasons when Dean Strong records at least one point.