Catamounts advance to first-ever Hockey East Championship game

Peter Lenes had a goal and an assist for Vermont

BOSTON, Mass. - Junior Peter Lenes (Shelburne, Vt.) and sophomore Colin Vock (Plymouth, Mich.) scored goals :29 seconds apart in the second period and senior goalie Joe Fallon (Bemidji, Minn.) made 25 saves as the University of Vermont advanced to its first-ever Hockey East Final with a 3-1 win over Boston University in the Hockey East Semifinals in front of 12,522 on Friday night at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.

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Trailing 1-0 just past the midway point of the game, Lenes took a feed from junior Dean Strong (Mississauga, Ont.), split a pair of BU defenders, and squeezed a backhander past Terrier sophomore netminder Brett Bennett (Williamsville, N.Y.; 13 saves) at 5:43 for his 10th goal of the season, tying the score at 1-1.

Just as the Catamounts goal was being announced to the crowd, Vock chipped in a loose puck to give Vermont a 2-1 lead. Sophomore Brayden Irwin (Toronto, Ont.) carried the puck into the offensive zone down the left wing boards and swung a pass through the slot to freshman Jack Downing (New Canaan, Conn.). Downing's shot attempt was blocked by a BU defender, but was enough to draw Bennett down, and Vock scored his ninth goal of the season at 6:13.

The Terriers notched the game's first goal at 10:17 of the first period when junior Chris Higgins (Lynnfield, Mass.) potted his 14th goal of the season. Freshman Colby Cohen (Villanova, Pa.) started the play with a pass to classmate Kevin Shattenkirk (New Rochelle, N.Y.) at the right point. He slid a pass to the right circle to Higgins, who faked a shot and fired a shot through Fallon's legs.

Higgins made a great shorthanded rush with about 13:40 remaining in the third period, cutting to the front after a left-wing rush but was denied by Fallon. Shortly thereafter, Fallon also stopped Nick Bonino's (Unionville, Conn.) shorthanded shot from the slot.

The Catamounts nearly added to their lead on a power-play with about 7:30 left to play but Strong's rebound effort hit the post. On BU's next trip up the ice, Bonino was thwarted on another shorthanded effort by Fallon.

The Terriers pulled Bennett with 1:41 remaining for an extra attacker and Catamount junior Corey Carlson (Two Harbors, Minn.) iced the victory for Vermont with an empty net goal at 19:20 of the third period. Lenes and freshman defenseman Kevan Miller (Los Angeles, Calif.) picked up assists on Carlson's eighth goal of the year.

The Catamounts qualified for the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in each of its first two seasons as a member of Hockey East before their 13 conference wins and 31 points earned them the No. 3 position this season. Last weekend, Vermont hosted its first-ever Hockey East playoff games and topped the No. 6 seeded Northeastern Huskies in a hard-fought three-game series.

The Catamounts will face the Eagles of Boston College in the championship game Saturday night at TD Banknorth Garden. The No. 4 seeded Eagles outlasted No. 1 New Hampshire, 5-4, in triple overtime in the other semifinal.