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BURLINGTON, Vt. - Sophomore Viktor Stalberg (Gothenburg, Sweden) continued his offensive tear with a pair of goals and Vermont held Merrimack to 0-for-7 on the power play on the way to a 4-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 4,003 at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Hockey East action on Friday night. UVM is 5-2-2 in its nine games and improved to 9-11-7 (8-7-5 HEA) overall. Merrimack dropped to 10-14-3 (4-14-2 HEA) with the loss.
Stalberg has registered at least one point in eight of the last nine games and has five goals and 11 points in that stretch. His 18 points (7g, 11a) in 20 league games ranks tied for 10th best in Hockey East.
"He's a tremendous player," Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "When he hits those seems with speed it's real tough for any team to defend that. He's starting to play that power forward with speed and skill type of role for us."
"I'd say my play has affected the entire team playing well," Stalberg said. "We definitely have been playing better as a group lately and I think that just shows in my play as well."
Senior Reese Wisnowski (East Middlebury, Vt.) recorded his second goal of the season for the Catamounts. Junior assistant captain Peter Lenes (Shelburne, Vt.) added his eighth goal of the year.
Senior Joe Fallon (Bemidji, Minn.) stopped 15 shots as he improved to 4-1-1 in his last six starts with a 1.78 goals against average in that span.
Sophomore Pat Bowen scored Merrimack's lone goal. Sophomore Andrew Braithwaite, who entered the game with a 2.39 goals against average on the season, stopped 27 shots in the loss.
Vermont opened up a 1-0 lead 8:35 into the first period on a goal by Wisnowski. He knocked in a rebound at the left post after a shot by sophomore Jay Anctil (Wolfeboro, N.H.). Sophomore Jonathan Higgins (Stratham, N.H.) also assisted.
Bowen tied the game 1-1 for Merrimack 6:49 into the second period. The defenseman blasted a shot from the right point for his second tally of the season.
The Catamounts took the lead for good two minutes later on Stålberg's first of two goals. Sophomore Brian Roloff (West Senca, N.Y.) setup Stålberg streaking down the slot during a 4-on-4 at 8:50.
Stålberg struck again with just 1:24 left in the second to make it 3-1 Vermont. He was able to wiggle his way into the slot and beat Braithwaite with a hard low shot after sophomore Colin Vock (Plymouth, Mich.) dug the puck out of the corner. Freshman Jack Downing (New Canaan Conn.) also assisted.
Lenes gave the Catamounts a 4-1 lead 4:54 into the third. Vock and senior co-captain Mark Lutz (Stevens Point, Wis.) each assisted. UVM is unbeaten in 36 straight games when scoring at least four times.
"I thought our team did a nice job mentally of staying focused and doing what we needed to do to have success tonight," Sneddon said. "Scoring four even strength goals was good for us because we don't do that too often."
The Catamounts out shot the Warriors 31-16. Merrimack's 35 penalty minutes were a season high for an opponent against Vermont, but the Catamounts were unable to capitalize going 0-for-9 on the power play.
UVM completes the season series against Merrimack on Saturday at 7:05pm at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The game is sold out.
"This was phase one of an important series," Sneddon added. "But there is no time to really rest on it, we have to start thinking about how we can be better for tomorrow night."
On Saturday the first 1,500 fans to Gutterson will receive trading cards courtesy of SD Ireland and there will be a post-game autograph session. The game will also include special merchandise sales, raffles and auctions as part of Hockey East's Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer weekend. Two pink sticks and jerseys signed by both the UVM men's and women's hockey teams will be available in a raffle.
NOTES: Tonight marked the first time Viktor Stalberg has recorded a two-goal game in his career ... Defensemen Mark Lutz and Kyle Medvec both had a plus-3 rating ... Vermont is 8-4-3 all-time against MC ... Colin Vock recorded two assists in a game for the fourth time in his career ... Vock went 6-for-7 on face offs and Brayden Irwin won 10 of 15 draws ... UVM is 6-5-4 at home this season ... Vermont is 34-7-11 in the last 52 games when scoring first.