BURLINGTON, Vt. - Sophomore Viktor Stalberg (Gothenburg, Sweden) scored the game-winning goal for the second straight game and senior Joe Fallon (Bemidji, Minn.) stopped 19 shots, including 11 in the third period, to give Vermont a 2-1 victory over Merrimack in front of a sellout crowd of 4,003 at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Hockey East action on Saturday night. The Catamounts are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and improved to 10-11-7 (9-7-5 HEA) overall. Merrimack fell to 10-15-3 (4-15-2 HEA) with the loss.
"I thought Viktor (Stalberg) was our MVP on the weekend," Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "I guess I look at him and Joe Fallon. I thought Joe was spectacular. I thought Viktor really established himself as one of the better players in Hockey East this weekend."
Stalberg has at least one point in nine of the last 10 games and a total of six goals and 12 points in that stretch. His three game-winning goals in Hockey East contests ranks tied for second best in the conference.
Fallon is 5-1-1 in his last seven starts with a 1.81 goals against average. He has held the Warriors to one goal or less in six straight starts against them.
Junior co-captain Dean Strong (Mississauga, Ontario) scored just 14 seconds into the game. Sophomore Colin Vock (Plymouth, Mich.) setup the goal off the draw at the right circle. Vock has a team best 16 assists and 21 points on the season.
Freshman Joe Cucci scored for Merrimack during a 5-on-3 in the third period. Sophomore Andrew Braithwaite had 16 saves in the loss.
"Points are so hard to come by in Hockey East play," Sneddon added. "You have to fight for every single point and to come away with four on a weekend; that's the first time we have done it all year. We weren't always perfect but we played some really good hockey this weekend."
With Vermont leading 1-0, Stalberg scored with just 44 seconds remaining in the second period. Sophomore Brian Roloff (West Seneca, N.Y.) fed Stalberg in the slot from the right circle. Freshman Kevan Miller (Los Angeles, Calif.) also assisted on the goal that proved to be the game winner.
"I just kind of took it hard to the net and hoped for the best," Stalberg said. "I guess we got a little lucky there but you can always use that, so it was good."
Trailing by a pair of goals, Cucci cut the deficit in half for Merrimack with a wrister from the slot at 3:01 of the third.
Merrimack continued to put pressure on Vermont in the final period, registering a total of 11 shots after putting up just three shots in the second. Junior Grant Farell had a chance to tie the game with 12 seconds left but he hit the post from the right circle.
The weekend sweep for Vermont was its first since taking back-to-back games against Boston College at Gutterson Fieldhouse last season on Jan. 19 and 20.
With six games left in the regular season, the Catamounts are three points behind second place Boston College and one point behind Northeastern and Providence, who are in a tie for third place in the Hockey East standings.
Vermont returns to action next weekend in a two-game series at No. 18 UMass-Lowell at Tsongas Arena on Friday (2/22) and Saturday (2/23). Both games begin at 7pm. The Catamounts won this season's first meeting 3-2 on Feb. 3 at Gutterson Fieldhouse.