OXFORD, Ohio - Vermont senior goalie Joe Fallon (Bemidji, Minn.) made 38 saves but a pair of third period goals by Miami gave the fourth-ranked Red Hawks a 2-1 victory over the 20th-ranked Catamounts in front of a crowd of 3,125 at the Goggin Ice Center on Friday night in the regular season opener for both teams.
Junior Justin Mercier scored a power-play goal and senior captain Ryan Jones scored at even strength for Miami.
Junior Peter Lenes (Shelburne, Vt.) scored with 2:22 left in the game with an extra skater on the ice for the Catamounts. The goal was the 22nd of his career.
"We saw an awful lot of good things out there tonight from the net out," Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "We're disappointed in the final outcome but in the process we were a lot better than we were last weekend which is obviously good progress for us. Coming into this building it's a tough challenge and Miami came at us very hard. They are a very good hockey team."
Miami out shot Vermont 25-16 through the first two periods and the game was scoreless going to the third.
The Red Hawks took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Mercier at 4:59 of the final period. Junior defenseman Ray Eichenlaub fired a shot from the right point that Mercier tipped past Fallon. Prior to the goal Miami had gone scoreless on its first five power play chances of the game.
Jones gave Miami a 2-0 advantage with the 60th goal of his career at 12:17 of the third. Jones redirected a shot from inside the slot through Fallon's five-hole for the score. Defenseman Kevin Roeder setup the goal with his shot from the point.
With less than three minutes to play in the game and trailing by a pair of goals Vermont called timeout and pulled Fallon from net for an extra skater. The Catamounts won the ensuing face off in Miami's zone and Lenes stuffed a rebound past Miami junior goalie Jeff Zatkoff with 2:22 to play. Sophomore Brayden Irwin (Toronto, Ontario) assisted on the goal that pulled the Catamounts within one score.
Vermont continued to put the pressure on Miami in the final two minutes but a late flurry of shot attempts came up empty as the Red Hawks held on for the win.
Fallon's 38 saves marked the second most shots he has turned away in a game in his career. He stopped a career high 40 shots at No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth back in November of 2004 in a 2-2 tie.
"I thought Joe Fallon for us was the difference really," Sneddon said. "We could have been down a couple in that first period but he settled in and allowed us to get better as the game went along. I thought he did a great job."
Zatkoff finished with 24 saves in the win for the Red Hawks. Vermont went 0-for-5 on the power play and Miami was 1-for-6.
Vermont faces Miami again on Saturday night at the Goggin Ice Center at 8pm.
GAME NOTES: The win for Miami was its first-ever against Vermont ... The Catamounts had won the previous six meetings against the Red Hawks ... Miami is 16-5-1 at the Goggin Ice Center since its opening last October ... Vermont is 2-3 in season openers under head coach Kevin Sneddon ... Miami graduate and Super Bowl XL MVP Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers is in Oxford this weekend to have his number retired prior to Saturday's Miami and Bowling Green football game ... Roethlisberger is staying at the same hotel as the Vermont hockey team.