BURLINGTON, Vt. - Vermont out shot Alabama-Huntsville 39-14 but had to overcome a third period deficit to rally for a 4-3 victory in front of a sellout crowd at Gutterson Fieldhouse in the opening round of the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup on Saturday night.
The Catamounts are 5-1-1 in their last seven games and they improved to 9-6-2 (4-5-2 HEA) overall with the win.
No. 12 Minnesota-Duluth (12-6-1) defeated Mercyhurst (9-10-2) 6-0 in the first game of the Catamount Cup. The Catamounts will face the Bulldogs at 7:05 p.m. on Sunday in the tournament championship game. The Chargers (4-10-1) will meet the Lakers at 4 p.m. in the consolation game.
Trailing 3-2 in the third period, freshman David Pacan (Ottawa, Ont.) scored on a rebound with 11:40 left to tie the game for the Catamounts. Freshmen Chris McCarthy (Collegeville, Pa.) and Sebastian Stalberg (Gothenburg, Sweden) each assisted.
Then junior Jack Downing (New Canaan, Conn.) put the Catamounts in front 4-3 with a blast from the top of the right circle with just under seven minutes remaining. Junior Wahsontiio Stacey (Kahnawake, Que.) and senior co-captain Brian Roloff (West Seneca, N.Y.) both assisted.
"We went in and talked to the guys in between periods and asked them what was the difference between the first and the second," Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "They're smart enough to realize that there was some selfishness out there and a lack of discipline in terms of our structure and I think they came out in the third period, and it still wasn't perfect by any means, but we played with a lot more energy. We played with a lot more togetherness and obviously we got the job done."
Senior Colin Vock (Orlando, Fla.) and junior Justin Milo (Edina, Minn.) each scored a goal and had an assist. Senior Brayden Irwin (Toronto, Ont.) had a pair of assists to increase his team leading point total to 16 (6g, 10a).
Junior Cameron Talbot made 35 saves in the loss for the Chargers. Freshman Matti Jarvinen scored a pair of goals.
Vermont took a 1-0 lead at 9:13 of the opening period. From the wing Milo fed the seam looking for Irwin and the puck deflected to the bottom of the right circle. Vock pounced on the loose puck for his fourth goal of the season.
Milo put the Catamounts in front 2-0 at 4:25 of the second period when he took a backdoor pass from Vock at the right post to notch his fifth goal of the season.
Vermont appeared to have complete control of the game midway through the second before back-to-back penalties on the Catamounts led to a power-play goal for UAH and a run of three unanswered goals.
Tom Train scored on the power play at 10:36 to cut the deficit in half. Then Jarvinen potted an unassisted tally from the slot just 70 seconds later.
Jarvinen's second goal with just 51 seconds to play in the period put the Chargers in front 3-2 going to the final period. Jarvinen scored on a rebound in transition.
However, the Catamounts completed the comeback in the third to win for the first time when trailing after 40 minutes since last year's dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind win against Air Force in the NCAA East Regional championship game.
Vermont advances to its fifth consecutive Catamount Cup championship game and will be seeking its third title in the 14-year history of the tournament.
"This is our tournament, we call it our hardware and we want to make sure we keep it here," Sneddon said. "We did a good job of that last year. We've played in a lot of the championship games, not always on the winning front, but we gave ourselves an opportunity now to play against a great Duluth team. I was very impressed with what I saw out of them and we'll have to be a lot better tomorrow night to give ourselves a chance."
NOTES: Senior Mike Spillane made 11 saves in his first start since Dec. 6 ... Vermont went 0-for-4 on the power play while UAH was 1-for-4 ... UVM is 8-2-1 under Sneddon in the Catamount Cup ... The Catamounts were just 3-12-1 in their holiday tournament before Sneddon's arrival ... Today's game was the first-ever meeting between Vermont and Alabama-Huntsville ... The Catamounts are 27-12 in their last 39 one-goal games ... Vermont has won 54 of its last 56 games when scoring at least four goals ... Brian Roloff went 12-for-17 on face offs.