DENVER - No. 1 Denver scored three unanswered goals in the third period to rally to a 5-4 victory against No. 14 Vermont in front of a crowd of 5,399 at Magness Arena on Friday night. Sophomore Joe Colborne scored the game winner with 2:01 remaining to complete the comeback in the season opener for both teams.
The Catamounts (0-1-0) took a 4-2 lead when junior Wahsontiio Stacey (Kahnawake, Que.) scored on the rush from the right circle at 16:41 of the second period. But the turning point of the game came 70 seconds later when UVM senior Brayden Irwin (Toronto, Ont.) was whistled for a five-minute hit from behind and game misconduct.
The Pioneers (1-0-0) scored once during their five-minute power play and added two more goals in the third period to take advantage of the fact that the Catamounts were without their second line center for the final 22:09 of the game.
"I think the big turning point obviously was the five-minute major," Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "We killed the first half really well at the end of the second period, but they came out in the third and got some offense going."
"I just thought as the period went on, they got better and we kind of looked tired. When you get tired you make poor, mental mistakes and that's what we did."
Vermont senior assistant captain Patrick Cullity (Tewsbury, Mass.) scored the first goal of his career. Juniors Jack Downing (New Canaan, Conn.) and Josh Burrows (Prairie Grove, Ill.) added goals for the Catamounts. Sophomore goalie Rob Madore (Pittsburgh, Pa.) made 38 saves.
Colborne, a 2008 first-round NHL draft pick by the Boston Bruins, scored the tying and winning goal for DU. Junior Kyle Ostrow, freshman Matt Donovan and sophomore Patrick Wiercioch also scored goals for the Pioneers.
Cullity put Vermont in front 1-0 at 14:19 of the opening period. Irwin put a wrist shot on net that squeezed through the legs of DU junior goalie Marc Cheverie (18 saves). Cullity was at the left post to put in the rebound. Stacey also assisted on the play.
Ostrow tied the game for DU at 16:14 of the first, before Downing put Vermont back in front 90 seconds later. Downing beat Cheverie with a hard wrister from the slot to make it 2-1 Catamounts. Freshman Sebastian Stalberg (Gothenburg, Sweden) picked up the first assist of his career.
Vermont opened up a 3-1 advantage on a goal by Burrows at 5:40 of the second period. Irwin won a face off back to Burrows at the point and his wrist shot went through traffic and inside the right post.
Donovan beat Madore on the rush with a slap shot from the left circle at 12:55 of the second to cut the DU deficit to 3-2.
Stacey answered at 16:41 to extend the lead back to a pair of goals. Then came Irwin's penalty at 17:51. The Catamounts killed off the first 2:09 of the DU power play to take a 4-2 lead into the locker room.
Vermont entered the game with a 77-4-11 mark in its last 92 games when leading after two periods but couldn't hold off the DU attack in the third.
Wiercioch, who ranked second in the nation in scoring for defenseman last season, cut the deficit to 4-3 with a power-play goal just 28 seconds into the third.
Then Colborne tied the game on the power play at 8:22. His second goal of the game with 2:01 left from the slot proved to be the game winner.
"We're usually a pretty good team with the lead going into the third period and especially if we have a two-goal lead," Sneddon said. "So, lessons to be learned obviously in the young season and we're obviously disappointed, we felt like we should've won that game."
Vermont meets Denver again on Saturday at 9 p.m. (EST).
NOTES: Tonight's game was televised on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain ... Denver is 4-0 all-time against Vermont ... DU out shot UVM 43-22 and 29-12 in the final 40 minutes ... Wahsontiio Stacey had three shots and had a plus-3 rating ... Vermont is 3-4 in season openers under Kevin Sneddon ... DU is 8-1 all-time in home openers at Magness Arena ... Denver is 59-19-1 in its last 79 non-conference games ... Vermont dropped to 22-12 in its last 34 one-goal games.