AMHERST, Mass. - Casey Wellman scored two goals and James Marcou added a goal and an assist to lead the No. 15 UMass Hockey team past No. 17 Vermont Saturday night at the Mullins Center. Paul Dainton got the start in goal for the Minutemen (15-8-0, 10-6-0 HEA), making 25 saves while Rob Madore made 28 saves for the Catamounts (11-8-2, 5-7-2 HEA).The two teams will square off again tomorrow afternoon in the series finale at 3 PM in Amherst. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
With Wellman's two goals, he know has five scores against Vermont this season after netting a hat trick in a November matchup in Burlington. The Minutemen scored all of their goals either the first or last two minutes of a period, and outshot Vermont 31-26. Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play.
James Marcou put the Minutemen up 1-0 just 21 seconds into the first period with his eighth goal of the season. With Casey Wellman controlling the puck in the Vermont zone off a feed from Justin Braun, Wellman slid a pass over to Marcou above the faceoff dots who then fired a wrist shot over Madore's shoulder. The Minutemen continued to pressure the puck as the period wore on, creating scoring chances during full strength and shorthanded situations.
Vermont evened the score at one with eight minutes left on the period when Jay Anctil netted his first goal of the season off a tough bounce in the UMass zone. The Minutemen could not clear the bouncing puck out of the slot before Jonathan Higgins threw the puck on Dainton. Anctil, however, was able to get a stick on it and redirect past Dainton.
The Minutemen maintained puck possession throughout the second period, outshooting the Catamounts 13-6, but UMass couldn't get one past Madore until the final minute of the period. Each team was whistled for a penalty during the frame, however neither squad could take advantage of its power play.
It wasn't until the final ten seconds of the period when Casey Wellman notched his team-leading 18th goal of the season. After the Catamounts dumped the puck into the UMass end, Wellman retrieved the loose puck and went coast to coast to let a wrist shot go from the slot that beat Madore low.
Shots were even at nine a piece during the third period as Vermont tried to sneak one past Dainton to knot the score, but the junior netminder refused to allow the Catamounts back into the game. Vermont crashed the net continuously throughout the final frame, forcing Dainton to make several stops from a short distance.
After a Vermont timeout with 2:02 remaining in regulation, the Catamounts pulled Madore in favor of the extra skater with 1:10 left in the period. But Marcou and Wellman quickly put the Minutemen up for good when Wellman tucked away his second goal of the night with 1:06 left off a pass from Marcou.