BURLINGTON, Vt. - Spencer Abbott tallied a hat trick as part of a five-point night to lead Maine past Vermont 6-4 on Friday night in Hockey East action at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The Catamounts led 3-2 heading into the third period, but the Black Bears scored twice in less than 30 seconds on a major power play to take the lead for good. UVM falls to 3-9-1 (1-7-1 HEA), while Maine improves to 5-6-2 (4-5-1 HEA) with the comeback win.
"We were in complete control of that hockey game, I couldn't be any more disappointed," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "I thought we did a great job 5-on-5, it's a shame because I thought we were controlling the play very well in the third period. I'm very disappointed in our special teams play and certainly disappointed to let our personal emotions over play get the better of us. I don't want to take anything away from Maine but we gave the two points away tonight in my opinion."
Vermont took the lead at 8:03 of the opening period as Michael Paliotta fired a wrist shot toward goal from the left circle. Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan made a left pad save, but the puck kicked out to Connor Brickley and he buried it into the open net to make it 1-0. Paliotta and Mike Montagna picked up the assists as Brickley scored his seventh goal of the season.
Maine answered with two goals in 1:09 later in the frame to take its first lead. Brian Flynn skated down the left wing boards and fed a cross-ice feed to Spencer Abbott in the right circle. Abbott collected the puck and slid it back to Flynn for a one-timer in the left circle to tie the game at 14:25. Shortly after, Rob Madore stopped a point shot from Will O'Neill but Abbott was waiting at the right doorstep to pounce on the loose puck and make it 2-1.
The Catamounts had the answer less than a minute into the middle frame, and this time Brickley served as the catalyst. Brett Bruneteau tipped the puck to the sophomore at his own blueline and he flipped it down the middle of the rink for a striding H.T. Lenz. The forward was sent in on a breakaway and beat Sullivan with a low wrist shot to knot the game at two.
Vermont couldn't convert on a brief 5-on-3 just minutes later but got another opportunity on the power play at the 6:45 mark as O'Neill took a cross checking penalty. Nick Bruneteau passed up a chance to shoot and dished the puck to the right circle for Sebastian Stalberg. The junior sent it back across the zone to Drew MacKenzie, who cradled the puck and whistled a wrister just inside the left post to beat Sullivan stick side.
Mark Nemec was called for tripping later in the frame and the Catamounts earned another two-man advantage with roughly six minutes remaining in the second. UVM had 1:04 on its second 5-on-3 of the period but couldn't find a way past Sullivan. In the middle frame, Vermont outshot Maine 14-6 and went 1-5 on the power play with eight shots on those chances.
Five minutes into the third, Lenz and Brice O'Connor were involved in a scrum after the whistle near the Maine net. Lenz was called for a five minute major for head-butting, while O'Connor picked up only a minor for hitting after the whistle. After two minutes of 4-on-4, the Black Bears went on a three-minute man advantage and took control of the game with back-to-back strikes on the non-expiring power play.
Kyle Beattie controlled the puck along the left half boards and centered a pass to Mark Anthoine open in the slot. Anthoine buried a one-timer over Madore's left shoulder to tie the game at three. Just 24 seconds later, Maine took the lead back as Flynn fed Abbott near the goal line at the bottom of the left circle. The senior slid a quick shot just inside the right post to beat Madore and make it 4-3, as the Black Bears scored twice on the Lenz major.
Abbott finished his hat trick less than three minutes later as Flynn drove down the left wing toward the corner. The senior fed Abbott with a centering pass in the low slot and he roofed it high glove side on Madore to give Maine at 5-3 advantage. Flynn picked up his third assist of the night on the play. Joey Diamond then banged home a rebound for a power play goal at 14:21 to seal the victory.
Mike Montagna finished a rebound off a Stalberg shot with one second left in regulation to collect his first career goal on the power play. Vermont ended the night 2-8 with the man advantage, while Maine was 3-5 and had a 3-4 showing in the third period. Madore made 14 saves in a losing effort, while Sullivan stopped 29 shots in the Maine net to pick up his fourth win of the year.
"We've been very disciplined and that's why it was uncharacteristic tonight," said Sneddon. "Because of our discipline in the first two periods we were able to make it a 3-2 hockey game, but we fell right into what they wanted us to do. I was pretty upset because discipline is something that we can control. We let one play dictate how we were going to play the rest of the game. It's a team thing so we're all in it together and we've got to solve it and be ready to go tomorrow."
The Catamounts and Black Bears wrap up their two-game series tomorrow night with a 7:05 p.m. faceoff at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The game will be televised on WCAXtra, and live video is available for free via CatamounTV. Alastair Ingram has the call on WVMT 620-AM and online at SportsJuice.com, with pre-game coverage at 6:30 p.m. Fans can also participate in a live chat by sending in questions to the Cover It Live Blog starting at 6:45 p.m. at UVMathletics.com.
Saturday night also marks the Ninth Annual Teddy Bear Toss, presented by the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Fans are encouraged to bring a new or gently used stuffed animal to the game to be tossed on the ice during the second intermission. Stuffed animals will be donated to patients at Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington Health & Rehab, and Starr Farm Nursing Home by members of the men's and women's hockey teams.
NOTES: Rob Madore trails Joe Fallon '08 by just 30 saves for second place on the all-time saves list at UVM ... The Catamounts had killed off nine straight power plays entering the night ... Connor Brickley has scored a goal in three consecutive games, and he has scored five of his team-high seven goals in the first period ... Before taking two penalties in the third period, Vermont had only been called for 12 penalties in its previous 14 periods ... UVM tallied 14 shots in each of the final two periods and has now posted at least 14 shots in a period nine times in its last nine contests ... Saturday night is the final contest of a five-game homestand for Vermont.