BURLINGTON, Vt. - Six different players recorded a goal as the Russian Red Stars skated past Vermont 6-1 in exhibition action at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Tuesday night. The contest was a tune up for the Catamounts (3-12-1, 1-9-1 HEA) as they host the annual Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup on Thursday and Friday.
"We weren't very good from the net out and that being said I did see some positives," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "I thought Brett Leonard was very good for us tonight as a captain, he played a lot more like we needed him to play in the first half and I think he's ready to play a more prominent role. This was better than practicing so when we get into the Catamount Cup it's not like the first game in two weeks."
UVM nearly took the lead midway through the first period, but a missed opportunity led directly to the game's opening goal. Kyle Reynolds nearly tipped a point shot from Michael Paliotta past Eugeny Ivannikov, but the Russian goaltender managed to kick the puck out with his left pad. Off the rebound, Roman Lyubitov skated down the right wing and fed a pass inside to Ilya Zelenko, who tipped the puck up over Rob Madore's right shoulder for a 1-0 lead.
Less than five minutes into the second period, the Red Stars doubled their lead as Artem Gareev faked a dump in at the right point. It looked as though Gareev intended to play the puck around the corner boards and peel off for a change, but he instead shot the puck toward goal. Madore had left the net in anticipation of the dump in and it slid into the open goal to make it 2-0. Roughly four minutes later, Maxim Kvitchenko pounced on a loose puck to push the Russian lead to three.
The Catamounts got on the board midway through the hockey game on the power play. Tobias Nilsson-Roos fed the puck behind the net to Kyle Reynolds on the goal line near the left corner. Reynolds then centered a pass to Colin Markison, who redirected the puck over the left shoulder of Ivannikov with a snap shot to cut the deficit to two. Reynolds and Nilsson-Roos grabbed the assists on the goal at 10:18 of the second.
Vermont earned another opportunity on the power play early in the third period, but the Red Stars capitalized on a shorthanded goal to regain a three-goal advantage. Igor Cherkasov collected a loose puck at the right side of his own zone and led a stretch pass ahead to Lyubimov. The Russian center skated in alone on Madore, deked to his right, and beat the senior with a low forehand shot.
The Red Stars added two goals in the final ten minutes from Evgeny Orlov and Alexander Titov for a 6-1 final score. Madore made 25 saves for the Catamounts and was replaced by John Vazzano for the final 9:14. Ivannikov finished the night with 20 saves as he picked up the win for Russia. Vermont went 1-7 on the power play and a perfect 3-3 on the penalty kill.
"The guys know that we've got to be a lot better than we were tonight. We know we need to start being better tomorrow, and the guys are excited to get the second half going and turn things around," said Sneddon. "Again, we've got to be a little bit patient as we get through some of these injuries and lack of depth and we'll have to adjust our style a little bit, but I think the guys are hungry to get after that Catamount Cup."
Vermont returns to action on Thursday (Dec. 29) and Friday (Dec. 30) as it hosts the annual Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup. The Catamounts face 16th-ranked Lake Superior State on day one of the tournament, followed by No. 11 Ferris State on day two. Both contests begin at 7:05 p.m. and will be televised on WCAXtra, and live video is available for free via CatamounTV at UVMathletics.com. Each contest can be heard on WVMT 620-AM and online at SportsJuice.com, with pre-game coverage starting at 6:30.