BURLINGTON, Vt. - Vermont received a point from nine different players and Brody Hoffman made 29 saves as the Catamounts held off ninth-ranked Clarkson for a 3-2 victory on day one of the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup on Saturday at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The Catamounts improve to 9-6-1 (4-5-0 HEA) with their sixth win in the last seven games, while the Golden Knights fall to 12-4-1 (6-2-0 ECAC).
Hoffman began the game with a quick right pad save on Clarkson captain Ben Sexton on an open chance just seconds after the opening faceoff. The Catamounts settled in and took the lead at 6:32 as Pete Massar caused a turnover at the UVM defensive blue line. Massar skated down the right side of the Clarkson zone and fired a wrist shot off the left post past Steve Perry. Jonathan Turk and Michael Paliotta had the assists on the first goal of the game.
Roughly two and a half minutes later, Vermont doubled the lead as its top line forced a giveaway in the left corner of the Golden Knight zone. Chris McCarthy dished the puck to the left side of the goal line for Jake Fallon, who touched a pass into the low slow for Mario Puskarich. The freshman directed a quick shot into the open net for his team-high sixth goal of the season.
UVM nearly took a 3-0 advantage three minutes into the second period as McCarthy and Fallon skated in alone on a 2-on-0 shorthanded. Fallon delayed before feeding McCarthy in the low right slot, but a Clarkson defenseman raced back into the play to break up the senior's bid at the right post.
Vermont killed off the remaining time on the power play, and its penalty kill was called upon again later in the frame as the Cats were called for three straight penalties to give Clarkson an extended 5-on-3. UVM was just 11 seconds away from surviving the two-man advantage, but Jarrett Burton tipped a Sam Labrecque wrist shot through Hoffman's pads at 19:07 to cut the lead in half.
"I saw a lot of good things tonight. We got ourselves into a little bit of a predicament. We were playing extremely well in the second period and then the penalty box door was open for us quite a bit and put us in a tough bind," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "I'm proud our guys got through that and weathered the storm and I certainly felt we played very well in the third period.
Seven minutes into the final frame, H.T. Lenz intercepted a Clarkson pass in the UVM defensive zone and lobbed the puck ahead down the middle of the ice. Tom Forgione hopped onto the loose puck with speed and skated in alone on Perry. The freshman deked to his backhand and slipped a shot through Perry's five hole as Vermont restored the two-goal lead.
"H.T. made a great play at center ice. I saw him go down, I read it, took a chance. He just slapped it forward and I was able to out-accelerate the defenseman," Forgione said. "I came in with a lot of speed hoping the five-hole would open up and just slid it five-hole."
Clarkson pulled Perry with 1:50 remaining in regulation for an extra skater and grabbed a goal back as Sexton won an offensive zone draw to the point for Paul Geiger. The defenseman's initial shot was saved by Hoffman, but the rebound sat for Jeff DiNallo and he poked it inside the left post. Sexton was called for slashing with 25 seconds left and the Golden Knights didn't get another look at goal.
Vermont returns to action on Sunday (Dec. 29) at 7:05 p.m. when it faces Canisius to close out the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on WVMT 620-AM and online at SportsJuice.com with Alastair Ingram on the call. No. 10 UMass Lowell, which beat Canisius 5-2 on Saturday, takes on No. 9 Clarkson in the early game at 4 p.m., and both contests will be streamed online for free in high definition via CatamounTV.com.
TEDDY BEAR TOSS (DEC. 29) | Information
Fans are encouraged to bring new or gently used teddy bears and other stuffed animals to Gutterson Fieldhouse on Sunday for the annual Teddy Bear Toss, sponsored by the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Fans are asked to bring a bear to toss onto the ice during the second intermission of the Canisius game. All bears will be donated to patients at Fletcher Allen Health Care, Starr Farm Nursing Home, and Burlington Health & Rehab by members of the men's and women's hockey teams this winter. The Vermont Teddy Bear Company will also donate one bear for each goal scored by UVM.