BURLINGTON, Vt. - Rookie defenseman Chris Muscoby finished off a centering pass from Chris McCarthy on the doorstep with 2:49 remaining in regulation for the game-winner as Vermont grinded out a 3-2 non-conference victory over Maine on Friday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The Catamounts move above the .500 mark at 6-5-1 (4-4-0 HEA) with their third consecutive win, while the Black Bears fall to 6-5-1 (3-2-1 HEA).
"Maine was very aggressive tonight. They outworked us at times. We fought to get the momentum back at various points in the game and I'm pleased we found a way to win the game when things weren't going great for us," Sneddon said.
UVM opened the scoring at the 8:23 mark of the opening frame on the game's first power play. McCarthy slid a pass to the left point for Michael Paliotta, who wristed a shot through a screen into the upper right corner to beat Martin Ouellette glove side.
Vermont held the lead until the early stages of the second period before Maine answered with the man advantage. Stu Higgins gained the puck at the left side of the crease and deked to his backhand for a stuff attempt. Brody Hoffman made a left pad save but the rebound slipped out to Devin Shore as he poked it into the open net to knot the score at 2:52.
Exactly six minutes later, the Black Bears took their first lead of the night on an even strength tally. Jake Rutt gained the offensive zone at the left point and dished a pass to the center point for Conor Riley. The defenseman fluttered a shot through traffic that was tipped by Steven Swavely past Hoffman's blocker as the sophomore slid across his crease.
Later in the period, McCarthy fired a pass to Muscoby at the left point and the freshman played a shot intentionally wide left. The puck deflected off Jake Fallon onto the outside of the net, but the junior banked it off the back of Ouellette's right skate and it trickled inside the left post tie the game at the 14:43 mark.
The teams played to a stale mate for the first 17 minutes of the final frame before McCarthy and Mario Puskarich dug a puck free in the right corner of the Maine zone. McCarthy cut out to the right goal line and centered a pass to the top of the crease. Muscoby was able to deflect a shot off Ouellette's body into the back of the net as the Catamounts recaptured the lead.
"I saw McCarthy walk out of the corner with the puck. He beat his guy, I saw an opening, I drove to the net, put my stick on the net and it happened to go there. It was a real nice pass by McCarthy," Muscoby said. "It went off my stick and then off my skate and went into the net. It was kind of a lucky bounce but I'll take it."
McCarthy created a turnover with less than two minutes remaining and nearly doubled the lead with a wrist shot from the left circle. The Black Bears called their timeout with 1:25 left and pulled Ouellette shortly after for an extra skater, but Vermont kept the puck tied up in the corner and held on for the victory.
Hoffman finished the night with 32 saves for his second win of the season, while Ouellette stopped 21 shots in a losing effort. UVM went 1-4 on the power play and scored with the man advantage for the third straight game, while Maine went 1-3 on the night.
The Catamounts and Black Bears conclude their two-game series on Saturday (Nov. 30) at 7:05 p.m. from Gutterson Fieldhouse. The game will be streamed live in high definition via CatamounTV.com, and pre-game radio coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on WVMT 620-AM and SportsJuice.com. Saturday is Family Fun Night and Cat Pride Club Appreciation Day, as well as Cars.com corporate night.