BURLINGTON, VT. - Vermont's all-senior line of H.T. Lenz, Anthony DeCenzo, and Connor Brickley combined for nine points and a plus-9 rating as the Catamounts skated past Maine 4-2 on Saturday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse to push their winning streak to four. The Catamounts improve to 7-5-1 (4-4-0 HEA) with the non-conference sweep, while the Black Bears fall to 6-6-1 (3-2-1 HEA).
"We found ourselves in a very similar situation to (Friday), tie game going into the third, let's play to win and our guys did a great job with that," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "I thought we were the more aggressive team tonight."
After a scoreless first period, Vermont opened the scoring at the 12:39 mark of the middle frame. Lenz dished a pass to DeCenzo as he carried the puck across the Maine blue line and fed it to the right circle for Brickley. The senior slid a backhander through the top of the crease and DeCenzo finished it off at the left post for his first goal of the season.
Maine knotted the score with 1:40 remaining in the period with a shorthanded tally. Steven Swavely gained control of the puck in the Black Bear defensive zone and skated down the right side of the ice. Swavely gained the Vermont line, deked to the outside hash mark of the faceoff circle, and wristed a low shot that snuck past Mike Santaguida's right pad.
The Catamounts recaptured the lead less than a minute into the third period as DeCenzo skated left to right around the Maine goal. The forward dished a pass in front of the net at the top of the crease and Lenz finished off a quick one timer over the blocker of Martin Ouellette at the 56 second mark. Brickley picked up the second assist as the Cats took the lead for good.
Later in the period, Vermont earned its fifth power play of the night and lit the lamp just five seconds into the man advantage. Michael Paliotta wristed a shot on target from the left point, and the rebound found Mario Puskarich at the right doorstep. The freshman fired a wrist shot into the open net at 12:18 as UVM doubled the lead to 3-1.
Maine pulled Ouellette for an extra skater with just over two minutes left in regulation and scored quickly to cut it back to a one-goal game. Ben Hutton floated a wrist shot from the left point and Devin Shore deflected the puck down into the lower right corner with 2:07 remaining in regulation.
The Black Bears quickly created another 6-on-5 situation but Chris McCarthy caused a turnover along the left wing boards in the Vermont zone. The senior co-captain gained the red line and sent a shot into the open net from center ice for a 4-2 lead. 30 seconds later, Brickley coasted in for another empty-netter to seal the victory.
Santaguida made 24 saves for his fifth collegiate victory, while Ouellette stopped 25 shots in a losing effort. Vermont went 1-5 on the power play and scored with the man advantage for the fourth consecutive game, and the penalty kill held Maine scoreless on its four power play opportunities.
The Catamounts have next weekend off before hosting former ECAC rival St. Lawrence in non-league action on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:05 p.m. Vermont then faces off against Northeastern on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at Gutterson Fieldhouse in its final Hockey East contest of the calendar year.
On Dec. 14, Vermont will hold a Catamount Kids Conference presented by the DoubleTree by Hilton Burlington after the game. UVM will also host The Bagel Place Night against St. Lawrence. On Dec. 17, kids can enjoy photos before the game with Santa and Rally before the Cats face Northeastern.