Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
AMHERST, MA.–– Stefanos Lekkas was stellar from the outset and finished his final collegiate game with 44 saves, but ninth-ranked UMass clawed a 1-0 victory Thursday night at the Mullins Center.
“I’m filled with pride and so grateful, I think that’s the biggest thing I thought of going into the game tonight; all the people I’ve been able to coach, all the staff I’ve been able to work with,” said head coach Kevin Sneddon. “I’m just incredibly proud of our team; I love every single player in that locker room. A lot of life lessons can be learned from this season … the kind of character in that room is simply incredible. To our seniors who kept the group together through a very difficult season, their strength in leadership and the relationships they built, we certainly bent a lot this year but never broke, and that’s unsinkable spirit and unsinkable character and I couldn’t be prouder of them as people. Hockey will come to an end one day but the type of character they displayed this year is something they’ll carry for the rest of their lives.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
A scoreless first period saw Lekkas record 19 saves to move to sixth on the NCAA career saves list. The Cats went 0-for-2 on power play chances while the Minutemen went 0-for-1.
Lekkas tallied 16 second period saves to keep the Minutemen off the board despite four UMass power play opportunities. With 6:55 to play in the frame, Lekkas recorded his 3,900th career save to move to fifth on the NCAA career saves list.
Johnny DeRoche rang the crossbar at 1:20 of the third period and UMass goalie Matt Murray robbed Matt Alvaro of a goal at 3:23 of the frame in Vermont’s best offensive chances of the game.
The Catamounts weathered a strong UMass push in the latter stage of the third period. Lekkas made a pair of saves during the extended UMass offensive zone possession while the Catamounts blocked five shots in front of him.
Reed Lebster scored the night’s lone goal with 2:22 to play in the third period with assists from Jones and Jake Gaudet.
Lekkas finishes his collegiate career with 3,913 saves, the most in Hockey East history and fifth-most in NCAA history.
In Green & Gold history, Lekkas finishes his career first in save percentage (.918), second in games played (134), second in saves (3,913), third in goals against average (2.61), fourth in wins (45), and fourth in shutouts (7).
Sneddon coached his 635th and final game behind the bench for the Catamounts Thursday night in Amherst.
Tonight’s game also marked the final collegiate game for Matt Alvaro, Thomas Beretta, Derek Lodermeier, Corey Moriarty, and Matt O’Donnell.