Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – The 13th-ranked Catamounts held off a third period charge from defending league champion Northeastern and Trey Phillips‘ goal held up as the game-winner in a 4-3 Hockey East victory on Saturday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Vermont won its fourth straight game overall, improving to 14-6-2 and 6-3-1 in league play for sole possession of third place. UVM also swept the regular season series and stretched its unbeaten streak to five (3-0-2) against the Huskies, who fell to 7-9-4 (1-7-2 HEA).
The line of Brendan Bradley, Brian Bowen and Derek Lodermeier combined for eight points in the win, while rookie Corey Moriarty registered his first career goal. Stefanos Lekkas (20 saves) tied the second-highest win total among NCAA freshman goalies with his 12th of the year in 16 starts.
“It was tough game, a hard-fought game,” said head coach Kevin Sneddon. “We knew that Northeastern had a lot of firepower. We did a pretty good job through two periods of limiting that. They caught life there a little bit and we had to weather some storms. Give our guys a lot of credit for making plays they had to defending when we needed it most in the third period down the stretch.”
UVM scored first for the fifth consecutive game at the 7:33 mark of the opening period a split second after its power play expired. Bradley slid a low pass toward the back door which deflected off Bowen’s skate at the crease. The puck snuck under the pads of Ryan Ruck (20 saves) for Bowen’s third goal in the last two games.
Northeastern tied things at one with just over six minutes to play in the first period. Dylan Sikura took a pass from John Stevens in the UVM slot and dropped a pass to Garret Cockerill at the top of the right circle. Cockerill let a wrist shot go through a partial screen and the puck beat Lekkas glove side.
The Catamounts restored the lead just 1:35 into the second period. Bowen fired a shot on frame and Ruck was able to turn away the initial look as well as a rebound attempt from Lodermeier. It was Bradley who eventually whacked the loose puck inside the left post for his second point of the night and eighth in the last four contests.
Vermont weathered a storm from the Huskies and doubled its lead when Anthony Petruzzellicarried the puck into the zone along the right wing during a line change. Lodermeier skated in behind the net and jammed the puck in front as Ruck nudged it out between the circles. Moriarty skated in from the point and unloaded a low shot through Ruck’s pads for the rookie defenseman’s first career tally.
UVM added an insurance goal at 7:09 of the third as Lodermeier collected at the defensive blue line and dished to Petruzzelli. Phillips eventually skated onto the puck along the right wing, deked into the slot, and fired a shot that snuck inside the low left corner of the net. The goal was Phillips’ second career goal and his second in the last three games.
Patrick Schule quickly answered 37 seconds later for Northeastern, jamming in a rebound from the top of the crease to cut Vermont’s lead to 4-2. The Huskies followed by breaking through the UVM penalty kill at 8:23 when Zach Aston-Reese roofed a shot from the low right slot for his league-high 19th goal of the season.
The Catamounts prevented NU from pulling Ruck for an extra skater until just over a minute remained in regulation. Mario Puskarich made a key defensive play in the final 30 seconds, deflecting a centering pass away from Sikura in the defensive slot.
Vermont finished the night with a 24-23 edge in shots on goal and went 5-for-6 on the penalty kill.
With their season-long eight-game homestand complete, the Catamounts now play seven of their last 12 regular season games on the road. UVM travels to face the Providence Friars next weekend in a two-game Hockey East series at Schneider Arena on Friday (Jan. 13) at 7 p.m. and Saturday (Jan. 14) at 5 p.m.