Men’s Hockey: Catamounts Hold Off Huskies 5-4

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

BURLINGTON – The line of Matt Alvaro, Ross Colton, and Mario Puskarich combined for three goals and five assists, and Alvaro’s second goal of the night helped the 12th-ranked Catamounts secure their 16th win of the season by a 5-4 final on Friday night at sold out Gutterson Fieldhouse.

UVM improved to 16-7-2 and 8-4-1 in Hockey East play, winning for the sixth time in the last seven games and taking over sole possession of third place in the league. The Huskies (9-9-6, 5-5-2 HEA) suffered just their third loss in the last nine contests. Vermont’s pushed its winning streak against Connecticut to five straight.

Alvaro registered his second multi-goal game of the season, while Colton posted a career-high four assists and Puskarich had a goal and an assist in the first period. Stefanos Lekkas made 30 saves for the 14th victory of his rookie campaign.

The Catamounts took the lead at 7:49 of the first period, scoring first for the eighth consecutive game. Colton stole the puck from a UConn winger on the half-wall and found Puskarich who whacked a low backhander to beat Adam Huska blocker side.

Less than 10 minutes later, a UConn turnover in the neutral zone allowed Vermont to enter the offensive zone on a 2-on-1. Puskarich dished a backhand pass to the back door for Alvaro, who one-timed it home to give the Catamounts a 2-0 lead after one.

Vermont stretched the lead to 3-0 less than three minutes into the second period when Liam Coughlin centered a pass to Jarrid Privitera for a one-timer that trickled through Huska’s pads. The rookie was replaced by Rob Nichols, and Anthony Petruzzelli came inches away from making it a 4-0 game shortly after Nichols took the crease.

The Huskies called their timeout and quickly drew a goal back when Miles Gendron picked out Tage Thompson cutting across the slot to deflect the puck home. 46 seconds later, Maxim Letunov sent a pass to Karl El-Mir who was all alone in the right slot to bring the Huskies within one on the power play.

UVM responded with its first power play chance of the night as Trey Phillips set up Brady Shaw in the high slot. Shaw fired a low wrist shot that was deflected by Brian Bowen from the top of the crease just 18 seconds into the penalty for Bowen’s sixth of the year.

Thompson’s second of the night at 2:39 of the third brought UConn within one again, but Alvaro pushed the lead back to two from Colton with 5:05 to play. Colton sprung his classmate into the right side of the UConn zone, and Alvaro wristed a low shot through the pads of Nichols for a 5-3 advantage.

A defensive miscue with 1:17 remaining allowed Letunov to tap home an extra-attacker goal, but UVM held on late for its eighth league win of the year.

Vermont and UConn match up again next Friday (Jan. 27) at the XL Center in Hartford at 7 p.m. to close the regular season series.