Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
AMHERST, MA.–– Stefanos Lekkas stopped 41 shots, his ninth career game with 40 or more stops, but the second-ranked UMass Minutemen took a 5-1 victory over the Vermont Catamounts Saturday night at the Mullins Center.
UMass improves to 17-3-0 and 9-1-0 in Hockey East play while Vermont falls to 8-11-1 and 1-8-1 in conference play.
“We got beat by a much better team in all areas of the game,” head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We, collectively, need to be a thousand times better if we want to give ourselves a chance to be successful moving forward.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
After an opening 10 minutes that saw spectacular saves at both ends of the ice, UMass broke the scoring at 10:51 of the period as Cale Makar picked up his first point of the weekend. The sophomore defenseman picked up a Catamount turnover on the offensive blue line and threw a shot on net that beat Lekkas.
Vlad Dzhioshvili tallied his fourth of the season to tie the game at 5:13 of the second period. The sophomore forward picked up a pass from Liam Coughlin and skated around UMass goalie Matt Murray (16 saves) before tucking the puck into the open net.
After three unsuccessful tries, the Minutemen made the Catamounts pay on their fourth power play of the night as Oliver Chau scored on the advantage for the second straight night. Chau cut across the slot and rifled a shot top shelf through traffic and over Lekkas.
With back-to-back power play chances to open the third period, UMass made it 3-1 as Marc del Gaizo cleaned up a Makar rebound at 5:48 of the period.
Makar added his second of the game with just over six minutes left in the third period, firing a shot from the slot that snuck through the pads of Lekkas.
Mitchell Chaffee tallied UMass’ third power play goal of the night and fifth of the weekend with 1:46 left in the third period to make it 5-1, where it would end.
Vermont returns to the Bay State to take on UMass Lowell next weekend at the Tsongas Center. The Cats will meet the River Hawks at 7:15 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 18) before a 7:05 p.m. start on Saturday (Jan. 19).