Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – Anthony Wyse fluttered a point shot off a Catamount body eight and a half minutes into the third period to break a 2-2 deadlock and UNH held on for a 4-2 Hockey East victory over No. 14 Vermont on Friday night at sold out Gutterson Fieldhouse.
UVM dropped to 16-10-3 overall and 8-7-2 in Hockey East play, while the Wildcats (12-13-4, 7-7-3 HEA) moved to within a point of UVM in the league standings and snapped a five-game losing streak in the process.
The Catamounts pulled Stefanos Lekkas (25 saves) with 1:21 left in regulation and created a Grade A chance to tie the score with just seconds remaining. Ross Colton picked out Matt O’Donnell at the back door, but the rookie defenseman couldn’t find the open net. New Hampshire came the other way and Tyler Kelleher sealed the win into an empty net for his second goal of the night.
Vermont controlled the majority of the opening period with a strong forecheck. Lekkas stopped all seven shots he faced in the opening frame but the teams were scoreless headed into the first intermission.
For the 10th time in the last 12 games, the Catamounts netted the first goal of the game 3:25 into the second period. Drew Best controlled the puck and fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Danny Tirone (31 saves) made the initial stop for the Wildcats, but Anthony Petruzzellistreaked to the net and slipped the rebound in low from the left doorstep. Best recorded his first career point with the primary assist and Rob Hamilton picked up the secondary.
Just over a minute later, the Wildcats were whistled for their first penalty of the game. Seven seconds into the ensuing power play, Brian Bowen netted a backhander inside the left post to double Vermont’s lead after Colton lost his stick on a left wing attempt. O’Donnell collected the trailing assist at 4:52 on Bowen’s eighth goal of the season.
New Hampshire cut into the advantage with a power play tally of its own at 6:27 of the middle frame. The Wildcats cycled the puck along the blue line through Matias Cleland and Michael McNicholas before Kelleher ripped a one-time slapshot from the left dot into the net.
The Wildcats killed off 1:27 of a 5-on-3 Catamount power play midway through the second period and UVM carried a 2-1 cushion into the final 20 minutes.
UNH knotted the score at the 2:18 mark of the final frame through Jason Salvaggio on a lofted wrist shot from the right side. In transition from the top of the right wing circle, Salvaggio wristed a shot off the far post to beat Lekkas high blocker side for his 17th of the year.
Three and a half minutes later, Lekkas denied Salvaggio on a penalty shot as he out-waited the forward to make a key low blocker save and keep the game tied.
Wyse’s first career goal came on a fluttering shot from the blue line at 8:26 of the third and gave New Hampshire its first lead of the night. The puck took a deflection in the slot, sending Lekkas the wrong way, and UNH held on late for the two points.
The rivals return to Gutterson on Saturday (Feb. 11) at 7:05 p.m. to close the weekend series. A limited number of tickets are still available by logging on to UVMathletics.com/Tickets or by calling 802-656-4410. Live video is available via CatamounTV.com with Alastair Ingram on the call.
Saturday night is the annual Hockey East Skating Strides Against Cancer game presented by Otter Creek Awnings and Vermont Custom Closets. The Catamounts will wear special pink jerseys, which are currently being auctioned off at UVMathletics.com/auctions. Bids will close on Monday (Feb. 13) at 7 p.m. and all proceeds will go to the UVM Cancer Center. All fans are encouraged to wear pink.