Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON –– Catamount sophomore Max Kaufman netted a pair of goals, including the game-winner at 6:08 of the third period, for the second consecutive game as the Vermont Catamounts eked out a 3-2 win over the Sacred Heart Pioneers.
Vermont opens the new year with a win and improves to 8-8-1 overall (1-6-1 HEA). Sacred Heart drops to 5-9-2 overall (5-6-1 AHA).
“We just made some really careless plays. We were not structured at all, not disciplined; very disappointed,” head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “Aside from Stef and a couple players, we were pretty weak tonight. Sacred Heart did a great job when they were down two fighting back.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
Kaufman scored his fifth goal of the season at 12:48 of the opening period to make it 1-0 Vermont. The sophomore looked to hit teammate Ace Cowans with a pass across the slot, but the puck deflected off a Sacred Heart defender and into the net. Derek Lodermeier and Carter Long assisted on the goal.
Alex Esposito tallied his fifth goal of the season at 8:39 of the second period to make it 2-0 Vermont. Esposito fired a one-time slapshot through the legs of Josh Benson for the goal. Matt O’Donnell and Vlad Dzhioshvili assisted on the power play goal.
Stefanos Lekkas (33 saves) made three spectacular saves in a row on a Vito Bavaro breakaway with 13:00 remaining in the middle period. The junior kept the Pios off the board despite several defensive zone lapses.
The Pios cut the Catamount deficit at 18:38 of the second off the stick of Ryan Steele. SHU tallied its first power play goal of the night on its fifth opportunity after several Catamount penalties.
Sacred Heart tied the game less than a minute later following a Catamount defensive zone turnover. Marc Johnstone poked the puck loose below the UVM goal line and found Jordan Kaplan for the equalizer with 23 seconds left in the period.
Kaufman scored his second of the game to give Vermont a 3-2 lead with 13:52 left in regulation. Kaufman deked a pass from behind the net and drove around the cage for a wraparound try, stuffing the puck through Benson and into the back of the net. Freshman Joey Cipollone picked up his third assist of the season on the eventual game-winner.
Kaufman has now scored two goals in back-to-back games for the Catamounts, and has tallied five points over the last three games. The sophomore is now tied for the team lead in goals (6) and leads the team in points (12).
Dzhioshvili, Lodermeier, and O’Donnell each pushed their point streak to four straight games. Cipollone and Kaufman have tallied a point in three straight games.
Vermont has now won four straight games beginning with a 2-1 win over Colorado College on Dec. 8.
Vermont now holds an 8-10-2 all-time record on games played on January 4. Tonight marked UVM’s first win on this date since 1997.
With the victory, the Cats Win, Community Wins campaign and Vermont Mutual Insurance Group will donate $100 to a local Vermont charity, bringing this year’s total to two wins and $200.
Vermont hosts 19th-ranked Clarkson in the non-conference finale this Sunday (Jan. 6) at 4 p.m. at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free stress brick, courtesy of Brickliners.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased by clicking here.