College Hockey: Catamounts Bow in Overtime at Quinnipiac, 3-2

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

HAMDEN, Conn. – Connecticut native Craig Puffer‘s first goal of the season forced the game into overtime, but 17th-ranked Quinnipiac’s Odeen Tufto scored his second of the night to clinch the game for a 3-2 non-conference victory at the TD Bank Sports Center on Saturday afternoon.

Stefanos Lekkas stopped 36 shots for the Catamounts, who dropped to 1-2-0 (0-0-0 HEA) on the season. Quinnipiac grabbed its first win and improved to 1-1-1 (0-0-0 ECAC).

The teams skated to a scoreless first period with the Bobcats owning the majority of the scoring chances. At the 8:26 mark, Quinnipiac was awarded a power play and the Bobcats fired two shots off the post. Minutes later, Thomas Aldworth rung the Bobcats’ third post of the period on a forehand deke from the low slot.

Before time expired in the opening period, Chase Priskie broke free past a Catamount defender and approached the goal down the right wing. Priskie faked a backhand shot before shifting to his forehand but Lekkas split across his crease to kick away the attempt.

The Catamounts opened the scoring in the middle frame on an unassisted goal by Liam Coughlinat 3:23. Striding into the Quinnipiac zone, Coughlin wristed a shot through a screen, which fooled Andrew Shortridge (22 saves) and left a rebound fluttering into the left slot. Coughlin skated around a Bobcats’ defender and batted a shot short side under the netminder’s arm for his first of the year.

The Bobcats answered just 35 seconds later on Tufto’s first collegiate goal. Kevin McKernan’s shot on target was saved by Lekkas, but Tufto skated across the front of the crease and snapped the rebound into the back of the net. Tanner MacMaster also assisted on the goal for a 1-1 score.

MacMaster added his name to the scoresheet once more late in the frame as he scored with just 56 seconds left in the second. The Quinnipiac forward cut into the slot out of the corner and wristed a shot which trickled under the pads of Lekkas to give the hosts a 2-1 lead before the break.

Outshooting the Bobcats 10-4 over the midway point of the third period, Puffer finally found the back of the net to knot the score for Vermont. Rookie Alex Esposito fired a shot on goal that was saved by Shortridge and picked up by Puffer, who dove to the right of the crease and sent a backhander under the sprawling goaltender. The assist for Esposito marked his first NCAA point.

The Bobcats had one last attempt to close the game out in regulation when two forwards slipped by UVM defenders to approach Lekkas 2-on-0. The sophomore slid across the crease on a backhand pass to stifle the scoring attempt, forcing the contest into overtime.

With 2:33 left in overtime, Tufto scored his second goal of the night to clinch the win. Brogan Rafferty slapped a point shot on goal, and Tufto was waiting in front to sneak the rebound past Lekkas. MacMaster also assisted on the game-winning goal for his third point of the night.

The Catamounts continue their road trip on Sunday (Oct. 15) in Schenectady, New York as they take on former ECAC rival Union at 4 p.m.