Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – Ross Colton recorded his first career hat trick in front of a sellout crowd at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Saturday night, but the Colorado College Tigers (1-1-0, 0-0-0 NCHC) held off the Catamounts (1-1-0, 0-0-0 HEA) 4-3 to split a non-conference series on Homecoming Weekend Presented by the UVM Alumni Association.
The Tigers pushed the pace early, registering three unanswered shots on goal in the first 60 seconds. Vermont netminder Stefanos Lekkas (23 saves) made a pair of terrific saves as he was sprawled out across the crease to kick out a Colorado College scoring chance.
It didn’t take long for Vermont to answer, with Colton putting the Catamounts on the board for a 1-0 lead. Rob Darrar found Colton streaking up the neutral zone where he collected the puck and made a nifty move through two Tiger defenders to break free toward the goal. Colton faked right and slipped a shot right under the pads of Alex Leclerc (35 saves) for the opening goal at 1:40 of the first period.
The two teams exchanged chances throughout the opening frame until Colorado College tied the game up five minutes later. Tigers’ defender Ben Israel possessed the puck at the top of the zone and quickly sent a pass to forward Trey Bradley in front of the goal. Bradley spun around and feathered a pass by a Catamounts’ defender to Westin Michaud who was all alone to tap in the tying goal.
UVM ran into penalty trouble in the second period, giving the Tigers four opportunities on the power play. Mason Bergh almost broke the tie for Colorado College as he wired a one-timer off of the post in the opening minutes of the period.
Later on in the middle frame the Tigers nearly took the lead again, this time finding the back of the net but the goal was overturned after a lengthy video review due to a high stick.
The third time was the charm for Colorado College as Nick Halloran snapped a shot past Lekkas to take a 2-1 lead with 3:37 left in the second period. The Tigers’ goal was created off a feed from Bergh who found Halloran open in the slot for a one-timer. Andrew Farny was awarded the secondary assist.
Vermont capitalized on their first opportunity of the third period with Colton’s second goal of the night. Darrar held the puck at the top of the zone and sent a shot wide of the goal that was picked up by Colton. With the puck on his forehand, Colton wheeled around the circle to the left of Leclerc and wired a wrist shot low blocker side at 3:50. Brian Bowen also assisted on the Catamounts goal.
Minutes later, CC took advantage of its own power play for a go-ahead goal off a drive from Bradley. The tally on the man-advantage was assisted by Kristian Blumenschein and Halloran with 11:08 left in regulation.
The Tigers converted again less than a minute later as Kade Kehoe buried a centering pass from Michaud in the low slot to give Colorado College a two-goal cushion.
Colton answered less than 45 seconds later with a one-timer that rocketed past Leclerc short side to bring the Catamounts within midway through the third. Bowen’s patience with the puck set up Colton’s hat trick marker, and Matt O’Donnell earned the secondary assist. Colton registered the first UVM hat trick since Jon Turk at Northeastern on Oct. 11, 2014.
In a final effort to tie the game, Vermont pulled Lekkas to bring on an extra attacker with less than 90 seconds remaining. The Catamounts came close to tying it on a netfront scramble, but Leclerc and the Tigers’ defensive unit combined sealed the win. UVM posted 21 shots on goal in the third period alone.
Colton closed the contest with 13 of the team’s 38 shots, while his linemates Bowen and Darrar combined for five assists on the night.
Vermont returns to the ice Saturday (Oct. 14) against the ECAC’s Quinnipiac Bobcats at 4 p.m. in Hamden, Connecticut. UVM then travels to Union College on Sunday (Oct. 15) at 4 p.m. Both games can be heard on WVMT 620-AM with pre-game coverage at 3:30 p.m.