Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – Trey Phillips registered his first goal of the season to tie the game in the third period, but Jack Suter’s tip with 4:14 left broke a 3-3 tie as UMass added a pair of empty-netters for a 6-3 Hockey East win on Saturday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
UVM drops to 4-14-4 (1-8-3 HEA), while the Minutemen advance to 10-9-1 (4-5-1 HEA) and snap their 11-game winless streak against the Catamounts dating back to 2013.
The Minutemen took the lead just past the midway point of the first period on back-to-back shorthanded goals during 2-on-1 rushes. Jake Gaudet beat Stefanos Lekkas (32 saves) high glove side from the left wing, and Niko Hildenbrand followed by going high short side from the right circle a minute later.
UVM called timeout and before the penalty expired, the Catamounts capitalized on the power play to cut the lead in half. Jarrid Privitera skated the puck into the offensive zone and found Matt O’Donnell alone in the high slot. The sophomore defenseman quickly dished a pass to Rob Darrar, who buried a backhand from the top of the crease to beat Ryan Wischow (31 saves).
UMass had the most notable chance in the middle frame as Brett Boeing neared the Catamounts’ goal on a partial breakaway. The forward tried to tuck a backhand shot around Lekkas, but the UVM netminder stretched across with his left pad to deny the opportunity.
Niko Hildenbrand’s second of the night came at 3:55 of the third period to put the Minutemen up 3-1. Lekkas tried to track a loose puck along the right side of the net, but UMass regained possession and threw the puck in front where it deflected into the empty net.
Christian Evers brought the Catamounts back within one with 14:22 left in regulation on a wrist shot from the point. Vermont controlled the puck in the UMass zone with the teams skating 4-on-4.Liam Coughlin dished a pass back to Evers who took a step toward the goal before firing a low shot through traffic.
Vermont then tied it up before the midway point of the third period on Phillips’ first goal of the year. The senior defenseman collected the rebound on a shot from Conor O’Neil and out-waited Wischow before flipping a forehand shot over the sophomore goaltender for the equalizer. Travis Blanleil was credited with the secondary assist on the score.
UMass restored the lead with 4:14 left on the clock on a deflection by Suter. Brett Boeing collected the puck in the high left slot and fired a shot along the ice for Suter, who redirected the effort between the pads of Lekkas for the eventual game-winner.
Cale Makar (Short handed) and Austin Plevy sealed the victory for the Minutemen on empty-net goals in the final two minutes of the contest.
Vermont returns to action next Friday (Jan. 19) and Saturday (Jan 20) as it hosts UMass Lowell to close a four-game homestand. Both games between the Cats and River Hawks are scheduled to face off at 7:05 p.m. from Gutterson Fieldhouse.