Men’s Hockey: Two Late Goals Give Wolverines 3-2 Win Over Catamounts

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan native Drew Best scored his first career goal to put UVM ahead 2-1, but Jake Slaker scored twice in the final five minutes of the third period to give Michigan a 3-2 victory over Vermont on Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena.

The Wolverines swept the two-game series, improving to 3-1-0, while the Catamounts dropped to 2-4-0 heading into next Saturday’s Hockey East opener against UNH in Burlington.

“It was our best game all year, a heck of a lot better from last night and the last two weeks,” said head coach Kevin Sneddon. “We have to take a positive approach. It was a pretty hard fought game. We hope it’s starting to sink that’s how we have to play every game, but it’s a shame we didn’t get the reward.”

Max Kaufman opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at 12:19 of the first period. Craig Pufferworked the puck to the top of the crease, and Kaufman crashed the net to finish past Hayden Lavigne (28 saves) for the rookie’s second goal in the last three games.

Adam Winborg tied the game late in the first for Michigan, converting a wraparound off the skate of Stefanos Lekkas (27 saves) at the right post with 1:43 left.

The Catamounts restored the lead on Best’s first collegiate goal at 7:48 of the second period after a net-front scramble on the power play. Puffer curled into the low slot from the right goal line, but his shot was blocked by Dakota Raabe. Best, who grew up near Ann Arbor in Plymouth, located the loose puck at the right doorstep and snuck a shot under the pads of Lavigne. Jarrid Priviteracollected the second assist on the play and UVM led 2-1 after two periods.

Michigan tied the game at two with 4:53 left in regulation. Josh Norris laid the puck off to Quinn Hughes, who deked his way into the slot. Hughes then dished a pass into the right circle for a wide-open Slaker, and the sophomore one-timed a shot short side under Lekkas’ arm.

It was Slaker who later clinched the game for the Wolverines with 54 seconds remaining in regulation during a 4-on-4 situation. Will Lockwood countered a Catamount rush by chipping the puck up to Slaker down the right wing. Slaker strided into the Vermont zone before firing a low wrist shot from the right dot past the blocker of Lekkas.

UVM pulled Lekkas with 30 seconds remaining, but Lavigne made a final stop to preserve the comeback victory for Michigan.

Puffer finished the game with two assists and has posted five points in his last four games. UVM closed the weekend with a 9-for-9 showing on the penalty kill, which currently ranks fifth in the country.

After closing its four-game road swing, Vermont returns to Gutterson Fieldhouse next Saturday (Oct. 28) for its Hockey East opener against longtime rival New Hampshire at 7:05 p.m.