Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – Dan Senkbeil netted his second game-winning goal in ast five games to lead Vermont past UConn 2-1 for its first home win of the season on Friday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The Catamounts improved to 3-6-1 (2-2-1 HEA) after the Hockey East win, while the Huskies dropped to 3-8-0 (1-6-0 HEA) with their sixth straight loss.
“Our guys were gritty tonight in finding a way to win that hockey game,” said head coach Kevin Sneddon. “They’ve had a lot of moments where I’ve gone in and said, great job, you worked hard, you did a lot of great things but bottom line it came with a loss. There’s nothing that helps the confidence more than finally getting a win, especially at home.”
UVM stormed out to a heavy shot advantage in the first period, registering 10 of the game’s first 11 shots on target.
Just seconds into Vermont’s first power play late in the opening frame, Jesse Schwartz skated in alone on a shorthanded breakaway against Mike Santaguida. Schwartz deked through the slot but Santaguida went down to stop a low wrist shot with his right pad and keep the game scoreless.
The Catamounts broke through on their second power play just past the midway point of the game. Brady Shaw took a feed from Mario Puskarich in the low left faceoff circle and quickly slid a pass to the back door for Brendan Bradley for a routine one-time finish past Rob Nichols.
UConn answered four and a half minutes later on its first power play of the night. Santaguida stopped an initial left circle shot from Joseph Masonius, but Tage Thompson controlled the rebound in the low slot before tucking a shot into the left side of the net.
With less than a minute left in the second period, Liam Coughlin nearly restored the lead but missed the short side post from the left circle after a cross-ice pass from Alexx Privitera.
Senkbiel’s game-winner came at 9:05 of the third period as the senior’s pass found Conor O’Neil in the slot. O’Neil stick-handled between the circles and his shot was kicked out by Nichols’ left pad. Senkbeil skated onto the rebound at the top of the crease and roofed a shot into the upper half of the net to give Vermont a 2-1 cushion. O’Neil and linemate Craig Puffer collected their first career points with the assists.
“It’s an absolute blessing. I owe all the credit to my linemates,” said Senkbeil. “We came out hard, grinding low, and luckily we got a bounce and it was just sitting right in the slot, so it worked out.”
Jonathan Turk broke in alone four and a half minutes later but was denied twice by Nichols, and Bradley missed the net short side on the third chance.
UVM was forced to kill a 5-on-3 with 5:55 remaining in regulation, and Bradley, Turk, and Ori Abramson combined to shut down UConn. Bradley eventually cleared the zone along the right wing and drew a call on the Huskies to end the two-man advantage.
Connecticut pulled Nichols with under 90 seconds left but the Catamounts limited the Huskies’ chances and held on for a key league victory.
UVM out-shot UConn 36-21 on the night, including a 17-5 edge in the third period. Santaguida picked up his third win of the season with 20 saves, while Nichols stopped 34 shots in a losing effort. Both teams finished the contest 1-for-4 on the power play.
Vermont closes a five-game homestand on Sunday (Nov. 15) against UMass Amherst at 2 p.m. in Hockey East action at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The game will be streamed live for free in high definition at CatamounTV.com. Pre-game radio coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. on WVMT 620-AM and SportsJuice.com with Alastair Ingram and Joe Gervais on the call.
Sunday is Jack Lyman Day to celebrate Jack’s fourth year with the team through the Team IMPACT organization. Vermont will give away “Back 4 Jack” T-shirts to the first 750 students. Bring your skates and gear on Sunday for a post-game Skate with the Cats on the Gutterson ice.
Reserved and general admission seats remain for the UMass game on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at UVMathletics.com/Tickets, and the Gutterson Ticket Office opens one hour prior to game time.