Freshman Eric Przepiorka tallied a breakaway goal with under five minutes remaining to give Dartmouth a 3-2 come-from-behind victory against Vermont Saturday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
On a snowy night In Burlington, 4,035 hearty fans turned out at the Gut (the fourth sellout of the season) to witness the 58th renewal of the rivalry between the Big Green and the Catamounts, which turned out to be a spirited affair.
It’s always a physical game when two travel partners get together, and Saturday was no exception. The first period was littered with penalties, including seven infractions whistled on Vermont and four on Dartmouth.
The Big Green (9-4-0, 5-2-0 ECAC) wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. At :22 of the first period, with Dartmouth set up in the offensive zone, a shot from the point by senior defenseman Trevor Byrne came in on Vermont goaltender Shawn Conschafter. The puck rebounded to Mike Ouellette. His shot was blocked over to Lee Stempniak, who buried his team-leading 11th goal of the year.
The Catamounts (5-9-3, 2-5-0 ECAC) tied the score at 1-1 on the power play. Jeff Corey skated across the Dartmouth blue line and fired a pass across the goalmouth to Bryson Busniuk. The senior assistant captain made a great backhanded deke around a fallen defender and slipped a shot past out-of-position Dartmouth goaltender Nick Boucher (22 saves). The goal, at 3:20, was Busniuk’s third of the season. Jamie Sifers, who started the play, got an assist as well.
Vermont took the lead 1:25 later with a goal by Scott Mifsud from Corey and Busniuk. Corey skated over the line and found Mifsud, who banged his own rebound home.
“It’s too bad we didn’t get a couple more. Early in the game we had a couple of chances on 2-on-1. We just didn’t get those layups.” Vermont head coach Mike Gilligan said.
Conschafter was Vermont’s best player on the night. He made 40 stops, including one late in the second period on freshman Hugh Jessiman, to preserve the tenuous one-goal advantage.
The senior netminder made his best save of the night in the third on Ouellette. The freshman had the puck in the crease after a rebound and Conschafter snagged the puck out of the air.
The Cats did not keep the lead long after that. Kent Gillings tied the game with his seventh of the season. Garret Overlock and Mike Murray picked up assists on the goal from the slot, at 3:33.
The game winner came when a P.J. Martin pass sprung Przepiorka as he was sent in alone on goal. Conschafter could not squeeze his pads together to make the save.
Dartmouth sat on its lead the final five minutes and got the win.
Gilligan said, “I think we played very well in the second period. They went into a shell, and the reverse happened in the third. We ran out of energy in the third. But that’s a good team. They’re are as good as anybody in our league, I’d say. So I was pretty happy about the total effort … not the result.”
Said Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet, “I thought UVM played very well. I thought they played hard, physical. They really got after us. They played a really good hockey game. It’s just disappointing to have an effort like that and not end up winning it. We played pretty well as a team. We found a way to win. It was a huge goal by Eric … a nice play. He beat a good goalie … a big win for our team.”