Vermont got offense from everywhere Friday, exploding for five consecutive goals in the first and second periods and holding off late-charging Rensselaer to post a 5-3 victory at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Jeff Corey led the scoring attack with two goals, and Scott Mifsud chipped in with three assists. It was Vermont’s third win in the last four tries.
Vermont (8-10-3, 5-6-0 ECAC) controlled play in the first period with a fast start and two consecutive power plays. Despite not scoring on the man advantages halfway though the period, the power plays kick-started the offense.
Vermont broke on top, at 13:43, on a turnover at the RPI blue line. Mifsud stole a clearing pass and led a 2-on-1 with Corey. He broke down the left side, deked an RPI defender who fell to the ice, and slid the pass to Corey. Corey put it past RPI goalie Kevin Kurk for a 1-0 lead, his fourth goal of the year.
The Catamounts carried momentum and a 13-6 shot margin into intermission.
Vermont wasted little time in the second period to get the 3,755 Gutterson faithful out of their seats — 1:46, to be exact.
A shot from the left circle hash marks by Joey Gasparini produced yet another rebound when Kurk kicked it out, directly onto the stick of freshman Ben Driver. Driver roofed a wrister, scoring his second of the season.
Vermont added to its advantage at 4:12. Bryson Busniuk took a shot which rebounded to Mifsud, who beat Kurk five-hole.
A dejected Kurk was relieved of his duties in net. He finished the night with a shaky 15 saves.
Junior Nathan Marsters didn’t fare much better, though.
Vermont soon found itself back in the attacking zone. Baron Becker had the puck behind the RPI net, and found Brady Liessenring in front. The sophomore centerman made no mistake for his seventh of the season. Jason Fortin also assisted on the goal.
Rensselaer defenseman Matt McNeely took a holding penalty at 9:42. The Vermont power play, which is clicking at 21.8 percent, went to work. Jeff Miles added his team-leading 13th goal with assists from Mifsud and Thomas Hajek.
Vermont head coach Mike Gilligan said, “There’s no way we are five goals better than RPI. That’s a pretty decent team. We just got some of the bounces tonight.”
Rensselaer (8-15-2,2-7-2 ECAC) mounted a comeback in the third with three unanswered goals.
The first Engineers’ tally came when Kirk MacDonald took a pass from Nick Economakos and beat Vermont’s Shawn Conschafter at 2:30.
Later, a melee ensued in which nine penalties were whistled. That seemed to light a fire under RPI, which, prior to the third period, had played uninspired hockey. Mikael Hammerstrom and Keith McWilliams then scored to make it Interesting. That was as close they would get, though, as the Engineers pulled Marsters to no avail with 1:48 remaining.
Conschafter made 22 saves for the win, while Marsters recorded 11 in relief in the losing effort.
The Cats outshot RPI 31-25 for the game and are now 6-1-1 when they outshoot their opponents.
Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen assessed his team. “Right from the goaltender on up, from the forwards, to the defense — we just did not execute and stood around and watched them play hockey. It’s the first time I’ve seen it this year, and I hope I never see it again.
“We were just spectators. I don’t have an answer as to why we do that.”
Gilligan said of his team’s confidence, “I think it is building. We’re very happy. The energy on the bench and in the locker room is just fabulous”
Rensselaer travels to Dartmouth Saturday, while Vermont entertains the Skating Dutchmen of Union.