In a back and forth affair at Gutterson Fieldhouse, No. 17 University of Vermont held off visiting (and seventh ranked) Miami for a 4-3 victory.
Catamount redshirt sophomore Justin Milo scored the game-winning goal with just 4:20 remaining in the third period. Despite a heated final minute in which Miami pulled its goalie for an extra attacker, Vermont junior goaltender Mike Spillane stood tallest, finishing with 20 saves and denying the RedHawks a shot at the equalizer.
The win improves Vermont to 2-0-0 (0-0-0 Hockey East) on the young season while Miami falls to 1-1-1 (1-0-1 CCHA
â€œIt got a little scrambly out there but we held our composure as best as possible,â€ said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. â€œThatâ€™s a great Miami team so this is a big win for our program. Great win for Hockey East.â€
The Catamounts jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds into the game. Senior captain Dean Strong emerged from behind the net and found sophomore Viktor Stalberg who beat Miami goaltender Cody Reichard on the backhand.
Miami evened the score at 6:53 on the power play. Set up behind Spillaneâ€™s goal, Brian Kaufman fed the puck in front to Alexandre Lacombe. Spillane stopped Lacombeâ€™s shot but Carter Camper secured the rebound and found the back of the net for his third goal of the year. The Redhawks struck again on the power play at 14:24 of the first to take a 2-1 lead. Streaking down the left side, Tommy Wingels went wide on the Vermont defense and jammed home his first goal of the season.
Vermont fought back to tie the score at 13:09 in the second period. Senior assistant captain Peter Lenes unloaded a blistering wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff dot that eluded Reichard.
Dictating play, the Catamounts took the lead nearly two minutes later. Sophomore defenseman Dan Lawson ripped a slapper from the left point which junior Colin Vock could not jam home. However,
junior Brayden Irwin pounced on the rebound and beat a helpless Reichard to make it 3-2.
Miami tied the score just 2:32 into the third period. Leading a two on one break, Redhawks forward Pat Cannone chose not to pass and unleashed a wrist shot past Spillane. The two teams battled for the remainder of the period until Milo scored the game winner at 4:20. After dekeing the Miami defense, Lenes crashed the net and his shot found its way to Milo amidst a wild scrum.
â€œIt kind of bounced right to me in the slot,â€ said Milo. â€œI just gave it whack on my backhand and slid it under the goalie.â€
Miami would call a timeout and pull Reichard for an extra attacked in the final minute but Spillane and the Catamount defense held off the Redhawks.
â€œHe made the big saves when he had to,â€ said Sneddon of his goaltender. â€œI thought he battled just as much as anybody else did tonight to find a way to win. From the net out Iâ€™m very proud of the team.â€
Ten different Catamounts registered at least one point with Lenes adding a goal and an assist and Jack Downing two assists.
â€œWe had a complete game from all four lines and certainly from our six defensemen,â€ said Sneddon. â€œGetting offense by committee is okay with us.â€
Reichard finished with 24 saves for Miami. Brian Kaufman added two assists.
â€œWhen two good teams are playing thereâ€™s going to be some ups and downs,â€ said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. â€œI thought we carried the play for a little bit then they took it to us for a little bit. They executed one more play than we did.â€
Miami finished 2-6 on the power play while Vermont went 0-3. The two teams meet again Saturday night for round two of the weekend series.
â€œWe know Miami is going to be hungry tomorrow but the Catamounts will be hungry too,â€ said Sneddon. â€œWeâ€™re feeling good about the way weâ€™re playing and we know weâ€™ve got to make some adjustments tonight to be better tomorrow.â€
Catamount freshman Rob Madore will get the nod in goal for his first career start.