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Vermont edged out fellow Hockey East rivals Northeastern, 3-2, at Matthews Arena on Friday night in front of a crowd of 2,054. While both teams were tied at fifth prior to the puck drop, the win vaulted Vermont into fourth place in Hockey East while the Huskies dropped to seventh.
â€œI was really impressed,â€ said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. â€œWe had a tough week at practice. We were really tough on our guys after the loss to UMass, and we wanted to make sure we got our point across. I was a little concerned about our energy level, but it looked like we had a lot of life to the end. Thatâ€™s how we should play every night.â€
The Catamounts were the first to score early on in the first period. Vermontâ€™s Brayden Irwin sent an unassisted rocket from the right circle past Chris Rawlings on an odd-man rush three and a half minutes into play.
Towards the end of the period, Jack Downing put one in the net for his team with the help of fellow front men Brian Roloff and Sebastian Stalberg making it a 2-0 game. Roloff passed to Stalberg who missed his shot off of Rawlings. Downing grabbed the rebound and flipped it in past the netminder to tally his third goal of the season. Both goals were scored at full strength.
The Huskies werenâ€™t without their scoring opportunities in the first. Tied with the Catamounts with 11 shots apiece, the Huskies managed to get the puck in the attack zone for some close calls, but were unable to follow through. Jake Newton sent a rocket off the Vermont goal post, nearly sending it flying over the glass into the crowd.
Nearing the halfway mark of the period, the Huskies cut the Catamount lead to a goal.
Kyle Kraemer scored his fifth goal of the season as he snuck one past Rob Madore with a little help from blueliners Jake Newton and Drew Muench. But the Catamounts were quick to respond a minute and a half later as Freshman David Pacan sent an unassisted bullet from the circles to the upper left corner of the net re-establishing Vermontâ€™s two goal lead.
It was Pacanâ€™s fifth of the season.
â€œThe last couple of games heâ€™s started to get his confidence,â€ said Sneddon. â€œHe had a big goal tonight, but more importantly, I just liked the energy he brings to that line. I thought he was physical and was hard to knock off the clock.â€
Despite being handed two back-to-back power plays at the beginning of the third period, the Huskies went 0-4 on the man advantage for the game thanks to the impressive Catamountsâ€™ kill.
On a pass from Drew Muench, Justin Daniels skated side-by-side into the attack zone with Wade MacLeod. After a series of quick, sharp passes Daniels snuck the second Husky goal of the night past Madore cutting the lead to one again. But it would be too little too late for the Huskies, and the damage done in the first period would be enough to give the Catamounts the win.
â€œThey did a terrific job killing penalties,â€ said Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin. â€œIâ€™ve said all year long that if your power plays end up in the net scoring, you can have those sloppy nights and still win, but we didnâ€™t do that tonight.â€
Vermont will look to keep their newly gained momentum going as they host Yale on Monday night at 7:05 p.m. The Huskies will use the week to rehab some injuries, and will look for a fresh start at Merrimack next Friday night at 7 p.m.