December 30, 2013

College Wraparound: Vermont captures Catamount Cup

By Joshua Kummins

For the University of Vermont Catamounts (10-6-1), the quest to capture their own tournament prize once again was successful on Sunday night.

After a solid 3-2 upset of ninth-ranked Clarkson in its opening contest of the tournament at the Gutterson Fieldhouse, UVM easily handled the visiting Canisius Golden Griffins (5-10-1) to win the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup for the fourth time in the last six seasons and the fifth time in its history, 6-2.

The Cats smashed their previous season-best mark in shots on goal, finishing with a 61-28 advantage.

It did not take long for the Cats to tickle the twine and take a 1-0 lead as senior assistant captain Chris McCarthy scored the first of three Vermont goals in the period just 54 seconds into the proceedings. Senior Pete Massar (Williston, Vt.) continued his stellar play with his fourth of the season at 7:13, before rookie Floridian Mario Puskarich finished off UVM’s first-period scoring just 2:01 later.

The three-goal outburst in less than ten minutes was plenty for the victory, which propelled UVM to the double-digit plateau. The game marked the Catamounts’ first against an Atlantic Hockey Association team since they defeated Air Force in Bridgeport, Conn. to advance to the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four.

Senior defender Duncan McKellar beat UVM freshman Mike Santaguida (26 saves) and ended any chance of a shutout bid 13:46 into the opening frame, but a season-high 22 shots on goal by the Catamounts in the opening 20 were way too much for the visitors to handle at any point.

Junior Michael Paliotta (Westport, Conn.), who was named Catamount Cup MVP for his three-point effort in the contest, cracked the board on the man advantage at 11:57 of the middle period to re-establish a three-goal lead, while freshman Brendan Bradley went upstairs for his second goal of the season at 7:06 of the third period.

Shane Conacher, whose brother Cory is one of the Griffs’ all-time greats and a current Ottawa Senator, nearly spoiled UVM’s Cup title hopes with a garbage goal with 2:01 to play in regulation.

However, Cat junior Jake Fallon scored on an open breakaway - off a long stretch feed from senior Nick Bruneteau - with two seconds remaining to equate to the 6-2 final mark and finish off the title, which was clinched over UMass Lowell by virtue of a goal differential tiebreaker.

UVM has now won seven of its last eight and will host two former ECAC rivals next weekend, beginning Friday night against its twin-state foe Dartmouth College on Friday.

UMass Lowell 3, Clarkson 1

The River Hawks (13-5-0) scored twice over the final six minutes of regulation to complete a sweep in the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup with a victory in their first of three consecutive meetings with the No. 9 Golden Knights (12-5-1). Third-year Scott Wilson scored the winner at 14:21 of the third period and senior Doug Carr (Hanover, Mass.) made 18 saves in goal. For CU, Bruins prospect Ben Sexton scored the only goal of the day to tie the game at 1-1 just 38 seconds into the third.

Maine 1, Cornell 1 (OT)

65 minutes was not enough for the Black Bears (10-6-2) and Big Red (8-4-3) decide a champion in the Florida College Classic at Germain Arena in Estero, so the game was recorded as a tie and CU took home the hardware thanks to scoring the lone goal in a nine-round shootout. Sophomore Devin Shore scored Maine’s lone goal late in the second period and earned All-Tournament honors along with senior stopper Martin Ouellette.

Yale 4, Holy Cross 1

Fresh off an appearance on Saturday night at Frozen Fenway, the Crusaders (4-11-2) hung tough but fell for the second consecutive night, falling to the defending national champion Bulldogs (7-3-3) at a sold-out Ingalls Rink. Junior Anthony Day’s goal proved to be the deciding strike, putting the No. 11 Elis up at 6:28 of the second, while rookie Alex Lyon made 21 saves in goal to improve to 4-3-3. Sophomore Matt Vidal was the Crusader offense as he scored the lone goal midway through regulation.

Providence 3, Dartmouth 2

Senior Derek Army (North Kingstown, R.I.) scored twice and junior scoring leader Ross Mauermann earned the winner with eight minutes remaining in regulation as the Friars (13-2-3) jumped by the host Big Green (2-11-0) to advance to Monday’s 25th annual Ledyard National Bank Classic Championship. Sophomore Brad Schierhorn and junior Charlie Mosey scored goals for the home team, beating PC freshman Nick Ellis, who finished with 21 saves in victory. The Friars are now 4-0-2 in their last six games and have won five of eight road games on the year.

Air Force 5, Northeastern 2

In the opening game at Dartmouth, the 16th-ranked Huskies (10-6-2) saw a six-game unbeaten streak come to an end at the hands of the Falcons (8-5-4). Senior Braden Pimm, who has now posted points in four of the last five games, scored both goals for NU as it fell to the Academy for the first time in 11 all-time meetings. Junior Clay Witt suffered just his fourth loss this season, making 24 stops.

Massachusetts 2, Quinnipiac 2 (OT)

The Minutemen (6-12-3) scored two first period goals, but Quinnipiac freshman Tim Clifton scored the game-tying goal 1:28 into the second to lift the No. 8 Bobcats (13-3-4) into a 2-2 tie in the opening game of the UConn Holiday Classic at XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Sophomore Michael Garteig made 19 saves in goal and stopped both shots he faced in the shootout, allowing QU to advance to the tournament title game on Monday. Juniors Emerson Auvenshine and Troy Power scored for UMass. Auvenshine’s goal was the first of his career in his 27th game.

Sacred Heart 3, Connecticut 0

Sophomore Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.) pitched a beautiful 29-save shutout and rookie Coltyn Hansen scored the lone goal the Pioneers (5-12-0, 4-7-0 Atlantic Hockey) would need three minutes into the second period to down their conference rival Huskies (6-6-2, 5-3-1) in Hartford.

New Hampshire 3, Princeton 2

Senior blue liner Justin Agosta posted a goal and an assist for the victorious Wildcats (10-10-1) as they captured third place in the Florida College Classic with a comeback win over the Tigers (3-14-0). Sophomore Brett Pesce assisted on two of the three UNH goals, while junior Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) made 21 stops for a solid effort in goal. PU rookie Ben Foster (Darien, Conn.) registered an assist in defeat.

Harvard 9, Russian Red Stars 3

Sophomore Jimmy Vesey (North Reading, Mass.) registered a hat trick and an assist to pace the Crimson (4-7-2) in a romp of the traveling Russian Red Stars in an exhibition game at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins