Men’s hockey splits games with UNH
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Gutterson Fieldhouse was home to a shooting gallery this weekend, as Vermont men’s hockey split with rival University of New Hampshire in two high-scoring games.
On Friday night, the Catamounts opened up a 2-0 lead in the second period. Junior forward Anthony Petruzzelli opened the scoring by burying a rebound off a shot by sophomore forward Drew Best.
Just over a minute later, sophomore forward Brian Bowen tapped home the rebound of a first-year forward Ross Colton shot to double the lead to 2-0.
The visiting Wildcats roared back. Ninety-three seconds after Bowen’s goal, UNH cut the lead in half as Tyler Kelleher finished off a cross-ice pass from Michael McNicholas.
Early in the second period, the Wildcats tied the game on a wrist shot by Jason Salvaggio, who banked the shot in off the post.
New Hampshire took the lead about six minutes later, as a shot by Anthony Wyse deflected and beat first-year goaltender Stefanos Lekkas.
Lekkas had stopped a Salvaggio penalty shot shortly before. Kelleher would add an empty netter for a 4-2 New Hampshire final.
“It’s certainly disappointing,” head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We had a 2-0 lead in our building. We’ll have to have short memories.”
Saturday night turned out better for the Catamounts, who opened the scoring just 97 seconds into the game off of a shot by senior defenseman Rob Hamilton.
UNH fired back about five minutes later, as Justin Fregona danced around Lekkas to tie the game at one point.
UVM responded about five minutes after that, as senior forward Mario Puskarich beat Wildcat goaltender Daniel Tirone from close range with a backhander to put Vermont in front 2-1.
That lead lasted less than a minute, as Jamie Hill beat Lekkas to his near post to tie it at two points.
Vermont regained the lead early in the second, as junior forward Travis Blanleil took a shot from the slot that beat an off-guard Tirone to put UVM ahead for good.
The Cats doubled the lead to 4-2 about 90 seconds later, as Petruzzeli pounced on another rebound, this time from first-year defenseman Jake Massie.
Early in the third period, Vermont extended the lead to three points, as Puskarich beat Tirone with a slap shot from the top of the face-off circle for his 50th career goal.
This was a historic goal as Puskarich became the first Catamount to make 50 career goals since JC Ruid ‘97 in 1996.
New Hampshire would add a goal late from Salvaggio, but were unable to cut further into the lead.
“I thought we played a lot tougher; we were strong over pucks, we blocked a lot more shots, and we won a ton of faceoffs,” Sneddon said. “Those are battles that, when you add them up, result in favorable outcomes.”
Puskarich felt that morale was higher on Saturday.
“We were a lot more positive on the bench,” Puskarich said. “We didn’t really have that negative feeling like we had the last few games.”
The Catamounts now travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to take on Boston College Feb. 17 and 18, returning home for the last home series of the regular season Feb. 24 and 25 against Merrimack College.