#16 Cats Come Back to Split #19 Minutemen

On Friday evening, while the University of Vermont con-tinued to shovel its way out of the Blizzard of ’07, the men’s ice hockey team was snowed in by Hockey East adversary UMass-Amherst, 3-2. Despite recovering from a two-goal, first period deficit and outshooting the Minute-men 28-24, the Cats’ comeback was stymied by a plethora of defensive breakdowns. A Chris Capraro goal with scarcely two minutes remain-ing in the third period extend-ed UVM’s losing streak to four games, tying its second longest such drought of the year. Capitalizing on a porous Cats defense, the Minutemen quickly grabbed a 1-0 lead at 2:08 of the first period. Splitting two defenders to lead a three on one break, UMass captain Mark Mathe-son found uncovered team-mate Will Ortiz at the top of the crease to beat a helpless Cats goaltender, Joe Fallon. At 10:47, the Minutemen struck again as a streaking Or-tiz feathered a perfect cross-ice pass to a trailing David Leaderer. Fallon, committed to Ortiz’s shot, was left stranded by his defense as UMass took a com-manding 2-0 advantage into the first intermission.However, displaying their trademark resiliency, the Cats clawed back at 5:16 of the sec-ond period. On the man advan-tage, freshman Victor Stal-berg nested a Torrey Mitchell rebound and neatly wrapped around the net to beat UMass goaltender Jon Quick. The score was momentous for Mitchell. With the assist, the junior co-captain recorded his 100 career point, becoming just the 40 Catamount in school history to reach triple digits in scoring. UVM obtained the equal-izer with just inside four min-utes remaining in the period. Grabbing a Corey Carlson rebound, freshman Brayden Ir-win warded off two defenders and beat Quick with a swing-ing wrap-around while falling to the ice for his fifth tally of the year. Carlson, who also assisted on Stalberg’s goal, picked up the eighth multi-point game of his career as the match head-ed into the final stanza tied at two.The deadlock would remain until 17:55 of the third. Converting yet again on a Cat defensive disintegration, Capraro found himself the beneficiary of a three on one directly in front of Fallon’s crease to secure the game win-ner. UVM would call a timeout and pull Fallon to get the man advantage but Umass held out.”Tonight wasn’t about goal scoring; it was about keeping the puck out of the net,” said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. “I thought we made three really bad defensive mis-takes and we can’t have that from key players. “It was great to come back but if you can’t make smart plays with under five minutes to go you’re not going to win many hockey games.”In Saturday’s rematch the Cats rebounded to blank the Minutemen 3-0 thanks to Fal-lon’s 17th career shutout. “I’m just so proud of the team from top to bottom,” Sned-don said. “I’m really proud of Joe (Fallon) as well for the way he rebounded from a couple of tough games. He was the dif-ference tonight.”With the weekend split, the Cats move to 16-12-4 (11-8-4 Hockey East). UVM returns to action Feb. 23 and 24 when they travel to Boston Univeristy.