Cats thrill in undefeated home debut

In a weekend series at Gutterson Fieldhouse, the No. 17 UVM men’s hockey team went undefeated in two games against No. 7 Miami (Ohio), winning on Friday and tying the Redhawks on Saturday. In Friday night’s opener, Catamount redshirt sophomore Justin Milo scored the game-winning goal with just 4:20 remaining in the third period to give Vermont a 4-3 victory. On Saturday, the Cats overcame a two goal deficit to tie Miami 3-3. Despite the deadlock, Milo played the hero for a second straight night, beating Redhawks goaltender Connor Knapp in the fourth round of the shootout to send the Catamount faithful home in a frenzy.The Cats remain undefeated at 2-0-1 while Miami drops to 1-1-2.”I’ve been associated with hockey a long time and I don’t remember two games that were that exciting from start to finish,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “It was just a toe-toe battle from start to finish for 125 plus minutes including the shootout.” The Catamounts jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds into Friday’s opener.Senior captain Dean Strong emerged from behind the net and found sophomore Viktor Stalberg who beat Miami goaltender Cody Reichard on the backhand. After Miami tied it up, senior assistant captain Peter Lenes unloaded a wrist shot from the top of the left face-off dot that eluded Reichard at 13:09 in the second period. The two teams exchanged goals before Milo scored the game winner late in the third period. After shifting by the Miami defense, Lenes crashed the net and his shot found its way to Milo amidst a wild scrum. “It kind of bounced right to me in the slot,” Milo said. “I just gave it a whack on my backhand and slid it under the goalie.” The Cats’ junior goaltender Mike Spillane finished with 20 saves. In Saturday’s round two, Vermont fell behind 2-0 in the second period before clawing their way back. Streaking up the left side, Lenes connected with fellow assistant captain Corey Carlson who secured the centering feed, decked a Miami defender and slid the puck by Redhawks goaltender Connor Knapp on the backhand for his first goal of the season. The Cats tied the score less than a minute later when sophomore defenseman Andrew Miller blasted a slapshot from the right point that slid through a maze of skaters and beat Knapp top shelf.Miami would take a 3-2 lead at 1:35 of the third period but Lenes answered once again, scoring on a two- man advantage to send the game to overtime. Both teams had opportunities with the man advantage in the extra period but neither were able to capitalize. Catamount forward Viktor Stalberg and Redhawk Pat Cannone exchanged shootout goals before Milo ended the con?test with a wrist shot that eluded Knapp high, blocker side. Making his collegiate debut, Vermont freshman goaltender Rob Madore stopped 26 of 29 shots and three of four in the shootout. The Cats return to action Friday Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. when they visit No. 1 Boston College.