Hockey Cats Split the Difference in ECAC Action This Weekend

Vermont’s Jeff Corey scored two goals and Scott Mifsud recorded three assists as the Catamounts offense continued to excel in a 5-3 win over Rensselaer Friday night in ECAC Division I men’s ice hockey action at UVM’s Gutterson Fieldhouse. Vermont, which scored five goals in 4:50 in a 6-4 win at Dartmouth last Saturday night, continued the offensive wizardry against the Engineers, getting four goals in a dominating second period that saw the puck in Vermont’s offensive zone for much of the stanza. Rensselaer rallied for three third-period goals to make it close. “There’s no way we’re five goals better than RPI,” Vermont coach Mike Gilligan said. “That’s a pretty good team, and we just got some bounces tonight.” The Catamounts, now 8-11-3 overall and 5-7-0 in ECAC play, took a 1-0 lead late in the first period when Corey converted a nice 2-on-1 pass from Mifsud and slid the puck past Rensselaer’s Kevin Kirk at 13:43. Mifsud corralled the puck at center ice, broke in down the left wing and deked out the RPI defenseman before feeding Corey in the slot. Corey kept the puck low and slid it past Kirk for his fourth goal of the season. The Catamounts owned much of the play in the first, piling up 13 shots on net to Rensselaer’s six. Vermont made it 2-0 early in the second when freshman Ben Driver scored his second career goal on a rebound, lifting the puck high to beat Kirk from a tough angle. Joey Gasparini and Chris Smart assisted on the goal, which came at 1:46. The Catamounts continued to pour it on, with Corey getting his second of the game from Bryson Busniuk and Mifsud at 4:12, and Brady Leisenring banging in his seventh of the season from Baron Becker and Jason Fortin at 6:04. Junior Jeff Miles scored his13th goal of the season at 8:18, with Mifsud threading a great pass to him from the point while the Catamounts were on the power play. Thomas Hajek also assisted on the goal. Rensselaer, 8-15-2 overall and 2-7-2 in ECAC play, got on the board early in the third period when Kirk MacDonald took a pass from Nick Economakos and beat Vermont’s Shawn Conschafter at 2:30. Mikael Hammarstrom then scored at 9:29 to make it 5-2, and Keith McWilliams scored his second of the year at 15:23 to cut Vermont’s lead to 5-3. Conschafter made 22 saves for Vermont, while Kirk finished with 15 before being replaced by Nathan Marsters. Marsters had 11 saves. Gilligan commented on the play of Corey, who is 3-5-8 in the last six games, and Mifsud, who has five assists in the last two games. “(Corey) is a pretty solid freshman,” Gilligan said. “He makes some good decisions out there, and he’s got some company. Mifsud is an exceptionally intuitive player who knows where the puck is going and has been working very hard.” In Saturday’s game against Union, the Dutchmen’s Jordan Webb converted a 2-on-1 with Nathan Gillies midway through the third period to lead the team to a 4-2 win over Vermont in the Cats second home game on the weekend. Webb’s goal, at 11:54 of the third period, capped a nice comeback by the Dutchmen, who trailed 2-0 before reeling off four unanswered goals, the last going into an open net. Vermont took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on Jeff Miles’ team-leading 14th goal of the season while Vermont had a two-man advantage. Scott Mifsud and Thomas Hajek assisted on the goal, which came at 15:47. Miles got the puck to the right of Union goaltender Kris Mayotte and banked the puck off a Union defender and into the net. Vermont outshot Union, 7-4, in the opening period, and goaltender Shawn Conschafter, making his eighth straight start for the Catamounts, continued to shine. His best save of the period was a sparkling stick stop on Gillies with 6:37 remaining while Union was on the power play. The Catamounts made it 2-0 with another power-play goal in the second period, this one off the stick of Brady Leisenring at 9:59. Leisenring camped in the slot, and freshman Jeff Corey took a pass from Gerard Miller and went behind the net before finding Leisenring, who one-timed a low shot past Mayotte for his eighth goal of the season. Union, 9-11-4 and 5-5-2, cut into the Vermont lead when Gillies scored on the power play at 11:51. Webb and Kris Goodjohn assisted on the goal, Gillies’ 11th of the season. The Dutchmen then tied it early in the third when Brian Kerr scored from a tough angle, beating Conschafter high to the stick side at 4:15. Randy Dagenais took the initial shot that Conschafter stopped, but Kerr gathered the rebound and shot from the low circle to the left of the Vermont net. Chris DiStefano also assisted on the goal, Kerr’s sixth of the season. After Webb’s game-winner, Scott Seney scored into the empty net to make for the final margin. Conschafter recorded 15 saves for Vermont, while Mayotte stopped 23 for Union. The Cats are on a road trip next weekend, taking on Yale and Princeton. -SportsInfo