Cats Claw Foes

Whenever two Hockey East rivals meet, intense physical play ensues. It was no different on Saturday night when Vermont hosted Maine at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

And after three tough, chippy periods Vermont emerged victorious 3-0, getting two goals from sophomore Kyle Reynolds and earning first-year Brody Hoffman his second career shutout. 

The win puts the Catamounts in eighth place in Hockey East with just eight games left before the Hockey East Tournament. 

Early in the first period, it looked like this game was headed Maine’s way. Several early shots tested Hoffman’s range and one early save left him slow to get up. 

The teams remained scoreless through the first period as Vermont struggled on the power play. 

Entering the night the Cats were near the bottom in Hockey East converting on less than 15 percent of power play opportunities. 

The early struggles were a concern for head coach Kevin Sneddon, but he attributed most of it to nerves. 

“We looked liked we were skating in quicksand a little bit. I think it was nerves,” Sneddon said. “We started our playoff run a little bit earlier, so I think there were some nerves involved. It was a very quiet locker room, very intense before the game.”

The second period saw a different Vermont team emerge from the locker room. The Catamount offense began to click, producing more shots and opportunities in front of the Maine net. 

And with 47.2 seconds left in the period, first-year Caylen Walls sent a long pass into the Maine end. 

Assistant captain junior Chris McCarthy got to the puck and avoided the potential icing call making a centering pass to sophomore Kyle Reynolds who put his shot past Maine goaltender and Columbus Blue Jacket draft pick Martin Ouellette

Walls got his first ever assist on the play, and earned his second later in the game. 

Overall, Vermont outshot Maine putting 14 on net while holding the Black Bear to only one in the second. 

Just over four minutes into the third the Cats made it 2-0 as Reynolds scored on a backhand through Ouellette’s five hole off a passes from Chris McCarthy and senior defenseman Anders Franzon

“[Reynolds] was sensational tonight. We had a total effort. Both Hoff early on then Kyle [were] difference makers for us. He was one of the best players on the ice if not the best,” Sneddon said post-game. 

Vermont got their third goal on a power play following a Maine slashing penalty. 

Chris McCarthy scored unassisted after he picked off an Ouellette clearing pass and scoring over the sprawling Ouellette. 

But the Cats were not in the clear, facing two separate five on three penalty kills late in the third period. “The penalty kill inspired us all night; that double 5-on-3 we killed in the third, guys blocking shots, doing whatever it takes to win the hockey game,” Sneddon said. 

After scoring twice on Saturday and netting his sixth goal in six games, Kyle Reynolds was quick to credit his goalie for the win. 

“You’ve got to give credit to Hoffman, a lot of credit,” Reynolds said. “He kept us in the game. If they score in the first 10 minutes, it’s a whole different game.” 

Reynolds saw the win as “our biggest win of the season. We just won a series against Maine (2-0-1), which is the first tiebreaker. We just did the little things, outhit them, out-blocked them and out-chanced them.”

Vermont is next in action this weekend when they travel to Boston to face Northeastern in a weekend series. 

In their first matchup of the season on November 18, Vermont beat the Huskies 3-2 at Gutterson Fieldhouse.