In the inaugural Hockey East game at Gutterson Fieldhouse, the Catamounts dominated the Friars of Providence on their way to a 6-2 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 4,003. It was the 21st straight sellout at the ‘Gut.’ The victory improved the No. 8 Cats to 8-1-0 on the season and 2-1-0 in Hockey East, matching the 1985-86 Vermont team for the best start in school history.
The game did not get off to the start that Vermont had hoped for when Providence struck first at 8:20 of the first period. The goal was scored by senior left-winger Nate Meyers, with assists from Bryan Horan and Torry Gajda.
But it did not take the Cats long to answer. Just over two minutes later junior right-winger Chris Myers netted his third goal of the season. Slavomir Tomko and Dean Strong were both credited with assists.
This is all the scoring either team could muster in a very physical first period that saw Vermont outshot 9 to 6.
The second period is when the Cats began to assert themselves and take control of the game. After a Providence player was called for obstruction early in the period, the Vermont power play unit took over. The Cats have scored 17 of their 35 goals this season on the power play.
Senior right-winger Jeff Corey had two goals and two assists for four points that match his career high. His first goal came at 4:35 of the second period off assists from freshman Peter Lenes and senior Brady Leisenring.
Leisenring, the assistant captain, added two goals along with his assist to record the 100th point of his career. He is the 39th player in Catamount history to record 100 points.
It did not take the Friars long to respond. At 6:01 of the period, sophomore Jon Rheault buried a shot on a 4-on-3 advantage to tie the game at two goals apiece.
At 10:03 the Cats struck again, this time on a slapshot by Leisenring. The goal was set up by a great pass that left Leisenring wide open on the right circle. From there Leisenring ripped it past goaltender Tyler Sims. Sophomore Torrey Mitchell and Tomko each were credited with an assist.
Just over a minute later Vermont struck again off a turnover in the neutral zone. Dean Strong fed the puck to Corey who scored on a wrist shot from the left circle.
“Once we got the puck in deep, pressured their defensemen and utilized our team speed on the forecheck. I thought we played pretty darn well,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I thought we played a solid game from start to finish and got back to playing energetic hockey.”
The Catamounts outshot the Friars 19 to 7 in the second period on their way to a two-goal lead.
During the third period neither team could find the back of the net until 14:40 had passed. Vermont had a two-man advantage and they took advantage. Leisenring scored to give him seven goals on the season. It also marked the 100th (42 goals and 58 assists) point of his career.
Lenes finished the scoring for the Cats on another power play at 16:17 of the period. It was his team high fifth power play goal of the season. Mitchell and Corey each had an assist on each of the third period goals.
Sophomore Joe Fallon made 18 stops to pick up his 24th career win. Vermont out shot Providence 37 to 20.