Senior Weekend Letdown

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On a snowy Friday evening, the Uni-versity of Vermont men’s ice hockey team opened Senior Weekend by drop-ping a 2-1 decision to the suffocating defense and opportunistic scoring of the University of Massachusetts-Low-ell.

Despite outshooting the River Hawks 30-20, the Cats were unable to solve freshman goaltender Carter Hutton, who made just his first start in two months.

Sophomore Peter Lenes scored the lone Catamount goal in a contest which produced only one power play for either team and took just under two hours to finish.

In front of Gutterson Fieldhouse’s 56 consecutive sell out crowd, Vermont fell to 17-14-4 (12-10-4 Hockey East) on the season.

The River Hawks quickly jumped out to a 1-0 advantage just 26 seconds into the affair.

Leading on odd man break, Jason Tejchma shielded off a Cat defender and feathered a perfect cross ice, backhanded feed to fellow senior co-captain Jeremy Hall.

Uncovered in the slot, Hall beat Cats’ goalkeeper Joe Fallon high, blocker side for his eighth tally of the year.

After tempers flared and bone crushing checks increased, the Cats clawed back to tie the score at 13:12 of the first.

Parked behind Hutton’s net, junior co-captain Torrey Mitchell muscled off multiple defenders and fed a streaking Lenes out front.

Lenes unleashed a wicked one timer high, glove side past a helpless Hutton. Lenes’s strike, also assisted by sophomore Dean Strong, was his fifth of the season and first since Dec. 30.

UMass Lowell scored the eventual game winner at 8:50 of the second stanza.

Receiving a centering pass from sophomore Mark Roebothan, freshman Kory Falite buried a backhand by Fallon for his team leading 10 goals.

Despite being berated by Catamount student chants of “Amherst rejects,” the disciplined River Hawks would kill a key Vermont power play early in the third period to solidify their one goal lead.

With just a minute remaining, the Cats pulled Fallon in favor of an extra attacker but Hutton stood tallest, finishing with 29 saves.

“I thought we had some very poor leadership from our veteran players tonight and that starts from the net out,” Cats head coach Kevin Sneddon said.

“We had a bunch of freshmen looking for answers; they played well and didn’t have anybody to look up to tonight.”

In Saturday night’s rematch, Gutterson Field-house’s 57 consecutive sell out crowd celebrated Senior Night by saluting final year players Tom Collingham, Andy Corran, Art Femenella, Ryan Gunderson, Kenny Macaulay, Chris Myers, Dan Owens, and Evan Stoflet.

Paced by second period goals from junior assistant captain Mark Lutz, sopho-more Peter Lenes and freshman Brian Roloff, the Cats tied the River Hawks 3-3.

Freshman Mike Spillane finished with 16 saves.

With the tie, the Cats wrap up the 06-07 regular season with a 17-14-5 overall record.

With their 12-10-5 record in Hockey East, Vermont fin-ishes in sixth place and will travel to #3 Boston University.

The Hockey East best of three quarterfinal series be-gins at 7 p.m. on March 8 at Agganis Arena.

“This is when it gets fun. We are where we are in the standings and we can’t do anything about it,” Sneddon said. “We have an opportu-nity now to go back to BU and try to do what we did last Saturday night.

“It’s going to be great hockey and we’re excited about it; that’s why we play the game. We can’t worry about what we did in the regular season now it’s a whole new season.”