The men’s hockey team played in two very different games against the University of Denver Pioneers to open up the regular season Oct. 8 and 9.
The Denver series followed an exhibition game against New Brunswick on Oct. 3, in which the Catamounts were defeated 3-2.
“From where we were last week to where we are this week is a huge step,” senior Dan Lawson said. “It shows a lot about the character of this team that in the second week we can make all these adjustments and get that much better in one week. So I mean we’re really excited about down the road.”
The first night of the series resulted in a 5-3 Denver victory, despite the best efforts of senior Wahsontiio Stacey, who recorded a hattrick in the loss.
The Catamounts gained the first lead of the game in the first period when senior Josh Burrows got the puck to Stacey from the boards and Stacey sent it high into the net on the power play.
Stacey’s second goal came at 6:08 in the second period. Stacey thought he had increased Vermont’s cushion to 3-0 shortly after, but a tripping penalty was called on senior assistant captain Jack Downing and the goal was disallowed.
“I’m still wondering why it wasn’t three-nothing,” head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “That was a pretty big momentum swing right there, we got the goal and it resulted in a penalty. I didn’t think that was the right call; it should have been three-nothing.”
Downing’s tripping penalty would prove to be costly for the Catamounts when Denver sophomore Drew Shore took advantage of the resulting power play and scored Denver’s first goal of the night at 10:43, bringing the score to 2-1.
Denver sophomore Matt Donovan then evened the score at 18:47 when he scored a short-handed goal.
The Pioneers would score twice more before Stacey put the Catamounts back within a goal of Denver, scoring his third goal at 17:50 of the third period.
Vermont’s hopes for a late comeback were not to be, though, as Shore tapped the puck into an empty Vermont net at 19:28, securing the Denver victory.
The following night’s game was much more of a defensive battle as the two teams skated to a 1-1 tie.
Denver came out strong in the opening period, outshooting Vermont 10-5.
Denver then scored the first goal at 3:06 of the second period when Shore knocked the puck in from the slot.
Vermont was able to tie things up as the second period was winding down at 18:06. Senior Dan Lawson scored when he received the puck from sophomore Tobias Nilsson-Roos and his shot from the point deflected off a Denver defender.
Neither team was able to score in the third period or in overtime, leaving the score at 1-1.
The team’s next challenge will be Hockey East opponent Merrimack College on Oct. 23.