Vermont triumphs over Providence College


Sophomore forward Derek Lodermeier takes a shot against UMass Amherst Jan. 12. The Catamounts are 8-15-5 overall this season.

Curt Berry, Staff Writer

Fights, blocked shots, power play goals, a game winner, and free chocolate made for an exciting weekend at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

Men’s hockey continued their hot streak this weekend, winning a game and tying another against No. 8 ranked Providence College.

After these two games, Vermont improves to an 8-15-5 record overall and 5-9-4 in conference play.

Sophomore goaltender Stefanos Lekkas recorded a career high 46 saves Friday night and junior forward Liam Coughlin scored his seventh goal of the season, as UVM secured a 2-2 tie against the No. 8 ranked team in the nation.

The first period was all Providence Friars, but they had no goals to show for it.

Lekkas saved 16 shots in the first and was able to stop a Providence power play with 9:26 left in the period.

The Cats offense struggled early on, and only mustered 4 shots on goal in the first period.

During the second period, Vermont’s offense came back to life by scoring twice.

The first came from sophomore forward Derek Lodermeier at 3:05, assisted by junior forward Conor O’Neil and first-year defenseman Owen Grant.

Coughlin added the second at 13:20, assisted by senior forwards Anthony Petruzzelli and Rob Darrar.

The Cats had a two-goal lead going into the third, but Providence’s continuous domination paid off. Kasper Bjorkqvist scored his twelfth goal of the season, making it 2-1.

Later in the third, the Providence power play answered with Scott Conway sending the game to OT.

UVM was outshot 15-5 in the period.

Lekkas again saved the team in overtime. He stopped five shots, and helped the team get a point for their efforts.

“I think he saved us tonight,” head coach Kevin Sneddon said.  “We have got to do a much better job in our own zone. I just didn’t think we were strong enough around our net to protect Stef (Lekkas).”

Along with Lekkas’ career night, the Cats were very physical on defense, and accumulated 17 blocked shots.

“I feel like when we’re all playing physical, our play is much better,” Coughlin said.

On Saturday night, the Cats came back from behind three times to win 4-3.

In the first period, both teams’ offenses played hard, each side netting in two goals.

Vermont kept up with the Friars’ 13 shots with 10 of their own.

Jacob Bryson gave the lead to Providence and sophomore forward Derek Lodermeier tied the game on a shorthanded goal at 6:09.

40 seconds later, the Friars registered a power play goal, taking the lead again through Scott Conway.

Less than a minute later, junior forward Craig Puffer tied it up with a power-play goal.

In the second period, after a Providence goal at 13:05, Puffer again tied it on the power play to make it 3-3 going into the third.

With seven minutes left in the second, sophomore defenseman Jake Massie was given a 10 minute misconduct for hitting after the whistle.

A Providence player was issued the same penalty.

Late in the third period, first-year forward Alex Esposito gave Vermont a 4-3 lead on the power play, assisted by sophomore forwards Coughlin and Matt Alvaro.

The team’s physicality and resilience after falling behind three times in the game was key for the win.

“I’m proud of how our guys went out there and fought tonight,” Sneddon said. “The game had a flavor of a playoff game.”

Esposito, who scored the winning goal, led the Cats to their eighth win on the season and their third home win.

“It feels great winning here and it means so much to get one for the fans,” Esposito said. “They support us, and they deserve a win.”

UVM heads out to the University of New Hampshire for a weekend series on Friday to try to keep the positive momentum rolling.