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BURLINGTON, Vt. - Northeastern scored two second period goals, including the eventual game-winner roughly halfway through the game, and it held off Vermont late to grab a 4-2 Hockey East win on Saturday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The Catamounts drop to 5-19-1 (2-15-1 HEA) with the loss, while the Huskies sweep the season series and improve to 10-11-3 (6-11-2 HEA).
"I felt like we got a lot out of our team tonight from a lineup that was anything but what we thought it would look like at the beginning of the season," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "I know there are no moral victories but my point to them tonight was all about when we played together and had each other's backs and worked hard for each other we were a lot more effective than last night when we didn't. We have to keep preaching those things because those are culture type things."
For the second straight night, Northeastern scored first as it took the lead seven minutes into the first period. Mike McLaughlin deked into the Vermont zone and wristed a shot on goal from the high slot. Alex Vazzano sprawled to make the initial save, but Robbie Vrolyk was waiting at the top right of the crease to poke home the rebound and make it 1-0 Huskies.
The Catamounts had the answer three minutes later at the other end as Drew MacKenzie corralled a loose puck after a blocked shot. MacKenzie played the puck across the blue line to Nick Bruneteau, and he threw a low shot toward the crease. Kyle Reynolds was camped out in front and redirected the puck past Chris Rawlings to knot the score at one.
Vermont came out strong in the second period but Rawlings make a key stop to keep the game tied, and his teammates put NU back on top at the 5:38 mark. The Huskies won a faceoff cleanly back to Vrolyk and he whipped a shot on goal. Vazzano's save caromed quickly back out to Alex Tuckerman and he sent a shot into the upper right corner to restore the lead.
Five minutes later, Northeastern added to its advantage after sustained pressure in the offensive zone. The Huskies worked the puck to the right point for Dan Cornell and the freshman dished it across the blue line to Garrett Vermeersch. The junior sent it right back to Cornell at the center point, and he wristed a low shot through traffic into the lower right corner to make it a 3-1 game.
Vermont began the third period with on a 5-on-3 power play for 24 seconds but couldn't convert. The Catamounts were then stalled by the Husky penalty kill for roughly four and a half minutes with the man advantage as Braden Pimm was serving a five-minute major penalty for kneeing.
Late in the third, UVM earned another power play and elected to pull Vazzano for an extra skater. On the 6-on-4, Reynolds took a shot from the left faceoff circle which hit Matt White at the top of the crease. Colin Markison located the rebound and spun it home with exactly two minutes left in regulation to cut the lead in half.
The Cats pulled Vazzano again with less than 90 seconds left in the game, but Cody Ferriero put the game away by scoring an empty-netter with only 19 seconds remaining on the clock. Rawlings picked up his 10th win of the season by stopping 23 shots, while Vazzano finished the night with 24 saves as he made his first start in two months.
"After being thrown in there for not playing in quite some time I thought he (Vazzano) did a great job, I'm very proud of him" said Sneddon. "I could tell he was nervous today at pre-game skate and had the jitters but he calmed himself down and he gave us a chance to win a hockey game tonight and that's what we need out of that position. Any goals that were scored against us tonight were certainly nothing to do with goaltending, and that's a positive."
Vermont hits the road next weekend to face No. 11 UMass Lowell (16-7-0, 11-6-0 HEA) at Tsongas Center on Friday (Feb. 3) and Saturday (Feb. 4). Both games begin at 7 p.m., and the Saturday night contest will be televised live on NESN. Both games can also be heard on WVMT 620-AM and online at SportsJuice.com, with Alastair Ingram and Jim Connelly of USCHO.com calling the action from Lowell, Mass.
NOTES: Check back to UVMathletics.com for CatamounTV highlights and post-game reaction ... Saturday night was the annual Hockey East Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer game, as Vermont wore special edition pink jerseys to raise money for the Vermont Cancer Center ... The Catamounts have scored at least one power play goal in 10 of their last 11 games ... After taking a season-high 13 penalties on Friday night, UVM was called for just three minors on Saturday and only gave up one power play to Northeastern ... Alex Vazzano was making his first start since Nov. 27, 2011 against Dartmouth ... Seven of the last eight Vermont goals have been scored by underclassmen.