BURLINGTON, Vt. - Vermont came back from two goals down to defeat Princeton 6-3 on Sunday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse and the Catamounts captured the annual Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup for the third time in the last five seasons and the fourth time overall.
11 different players recorded at least one point in the victory as UVM scored five unanswered tallies. The Catamounts improve to 6-8-4 (3-5-4 HEA) after their final game of 2012 and pushed their unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1), while the Tigers fall to 3-7-4 (2-3-3 ECAC).
"I'm very proud of our team," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "It really came down to our physicality. We're trying to teach these guys that when we're physical, when we do the little details, we get better. We gain energy from that, we gain our pace. Everything's driven off those kinds of details."
"We were first to pucks, we finished checks, we were getting shots with traffic," said Sneddon. "Bottom line, I think these guys have a much better belief that no matter what the situation is in a game, they can solve it together and that's a sign that we're growing."
Princeton opened the scoring less than five minutes into the first period on the power play as Mike Ambrosia fired a shot through a screen at the 4:32 mark. Robert Polesello answered for the Catamounts roughly 10 minutes later, roofing a shot over Sean Bonar's shoulder off a centering pass from Pete Massar at the right doorstep.
The Tigers had the game's next two tallies on either side of the first intermission. Michael Sdao one-timed a drive past Brody Hoffman on the power play just 1:04 after Polesello's tally to put Princeton back on top. Rob Kleebaum then beat Hoffman glove side with a one-timer just 54 seconds into the middle frame for a 3-1 lead.
The Catamounts answered by rattling off three straight goals in the period to take their first lead. Jacob Fallon took a feed from Kyle Reynolds and deked to his backhand to beat Bonar at 3:31 on the power play. At the 14:07 mark of the second, Vermont went on an extended 5-on-3 and Brett Bruneteau whistled a wrist shot into the upper left corner to tie the score.
Less than two and a half minutes later, UVM went on top as Anthony DeCenzo collected a pass from Kyle Mountain and powered down the left wing. DeCenzo drove hard toward the top of the crease and stuffed the puck home to give the Cats a 4-3 advantage. After a lengthy video review, the goal was upheld and Vermont led by one entering the third.
Late in the final frame, DeCenzo's line struck again as the Catamounts grabbed an insurance rally at the 16:11 mark. DeCenzo picked the pocket of a Princeton defenseman at the right point and tipped the puck down the half boards. The junior shot a centering pass to Ryan Rosenthal in the left circle, and the rookie fired a one-timer blocker side on Bonar for his first career tally.
The Tigers pulled Bonar with roughly 1:40 remaining, but H.T. Lenz floated in a backhander from inside the Vermont blueline to seal the win. Hoffman made 20 saves in goal to pick up his sixth career win, while Bonar stopped 35 shots at the other end for Princeton.
Vermont finished the weekend with four points to claim the title after beating No. 12 Union 2-1 on Saturday night. The Dutchmen defeated Merrimack 4-1 in the early game on Sunday. Fallon was named the MVP of the tournament as he posted a goal and an assist in the win, while Polesello and Bruneteau were also named to the All-Tournament Team.
Vermont is back in action next weekend as Merrimack returns to Burlington for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff on Saturday (Jan. 5). The game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network from Gutterson Fieldhouse as the schools close out their regular season series. All the action can also be heard live on WVMT 620-AM and SportsJuice.com beginning at 7 p.m.
Kyle Bigos, Merrimack
Kyle Bodie, Union
Brett Bruneteau, Vermont
Jacob Fallon, Vermont (MVP)
Rob Kleebaum, Princeton
Robert Polesello, Vermont
NOTES: The Catamounts were contending for the title on day two of the event for the sixth time in the last eight years ... Vermont and Princeton met for the first time since 2005, which was the Catamounts' last year in the ECAC ... UVM leads the all-time series 38-14-2 and has won four straight over the Tigers ... Chris McCarthy has posted nine points over his last eight contests ... Kyle Reynolds has six points in his last four games ... The Cats are now 5-0-2 when leading after two periods this season.