Junior forward Conor Sheary scored the game-winner for the Minutemen
BURLINGTON, Vt. - Conor Sheary's power play goal five and a half minutes into the third period stood as the game-winner as UMass Amherst held on for a 3-1 Hockey East victory over Vermont on Friday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The Catamounts fall to 6-13-4 (3-9-4 HEA) with the loss, while the Minutemen improve to 9-11-2 (6-8-1 HEA).
Massachusetts opened the scoring with just 15 seconds remaining in the first period. Darren Rowe deked his way to the top of the left faceoff circle and wristed a shot on net. Brody Hoffman made the initial save and stopped a rebound attempt from Eric Filiou, but the junior spun and poked home the third opportunity to make it 1-0 Minutemen.
After Vermont killed off the first three UMass power plays of the night, Joel Hanley wristed a point shot past Hoffman's blocker with the man advantage at 6:23 of the second period to double the lead. The Catamounts had the answer within a minute, as Kyle Reynolds snapped a wrist shot high glove side on Steve Mastalerz for an unassisted tally at 7:21.
Later in the period, UVM evened the score as Jacob Fallon skated down the right wing. The sophomore stopped at the right point and delayed as Connor Brickley came off the bench and cut to the weak side. Fallon fired a pass to the left doorstep, and Brickley quickly one-timed the puck past Mastalerz to knot the score at two.
Early in the final frame, UMass went on its fifth power play of the night and Sheary netted the go-ahead goal. The Minutemen cycled the puck below the goal line and Shane Walsh fed Sheary in the right circle. The junior wristed a low shot on goal and it beat Hoffman under his pads to restore the Massachusetts lead.
Hanley was then called for slashing with 1:24 left in regulation. Vermont responded by calling its timeout and pulling Hoffman for a two-man advantage. Fallon had a one-timer from the left circle denied by Mastalerz, and UMass sealed the victory while shorthanded. Hoffman finished with 34 saves in the loss, while Mastalerz stopped 19 shots at the other end.
The Catamounts and Minutemen close out their two-game series on Saturday (Jan. 26) at 7:05 p.m. The game can be heard live on WVMT 620-AM and SportsJuice.com. Pre-game coverage begins at the conclusion of the Vermont women's basketball game against Albany, which tips off at 5 p.m. Live video of the action is also available for free online through CatamounTV.
NOTES: Friday marked the 60th all-time meeting between Vermont and Massachusetts ... Four of the last five meetings have been decided by one goal ... Chris McCarthy skated in his 99th career game ... Brody Hoffman has made at least 30 saves ten times this season ... The Catamounts wore special pink jerseys as part of the Hockey East Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer effort ... Vermont Athletics raised $3,000 for the Vermont Cancer Center on Friday night ... The Skating Strides campaign has raised more than $200,000 for charities across the league.