GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Seventh-ranked North Dakota scored four unanswered goals to counter a 3-1 second period Vermont lead and UND held on for a 5-3 victory as the Catamounts opened up their 50th anniversary season on Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena. UVM begins the season 0-1-0 (0-0-0 HEA), while North Dakota starts 1-0-0 (0-0-0 NCHC).
"We did a good job mounting a 3-1 lead and we kind of beat ourselves," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "There were a lot of momentum swings in the game, not for long periods, but we just got out-muscled on pucks a couple of times and they turned them into real good scoring chances. There was far more good than bad as much as I hate blowing a two-goal lead on the road."
The Catamounts struck early less than three minutes into the contest near the end of their first power play. Brady Shaw worked the puck to the right point for Nick Bruneteau, who fired a shot toward goal. The attempt deflected off a pair of North Dakota penalty killers and beat Clarke Saunders low inside the left post. Rob Hamilton picked up his first career point on the play with the second assist.
UND answered just 29 seconds later as Drake Caggiula deked his way to the bottom of the right faceoff circle. The sophomore centered a backhand feed to the top of the crease and Adam Tambellini finished it short side on Mike Santaguida to knot the score at the 3:26 mark.
Vermont took the lead right back at 7:08 as Pete Massar and Matt White battled hard to work the free free behind the North Dakota goal. Their linemate Tom Forgione collected the puck at the left doorstep and stuck a quick backhander into the net as Saunders couldn't react in time. The even strength goal was the first of Forgione's UVM career.
Roughly five minutes into the middle frame, another Catamount rookie posted his first career tally to extend the lead. A loose puck caromed to the left point for Hamilton, who wristed a shot through traffic that its way inside the left post. Saunders was pulled from the game for Zane Gothberg after the third UVM goal.
UND drew back within one on the power play at the 13:34 mark just after a brief 5-on-3 had expired. Mark MacMillan slid a pass across the low slot for Rocco Grimaldi, who out-waited Santaguida and deked inside to make it a 3-2 game. With 1:10 remaining in the second, Brendan O'Donnell finished a centering pass from Luke Johnson short side to knot the score heading into the third.
Early in the final stanza, Vermont was called for back-to-back penalties to give UND a two-man advantage for 10 seconds. Off the faceoff, Grimaldi fed a pass to the front of the net for MacMillan, who delayed before wristing a shot over Santaguida to give North Dakota its first lead of the night.
The Catamounts had a chance to tie the game with a pair of power plays later in the period but Gothberg kept UVM off the board. Caggiula added an insurance goal with eight seconds left in regulation on a wrist shot from the right circle to seal the North Dakota win.
Gotherberg finished with 17 saves in relief of Saunders (14 saves), while Santaguida stopped 31 shots in his collegiate debut, including at least nine in each period. Shaw, Hamilton, and Forgione all collected their first career points on the night.
UVM and UND face off again on Saturday (Oct. 12) at 8 p.m. from Ralph Engelstad Arena to wrap up the weekend series. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. on WVMT 620-AM and online at SportsJuice.com. Live video is available on a pay-per-view basis through UNDsports.com.