BOSTON, Mass. - The No. 11 Northeastern men's ice hockey team (14-7-3) led 1-0 entering the third period only to see No. 18 Vermont (12-8-3) score four goals in the final 20 minutes of play to skate to a 4-1 victory in a nonconference contest on Saturday night at Matthews Arena.
Dalen Hedges scored the lone goal for the Huskies, who had its five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) snapped with the loss. Clay Witt got the start in goal for the fifth straight game, making 28 stops. Chris McCarthy led the charge for the Catamounts with two goals and an assist while Matt Santaguida made 23 saves in goal.
For the second straight night, UVM held the Huskies under 30 shots on goal as the Catamounts outshot Northeastern 32-24. NU was 0-of-3 on the power play, with all of its opportunities on the man advantage coming in the first period, while the Catamounts went 1-of-2 on the power play.
Despite being outshot 14-8 in the opening period, it was the Huskies who generated a majority of the significant scoring opportunities in the first period. The line of Mike McMurtry, Dalen Hedges and Adam Reid nearly put NU up early on in the contest when McMurtry fed Reid from behind the cage for a one-timer that was blocked, and the loose puck hopped just over the stick of Hedges with the right side of the net open.
The teams combined for six minor penalties in the first, with the Huskies going on the power play four times. Northeastern's best chance on the man advantage came when Mike Szmatula's initial shot from the doorstep was stopped, but John Stevens quickly gathered the rebound and fed Kevin Roy on the far post for a second bid, but the puck rolled off of Roy's stick.
Vermont's top chances of the stanza came during the odd-man situations, including a two-on-one between Chris McCarthy and Jake Fallon, with McCarthy elected to shoot the puck attempting to best Witt shortside, but the Husky netminder was there to make the save. Connor Brickley created a chance on an individual effort late in the period when he caused a turnover in the Northeastern zone before blasting a slap shot from the top of the right face-off dot that caught Witt in the midsection.
The Catamounts controlled the pace of the second period, peppering Witt with 12 shot in the middle frame, but it was the Huskies who capitalized on one of their 10 shots to take a 1-0 lead through 40 minutes of play. Witt got a bit of help from his defense in the first four minutes of the frame when Josh Manson came up with a huge shot block when Witt got caught out of the net. After Witt tried to wrap the puck around the boards, UVM pounced on the puck and found Mike Stenerson in the slot. That's where Manson went sprawling into the shot to make the block and allow Witt to recover back to the crease.
Witt would stone Brickley yet again later in the period when the senior forward was left alone at the right post, but Witt flew across the blue paint to make the pad save. McMurtry helped the cause defensively in the final seven minutes the period with a strong stick check on Brady Shaw in between the hash marks.
The Huskies broke through with 2:29 to play in the second when Hedges hammered home his seventh goal of the season. Roy began the play by spotting Mike Gunn just inside the point. Gunn, stationed at the blue line on the left side of the zone, sent the puck into trouble near the crease, where Hedges got a stick on it. His first shot was stopped by Santaguida, but Hedges stayed with the play to bury the rebound. The goal was briefly reviewed and stood as called.
UVM came out firing in the third period, potting three goals in the first 3:14 of the final frame to take its first lead of the weekend. The tying goal came just 15 seconds in when McCarthy picked off a clearing attempt from the Huskies and dished to Mario Puskarich at the left side. Puskarich then ripped a shot that beat Witt over the shoulder for the score.
Less than two minutes later, the Catamounts took a 2-1 lead as Tom Forgione flew in from the left side and fired a shot past Witt for his third of the season.
With Manson in the box for a roughing minor, Vermont made it a 3-1 game on McCarthy's 10th of the season. Michael Paliotta began the play by sending a low shot towards goal that Colin Markison got a stick on. The puck squirted through the pads of Witt, but not over the goal line, allowing McCarthy to send home the loose puck.
Northeastern tried to cut into the lead near the midway mark of the third when Dax Lauwers shoveled a puck out into the slot and onto the stick of Reid, but Santaguida cut down the angle to make a huge glove stop to send the puck out of play. Minutes later, Santaguida would deny Roy with another glove save after Roy stole the puck from the UVM defenders.
The Huskies continued to press deep into the third period as Torin Snydeman rang a shot off the left pipe before Szmatula gathered the rebound and found Zach Aston-Reese in front of a redirect that Santaguida got a piece of. NU pulled Witt in favor of the extra skater with 2:20 remaining in regulation, but the Catamounts staved off a late Husky push and added an empty netter from McCarthy with 30 seconds left in the third.
The Huskies will be back in action next weekend when Northeastern travels to No. 15 Notre Dame for a two-game set at Compton Family Ice Arena, beginning Friday night at 7:35 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on NBCSN.