|2nd||2:43||VER||1-0||EV||Rob Darrar (2)||Alexx Privitera/13, Dan Senkbeil/6|
|2nd||5:15||VER||2-0||EV GW||Colin Markison (8)||Nick Luukko/10, Kyle Reynolds/6|
|2nd||17:18||MER||1-2||PP||Hampus Gustafsson (11)||Brian Christie/13, Dan Kolomatis/12|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Rasmus Tirronen (L, 10-10-2)||58:50||2||7||7||9||23|
|Mike Santaguida (W, 7-6-0)||59:36||1||3||6||6||15|
BURLINGTON, Vt. - Rob Darrar and Colin Markison scored a pair of goals in the span of two and a half minutes early in the second period and No. 18 Vermont held on to beat Merrimack 2-1 on Friday night to begin Senior Weekend at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
The Hockey East win lifted the Catamounts to 18-11-2 (10-8-1 HEA), while the Warriors dropped to the .500 mark at 14-14-3 (5-12-2 HEA). Vermont moved into a tie for sixth place in the league standings with 21 points.
UVM held Merrimack to single-digit shots in all three periods and finished with a 25-16 edge. Mike Santaguida registered 15 saves for his seventh win of the year, while Markison's tally held up for his first career game-winner.
"It was playoff style hockey. There was not a lot of room to move out there," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "It's a big win for us. It's a hard-earned two points. We're going to be sore and recovery is going to be very important for another big battle (on Saturday)."
The teams skated to a scoreless first period as Vermont out-shot Merrimack 7-3 and both teams came up empty on their lone power play chance.
The Catamounts bolted into the lead early in the second period as Dan Senkbeil won a puck battle in the right corner and fed Alexx Privitera at the point. Darrar stopped Privitera's slap shot in the slot and spun the puck off the left post to beat Rasmus Tirronen (23 saves). The goal came at the 2:43 mark for Darrar's first career tally at Gutterson.
2:32 later, Kyle Reynolds set up Nick Luukko at the center point for a drive on net. Reynolds and Markison both battled for the rebound at the edge of the crease, and Markison stuck it home around Tirronen's left pad to double the lead. Luukko and Reynolds collected the assists as three seniors factored in the insurance goal.
Santaguida robbed Clayton Jardine on a Merrimack power play midway through the frame on a one-timer from the right circle. The sophomore preserved the two-goal cushion with a post-to-post move and held on for a faceoff.
The Warriors earned another power play late in the frame and drew a goal back through Hampus Gustafsson at 17:18. Brian Christie centered a pass to Gustafsson inside the right faceoff dot, and he beat Santaguida with a quick one-timer over the goalie's shoulder.
Vermont kept Merrimack at bay in the third period and held the Warriors without a shot for nearly three quarters of the frame. Mathieu Tibbet had MC's best chance on a clean breakaway with seven minutes left, but couldn't beat Santaguida with a backhand move at the left post.
The Warriors pulled Tirronen for an extra skater with just over a minute to play, and Santaguida made one final short side blocker save to preserve the win.
The Catamounts and Warriors compete the Hockey East weekend series on Saturday (Feb. 21) at 7:05 p.m. Pre-game radio coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on WVMT 620-AM and SportsJuice.com with Alastair Ingram and Joe Gervais on the call. Free high definition video is also available via CatamounTV.com.
Saturday is Senior Night as the Catamounts honor their five-member senior class of Jake Fallon, Nick Luukko, Colin Markison, Mike Paliotta, and Kyle Reynolds with a special pre-game ceremony. The class has combined to skate in more than 550 games with nearly 275 points, and helped lead Vermont to its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance last season.
Reserved tickets are still available at a cost of $22 for adults and $17 for children 17 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at UVMathletics.com/Tickets, or over the phone by calling 802-656-4410. The Gutterson box office opens at 6 p.m. prior to the game. The National Guard, TD Bank, and The Bagel Place will have tables in the main lobby.