BURLINGTON, Vt. - Robbie Stucker scored 43 seconds into overtime Saturday night as the Catamounts defeated #16 Merrimack 2-1 in Hockey East action from Gutterson Fieldhouse on "Green Out the Gut Night" presented by Casella. The Catamounts have now won three of their last four Hockey East games.
"The coaches are very pleased with that victory tonight," Head Coach Todd Woodcroft said. "That was a character win and a big step for this program. Missing key pieces of our lineup, including captains Jacques Bouquot and William Lemay, we found a way to win. Our PP continues to produce timely goals, and our PK was perfect through six occasions where we were down a player. We are proud of that effort and are happy with three of our last four games. This team is taking the right steps and doing things the right way. Back to work tomorrow preparing for Providence College."
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Catamounts opened the scoring 5:05 into the first period on its first power play of the evening. Timofei Spitserov fed a cross-ice feed to Andrei Buyalsky at the far faceoff dot. Instead of a one-timer Buyalsky fed a pass to Isak Walther on the backdoor and he tapped home his sixth goal of the season and third with the man advantage.
- Merrimack equalized 6:25 into the second period with Alex Jefferies second goal of the weekend set. Seconds after Vermont killed off a Warriors power play Zach Bookman hit Jefferies in stride as he entered the UVM zone with speed. His quick low shot beat UVM's Oskar Autio between the legs.
- In the third period the Warriors pressed for a go-ahead tally but Autio stood tall for Vermont making 12 saves.
- In the extra three-on-three session Vermont scored on the first shot on goal. Stucker cycled the puck with Buyalsky and Zapernick in the Warriors zone. Stucker caught his defender flat-footed and with a small opening he capitalized. Stucker skated into the slot and fired a shot under the blocker of Merrimack's Zachary Borgiel for his third goal of the season and the first game-winner of his collegiate career.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- In its last 14 games Vermont's power play has scored 14 times. Over that stretch UVM is 14-for-61, good for 22.9%.
- Oskar Autio has won his last two starts for the Catamounts stopping 55 of the 58 shots he faced, good for a .948 save percentage.
- Andrei Buyalsky had two assists Saturday night for his second career multi-point game. The Colorado Avalanche draft pick is currently on a four-game point streak, he has one goal and five assists over that span.
- Fellow sophomore Isak Walther is also on a four-game point streak. The Nashville Predators draft pick has three goals and one assist over the last four games. Walther is now the teams' leading point-getter with 14 points on six goals and eight assists. His six goals are also tied for the team lead.
- With tonight's 2-1 decision, Community Bank N.A. will donate $150 to Special Olympics Vermont. Community Bank, N.A. donates $75 per goal to Special Olympics Vermont for every goal the men's and women's team scores this season.
- With tonight's win, Vermont Mutual Insurance Group will donate $100 to King Street Youth Center, as part of the Cats Win, Community Wins initiative. Since the campaigns inauguration in 2017, Vermont Mutual Insurance Group has donated over $80,000 to local non-profits.
Vermont returns to action next Sunday on February, 5 as they host No. 17 Providence at 2 p.m. Sunday is Vermont's annual Fan Appreciation Event presented by Handy Toyota. Throughout the game fans in attendance will eligible to win prizes throughout the afternoon. Prizes include an hour of ice at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Lunch with Coach Woodcroft and Captain Jacques Bouquot, an autographed men's hockey jersey, an autographed women's hockey jersey, a Hockey East Prize Pack, a Patrick Sharp signed photo, a Kevan Miller signed photo, a Ross Colton signed photo, various gift cards to the Windjammer, Farmhouse Group, the UVM Bookstore and more! Full details will be announced early next week.
Sunday's contest will air on ESPN+ with Rob Ryan on the call. It will also be available on a pay-per-view basis internationally at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/hockeyeast. Subscriptions to the service are available for $9.99 USD per month or $4.99 USD for individual games.