By Matt Noonan
BOSTON, MA – The last time these two squads met, Vermont relied on a pair of goals from Chris McCarthy, which helped the Catamounts get past Northeastern University.
On Friday, Vermont didn’t need McCarthy, but instead one goal each from Jacob Fallon and Ben Albertson to secure a 2-1 win over the Huskies at Matthews Arena.
“Well, congratulations to Vermont for winning and getting the two points,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan.
“I thought our effort in the first two periods was awful (and I) was disappointed in some of our older guys and how they played and didn’t step up. It was a key game, a game that was for us a desperation, trying to get back into the playoff hunt and we didn’t respond until we got into the third period, but you can’t win a game in this league by playing one period.”
The Huskies entered the contest looking to avenge Monday’s frustrating loss to Boston College in the 61st Boston Beanpot, but instead squandered offensive opportunities, which allowed the Catamounts to pick up their third road win of the season.
“I think we found a way to win (this game) on the road against a team that was desperate. I think Northeastern is a very good hockey team, I thought they battled their hearts out tonight, and I think our men did the same,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon.
Despite a slow start to their 26th game of the season, Northeastern managed to earn the lead off a shot from Adam Reid on the team’s first power play. Cody Ferriero slid the puck past Vermont goaltender Brody Hoffman (26 saves) in the crease, and Reid wound up not once, but twice, which gave the Huskies a one-goal advantage.
“I didn’t think we had a lot of energy (following our first goal) on the ice and I didn’t think we had a good forecheck going,” said Madigan. “
“I just wasn’t happy at all (during) the first two periods. It was lackluster, it lacked energy for a game of this magnitude where desperation of trying to get points in the league, (and) we’re at home and we haven’t played well lately, (so) that effort is not acceptable.”
Vermont evened the score roughly four minutes later when Fallon deposited a rebound following a shot from Nick Luukko, who slapped the puck from the point, which bounced off the Northeastern netminder Chris Rawlings’ (32 saves) left pad.
The Catamounts doubled their goal total at 11:29 in the second when Albertson received a pass in the zone from Caylen Walls and fired the puck past Rawlings.
Vermont’s second goal proved to be the difference, as it energized the Catamounts toward trying to grow their lead, but unfortunately they were denied by the Northeastern backstop.
“(Chris) played well,” said Madigan. “I thought in the first two periods there he was tested a lot more and I thought he made some key saves for us, and I thought in the third period there was a little less traffic around the net, but a little less in terms of quality chances in the third period, but yeah he gave us a chance, kept us in their like that first goal, (which is) one he probably should have (stopped).”
Northeastern exhibited more energy during the final frame, but also desperation to tie the game, too. It really wasn’t until their final power play of the game where the Huskies created chances, but Hoffman managed to turn away shots from Kevin Roy and Vinny Saponari to seal the victory.
“I thought (Hoffman) was excellent,” said Sneddon. “He actually made (a key save toward the end) and we left the guy to tap in the rebound, so I thought he was again one of our MVP’s if not the MVP tonight. He just gives us a chance to win every time he plays.”
With the win, Vermont improves to 9-14-4 overall and 6-10-4 in the Hockey East, while Northeastern drops to 8-15-3 and 4-12-3.
Both squads will meet for the final time this season tomorrow evening at the Matthews; face-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.