ORONO, Maine — It was a night of firsts at Alfond Arena Saturday night.
Three freshmen scored their first college goals but it was the University of Vermont which had two of them and they were among four unanswered goals, three coming in the second period, that enabled the Catamounts to post a 4-3 men’s hockey victory over the University of Maine.
After Maine freshman defenseman Eric Schurhamer opened the scoring at the 8:14 mark of the second period, Vermont first-year defenseman Chris Muscoby and left wing Brady Shaw gave the Catamounts a 2-1 lead before another freshman, Mario Puskarich, extended the lead with his second goal of the season late in the period.
Chris McCarthy’s breakaway goal midway through the third period extended the Vermont lead before Mark Anthoine and Blaine Byron pulled the Bears within 4-3 with 1:58 remaining.
Maine pulled goalie Martin Ouellette in favor of the extra attacker and received a power-play opportunity in the final minute but the Bears couldn’t draw level.
Vermont improved to 3-3-1 overall, 2-2 in Hockey East while Maine fell to 4-4-1 and 1-2-1.
Schurhamer’s goal at the 8:14 mark, a power-play effort off a screened wrister from the midpoint after he darted across the blue line, gave Maine a lead that lasted only 48 seconds.
Muscoby tied it when his centering pass deflected into the short side off the stick of Maine’s Bill Norman, who laid his stick on the ice to block the pass on a two-on-one.
Shaw gave UVM the lead for good by whacking his own point-blank rebound through Ouellette’s pads on the power play and Puskarich scored a crucial wraparound goal with 43 seconds left in the period.
“That was a big goal for us, to go up 3-1. It was a great move by (Puskarich). Any time you score in the first or last two minutes of a period, it’s a bonus point for you,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon.
“I had some room, I walked out front and tucked it five-hole,” said Puskarich.
“I tried to get my stick on it but he went around my stick and put it five-hole. That’s one I’d like to have back,” said Ouellette whose Bears were outshot 20-10 in the second period.
“Having that two-goal cushion was a pretty big deal for them,” said Maine coach Red Gendron. “After we scored, our guys thought we had the game won. That’s how the guys played the rest of the period and that is essentially where the game was lost. You can’t win if you don’t play well for the whole 60 minutes.”
McCarthy beat Ouellette low blocker side on the breakaway 8:45 into the third period after the puck bounced over three sets of Maine sticks at the blue line.
“It was a good shot,” said Ouellette. “The guys battled very hard to come back in the third period but I didn’t play well enough to give them a chance to come back.”
“I felt pretty good when we up 4-1 but give credit to Maine, there’s no quit on their side. They gave us everything we could handle at the end,” said Sneddon.
Anthoine scored with 7:05 left when he one-timed a Stu Higgins pass through the pads of freshman goalie Mike Santaguida from the middle of the slot.
Byron beat Santaguida to the far corner with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle off a Cam Brown feed with 1:58 remaining.
Santaguida finished with 31 saves and Ouellette had 29.
Maine senior defenseman and captain Brice O’Connor was injured in the first period and didn’t return.