BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont defenseman Chris Muscoby charged to the net to tip in the game-winning goal with 2:49 remaining in the third period Friday night, propelling the Catamounts to a 3-2 nonleague victory over Maine at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Muscoby moved in from left point, arriving at the crease just in time to redirect Chris McCarthy’s pass under Maine goalie Martin Ouellette, stealing a win in a game in which the Black Bears had the better of the play.
“It was a real good college hockey game. It was tight, which is exactly what I expected. Both games up in Orono were tight and they got one more than us, so congratulations to Vermont,” Maine head coach Red Gendron said in his return to the building where he coached Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans to four Vermont high school championships.
“They were very good. They work hard and they compete,” Gendon said of the Catamounts. “There’s not a lot of difference between both teams.
“It was an honest hockey game … a hard-nosed hockey game, two teams working very hard, battling it out and tonight Vermont got the better of us. We’ve got to be better [Saturday],” he added.
The play reflected the tightness of the Hockey East series in Orono on Nov. 8-9 when Maine (6-5-1, 3-2-1 HE) won the opener 2-0 and Vermont (6-5-1, 4-4 HE) took the second game 4-3. Overall Friday, the Black Bears spent more time pressing the Catamounts, outshooting UVM 34-24.
“In a lot of ways, they outmuscled us tonight,” UVM head coach Kevin Sneddon said of the Black Bears. “This is one of those games as a coach you go into the third period, it’s 2-2 and you say, hey, there are games that are fast-flowing, smooth, pretty to watch and there are games that are ugly, and tonight was one of those uglier games.
“Maine was very aggressive tonight. They outworked us at times. We fought to get the momentum back at various points in the game and I’m pleased we found a way to win the game when things weren’t going great for us,” Sneddon said.
The game’s initial goal came 8:23 into the first period, only nine seconds after a Black Bear penalty and a referee’s video review that ruled no goal for Maine. On the UVM power play, defenseman Mike Paliotta glided down the left boards high in the Maine zone and snapped a hard wrist shot that beat Ouellette (21 saves) on the far side.
The Black Bears killed a UVM power play to open the second period and promptly tied the game when Devin Shore converted a Maine power play at 2:52. Six minutes later, Conor Riley hit a knuckler from the center blue line that Steven Swavely tipped behind UVM goalie Brody Hoffman (32 saves) for a 2-1 Black Bears lead.
The Catamounts responded at 14:43 when Muscoby’s shot from the blue line did a double ricochet off the end board and off UVM forward Jake Fallon, bounding back into the Maine net.
Hoffman kept Vermont tied at 2 throughout the third until Muscoby jammed in the lead goal.
“We could have done a better job screening him,” Gendron said of Hoffman. “We could have done a better job hunting down rebounds. We didn’t do that, so it’s on us.”