Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
DURHAM, N.H. – Vermont’s top line of Brendan Bradley, Chris McCarthy, and Mario Puskarich combined for three goals and five assists on Friday night as the 19th-ranked Catamounts skated past 20th-ranked New Hampshire 5-2 for a Hockey East victory at the Whittemore Center.
The Catamounts improve to 14-9-3 (6-7-0 HEA), while the Wildcats drop to 16-14-1 (8-7-0 HEA). McCarthy posted a goal and two assists, becoming the 42nd player in program history to reach the 100-point plateau. Bradley registered his second straight three-point performance, while Puskarich had a goal and an assist.
“They made some special plays at key times,” said head coach Kevin Sneddon. “It’s great for Chris to get his 100th point and his 101st and 102nd points as well. That line is just clicking. They were able to make plays. They’re smart and skilled and there’s a good chemistry going on right now.”
UNH opened the scoring at the 6:22 mark of the first period as Nick Sorkin cycled the puck along the left goal line for Matt Willows. The forward snuck a pass through the crease and Kevin Goumas was waiting at the back post to stuff it home on the doorstep.
Two rookies answered for the Catamounts with a pair of goals in just 42 seconds to give UVM its first lead. McCarthy held off a UNH defensemen and fed a pass down low for Puskarich. The freshman spun a shot on goal and Bradley finished a rebound on his backhand at 10:11 to knot the score at one. McCarthy hit the century mark with the second assist on the play
Shortly after, Jake Fallon deflected the puck to the point for Yvan Pattyn, who fired a slap shot toward the net. Brady Shaw collected the loose puck along the right goal line, skated behind the net, and curled a wraparound inside the left post for his fourth goal of the season.
Vermont extended the lead late in the second period on its second power play of the night. Connor Brickley collected a pass down the left wing and skated into the UNH zone with speed. Brickley deked his way to the low slot and slipped a backhander through the five-hole of Casey DeSmith. Bradley and Nick Bruneteau picked up the assists on the play at 15:12.
Just 1:25 into the third, Brett Pesce collected a loose puck in the high slot after a scramble in front of the Vermont net. Pesce wristed a shot through a partial screen and beat Mike Santaguida blocker side for a power play tally to cut UVM’s advantage to 3-2.
The Catamounts killed off another UNH power play to retain the lead before netting back-to-back insurance goals in 18 seconds. McCarthy beat DeSmith low to the blocker side after a quick return pass from Bradley in the left circle. McCarthy then sent a slap pass to Puskarich just above the goal line and he rifled a shot into the roof of the net for a 5-2 cushion.
UVM coasted to victory down the stretch as Santaguida finished the night with 26 saves for his ninth win of the year. Vermont, which held a 33-28 shot advantage, hasn’t been out-shot by any of its last 10 opponents. Both teams went 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
Vermont and New Hampshire close their two-game Hockey East series on Saturday (Feb. 8) at 7 p.m. from the Whittemore Center. Live video is available on a pay-per-view basis via UNHwildcats.tv.