Jan. 18, 2009

Courtesy of Vermont

BOSTON - Junior Viktor Stålberg (Gothenburg, Sweden) registered two goals and an assist to lead No. 7 Vermont to an impressive 4-2 victory over No. 3 Northeastern in front of a crowd of 4,538 at Matthews Arena in Hockey East action on Saturday night. The Catamounts out shot the Huskies 40-22 and improved to 13-5-3 (8-4-2 HEA) as they handed NU its first home defeat of the season. Northeastern dropped to 15-5-2 (11-3-1 HEA) with the loss.

Vermont sophomore Kyle Medvec (Burnsville, Minn.) notched his first goal of the season and senior assistant captain Peter Lenes (Shelburne, Vt.) scored what proved to be the game winner in the third period. Freshman Rob Madore (Venetia, Pa.) stopped 20 shots in his fifth consecutive start to improve to 7-3-2.

Freshman Mike McLaughlin and junior David Strathman recorded power-play goals for the Huskies. Junior Brad Thiessen made 36 saves.

“Obviously there wasn’t a lot of room out there either night,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I thought both nights it was a really tight checking style of hockey. Northeastern is a tremendous team. We told our guys tonight we had to shoot from everywhere. The way to beat Thiessen is to sometimes score the ugly goals. We just told the guys to get as many pucks to the net as possible.”

Stålberg put the Catamounts in front with 1:23 left in the opening period. His hard centering pass in transition from the left circle deflected off the skate of NU’s Dennis Chisholm and found the net. Sophomore Kevan Miller (Los Angeles, Calif.) assisted on the goal that made it 1-0 Vermont.

Northeastern tied the game 1-1 with a power-play goal at 16:31 of the second period. Strathman beat Madore on a rebound for his second goal of the season.

Vermont regained the lead 15 seconds later on a seemingly harmless shot by Medvec from the top of the slot. His slow slapper through traffic fluttered in on Thiessen and found the low right corner to make it 2-1. Stålberg and junior Brian Roloff (West Seneca, N.Y.) each assisted.

McLaughlin tied the game 2-2 on the power play 6:19 into the third for the Huskies. Freshman Alex Tuckerman found an uncontested McLaughlin at the left post for the first goal of his career.

Vermont regained a 3-2 lead when Lenes recorded his 10th goal of the season at 10:28. Lenes followed his own rebound at the bottom of the right circle to put the Catamounts in front for good. Junior Brayden Irwin (Toronto, Ont.) and sophomore Dan Lawson (Oak Forest, Ill.) each assisted.

“I thought our forwards did a great job of getting to space for our defenseman and using our speed to attack their zone,” Sneddon said. “Bottom line is we had more energy, more sense of urgency on loose pucks tonight. We got beat in a lot of the smaller areas last night by a grittier, hungrier team. Tonight for the most part I thought we controlled that facet of the game.”

Stålberg added an empty netter with 31 seconds left to seal the win. The goal came on the power play as NU replaced Thiessen with an extra skater while shorthanded.

Stålberg had three goals and four points on the weekend and leads Hockey East in scoring with 18 points (10g, 8a) in 14 league games. His 10 goals and five power-play goals are both tied for the league lead. Stålberg has recorded at least one point in a career best 11 straight games and 14 of 15 overall.

Vermont, who is 6-4-2 against ranked teams this season, moved to 9-2-1 in its last 12 games with the win. The Catamounts went 1-for-4 on the power play, and have recorded a power-play goal in seven straight games. NU went 2-for-5 on the man advantage.

Vermont returns to action next weekend for a two-game series against Massachusetts on Friday (Jan. 23) and Saturday (Jan. 24) at Gutterson Fieldhouse at 7:05 p.m.

NOTES: Vitkor Stålberg had a game high 10 shots … Stålberg’s two-goal game was the second of his career and he now has 13 multi-point games in his career … Brayden Irwin had a team best plus-3 rating … Vermont is 8-4-3 against Northeastern since joining Hockey East … UVM is 47-10-12 in its last 69 games when scoring first … The Catamounts are 71-3-11 in their last 85 games when leading after two periods in the Kevin Sneddon era … Vermont is 7-3-1 on the road this season.