FINAL SCORE: No. 20 Vermont 5-1 No. 3 Quinnipiac
Ross Colton had a three-point night with two goals and an assist, Stefanos Lekkas posted a career-high 40 saves, and the 20th-ranked Catamounts defeated the No. 3 Quinnipiac 5-1 on Saturday to win the Belpot Trophy as 2016 Northern Irish Connections Friendship Four champions at The SSE Arena, Belfast.
Vermont pushed its unbeaten streak to six in a row at 5-0-1 and improved to 9-3-2 (4-2-1 HEA) on the season. The Bobcats suffered just their fourth loss of the year and dropped to 9-4-2 (5-1-1 ECAC).
The Catamounts struck first on an unassisted effort from Colton at the 5:42 mark of the first period when the rookie skated into the right side of the Quinnipiac zone. Colton deked around a Bobcat defenseman through the right circle and lifted a shot short side high to beat Andrew Shortridge (17 saves) into the roof of the net.
Mario Puskarich doubled the lead seven minutes later as he skated in on a 2-on-1 with Craig Puffer. The sophomore drifted into the left circle and fed a pass to the inside edge of the opposite circle for Puskarich, who fired a heavy one-timer high glove side for a 2-0 UVM lead. Puskarich is now just two points shy of 100 for his career.
Vermont killed off three Quinnipiac power plays in the second period as Lekkas preserved the advantage. UVM grabbed an insurance goal on the power play late in the frame with 1:17 remaining as Colton and Puskarich exchanged passes at the center point. Puskarich wristed a shot-pass into the slot for Jarrid Privitera, who ramped the puck into the upper corner for the power play tally.
Craig Morgan finally got the Bobcats on the board with a power play tally eight minutes into the third, wristing a low shot through traffic inside the left post. The strike snapped UVM’s streak of 36 straight penalty kills and gave QU its first goal of the weekend.
Colton had a quick answer for the Catamounts less than a minute later as he made another move down the right wing. The rookie’s initial attempt was denied from the right doorstep by Shortridge, but Colton batted the rebound down from the top of the crease and the puck trickled inside the far post.
It marked Colton’s second multi-goal outing in his last five games. Fellow freshman Derek Lodermeier pushed his goal-scoring streak to four straight games with nine minutes left, beating Shortridge with a backhander to the far post off a Tom Forgione feed to seal the win.