Vermont comes back to beat RPI

Vermont comes back to beat RPI

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sophomore Max Kaufman scored a pair of goals to lead the University of Vermont men's hockey team to a 4-2 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), on Saturday night in the Catamount Cup finale at Gutterson Fieldhouse. With the win, the Catamounts improve to 7-9-1 overall, while the Engineers drop to 4-13-0.

Vermont broke a 2-2 tie early in the third period on a man-advantage tally by junior Matt O'Donnell (Fountain Valley, CA/Jersey Hitmen). His shot from the right point found its way inside the left post at 3:16 of the final frame, with assists going to classmates Vlad Dzhiosvili (Moscow, Russia/Bloomington Thunder) and Alex Esposito (West Haven, CT/Youngstown Phantoms).

An empty net goal by Kaufman (Rochester, NY/Langley Chiefs) sealed the victory with 30 seconds to play.

Junior Chase Zieky (Avon, CT/Salmon Arm Silverbacks) opened the scoring at 16:43 of the first period, firing a shot home from the middle of the right circle. Freshman Kyle Hallbauer(Howell, NJ/Lone Star Brahmas) kept the play alive at the left point, before sliding a pass across to Zieky for the finish. Junior Mike Gornall (Irwin, PA/Topeka Roadrunners) picked up the secondary assist – his first for the Engineers.

RPI doubled its advantage at 16:34 of the second, when freshman Ture Linden (Great Falls, VA/Lone Star Brahmas) stuck home a loose puck after a scramble in front of the Vermont goal. Classmate Ottoville Leppanen (Espoo, Finland/Espoo Blues U20) earned the assist on Linden's second goal of the season.

The hosts battled back late in the second, thanks to a pair of power plays, including a 5-on-3 advantage that generated their first goal. Sophomore Owen Grant (Ottawa, ON/Carleton Place) took a shot from the left point that made its way through a screen and past RPI freshman goaltender Owen Savory (Cambridge, ON/St. Catharines Falcons) at 18:54 of the period. Helpers went to freshman Carter Long (Yorktown, VA/Lincoln Stars) and junior Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN/Brooks Bandits).

With half a second on the clock, the Catamounts tied the game at 2-2. Once again on the man advantage, Kaufman was able to jump on a rebound and score before the horn, after a shot from the right side by senior Craig Puffer (New Canaan, CT/Chilliwack Chiefs) was stopped by Savory. A second assist went to Lodermeier.

Vermont junior netminder Stefanos Lekkas (Elburn, IL/Sioux Falls Stampede) finished with 32 saves, while Savory turned away 48 of the 51 shots he faced – the most saves by an RPI netminder since Chase Perry registered 56 at Ohio State on October 13, 2017. The Catamounts went 3 for 4 on the power play, with RPI going 0 for 3.

The Engineers are back in action on Friday, when they visit Harvard (7pm), while Vermont hosts Sacred Heart on Friday (7:05pm).