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Bounces go Vermont's way in Hockey East opener at Northeastern

Vermont opened Hockey East play with a 3-2 win over Northeastern on Thursday night, scoring twice in the first period and once in the third. Senior Dan Senkbeil's second goal as a Catamount with 6:14 remaining turned out to be the game-winner.

Matt Dewkett

BOSTON -- Northeastern's season-long struggles in the first period continued in its return home to Matthews Arena on Thursday night.

Unlike last weekend's pair of games at Minnesota, the Huskies showed resolve and tied the game in their Hockey East opener with Vermont. But they ultimately couldn't get it done again.

A bad bounce and an overall inability to remain consistent defensively doomed in the Huskies in their fifth straight loss ― a 3-2 decision against the Catamounts.

"This is the fifth time in a row," Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. "I can capsulize all five losses as us not defending at the net, giving up poor goals and not scoring and being hungry enough at the offensive net."

Senior Dan Senkbeil tallied the game-winning goal 13:46 into the third period as his shot from the outside bounced off NU freshman goaltender Ryan Ruck's shoulder and down over the goal line.

The goal was the senior North Dakota transfer's first of the season and since his first goal with Vermont on Feb. 6 against New Hampshire.

"We tell our guys to get pucks to the net and that one was just kind of on the lucky side for us, but we'll take it," UVM head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "I don't think we were at our best tonight, but I did challenge our team before the game and said we have to start finding ways. It may not have been pretty but they found a way to win tonight."

The Huskies had a golden opportunity to jump ahead in the fourth minute of play as they had a full two-man advantage after Vermont was called for delay of game off a faceoff.

Junior goaltender Mike Santaguida and a stingy Catamount defense held the fort for the entirety of the disadvantage, holding the hosts to just one shot on goal. Santaguida, who made a new career-high 39 saves against North Dakota last Friday, made 21 more in his second win of the year.

The Catamounts kept the momentum up by scoring at the 12:30 and 17:56 marks, despite taking just seven shots on goal in the period.

Sophomore Anthony Petruzzelli finished off his second goal of the season at the net front, following up junior Tom Forgione's strong rush down the wing. The South Burlington, Vt., native pushed through a check at the halfwall and cut inside before Petruzzelli stuffed home the puck from out in front of Ruck.

Jarrid Privitera took advantage of a failed clearing attempt on UVM's second goal, his first of the season. Junior Mario Puskarich set up the play, firing a shot on Ruck that bounced out front and eventually onto the senior defenseman's stick in the low slot.

"We weathered a lot of storms, especially in the first period," Sneddon said. "The 5-on-3, a lot of offensive zone possession time by Northeastern. I thought we did a good job. Santa(guida) kept us in there and we just settled into the game after that."

The Huskies drew a major penalty of their own just 1:47 into the final period as sophomore defenseman Ori Abramson ran opposing junior Dalen Hedges into the end glass after a whistle.

After using a five-minute kill as a springboard in the second, the Huskies turned up the offense on their major power play and tied the game with a pair of quick goals.

"I thought Northeastern played extremely well early and I thought they played extremely well in the third period," Sneddon said. "Obviously, we got ourselves into penalty trouble there and our kill didn't execute quite as well as we would have hoped."

Sophomore Dylan Sikura put the Huskies on the board at 3:53, firing a puck on net from an impossible angle on Santaguida's right side.

"He's been very good all year long," Madigan said. "He's moving his feet and he's skilled. It was good for him to get on the board tonight because he's had a lot of chances, as many of our other guys have. He's been a bright spot and there have been other bright spots, but we need more from all our guys."

Senior captain Kevin Roy tallied his third assist and point of the year at 5:54, working his defender high in the offensive zone en route to the eventual game-tying goal. Roy fed a pass across the ice to junior John Stevens, who uncorked a beautiful wrist shot.

Senkbeil's goal which gave the visitors the lead turned out to be unassisted as he let a shot go from just outside the circle to Ruck's right. His shot wasn't heavy, but the puck took a fortunate bounce in the crease.

"I had to calm the bench down," Sneddon said. "It was actually good they reviewed it because the guys were so pumped up for him. He doesn't necessarily get a lot of minutes, yet gives it his all every day. It's always nice to see those guys rewarded."

UVM has now won three of its last five games against Northeastern dating back to Jan. 2014. The teams will have an off day before closing the home-and-home series with their 60th all-time meeting on Saturday at Gutterson Fieldhouse.