HARTFORD, Conn. - UConn got a pair of goals from freshman Karl El-Mir (Montreal, Quebec) but the University of Vermont rallied for a pair of third period goals to come away with a 4-3 win over the Huskies Saturday night at the XL Center to win the Hockey East opening round series 2-0 and advance to next week's quarterfinal round. The Huskies see their season come to an end and finish the year with an 11-21-4 overall record.
El-Mir scored the Huskies first two goals and classmate Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) staked the Huskies to a 3-2 lead after two periods thanks to his NCAA leading 13th power play goal on the year. It wouldn't be enough as the Catamounts pulled the game even on Yvan Pattyn's first goal of the season midway through the third and won it on a Brian Bowen goal with 1:09 left in the game to advance.
For the second-straight night the Huskies struck first as El-Mir notched his first of the night at 8:42 of the first. The rookie took a feed from senior Joey Ferriss (Novi, Mich.) and wheeled into the right circle, burying a wrist shot through some traffic for a 1-0 lead. The Catamounts closed the first with two-straight to carry a 2-1 lead into the break. Mario Puskarich scored his 10th of the season, burying a wrist shot on the power play off a nifty cross ice pass form Brendan Bradley in the corner at 12:12. Conor O'Neil made it 2-1 just 2:01 later, throwing a puck on net that deflect off a UConn defensemen and past Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) for his fourth on the season.
UConn needed just 2:18 into the third period to knot the game at 2-2 thanks to a sensational El-Mir goal. The freshman again took a feed from Ferriss and beat a pair of Vermont defenders up the right wing before burying the puck in the top-left corner for his second on the night.
Thompson worked his power play magic at the 7:35 mark, burying a one-timer from his favorite spot in the left circle. Freshman Max Letunov (Moscow, Russia) set his classmate up, delivering a pretty backhanded pass from the point for Thompson to blast home giving the Huskies a 3-2 lead they would carry into the third.
Vermont got their chance to tie the game at 9:45 as a turnover in the neutral zone led to a 4-on-2 rush for the Catamounts. Senior defenseman Pattyn was trailing the play and took the feed from Travis Blanleil and place a perfect shot in the top-left corner for his first goal of the season. The Catamounts found the game-winner with time winding down. Bowen charged hard to the net and looked to center a pass but saw it deflected by an UConn stick. The puck came right back to Bowen and he buried it at the left post for his third of the season.
The Huskies got Nichols off for the extra skater with a minute to play but couldn't find the tying goal to extend the game and their season.
Nichols finished the night making 28 saves for the Huskies. UVM goaltender Mike Santaguida stopped 24 shots to earn the win for the second-straight night. Vermont moves on to a best-of-three quarterfinal series next weekend at a yet to be determined opponent.
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