The eighth-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team lost for the first time in its 2011-12 campaign, dropping a 5-4 decision to Vermont of Hockey East on Sunday afternoon at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers took a 3-1 lead early in the second period, but spotted the Catamounts a one-goal lead heading into the final frame after allowing three goals in the final five minutes the second.
Moments after UM goaltender Kent Patterson robbed UVM center Brett Bruneteau of a power-play goal with a spectacular sprawling save, the Gophers took the lead when a Justin Holl shot from the point made its way through a Zach Budish screen, beating Vermont netminder Rob Madore low on the stickside.
UVM came close to knotting the score with 1:11 left in the period, beating Patterson seconds after an offensive zone faceoff, but the goal was disallowed because it was kicked in by Catamount forward Connor Brickley.
Brickley made up for his miscue early in the second, one-timing a pass from Matt White past Patterson to make it 1-1.
The goal was the first by a Mariucci Arena visitor since Tommy Grant of Alaska-Anchorage scored with 6:37 left in the third period in the first round of the WCHA playoffs last year. Patterson’s home scoreless streak lasted 210 minutes and 44 seconds.
The Gophers responded quickly, however, when senior Jake Hansen redirected an Erik Haula pass off the crossbar and in 12 seconds later. Nate Schmidt’s first collegiate goal 1:07 after Hansen’s strike gave the Gophers a two-goal cushion.
UVM drew within one just past the five 15-minute mark of the middle frame and didn’t look back from there.
Brickley netted his second goal of the afternoon, one-timing a cross-ice pass from Anthony DeCenzo on the power play to make it 3-2.
UVM tied the game at three just 37 seconds later when Chris McCarthy whacked home a slap pass from the point by Chanhassen, Minn.-native Blake Doerring.
Minnesota fell behind for the first time at home all season with under two minutes remaining in the second when Sebastian Stalberg backhanded a puck past Patterson from between the circles, capitalizing on a between-the-legs pass by Kyle Reynolds. The goal came with 12 seconds left on a Catamount power play.
Stalberg potted the game-winning goal on a shot that went off the right post and in 7:07 into the third.
Freshman Kyle Rau scored by collecting his own rebound on the power play just past the midway point of the final period, but the Gophers could not score again in the final 9:53 to complete the comeback.
UM fell to 5-1 on the season with the loss and Vermont earned its first win of the year in its second game.
The Gophers will look to rebound in their second WCHA series of the year next week. They take on Alaska-Anchorage on the road on Friday and Saturday.