Men’s Preview: Vermont vs Clarkson (Home and Home)

Men’s hockey is back in games that mean something.

First up on the menu for this UVM season is the Clarkson Golden Knights, an old ECAC rival. They’ll meet at Cheel Arena in Potsdam on Friday before coming up to Gutterson for Saturday.

Like the Catamounts, the Golden Knights took the L in their preseason exhibition, losing to Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières 4-3. The Golden Knights return most of the core that went 20-15-3 a year ago, with Jeff Di Nallo being the only one of their top 5 scorers to graduate. However, goaltending may be an issue. Starter Greg Lewis has graduated, and Steve Perry was atrocious last year (posting a meager .886 save percentage). Perry will need to rebound, or he will have his spot challenged and/or taken by fellow senior Ville Runola or newcomer Jake Kielly.

The defense remains relatively unchanged, with only Paul Geiger and Kevin Tansey graduating, and they only combined for 16 points (also known as: the same amount Alexx Privitera had for a very bad offensive team last year). Three NHL draft picks stand out on Clarkson’s blueline, with ECAC All-Star James De Haas (Detroit), along with Terrance Amorosa (Philadelphia) and Kelly Summers (Ottawa) helping to protect the goaltenders. All three are very experienced at the college level, and will look to keep the Catamount attack at last year’s level.

Up front, senior Jordan Boucher returns 100% this season. He led Clarkson in points per game, but was second in raw points due to an injury. Junior Sam Vigneault led in raw points, and looks to build on a solid sophomore year where he posted 26 points. The attack only has one NHL prospect, Pittsburgh draftee Troy Josephs, and he will have to have a big senior year to prove that he deserves a contract after posting a meager 34 points his first three years.

For the Catamounts, the team yesterday revealed that they had cut Jacob Kearley and Mitch Ferguson for “athletic reasons”. The team had 33 players, more than they could give playing time, and those two were the odd men out. Though 31 players is still the largest squad in Hockey East, it’s much more bearable to have 9 defenders. It’s just enough to make up for injuries, rotation, and matchups while not being so much that guys won’t play.

Friday’s game will be on ClarksonAthletics.com and is free of charge, while Saturday’s will be, as usual, on CatamounTV.

Women’s preview vs BU coming up later today.

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