With everything that has gone down this week – the cuts, the hazing, the suspensions to key players, the loss to a CIS team – the Catamounts were the biggest punchline in college hockey.
This win wasn’t just about getting off to a good start. This was a statement.
Of all the players I expected to score the first goal of the season, Ori Abramson was very low on the list. In his first two seasons he scored exactly one goal. But tonight, he doubled it. Travis Blanleil, who I thought was fantastic, stretched the ice by drifting wide to the right, leaving a wide-open lane for Abramson to sneak into and tap home the opening goal just 2:10 into the season.
I can’t blame Mike Santaguida for Clarkson’s first goal (which came in the third period), it was going to take a lot to beat him with how he looked tonight. It was an excellent pass from behind the net by Nicolas Pierog that found an open Jordan Boucher, who ripped it high past Santa to tie the game at 1.
Coach Sneddon told me that he saw the power play as something that really needed improvement this year, and it got off to a good start as they grabbed a goal in the third. Rob Darrar with a fantastic pass to Brian Bowen, who admittedly whiffed on the tap-in but still scored it to put the Cats up 2-1.
Not too long after that, the Cats got a huge insurance goal. Tom Forgione (who was his usual hard-working self) on the odd-man rush took a shot that went wide, but took a hop off the boards and fell right to Blanleil, who wasn’t missing from there. Make that 3-1 Cats and it looked like cruise control would be initiated.
However, Boucher put a stop to that relatively quickly. Kevin Irwin went off for a hook, and Boucher took a shot from the slot that looks like it hit something on its way past Santaguida to cut the lead in half.
From there, Clarkson shot themselves in the foot twice to give the Cats a comfortable win.
First, Kelly Summers with a HORRIBLE defensive zone giveaway to give Brady Shaw a breakaway. It looked on first glance like Shaw, after a great move to get around Jake Kielly, had been denied by the Clarkson netminder, but it seems to actually have banked in off of him. Whatever it was, they reviewed it, and called it a goal. 4-2 Cats. Less than a minute later, another defensive zone giveaway by the Golden Knights led to a Jarrid Privitera goal, off a rebound from a Craig Puffer shot that had been denied by Kielly. 5-2, and the Cats would run out the clock.
Few thoughts. First, WAYYYY too many penalties, although that seems to be quite common across the country today. That said, the PK did look decent, and the power play looked at least competent. As long as it’s better than the 12% or whatever we had last year.
Second, big fan of the way the D looked tonight. Curious to see if Sneddon makes any changes back there, but the top-6 of Rob Hamilton, Ori Abramson, Trey Phillips, Mike Lee, Max Daigle, and Matt O’Donnell was pretty solid. They were solid in the offensive zone and good in transition. A bit shaky in the d-zone at times, but that’ll happen early in the season. And at least we didn’t give them two easy goals.
Four of the newbies played tonight (Ross Colton, Daigle, O’Donnell, and Derek Lodermeier). Of them, I was most impressed with Lodermeier; he posted two assists, used his body well, and was excellent in all three zones. He did get rekt in the faceoff circle, but eh, those aren’t really as important as people make them out to be.
Anywho, rematch tomorrow at Gutterson. A weekend sweep would be a massive statement given everything that’s gone wrong this week, and would give us momentum heading out to Omaha next week.
The Vermont Hockey Blog Three Stars of the Game
- Travis Blanleil (Vermont) – No brainer for me, getting the game-winning goal and assisting on the opener. He was all over the ice.
- Jordan Boucher (Clarkson) – Two goals in a losing effort, he WAS Clarkson’s attack. Got into great spots and finished well.
- Mike Santaguida (Vermont) – He won’t get a lot of credit due to the offensive explosion, but he was huge tonight with 35 saves, including some excellent ones on the PK.