Who needs the Catamount Cup when you’ve got a trip to Northern Ireland? UVM sure doesn’t.
The Cats have headed out to Belfast for this weekend’s Friendship Four tournament, where they will face UMass-Amherst and one of Quinnipiac/St. Lawrence.
Amherst is the first game. We’ve already discussed how bad they are in our preview when we played them at Mullins a while back. You can find that here: https://thevermonthockeyblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/mens-preview-uvm-umass/ They’ve only played one game since, a 6-2 shellacking at the Whitt against UNH. That’s pretty bad.
After that, we’ll face the winner or loser (probably winner) of #3 Quinnipiac and #19 St. Lawrence, two powerhouses in the ECAC.
Quinnipiac lost in the national championship game last year and lost star forward Sam Anas, but they’re still a force and have started well despite an early hiccup at Alfond. Their 9-3-1 record includes a 4-2 win over a strong Harvard team and last weekend’s 7-3 road spanking of Colgate. They’re top-15 in the country in both defense and offense despite not having a dominant offensive player – the team points leader, Tim Clifton, has 14 points – and top-10 in penalty killing. They’re like UVM with their balance, but much better.
St. Lawrence, meanwhile, are straight-up on fire. They’ve gone seven undefeated in a row, including a 2-0 win over the Bobcats and hard-fought draws against Union and Minnesota, both ranked teams. They’re one of the few teams in the country led in scoring by a defender, as Gavin Bayreuther’s 16 points leads the team and is tops nationally among defenders. Kyle Hayton is just one notch behind Stefanos Lekkas in save percentage at #11, and they’re tied for the top rank nationally in shorties. Despite the somewhat low ranking at #19, the Saints are very, very good.
Enjoy the games! They’ll be on NESN as well as TSN2 up in Canada!