Recap: #12 UVM (M) 5, UConn 4

It sure as hell wasn’t pretty.

First off, I hope all the neutrals watching on ASN were entertained, because I think both sides of fans had about ten heart attacks during that game. That’s two national TV games we’ve been on, and both games featured both teams hitting 4 goals. (Notre Dame, take warning.)

So let’s run through the goals:

First one, Colton forces the turnover, then Puskarich beats Adam Huska with a backhander; looked to me from the student section that it was banked in. I rate Huska, and think he’s a talented keeper, but he did not have a good night tonight.

Next came the second UVM goal. Puskarich had the puck, fed Matt Alvaro with a beautiful backhand pass, and Alvaro merely has to tap it in. It’s 2-0 and the Gutt is going crazy. (Let’s be real – there’s more of a home ice advantage when the students are in, and the fact that there were more home games over break than there are the rest of the year is very agitating. But I’m a biased student so…)

Third goal comes off a turnover. Colton forces a horrible pass by a Husky defender, Coughlin intercepts, then feeds Privitera for a beauty of a one-timer. It’s 3-0 now, and Huska is pulled for Rob Nichols.

That seems to light a fire in UConn, because they got two goals in 46 seconds. First goal was Tage Thompson (who had a monster game) on a deflection in front. He came in really late trailing the play and I don’t think anyone knew he was there. Second was on the power play, Karl El-Mir had his own area code to bury the puck and cut the lead to one. (Seriously, this “turning 3-goal laughers into 1-goal nailbiters” nonsense is getting really old.)

Cats answered back with a power play goal of their own. Brady Shaw drifted out to the center point and took the shot, Brian Bowen tipped it past Nichols. 4-2 and we could breathe a bit easier…

…until early in the third. Three on two for UConn and Thompson unleashes a beauty wrister past Lekkas. 4-3 now and it’s drama again.

The odd man rush goals continued with about 5 minutes to go, Colton sending it across to Alvaro who buries it to restore the two goal cushion.

But don’t start the #icebus just yet, because with less than 90 seconds to go and the Huskies net empty, Lekkas goes on a puckhandling adventure, winds up  turning it over, scrambles, and Maxim Letunov buries a rebound to make it 5-4. Huskies almost got an equalizer, but almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Some thoughts & factoids:

-Kevin Sneddon was not behind the bench tonight. He had the flu.

-I’m going to bold it so that the team can read it: this “turning 3-goal laughers into 1-goal nailbiters” nonsense is getting really old.

-The St. Louis Blues have themselves one heck of a player in Tage Thompson. His size and skill set caused problems for a very small UVM defense.

-Cats now sit alone in third in HE  thanks to Lowell taking an L against Providence. River Hawks have a game in hand.

-In the Pairwise, UVM remain in tenth. The vicinity has seem some changes: Lowell dropped from fifth to eighth with their loss to the Friars, while North Dakota dropped two spots after Minnesota Duluth beat the Fighting Hawks tonight. Harvard won, Cornell drew. The real loser is Notre Dame, who tumbled down to 20th after tying UNH and seeing basically everyone near them win.

The Vermont Hockey Blog Three Stars of the Game:

3. Ross Colton (UVM) – Four assists tonight…and I sat him in fantasy. I should be fired for that. (Although Dominik Shine had a hatty against Anchorage tonight! #Redemption)

2. Tage Thompson (UConn) – This guy is a problem for a team with a small defense. Or any defense. Shooting, skating, passing, size, it’s all there. This is an NHL player.

1. Matt Alvaro (UVM) – Two goals. One of which was the game winner. (That’s also four points in his last three.)

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Recap: #6 BC 3, UVM (W) 2 (OT)

Apologies for the lack of recaps lately. Back on campus and with a functioning computer now, so I’ll be able to post these more frequently. Also this one’s kinda late because I went to the men’s game with just an hour buffer during which I was at a club meeting.

But man, that was an awful way to lose a game. Leading for most of the game, then give up a last minute goal, then lose in OT…yeah that’s rough, but throughout the third you kinda knew a BC tying goal was coming.

First goal, absolutely gorgeous pass by MacNeil, Drobot in the slot and she fires a perfect shot past Katie Burt to put UVM up 1-0. Cats had another great chance later in the period when they got a 3-on-0 but Burt made a fantastic poke check.

As for the second UVM goal…I still don’t know what happened, even looking at the replay. Andreakos took the shot, Burt made the save, but it hit someone (or multiple people) and somehow trickled in.

And then BC comes roaring back.

The bounces giveth (with the second UVM goal), and they taketh away…shot went wide, but after a failed stuff attempt it was Makenna Newkirk who buried it past Melissa Black, who was sensational today. That cut the lead in half.

Then the Cats basically absorbed a ton of pressure the rest of the way, but it took until 45.8 seconds remained til BC cashed in with the extra skater. Megan Keller with the shot, Black was screened by basically the entirety of both teams (including the benches), no chance she saw that. But the game was tied.

And then came overtime.

Black made a save, but Newkirk banks one in off the pad. Eagles win.

Now, there are some positives to this game….but when you’re outshot 41-9 (and out attempted by a far worse margin), you’re basically playing with fire. The Eagles are a fantastic team and they cashed in on their opportunities.

Some other thoughts:

-That second period was a marathon. Two goals and FOURTEEN penalties, including a couple whistles where nobody in the press box knew what was happening.

-BC remains the only Hockey East team that Coach Plumer has yet to defeat. He’ll get another shot tomorrow.

-Black’s 38 saves match her season high, set back in October in the win over BU.

-Shots were 17-1 in the third as the Eagles sought the tying goal. 17th time was the charm!

The Vermont Hockey Blog Three Stars Of The Game

3. Melissa Black (UVM) – She wasn’t named one of the arena’s three stars.

2. Melissa Black (UVM) – Which I found to be trash.

1. Melissa Black (UVM) – So she gets all three from me.

Men’s Preview: UConn @ #12 UVM

Three hundred and eighteen days.

That’s how long it’s been since the Vermont Catamounts and Connecticut Huskies last met in men’s hockey. When the Catamounts celebrated Brian Bowen’s game winner with 1:19 to go to sweep the Huskies in the Hockey East first round at the XL Center.

A lot has changed since, namely in the fact that the Catamounts are Actually Good now, but UConn is a formidable foe.

The Huskies currently sit at 9-8-6 overall and 5-4-2 in Hockey East, good for seventh in the conference. That’s impressive for a team that joined Hockey East just two years ago, and prior to that were a mediocre team in college hockey’s weakest conference. That being said, it’s been a real Jekyll and Hyde season, as they’ve beaten BU and UMass-Lowell and tied the River Hawks and Ohio State…while simultaneously losing to Sacred Heart and Maine to go with ties against AIC and UMass.

UConn has rolled with a tandem in goal this year, but if I were a betting gal, I’d put my money on Adam Huska to start. The Slovak was probably the only thing about his World Junior team worth watching, stopping 38 against Canada to open the tournament in a game where his team only managed six shots on goal. He’s posted a .922 save percentage in his freshman campaign, and was last year’s USHL goaltender of the year. (Side note, this means UVM has played two former USHL goaltenders of the year in back-to-back weeks; Hayden Hawkey won it in 2014) Rob Nichols has been okay as backup, with a .913 save percentage in 10 games.

The weak spot for the Huskies is defense. No defender has more than 10 points, and they don’t make up for it with shot suppression; UConn has the fourth-most shot attempts against in the country, only ahead of Arizona State, RPI, and Canisius. Even if you remove blocked shots, they’ve still conceded the fifth-most shot attempts in the country, behind the three mentioned earlier plus Alaska.

Offensively, UConn is in the middle of the pack nationally, but they’ve got some formidable weapons. I’ve been a huge fan of Maxim Letunov for a while, and not just because he’s Russian; he led them in scoring last year and is second this year. Ahead of him is St. Louis Blues draft pick and World Junior Champion Tage Thompson (14 goals), who has been the main beneficiary of Letunov’s playmaking (15 assists). They’ve got a solid second duo behind Letunov and Thompson in Max Kalter (16 points) and Spencer Naas (14 points), as Naas (12 goals) benefits from Kalter’s playmaking (13 assists).

Game is at 6pm and will be on NESN/ASN at Gutterson. Teams will rematch next weekend in Hartford, so I’ll just re-use this as the primer.

Go Cats.

Women’s Preview: #6 BC @ UVM

Hockey East’s finest will be on display this weekend at the Gutt, as the Catamounts look to upset the apple cart once again after a solid weekend at BU that saw them come away with a pair of ties.

The Boston College Eagles come in as the #6 team in the country with an overall record of 16-3-4, and are in first place in Hockey East by a mile. Their 12-2-2 conference record leaves them with 26 points, six ahead of second-place Northeastern with two games in hand. This will be a matchup of the two best defensive teams in Hockey East, so expect low-scoring affairs.

BC’s starting goaltender will be Katie Burt, a junior. Thus far she has been solid, ranking eleventh in the country with a .929 save percentage to go along with four shutouts. Her backups, junior Gabriella Switaj and freshman Molly Barrow, have played a combined 140 minutes this season, so I’ll expect two Burt starts this weekend.

The defense has been excellent at shot suppression, conceding an average of 22.6 shots per game, and prevents goals – they lead Hockey East teams with 1.61 goals against per game (1.44 in conference play). They can also contribute offensively, as shown by the fact that they have four defenders with at least 13 points. For comparison’s sake, UVM only has three players PERIOD with more than 13 (Picard and Gorecki are on 16, and Valkama is on 15). BC also has the best PK in Hockey East, killing them off at a 91.9% rate (93.8% in conference play).

Offense is where the Eagles really shine, however. They average over 3.5 goals per game and almost four in conference play. They have Hockey East’s best power play, and the second-best in the country after Minnesota. The scary part is, it’s not really one star you have to look out for, as BC does not have a player that is top-20 in the nation in scoring. BC’s offense is talented and deep, and you have to pay as much attention to the fourth line as you would the first. Andie Anastos, the daughter of Michigan State men’s coach Tom Anastos (fire him), leads the way with 26 points, but Makenna Newkirk (25 points), Delaney Belinskas (23), and Caitrin Lonergan (22) are also deadly for the lackadaisical defense.

Games are Friday and Saturday at 2pm, and will be on CatamounTV, but come to the Gutt if you can, because this is gonna be some high-level hockey.

Go Cats.

Women’s Preview: UVM @ #10 BU

Three months and a couple days ago, the Terriers came to Gutterson as the #9 team in the country. The Cats dispatched them with a thrilling 3-2 win. Now, the Terriers are ranked again, and they host a Catamount team that’s given them problems throughout the last few years.

BU is 12-8-2 overall, but a mediocre 7-7-1 in Hockey East, tied with UVM and UNH for third with 15 points (the Catamounts have three games in hand on both). But this is a team that’s given top teams headaches, as they’ve beaten BC and Minnesota earlier in the year.

In goal, it’s been a tandem, though Victoria Hanson has both seen more work and performed better than Erin O’Neil. In 14 games, Hanson has a .930 SV%, while O’Neil has a .899 in 8 games. It should be Hanson in goal this weekend at Walter Brown Arena.

BU’s defense is very inexperienced, with only 3 players who were on last year’s team, but that hasn’t stopped them from actually being slightly better than last season in the goals against department by about .2 goals per game. They can also contribute offensively, but not a whole lot – four defenders have at least five points, but none has more than 10. They also do give up a lot of shots, at around 31 per game.

Offense is where BU shines. Mary Parker has been terrific this year, as the grad student has posted 27 points so far, and Victoria Bach is on pace to slightly better her output from last season with 26 points. Samantha Sutherland started with 7 goals in her first 3 games, but has only scored 3 since, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that she is dangerous. They’re tied for sixth in the country in goals per game for a reason – they’ve got a lot of weapons. The matchup between this and UVM’s defense and goaltending will be fascinating.

Games are Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. BU streams free.

Go Cats.

Men’s Preview: #12 UVM @ Providence

Rhode trip!

The Cats head south to Providence to take on the Friars this weekend. The Friars are in good form, but have been abysmal within Hockey East. Which Providence will we see: the one that took a win and a tie from current #1 Denver, or the one that got thwacked 5-2 by Merrimack and lost to Holy Cross?

To say that Providence has been up and down is an understatement. They sit at 9-7-4, which seems solid…until you get to their awful 1-5-2 record in Hockey East, tied for second last with Northeastern. They’ve benefit from a nonconference schedule that, Denver aside, has been quite easy (only one team is in the tournament zone of Pairwise, and that’s St. Lawrence). However, they’ve managed to be confusing in this schedule, losing to Holy Cross but taking a win and draw from Denver.

Providence’s starting goalie is probably John Buccigross’s favorite: Hayden Hawkey. The sophomore has played every game so far and has been…meh. He’s got a .911 save percentage, which while not Ryan Ruck bad, isn’t bad enough to regularly cost games.

Defensively, the Friars are a very good shot suppression team, allowing the ninth-fewest shot attempts against in the nation. They’ve also good three defenders who are very good at playing the puck and producing points. Jake Walman leads the way with 14 points, while Anthony Florentino and Josh Monk have 12 each, and Jacob Bryson has 11. A defense that can both move the puck well and stop opposition players from even getting shots is one that is very dangerous.

And that’s good, because Providence’s attack really isn’t.  They’re 32nd in the nation in goals per game, and they only have four forwards with 10+ points (for comparison, UVM has 9). Brian Pinho leads the way with 19 points, while Erik Foley, recently returned from the World Juniors, has 15 in 18 games.

Long story short, Providence is what they’ve been in recent years. Solid defensively, not the best offensively. The latter has hurt them this year, as they’ve gone from 3.26 goals per game to 2.9. The Cats’ D has been struggling lately; is this the game where they recover?

Games are Friday at 7 and Saturday at 5. Providence has pay streams. We’ll be tuning into the radio.

Go Cats.

Women’s Preview: Maine @ UVM

This team continues to make literally no sense. 3-0-1 against BU and Northeastern, and gave #3 Clarkson and #9 Robert Morris problems….1-3-2 against Merrimack, Maine, Providence, UConn, and UNH. Just. What.

Speaking of Maine, they’re the Cats’ opponent this weekend, coming to the Gutt for a pair of games. The two met back on October 30 in Orono, where the Cats prevailed 3-2 on a third period goal by Kourtney Menches.

Maine currently occupies Hockey East’s cellar with a 2-8-1 conference record, but with two games in hand on Merrimack, who’s just a point ahead. They’re 6-12-1 overall.

In goal, Carly Jackson has grabbed the starting gig in her sophomore year after not playing at all as a freshman. She’s done well for herself, too, posting a .913 save percentage, vastly superior to backup Mariah Fujimagari’s .863.

The defense is a bit suspect, giving up around 31 shots a game, and only one defender (Alysson Matteau) has more than 5 points, so they’re not getting offense from there, either. It’s still a very similar group to the one they had last year, which UVM went unbeaten against in a down year for the program, so take that for what it’s worth. They’re also very shaky on the PK with the fifth-worst rate in the country. (Of course, Merrimack had the second-worst defense, and UVM only scored once on them, so I probably jinxed it.)

Up front, the Black Bears aren’t great, scoring fewer goals per game than the offensively-struggling Catamounts. Tereza Vanišová, Vendula Přibylová, and Brooke Stacey are very good – each has over 10 points, and Vanišová is at 22, tied for 20th in the country – but besides that, there isn’t much. They’ll still see more players hit double digits than last year though; only three players – one of whom graduated – hit 10 or more for Maine last year.

Games are on CatamounTV, 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Go Cats.

 

Men’s Preview: Northeastern @ #13 UVM

So this is basically a re-write of when UVM played NU at Matthews earlier this year.

The Huskies were 3-1-2 going into last time these two met, but have fallen to 7-8-4 and 1-6-2 in Hockey East (though one of the ties was 40 minutes, as a NU/Notre Dame game was called off after two periods with a 0-0 scoreline), third from bottom ahead of Providence and Maine, both with games in hand. That said, NU has a habit of getting hot in the second half, as was proven last season when they lost just one regular season game after the New Year before falling in the NCAAs to North Dakota.

Doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to find the problem here. Ryan Ruck has been flat-out terrible. The sophomore has a .889 save percentage this season and has cost his team numerous games, including their loss to Yale last weekend. He’s okay against bad teams (before that game he had a .911 against teams outside the top 20 in the Pairwise), but downright atrocious against top-20 teams (.874). The Cats have to take advantage of this.

Can’t really blame the defense for Ruck’s incompetence; they’re around the middle of the pack in shot suppression, and their CF% is 49.9, which though not great isn’t awful. Offensively, Garrett Cockerill has been great, posting 16 points in 19 games, and Jeremy Davies, Ryan Shea, and Eric Williams are no slouches either.

The big star for Northeastern is the offense. Zack Aston-Reese is basically scoring for fun this year, and is tied with Mike Vecchione of Union for most goals in the nation. Dylan Sikura and Adam Gaudette are also top-ten scorers in the country, and the Huskies sit 8th nationally in goals per game and 9th on the power play. This team knows how to score goals, and the Cats, having struggled to prevent goals against St. Lawrence on Tuesday, need to up their defensive game.

Game’s on CatamounTV. Big two points in Hockey East on the line.

Go Cats.

Women’s Preview: UVM @ Merrimack

Third time’s the charm?

UVM women’s hockey heads out to North Andover to do battle with the Merrimack College Warriors, UVM’s third game at Lawler. The first two did not go UVM’s way, as they only managed a draw and a loss last year on the final weekend of the regular season.

The Warriors, in their second year of D-I, have already bettered last year’s five wins, currently sitting at 6-13-2 but bottom in Hockey East at 2-10-1 (all against opponents that UVM has also played), though they sit just one back of Maine. In nonconference play against UVM mutual opponents, they’ve gone 3-1-1, defeating Robert Morris, Yale, and St. Cloud, losing to St. Cloud, and drawing Robert Morris. Being a second-year program, Merrimack is obviously very young, with a team full of freshmen and sophomores.

In goal, the Warriors will trot out either Lea-Kristine Demers or Samantha Ridgewell. Both have posted save percentages in the mid .890s, but they’re not really to blame…the defense is very leaky, allowing around 30 shots per game as well as the second-worst goals against average in the country at 3.71 (Brown has conceded 4.33, which is flatly disgusting).

On top of this, the Warriors haven’t gotten much scoring from their defense. Only Dominique Kremer and Paige Sorensen have more than 5 points from the blueline (the Cats have 3 players that do this). They’ve also been shaky on the PK with the fourth-worst in the country, killing off penalties at a 77.9% rate. The Cats offense hasn’t been the best this year, so this could be a chance to gain confidence and consistency offensively.

Merrimack’s offense, on the other hand, is actually solid. They’re two notches ahead of the Cats in goals per game, led by Katelyn Rae’s 17 points and Mikyla Grant-Mentis’s 11 assists. On top of that, they have a top-10  power play in the country, which could provide an interesting matchup after the Cats’ success on the PK against Yale.

Game is Tuesday at 7, and sadly the Warriors are one of *those* teams that makes you pay for streams. (Makes me appreciate CatamounTV more.)

Go Cats.

Men’s Preview: #16 St. Lawrence @ #13 UVM

One team is playing their third game of the week. The other hasn’t played in almost a month.

On Tuesday, the Catamounts will take to the ice against former ECAC rival St. Lawrence, who is making their first appearance on the ice since December 9, when they beat Clarkson. Will the rust hurt the Saints, or will the rest play to their advantage?

The Saints, under first-year head coach Mark Morris, are off to a great start this year, sitting at 10-5-4 and second in the ECAC, one point back of Union. They are the only team that’s defeated Penn State this year. Against opponents UVM has also faced, they are 3-1-2 with wins over Quinnipiac, Dartmouth, and Clarkson, a loss to Lowell, and draws with Quinnipiac and Union. However, in recent years the Saints have struggled at the Gutt, last winning at Vermont on December 17, 2011, during a season where the Cats won a grand total of 6 games.

In goal, SLU will almost certainly roll with the ultra-consistent Kyle Hayton. The junior has posted a .935 save percentage in each of his first three years in Canton, and has started all but one game this season. Yeah. He’s very good.

St. Lawrence is one of the few teams in the country where their leading scorer is a blueliner. Gavin Bayreuther is terrific, with 23 points to lead all defensemen nationwide. Nolan Gluchowski and Ben Finkelstein also have upwards of 10 points. However, the team gives up a slew of shots – over 30 a night – and that puts a lot of pressure on Hayton. If the Cats can finish their chances, this game won’t be as bad as it could be.

The attack for St. Lawrence is led by Mike Marnell, who has 19 points in 15 games including a four-goal game against Brown. Joe Sullivan and Jacob Pritchard have 17 points each to compliment him, and SLU’s attack is just two notches behind UVM’s in goals per game. However, they have struggled immensely on the power play, ranking 54th in the country with a 11.11% success rate.

Game is Tuesday night on CatamounTV.

Go Cats.

PS: We’d also like to extend a good luck to Max Daigle, who will not be returning for spring semester. Per Sneddon, “Daigle indicated that he believed he needed to attend another university to best pursue his academic program of choice.” (h/t Ted Ryan)