It’s the final weekend of the regular season. Feels like only yesterday when we opened the preseason with a match against Concordia.
The Cats need a bloody miracle to get a first round bye. And since it requires UMass getting a point – much less against Providence – it’s not happening. So the Cats’ focus this weekend is twofold:
- Avoid defeat and move up in the Pairwise. Hopefully get some outside help.
- Ensure a first-round playoff series against UMass or Maine
That being said…this week’s opponent isn’t easy, and is key in that “UMass-or-Maine-pls” chase as they sit just two back of UVM.
Merrimack have had a ball this year with trolling good teams, scoring defeats of BC, BU, Providence, Notre Dame, and Cornell. They haven’t lost in over a month. This is a team in-form, and the perfect pre-tournament test. (Of course, these also mask the fact that they lost to UMass. At home.)
The goaltending has been a battle all year between sophomore Drew Vogler and junior Collin Delia. Vogler has played more, but Delia has been vastly superior (a .928 SV% compared to Vogler’s .897). Look for the junior to get the bulk of the work this weekend.
On defense, Mack is pretty average. They’re a positive possession team, and rank 6th in Hockey East in goals against average in conference play. Johnathan Kovacevic (16 points), Jared Kolquist (11), and Alex Carle (10) contribute offensively. One weakness UVM can exploit is the Warriors’ shoddy PK, which is the second-worst in Hockey East, behind only UMass. UVM’s PP is HEA’s second-worst, so this could be a chance to get it going ahead of the conference tournament.
Merrimack’s attack is less than optimal in HEA play on the season – they’re 9th – but it has been in excellent form of late. They’re averaging 3.1 goals per game over their last 10 games, including a 6 goal explosion to beat BC at Conte. Leading the way is playmaker Brett Seney (19 assists), who generates plenty of chances that Hampus Gustafsson (14 goals) can finish.
Games are Friday and Saturday on CatamounTV.
Special piece on the seniors out Saturday.