The first of our three-part series recapping UVM hockey’s season. Today we look at the goaltenders.
Madison Litchfield (Sr.) – 10-7-6, 2.08 GAA, .928 SV%
Melissa Black (So.) – 4-6-3, 2.68 GAA, .913 SV%
Sydney Scobee (Fr.) – 1-1-0, 2.14 GAA, .918 SV%
The Cats entered the season with a question mark in goal. Madi Litchfield’s career SV% to that point was a meager .893, Sydney Scobee was a first-year and thus unproven at this level. Black was brought in to presumably compete with Litchfield, having experience at the D-I level as the poor sacrificial lamb behind Union’s defense during their winless 2015-16 season.
That question was answered resoundingly.
In her last season, the Williston native Litchfield played the best hockey of her career. She jumped from a mediocre goalie who would be a back-up elsewhere in Hockey East to one of the better keepers in the nation. She ranked twelfth in the country in save percentage, and her goals-against average dropped by almost a goal (2.92 to 2.08) from her junior year. Her 49 save performance in her final career game, the Hockey East semi against BC, will go down as one of the greatest games ever played by a UVM women’s goalie. Her numbers in Hockey East play placed her third in the conference in save percentage and goals against. And that’s behind two quality keepers in BU’s Victoria Hanson and BC’s Katie Burt.
And the drop-off wasn’t too bad when Jim Plumer wished to give Litchfield a breather. Black’s .913 save percentage was the best by a UVM backup since Kelci Lanthier posted a .916 in 2012-13, though it was down from the .931 Black posted at Union. And while we didn’t see much of Scobee, she looked very promising in her limited minutes, stopping 27 at a loss to tournament-bound Robert Morris and 15 in a scoreless third period in that awful 7-1 loss at BC in February. I think we’ll see more of Scobee next season; Litchfield speaks very highly of her.
Even though Litchfield is graduating, the future of UVM in goal seems to be in good hands.
Stefanos Lekkas (Fr.) – 17-10-5, 2.61 GAA, .909 SV%
Mike Santaguida (Sr.) – 2-3-0, 3.20 GAA, .882 SV%
Pat Feeley (Sr.) – 0-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%
Feeley’s minutes were VERY limited, it basically consisted of six minutes when the Cats were up 7-1 on Bentley in December. So nothing really to note there, other than that he graduates with less ice time than any other goalie I’ve ever seen.
As for Santa…this was a frustrating year, which sucks after he gave three good-to-great years to the program. He lost the starting job to Lekkas early in the season, then went down with an injury and missed most of the stretch drive. He appeared in relief briefly in Game 1 of that disastrous BC quarterfinal, but other than that, he did not play after the new year.
So we get to Lekkas. The Catamounts put their faith in a freshman once before and it paid off handsomely in the form of Brody Hoffman. And while Lekkas got more rest than Hoffman’s 2012-13 and put up slightly better numbers, I’m not sure who the real Lekkas is.
His season basically flipped after the Belfast tournament, after which he was named the Most Outstanding Player. For much of the first half, Stef was a walking trophy case, ending the season with seven Hockey East awards. In his first eleven college games, Lekkas posted a .943 save percentage, and going into the BU home series, the story was Hockey East’s two hot freshman goalies: Lekkas vs. Oettinger.
Something happened during or after that BU series, and Lekkas struggled handsomely down the stretch.
Maybe it was overplay; Santaguida went down with an injury and Sneddon didn’t seem to trust Feeley, forcing Lekkas to play night in-night out. Maybe it was defensive issues, as Ori Abramson missed significant time and UVM couldn’t replace his size. Whatever the case, Lekkas posted a .892 the rest of the way. If he posted that number all season long, that would have ranked tied for 67th in the nation amongst qualified goalies, of which there are 74. The goalies at or below that mark play for the following teams: Arizona State, Niagara, Alaska-Fairbanks, AIC, Wisconsin, Brown, Michigan State, and Michigan State again. Yeesh.
Basically what I’m saying is, will the real Stefanos Lekkas please stand up? He’ll be the lone guy with NCAA experience in goal heading into next season, as both Santaguida and Feeley will be replaced with freshmen Matt Beck and Tyler Harmon. He needs to be closer to first half Lekkas than second half. I’m not saying he has to be elite, he just has to be solid. And if he isn’t solid…hopefully one of Harmon or Beck will be, or else it will be a long winter in Burlington.
Part 2 probably out before the weekend.