With the women’s team releasing their schedule today, we now have the UVM hockey calendar filled out for 2017/18. Let’s take a look at three games or series that I look forward to the most this season for both sides.
Oct 14 at Quinnipiac
Last season, the Bobcats were ranked #3 and were expected to beat UVM in the Friendship Four championship game in Belfast. Instead, Stef Lekkas put on a clinic, stopping 40, and Ross Colton had a three point night as the Catamounts rolled the Bobcats 5-1. Q should be better this season, and have one of the best home-ice advantages in college hockey. Early-season gut check.
Oct 20-21 at Michigan
This isn’t your uncle’s Wolverines, namely because they’re actually coached by a different guy for once. Mel Pearson has replaced the retired legend Red Berenson, and the trip to Ann Arbor will be the first in UVM history. The Wolverines should be much-improved (I’d argue Pearson is much more in-tune with modern college hockey than Red was), and will prove another early-season test for UVM’s young roster.
Nov 10-11 vs BC
The returning crop at UVM is going to remember the last time they played BC, when they gave up two touchdowns in the Hockey East playoffs. BC is vulnerable this year with their top 5 scorers all leaving and their top recruit (Eeli Tolvanen) not actually coming, so this could be a huge matchup with regards to playoff positioning by the end of the season.
Oct 22 vs BC
Yes, UVM also plays BC at Conte in mid-January. But this is the first one since the Cats came within a double overtime goal of the Hockey East championship game (and I still insist the Cats could have defeated Northeastern in the final) against the Eagles. October of last year saw the Cats take out a top-ten ranked team in the BU Terriers. Can they do it again, avenge their heartbreaking loss in the tournament the year before, and get Coach Plumer his first win against BC?
Nov 10-11 home and home w/ Clarkson
On the same weekend the men battle BC, the women play a home and home against the reigning national champs from across the lake. UVM actually played Clarkson (the only Eastern team ever to win a NCAA D-I women’s national title) at home last year in the Windjammer Classic final (a 3-1 win for the eventual national champions), and this should serve as a good gauge for how much the returning players have improved.
Jan 12-13 at Minnesota
Clarkson may be the reigning national champions, and they full well deserve it. But the Golden Gophers remain the gold standard for women’s hockey programs with 6 national championships and a run of five national title games in a row that was broken up this season. This series at the site of this year’s Women’s Frozen Four should be a good gauge on where this program is in its development.