Now that’s how you start a season.
Okay, so it was a preseason game, and Waterloo’s not that great even by USports standards, but it’s nice to get early confidence, especially with so much roster turnover.
And the Cats came out flying – in the first minute, Ross Colton had the puck behind the net, sends it to Darrar who taps it home. Waterloo goalie Mike Morrison probably should’ve had that. But hey, I’m not a goalie, so my opinion probably is wrong.
The Cats’ power play was reaaaaaaally bad to start the game. And it showed as Waterloo’s lone goal was a shorty. Mitchell Smith with a laser that beat Stef Lekkas low to the far side. That’s the risk you take when you only have one D on the PP – if you screw up only one guy can get back and cover (Rob Darrar was playing the point next to Matt O’Donnell), and that exposes you a bit more.
But the Cats PP eventually woke up. In the last minute of the period, O’Donnell found Colton as the Lightning pick entered the zone. Colton slipped, but managed to get a beautiful pass back to O’Donnell, and the defender buried it. Beautiful play, and it put the Cats in front for good. Colton came off in pain, but was able to finish the game, so it shouldn’t be anything serious.
Midway through the second saw the Cats score again. Liam Coughlin took a BIG shot from the top of the slot that hit the post, but buried his own rebound to double the Cats’ lead. I think he may be due a big year this season.
Cats got another PPG before the end of the period. A long scrum that wouldn’t look out of place in a rugby match in the corner resulted in UVM winning possession. Colton found Darrar at the point, and Darrar set up O’Donnell on the left-hand circle who BOMBED one past Morrison. O’Donnell had three goals all of last season, and starts his sophomore year with a pair in exhibition action.
UVM swapped goalies to begin the third, as Tyler Harmon made his Catamount debut, relieving Lekkas. I thought he looked very solid – calm, and with some pretty good rebound control too. I’m not expecting him to hit the same crazy heights, but his style reminded me a bit of Connor Hellebuyck at UMass Lowell a few years back.
And then there was ANOTHER power play goal midway through the third, one that Morrison would really want to have back. Colton took a shot from just behind the faceoff dot on the right-hand side that Morrison got a piece of, but couldn’t ultimately keep out. It’s 5-1, it’s a bloodbath.
Conor O’Neil, in his first action since November 5 of last year in Lowell, finished the scoring with an absolute SNIPE from the left-hand side. Really happy to see him get on the board after having not played in almost a calendar year.
- Holy moly can these new kids move. There’s a lot of speed on this team. And the defense looks quite mobile.
- The puck movement was AMAZING. Again, I know it’s not the best competition, but UVM showed what they can do at their best.
- Cory Thomas looked a bit clumsy with the puck, but he looked like the kind of physical D that this team needed.
- I know it got him a penalty, but I’m sure Christian Evers won some fans by standing up for his teammate (I didn’t see who it was) after the hit by Daniel Perigo.
- Matt O’Donnell had probably the best game I’ve seen him play and was able to showcase his strengths as an offensive defenseman.
- Though he didn’t point (in fact, the only frosh to do so was Evers, who had a secondary assist on the Coughlin goal), Bryce Misley did not disappoint on his Catamount debut. He had some lovely dangles and combined well with his teammates.
- Brian Bowen did not play. Sneddon said postgame that he’s week to week.
- There was not a whole lot of dropoff when the team went from playing its more established guys to the new kids (Dzhioshvili, Kaufman, Cowans etc.); there were still chances being created and good puck movement. That shows this team’s got a lot of depth and will score a lot of goals.
The Vermont Hockey Blog Three Stars of the Game
- Matt O’Donnell (UVM) – He got a lot of flak last year for some freshman mistakes, but he looked AMAZING tonight with two goals and an assist.
- Ross Colton (UVM) – A four point night playing with totally different linemates than the ones he played with much of last season (with Puskarich graduated and Bowen injured). Talk about a great player.
- Liam Coughlin (UVM) – Didn’t even noticed until I saw the boxscore, but he had a three point game. I think he’ll take a huge jump this year.