Men’s Preview: UVM @ UNH (2x)

I mean, better late than never to get it together, right? RIGHT?

Yeah. Last weekend was great. (Other than the student section which was awful.) Let’s keep that going, shall we?

Much like the UVM women, it’s going to be an emotional weekend for the UNH men. Though it’s not their final home game, they are holding Coach Umile Weekend, as the Wildcats honor their longtime head coach, who is retiring after the season. No matter your opinion of Umile, you have to respect the job he did at UNH (up until recently) and Hockey East won’t be the same without him.

That said, what started as a year that looked like UNH would send their coach out on a high note has turned into a debacle, as the Wildcats went into not a slump, but a death spiral. After starting 5-1-1, UNH has gone 5-12-4, and have only won back-to-back games once since their five-game win streak to open the year.

They did make history last weekend, with Kohei Sato becoming the first Japanese player ever to score at the D1 men’s college level. So that’s something, I guess.

There are bright spots on this team, namely Max Gildon who will be in the Hockey East Rookie of the Year conversation. But the Wildcats have been awful in possession with a 46.3 CF%, and are largely being bailed out by Danny Tirone who has been solid in net for them (UNH is 10th nationally in save percentage). When you’re being outpossessed that badly, wins are rare to come by unless you get elite-level goaltending, and with how erratic Tirone has been throughout his career, their start to the season just wasn’t sustainable.

Three Things to Look Out For

  1. Lake Whitt. Always a factor in playing at UNH is that ginormously big rink. The size of Whittemore Center changes the game completely; you can’t rely so much on physicality, but rather speed and skill. If I’m Sneddon, my lineup is based entirely on skill. Keep the top line together, and even that Coughlin line that’s been stupendous of late…but other than that, you need to optimize your lineup according to the game that will be played. And it won’t be a meat grinder.
  2. Start Strong. If UNH isn’t winning after one period, they usually don’t – they’re 3-12-3 if they go into the break either trailing or tying. If the Catamounts can get off to a strong start, they’ll be in a good position to grab some W’s.
  3. Importance. UVM and UNH are tied for the 8th spot in Hockey East and home ice in the Octofinals. If this weekend ends in a tie and a win or a sweep, the team that won will get a vital tiebreaker. In my opinion, UVM needs this badly, especially with 4 games coming up against a great Northeastern team and a white-hot Boston University.

Games are Friday and Saturday at 7. UNH streams on ESPN3 so that’s where it’ll be.

Just keep winning. Big Cats Gotta Eat.

Go Cat(amount)s.

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