Vermont Preview

#17 Vermont Catamounts 11-7-2, (Hockey East 5-6-2 8th)
#15 Massachusetts Minutemen 14-8-0, (Hockey East 9-6-0 3rd)  

Official Vermont Catamount Hockey Site

When these two teams last met UMass carried, nay, dominated the game in impressive fashion in what may be considered their best game of the season.  Casey Wellman netted a hat trick, James Marcou had an astounding five assists, and the team was able to capitalize on 3 of 6 power plays en route to a 6-2 victory.  From that point however the teams have fared quite differently.  Vermont has gone 7-2-1 since that Thanksgiving week game and currently find themselves 12th in the pairwise.  The road since Burlington for the Minutemen has had its share of bumps, starting with the very next game at Quinnipiac and the worst of the rockiness occurred with successive losses in which the team gave up 14 goals.  Luckily it does appear that the team is finding its way again with three straight wins, including last weekend’s sweep of Lowell.

Interestingly both teams come into this weekend tied in scoring defense at exactly 3 goals per game.  UMass boasts the better offensive numbers at 3.36 GPG but the Catamounts are not too far behind at 3.20.  UVM has been able to rely on their upperclassmen to provide the bulk of that offense, starting with senior forward Brayden Irwin who has put up 21 points including 10 goals.  Justin Milo and Jack Downing have provided some scoring punch as well.  They also have a lot of veteran leadership on the blueline as well with Kyle Medvec and Pat Cullity.  I’m interested to see how the Catamounts look in net.  Going into the season it appeared that goaltending may be UVM’s greatest strength with Rob Madore coming off a stellar freshman campaign and veteran Mike Spillane to provide quality minutes as well.  Though the goaltending seems to be improving recently the numbers are still far from what was expected.  Madore’s GAA has surprisingly jumped from 2.35 last season to 2.83 so far this year.  UVM likely won’t be relying on their powerplay as much as UMass will be since they’re converting at a league low 16.3%.

For UMass there’s a lot to be proud of from last weekend’s sweep.  But at the same time there’s a lot to build off of too.  The team went 2 for 12 on the power play and for long stretches of the weekend simply could not run an effective offense in the zone.  Still, you have to admire their effort and tenacity.  That hard work kept Lowell off the board completely on the power play, killing all 10 River Hawk power plays chances on the weekend.  At the same time Paul Dainton is playing some of his best hockey of the season.  The offense certainly clicked the first time UMass met Vermont.  With the effort and defense back on track it will be interesting to see if the offense can get it going again as well.  Whatever happens it in imperative that UMass makes the most of their few remaining games at home.  At least three points out of the weekend would go a long way to helping secure a foothold in the home ice portion of the Hockey East standings.


Here are the game notes from UMass Athletics.