Vermont Preview

Vermont Catamounts 5-16-1 (2-12-1) Hockey East – 10th


Massachusetts Minutemen 8-8-5 (4-6-4) Hockey East – 7th

While this game will lack the buzz and pageantry of when these teams last met two weeks ago at Fenway Park, that doesn’t mean the game itself is any less important.  Mike Marcou’s overtime goal in that game gave UMass the win, but due to a lackluster up in Burlington during Thanksgiving Week the season series is tied  at one game apiece and tomorrow night will be the decider.  It’s unlikely that a tiebreaker will come into play with the Catamounts but it would be good to take another season series after picking up one last weekend and as always the two points on the line are huge in terms of keeping pace with the rest of Hockey East.  Especially considering all other teams in the league play two games this weekend while the Minutemen and their UVM foes only play one.

Two games have been played between these teams with each winning by the narrowest of margins.  The Cats won in November 2-1 while UMass took the Fenway game 3-2 in extra innings.  An easy way for UMass to give themselves an advantage in tomorrow’s game is to stay out of the penalty box.  Three of Vermont’s four goals against the Minutemen this season have come on the power play.  In fact, in the roughly 125 minutes of play between these teams UMass has racked up 41 minutes in penalties.  That’s not good.  Vermont is the worst scoring offense in Hockey East by a long shot, averaging just 2.35 goals per game.  But their power play is 8th in the league (better than UMass’) so there’s no need to be giving them an extra man advantage.

The big storyline for Vermont this season has been injuries, of which they have a ton.  They already have a number of players who are out for the season but the one that matters most right now is their star sophomore Connor Brickley who is out indefinitely with a leg injury suffered during the World Juniors.  Brickley is still 2nd on the team in goals despite missing 7 games so far for the Catamounts.  With him out UMass will have to key in on Sebastian Stalberg who has either scored or assisted on 23 of the teams 51 goals, including 3 against UMass.  Freshman Kyle Reynolds has been one of the few bright spots for UVM, scoring 8 goals on the season, 3 coming against the Minutemen.  Defenseman Drew McKenzie adds some offensive power from the blue line with 6 goals and 9 assists so far.  In net will likely be Rob Madore who has the worst statistics for a starting goaltender in Hockey East with a 3.67 goals against average and .873 save percentage.  It’s tough to tell how much of that is his play versus the team in front of him.  He’s been able to solve UMass so far though giving up just four goals to the Minutemen in over 120 minutes of work.

Who will be in net for the UMass?  Whoever had the best week in practice would be my guess.  Jeff Teglia has faced the Catamounts twice so far with pretty good success, giving up just two goals in each of the games.  Perhaps his familiarity with the team will lead him to get the start.  In looking at what has made UMass successful in this 4-1-1 stretch they’re on it’s that the seniors have really stepped up.  Altogether co-captains T.J. Syner and Danny Hobbs and assistant captain Mike Marcou have scored 9 of the 25 goals in that time.  But  in addition to bringing just their offensive game, they’ve gotten the job done defensively too.  Syner has been a +7 in those games, Hobbs a +8, and Marcou a +7.  UMass has been a very good scoring team all season, but it hasn’t been until they’ve really stepped up their defensive play that the scoring led to wins.  The seniors are leading the way on that front and hopefully the younger players are following in their footsteps.

Beer The Triangle
The Hangar was due to put a barrel of Green Flash Double Stout on tap earlier this week which I’m very interested in trying.  They also had a hard to find Founders that was to go on soon but I’ll be damned if I can remember which.  Double Trouble maybe?

College Hockey News takes a look at the weekend ahead in Hockey East.  They also have an interesting piece on the rise of hitting from behind penalties in the game.

New England Hockey Journal takes a look at UMass’ success at home so far.