Hockey East Preview: Vermont Catamounts

0146985f69a40a2d4993aeea2b76e298-300x300Coach: Kevin Sneddon (16th Season)

Last Season: 10-20-7 (6-12-6 Hockey East, 9th)

Additions: D Carter Long, D Andrew Petrillo, F Nic Hamre, F Joey Cipollone, F Johnny DeRoche, F Dallas Comeau

Losses: F Travis Blanleil, F Jarrid Privitera, F Rob Darrar, F Anthony Petruzzelli, F Drew Best, F Ross Colton, D Trey Phillips

Projected Finish: 10th

By Patrick Milne

After a lack luster season 10-20-7 season , the Vermont Catamounts look to make improvements in the 2018-19 season and get back to being in the top half of the Hockey East standings. While it will be a challenge for them to be among the top contenders like BU, BC, and Providence, the young Catamount team, which had 12 freshmen on it last year, should see some noticeable improvements after gaining some much-needed experience. Vermont will also have junior goalie Stefanos Lekkas between the pipes, who, despite not being the best goalie spastically last year, is a very capable goaltender. Still, it is yet to be seen if seasoned coach Kevin Sneddon will be able to take the Catamounts into a top 5 position in the standings, having finished no better than 6th in the past nine years.

Last year Vermont got off to a very slow start, winning only 4 of their first 23 games. This can be attributed to the inexperience of the squad, having graduated a large portion of their team the year before. However, the Catamounts did see some improvements down the stretch in mid-January and into February, winning games against UMass Lowell, Merrimack, UNH, and UMass Amherst and playing a couple of tight games against BU and Northeastern. While the Catamounts did lose some senior players as well as their top goal scorer Ross Colton, I would expect the Catamounts will be able to pick up where they left off last season and will not be the pushover team that they were at the beginning of last year.

Heading into this year, UVM will need to continue to come together as a team in order to be successful. Unlike other teams who have a top few players that are relied upon heavily, the Catamounts will need different players to make big plays for them on any given night. This offense by committee style was seen last year as well, with only eight points separating the top point getter and the sixth point getter. In comparison, last year 43 points separated Adam Gaudette (1st in points for Northeastern) and Brandon Hawkins (6th in points for Northeastern). Still, Vermont will need a drastic change in their offensive production if they want to be successful, finishing last in Hockey East with 2.14 goals per game last year.

Defensively it is no different for UVM. They will have to do a much better job with their team defense and limiting the shots on their goaltender. Last year, goaltender Stefanos Lekkas made 1049 saves, the most of any goalie in Hockey East. As a result, they gave up 3.03 goals per game, good for second to last. While the Coach Sneddon was able to bring in six new faces, I do not expect any of the incoming freshmen to be super impactful. However, a couple of the new recruits show some promise, especially Dallas Comeau, who had 69 points in 60 games last year in the American Junior Hockey League and John DeRoche, who put up 62 points in 50 games in the National Collegiate Development Conference. While those are impressive stats, as last year’s freshmen learned, there is a big difference between junior hockey and college hockey in Hockey East. Still, with the young team a year older now, I would expect to see some moderate improvements in both these areas as the twelve sophomores now know exactly what to expect when playing in Hockey East.

Bottom Line: The University of Vermont Catamounts will definitely be a tougher team to play against then they were last year, but they will need some drastic improvements in order to be a real competitor to the top teams in the league. They have gained some much-needed experience and should have better chemistry as a team heading into this year. Moreover, Vermont will continue to be very team focused and will need everyone to buy into their offensive and defensive systems. They will especially have to do better at relieving the pressure on their goalie if they want to be able to stay competitive in close games.

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