This weekend, the Boston College Men’s Hockey team hops on the bus for a three hour ride north to Gutterson Fieldhouse to face-off against a bloodthirsty UVM team looking to get their season back on track with a couple of ‘W’s. Similar to BC, UVM has had a rather rocky start to the season with them posing a 3-5-1 record to start the year. However, while these two teams may showcase near identical records, nonetheless the strength of schedule certainly speaks volumes. The Eagles have already been thrown into the ringer facing the likes of notable opponents like Denver, St. Cloud and Providence while UVM’s schedule has not proven to be as strenuous. Currently, BC is second in the Hockey East standings with the Catamounts sitting in eighth place and looking for any chance to prove their worth. With this weekend being a golden opportunity for UVM, I spoke with Locria Nyla from TheVTHockeyBlog to discuss what to expect from this weekend’s Hockey East rivalry showdown.
1) UVM and BC are off to similar starts to the season with both carrying similar records going into this upcoming weekend. What are some of the successes and pain points for the Catamounts this early on in the season?
UVM's defense is VERY young (we have just one senior in Trey Phillips, and then a bunch of sophomores and freshmen) and it's showed with them being somewhat leaky and getting beaten in the possession battle. Stefanos Lekkas has been HUGE in net, and the team has shown some good character in parts, coming from 2 down in the third to tie a very good UNH team two weeks ago and scoring four unanswered at UConn on Saturday. One thing that's concerning is Brian Bowen's performance; last year he was one of the top players on the team, this year he's struggled to stay in the lineup, although part of that was injuries.
2) Last weekend, UVM was able to equal the weekend series against Uconn. What were some of the highlights from the team's performance?
Friday was a stinker. UVM tied the game at 1, gave up the go-ahead goal less than ten seconds later, and never recovered; the only noteworthy thing, I'd say, was Tyler Harmon debuting in the third period. Saturday, it felt like the same ol' when they went down 2-0...then Colton gets a shorthanded penalty shot and buries it and UVM comes alive with four unanswered in the win.
3) In order for UVM to steal a win this weekend against BC, what has to go right for the Catamounts?
Really, they have to pick up where they've left off. They've struggled badly in the first games of weekend sets (they've only won once, and that was the season opener against a CC team that honestly looked better that night). And they've often been ugly - sure, they took Quinnipiac to OT, but they also got shelled 4-1 at Michigan and 5-1 at UConn.
4) Ross Colton has been an offensive force for UVM at the start of the season with him tied for third in the USCHO for goals scored (7). Is he going to be the primary player that BC should keep an eye on, or is there another Catamount that could deliver a lot of damage to Eagles?
Colton was a phenom last year and looks even better this year. He centers a line with two other players off to a strong start in Craig Puffer and Jarrid Privitera. The thing that made UVM dangerous last year was their ability to roll four lines. That's been a bit of an issue this year largely due to inexperience and some injuries (for example, I expected freshman Vlad Dzhioshvili to make an immediate impact, but he hurt his foot just before the season opener and hasn't played yet.) I mentioned Bowen earlier, and he killed BC last year during the regular season. I've also really been impressed by freshman Max Kaufman, and fellow freshman Bryce Misley has shown some flashes. On the blueline, Matt O'Donnell has emerged as a leader, and freshman Christian Evers has shown some good flashes.
5) How do you predict the atmosphere of the games will be this weekend? Is this a series that the students are looking forward to?
It definitely is. UVM is always most pumped for the Boston schools and UNH, along with highly ranked teams regardless of conference. Especially because there's a ton of students here that are from Massachusetts and the Boston area. And based on my discussion with captain Rob Darrar at the start of the year, the players have had this series circled on their calendar from the start of the season. They're hungry to get back at BC for that playoff series last year.
6) How do you think each game will go for the Catamounts?
Based on how the weekends have gone, lose ugly Friday, win Saturday.
Thanks again to Locria for speaking with BCI! Based the history between these two programs, it is for sure going to be a great battle.