Green Mountain Boys
Weekend sweep indicative of Vermont turnaround
The bus ride
back to Burlington must have seemed shorter this year for the
Vermont Catamounts. Vermont visited Union and Rensselaer last
weekend and left town with two wins, each by shutout, and found
themselves in first place in the ECAC Hockey League. And there
were plenty of smiles to be had.
That’s an entirely different situation than Vermont faced
after last season’s trip to the Capital District. In November
of 2003, the Catamounts were blasted 7-1 by Rensselaer and then
blown out by Union 5-1. Vermont was in the midst of a 13-game
“Last year we probably hit rock-bottom after this weekend,”
coach Kevin Sneddon
It’s a good point of reflection to see just how much things
have changed this year for Vermont. No longer are the Catamounts
mired near the bottom of the standings and viewed as a probable
“two-pointer” opposite travel partner Dartmouth. They’ve
assumed the role of favorite and there’s a much different
attitude around the team. Sneddon’s staff had implemented
successful systems that the players are responding to. Confidence
and camaraderie are high.
“Our work ethic and commitment is better. We’re all
on the same page. There are no superstars, we just play well as
a team. They love playing together and love being together,”
Sneddon said. “Winning helps that, but I just think it’s
a strong family and good things can happen when you have that
kind of mentality in your locker room.”
Vermont’s Jaime Sifers, the defensive leader and captain
of the Catamounts, talked about players believing in each other.
“I think we just grasp the systems better and we have so
much more trust in one another. There’s so much trust around
that locker room,” he said.
He deserves a great deal of the credit for the team’s togetherness,
as Sneddon called him “the best captain I’ve ever
seen.” Sifers and the Catamounts aren’t taking their
first-place standing or spot in the national rankings for granted.
They’re hoping that last weekend’s trip to the Albany
area won’t be the last, knowing that a return trip comes
with advancement to the ECACHL Championship weekend.
“Just like we approach games, we try to take things one
by one. Albany is definitely in our thoughts and in our dreams
every night,” Sifers said. “With a team like this
it would be a disappointment if we didn’t make it to Albany.
Game-by-game and shift-by-shift if we work 110 percent all the
time and be consistent that dream will come true.”
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE ECACHL
Calling California – Residents of Pomona
or Riverside, Calif. wouldn’t blink an eye at the numbers
9-0-9 in sequence. It’s their area code. It’s also
the reading in Dartmouth’s goals-scored column over the
last three games. The Big Green exploded for nine goals in a blowout
of Rensselaer and then got blanked by Union’s Kris Mayotte
the following night. On Wednesday, Dartmouth scored nine again
and needed every one of them in a 9-8 win over New Hampshire.
That win over UNH at Manchester’s Verizon Wireless Arena
was the latest in a series of good wins for the Big Green, a team
that’s starting to show some signs of playing at the level
that people expected in the preseason.
Dartmouth is now 7-7-2 overall and has recent wins over UNH and
Freshman goaltender Mike Devine saw his first action of the season
after both Dan Yacey and Sean Samuel were pulled. He made five
saves and allowed two goals, but it was enough to win.
Chasing consistency – In this space last
week we talked about an unselfish Union team that’s been
successful by looking out for teammates. Those attributes of Union
hockey weren’t on display last Friday, when the Dutchmen
were outworked and dominated by Vermont. If not for the spectacular
performance by freshman goaltender Justin Mrazek, the score would
have been much worse than 4-0.
“We were getting to be individuals and decided to do things
one-on-one instead of making simple plays. It definitely caught
up with us and made us look silly. It’s a team game and
if you don’t use your teammates it will be a rough night,”
Union coach Nate Leaman said.
“We’re still a young team in a lot of areas and we’re
still learning. We’re a program that doesn’t know
how to win consistently and as a coach you’re trying to
show them the things that do make winning teams and the ways to
go if you want to win, if you want to pay the price.”
The lessons were put to use one night later when Union blanked
Dartmouth 1-0 behind Kris Mayotte’s 32-save shutout.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Union (Fri.)
Colgate at Union, (Sat.)
has played two more league games than Cornell and Colgate,
but all three teams are tightly bunched in the standings.
By winning these games, the Dutchmen can increase their
point total in the standings and give themselves some breathing
room when the Big Red and Raiders make up those games-in-hand.
While You’re There: After Saturday’s game,
head across campus to the Old Chapel, where a psychic fair
is being held from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. Fortune tellers and
mind readers will be on hand and could forecast just how
your team will do over the last two months of the season.
improved non-conference record by ECACHL teams
helps in computer rankings and in turn helps the conference
get stronger consideration when the NCAA Tournament field
is chosen at the end of the year. In the first year of the
Commissioner’s Cup, a series of 21 games between teams
from each of the Division I hockey conferences, the ECACHL
finished first with a record of 6-1-0.
public address announcer at Union’s Messa Rink
handled the pre-game festivities pretty well, with the exception
of one pronunciation. Dutchmen goaltender Justin Mrazek
hails from Regina, Saskatchewan and might have done a double
take when his hometown was announced as Re-gee-na.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• St. Lawrence is enjoying a four-game win streak
heading into this weekend’s game at arch-rival Clarkson.
The Saints got a seven-point weekend out of Stace Page as they
swept Yale and Princeton. It’s St. Lawrence’s longest
winning streak since the 2000-01 season.
senior goaltender Scott Rowan returned to the nets and
earned a 5-2 win over American International on Wednesday at Meehan
Auditorium. Rowan allowed two power-play goals and made 29 saves.
It was his first start since Nov. 12 against Princeton.
Vermont’s Jaime Sifers provided the humorous moment
of the post-game interview following last Friday’s
win over Union. When finding out that RPI (Vermont’s Saturday
opponent) was beaten by the lopsided score of 9-1, Sifers said,
“9-1? Wow. I guess that means they’ll be hungry tomorrow
shutout streak stands at 141:46. The Union College and
ECACHL record was set by Trevor Koenig in 1996-97, at 198:44.
record is impressive at 15-5-0, but the win over Harvard last
Friday was the Raiders’ first this season against a ranked
1-0 loss to second-ranked Boston College on Tuesday came on the
heels of a win over Clarkson and is an indication that the Bulldogs
are going to a better team in the second semester. Goaltender
Matt Modelski made 49 saves against the Eagles.
back-to-back shutouts were the first in the program’s Division
I history, which began with the 1974-75 season.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.