January, Hockey East coaches expressed overwhelming excitement
about adding another quality program to the league in Vermont,
which will join Hockey East officially next fall.
of those same coaches might not be so excited that the Catamounts
are this good right now.
which finished 11th in the ECAC last season, extended its
nation-best unbeaten streak to nine games with Tuesday's
win over Massachusetts, the first of three straight games
against Hockey East teams.
the next two weeks providing an early peek into the future,
we thought it was a good time to ask: what can Hockey East
fans expect from the Catamounts, both this season and, more
importantly, in the future?
play an up-tempo game,” said Tim Whitehead, who said
in October that he expected good things from the Catamounts,
even though his Maine team beat them 7-1 in the season opener.
“They don’t sit back at all. But they play smart,
too, they aren’t just running around.
an enthusiastic team,” he added, “they’ve
got a great young coaching staff, and they’re very
excited about the future and joining Hockey East.”
is one of three Hockey East coaches who have already faced
the Catamounts – BU also posted a win against UVM
in the early going, then Tuesday's UMass game. Over the
course of the regular season six Hockey East teams will
play Vermont – New Hampshire and Northeastern in the
next two weeks, in Burlington, and Providence Dec. 28 at
visiting Gutterson Field House are in for a treat.
atmosphere is great to play in,” Whitehead said. “I
saw a real jump in their step despite the result of our
game. They play with a lot of emotion, and they have good
has keyed Vermont’s run, as the Cats have allowed
three goals just once in their last nine games (a 4-3 win
over St. Lawrence). Freshman Joe Fallon has been spectacular;
he stands ninth in the nation in goals-against average (2.01)
and 13th in save percentage (.926). Fallon, a Bemidji, Minn.,
native, has been in goal for six of the seven Vermont wins.
the most recognizable names will be gone by the time Vermont
joins Hockey East. Senior Scott Mifsud (10-7—17 in
14 GP) is the captain and leading scorer, followed by senior
Brady Leisenring, who has nine points despite battling injuries
and only playing six games. But there’s more talent
that will be around next season, led by Torrey Mitchell
(3-7—10), a freshman from Hotchkiss. Junior Jaime
Sifers is a star on defense. (Leisenring also could make an appearance in Hockey East; Vermont announced Wednesday that groin troubles will keep him out of the lineup for the rest of 2004-05, and he will apply to the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility.)
nine-game unbeaten streak was sparked by a win and a tie
at then-No. 1 Minnesota Duluth. In the ECACHL, where the
Catamounts played their last six games before Tuesday, opponents
have marveled at the improvement over the team that finished
11th last season.
said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan, whose team played at
UVM Saturday. “What a turnaround. They skate well.
They're playing with a lot of confidence. You can just see
it in the way they're playing ... They are a very, very
good hockey club.”
that will try to take Hockey East by storm, first over the
next two weeks, then again next season.
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
Troubles for Howard – Jimmy Howard’s
challenging season took another twist late in Sunday’s
game when the star Maine goaltender re-injured his knee
in a collision with Providence’s Nate Meyers, who
was given a five-minute major for charging. It was the low
point in a game so heated, referee Jeff Bunyon sent the
teams off the ice afterwards without the post-game handshake.
Black Bears scored on the ensuing power play, making the
score 8-4, but it’s yet another setback for their
best player. Howard came down with mononucleosis in the
summer, then sprained an ankle, then sprained a knee before
this latest injury.
been really proud of Jimmy and the way he’s handled
himself,” said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead. “He’s
had a tough go of it, right from the summer, but he’s
a tough competitor. He’s found a way to recapture
the season, and this is just a minor setback here.”
meantime, expect freshman Matt Lundin to get the start at
Dartmouth Saturday. It may not be a terrible assignment
– the Big Green has a sputtering offense that has
been held to two goals or fewer in five of eight games.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Donuts Coffee Pot (Providence, Sat.-Sun.) The
thin air of Colorado College and Denver is enticing,
but traveling on Thanksgiving weekend is about as
appealing as a spear to the gut. If you’re looking
for a short getaway, go catch Merrimack and Providence
in action at the Providence Civic Center. The field
is better than it gets credit for, too – Union
has won six straight and would have to be considered
the favorite going in.
You’re There: You could go to the Providence
Place Mall. Yeah, right – shopping this weekend
is worse than traveling. With that in mind, it’s
a good thing this tournament doesn’t start on
the infamous busiest shopping day of the year, Friday.
We normally wouldn't mention a team from outside the
league here, but heck, we wrote the whole lead to
the notebook on an ECACHL team. So here's to Harvard,
which has taken on two of the best teams we have to
offer and come out ahead.
It was great to see college hockey get noticed in
last week’s Sports Illustrated, but
we’ve got to whistle SI’s vaunted
fact-checkers for misspelling Joe Bertagna’s
name (“Bertagne”). If it wasn’t
the fact-checkers, maybe writer E.M. Swift intentionally
misspelled the Commish’s name as they vie for
the title of the second-most-famous former Ivy League
goaltender behind Ken Dryden.
Chris Bourque sure does know how to pick his spots. All
three of the Boston University freshman’s
goals have come in televised games. Good news for BU: the
cameras will be rolling for NESN at Denver and Colorado
College this weekend.
Merrimack plays the first of four in-season
tournaments this weekend at the Dunkin Donuts Coffee Pot.
First-round wins by the Warriors and Friars could set up
an all-Hockey East final.
Providence appears to have found a full-time
No. 1 goaltender in freshman Tyler Sims, who stopped 35
shots in the 2-2 tie with Boston College. Two days later,
however, he gave up all eight goals against Maine in Portland.
Boston College’s first meeting with
fellow Jesuit school Holy Cross since 1986 couldn’t
have come at a better time. The Eagles, who dropped out
of the No. 1 spot in the polls earlier in the day, beat
the Crusaders 5-0 Monday night, snapping a brief three-game
winless streak and getting some pucks in the net for a change.
They scored on five of 44 shots (11.4 percent) after scoring
on just 5.4 percent of 112 shots during their winless streak.
Perhaps the most unbelievable note of the young season belongs
to the UMass Lowell offense, which scored
first in each of its first nine games this season. Tuesday
night against UNH was the first time the
River Hawks' opponent got the first lead, and it also marked
UMass Lowell's first point in Hockey East play, with a 3-3
tie. They're now 0-5-1 in the conference, 4-0-0 outside.
Maine was thrilled to get Michel Leveille
back in the lineup last weekend, and the gifted center must’ve
been pretty excited himself. He had an assist Friday against
UMass, and broke out for a hat trick Sunday
vs. Providence. It was the first multiple-goal
game of his career; last year, when he was particularly
snake-bit around the net, he didn’t score his third
goal until Jan. 23. Now, with five goals despite missing
six games, he’s one goal shy of his total from all
of last year.
There are no defensemen among the top 11 scorers in Hockey
East play … unless you count BU’s
Bryan Miller. Miller, who has spent time at both forward
and defense, shares the conference lead with teammate Pete
MacArthur, with 10 points in seven games. Thomas Pöck
he’s not, but like the former UMass
defenseman, Miller seems to have a bit more scoring knack
from the blueline than at forward.
BU can head outside the conference for
the next three games on this happy note – the Terriers
have already equaled their Hockey East win total from all
of last season (six).
The Terriers' trip to Colorado alongside
Massachusetts makes us wonder: if Jack
Parker gets his 700th career victory Friday night at Denver,
will he have the opportunity to meet up with his former
player and assistant coach Don Cahoon to celebrate? It's
not quite being at home, but it certainly would be fitting.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this