Men’s hockey loses in first round of playoffs, finishing season in last place

Andrew+Lucas%2C+UVM+sophomore+and+defensemen+for+the+men%27s+hockey+team+faces+off+against+the+University+of+Maine+in+the+Gutterman+Fieldhouse+earlier+this+season.+

Photo courtesy of Nich Hall

Andrew Lucas, UVM sophomore and defensemen for the men’s hockey team faces off against the University of Maine in the Gutterman Fieldhouse earlier this season.

UVM men’s hockey team lost in the first round of the Hockey East tournament March 10, marking the end of a season in which the Catamounts finished in last place. 

Wednesday’s action saw the Catamounts face off against the Riverhawks of UMass Lowell at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts in the opening game of the Hockey East tournament. The Catamounts kept the score close throughout before falling to the Riverhawks by a score of 5-3.

The game ended the team’s season in a highly competitive conference with a record of 1-10-2. 

“That was a real good first period for us, a real good third period for us, and we didn’t have a real successful second period,” said Head Coach Todd Woodcroft following the loss. “We felt that was kind of indicative of our season.” 

The loss to Lowell was an all too familiar fate against an all too familiar foe for UVM. Their last two games of the regular season were both hard-fought losses at the hands of the Riverhawks in a weekend series in Burlington Feb. 26 and 27.

Just as they did during their first game against Lowell, the Catamounts jumped out with an early lead. 

The first goal of the game came with less than three minutes left in the first period when sophomore Jacques Bouqout sent the Catamounts into the first intermission with a 1-0 advantage assisted by senior forward Alex Esposito. 

Goaltending from UMass Lowell’s Owen Savory kept the Catamounts from netting goals on numerous scoring opportunities, including three power plays in the first period alone. 

Not capitalizing early proved costly for UVM  as the Riverhawks came roaring back during the second period. 

A quick goal from Lowell defenseman Nolan Sawchuck opened up the floodgates as the Riverhawks saw a goal from defenseman Anthony Baxter and two goals from forward Matt Brown before the end of the second period. 

Fighting hard until the end, the Catamounts saw goals in both the second and third periods from senior Bryce Misely and sophomore Simon Boyko, respectively. 

In the end, however, UVM’s comeback efforts fell short, proving their failure to score early in the game and a burst of offensive firepower from UMass Lowell to be costly. 

The Catamounts were led this year by a group of seasoned veterans, but they also benefited from impressive underclassmen that stepped up to fill important roles. 

Two of the Catamounts’ three goals were scored by sophomores. Help from younger players came on defense as well in the form of first-year goalie Gabe Carriere who made several key saves against Lowell.

Coach Woodcroft indicated optimism about the future of his younger contributors.

“When you’re trying to build something, you want to build from the ground up,” he said. “The youth of this team is going to be what’s driving this team going forward.” 

Next year’s team will be unusually experienced as UVM’s 11 seniors will be eligible to return, thanks to the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility for all winter athletes.

With their victory, UMass Lowell will advance in the tournament, heading to face Boston University in the quarter-final round. 

The UVM men’s team is hoping to open their 2021-2022 season next winter with fans in the stands at Gutterson Fieldhouse.