Cats earn first win, split weekend series



Catamount fans packed the stands of Gutterson Fieldhouse this past weekend and cheered the members of the men’s hockey team to their first victory of the season. The win came in game two of the weekend doubleheader against the Providence Friars, marking the 50th meeting between the teams.

    “I give our guys all the credit in the world; we had a great performance from our team tonight,” said head coach Kevin Sneddon in a postgame interview.

    The opening game of the weekend ended with a less fortunate result for the Catamounts as the Friars topped Vermont 3-2. Providence was first to get on the board, scoring just four minutes into the first period. First-year goalie Brody Hoffman blocked the initial attempt, but Friar Derek Army knocked it to the back of the net on the second attempt. The period ended with the Catamounts down by one.

   Just under 10 minutes into the middle period, forward Chris McCarthy matched up with defenseman Nick Luukko, approaching the goal where Luukko fed the puck to Jacob Fallon, who then slapped it to the back of the net from the right side, bringing the teams to a tie. 

   Providence regained the lead minutes later, beating out Hoffman between the posts. The Catamounts fired back as defenseman Nick Bruneteau charged the goal, firing a slap shot from the center point. The shot was saved by Friar goalie Jon Gillies, only to be caught by Connor Brickley, who knocked it into the goal from the right post. Bruneteau and McCarthy earned assists on the play.

   The game-winning goal came for the Friars a minute later, which Vermont was unable to match, resulting in the disappointing loss for the men in white in their first home appearance of the season.

    Vermont returned to the ice for game two of the weekend series with a renewed intensity.  The Cats tallied up the score first as forward Matt White earned a crowd-roaring goal midway through the opening period. This was the second time Vermont was first to jump on the board this season.

    Providence continued to make attempts at Hoffman, but the Vermont defense worked as a solid unit and continually cleared the puck out.

     The Catamounts’ second goal came early in the second period as captain H.T. Lenz rattled the back of the net with an angle shot toward the left post. A second assist was awarded to McCarthy. 

   For the remainder of the game, Vermont defense shut down four Providence power plays, allowing only one shot at the goal. Hoffman himself was a force to be reckoned with between the posts as he picked up his first shutout in the Catamount jersey.

    “I’m just happy for them that they can taste it; they’ve worked hard and haven’t had a lot to show for it,” said Sneddon in a postgame interview, “It’s nice for them to taste some success.”

    Next week Vermont will head out on the road to face the University of New Hampshire. The last time the teams met, the score ended in a tie of 4-4. 

    The Hockey East No. 5 ranked team will surely be a good match for the Catamounts as they’ve racked up four wins and only a single loss to Massachusetts thus far. 

     Players that Vermont has to look out for are Casey DeSmith, Austin Block and Connor Hardowa. DeSmith was named Hockey East Goaltender of the Month in October and recently earned the title of Hockey East Co-Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in his career. Block holds the No. 1 spot for goals, with five scored over a span of all seven games played. Hardowa currently leads the team in points earned, with eight assists so far this season.