First-years shine on alumni weekend

Locria Courtright, Assistant Sports Editor

Starting strong is a key component of any hockey season, and Vermont men’s hockey did just that Friday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

Backed by a shutout from sophomore goaltender Stefanos Lekkas and a pair of goals from first-year defenders, the Catamounts defeated Colorado College 3-0 in their regular season opener.

The Catamounts found themselves at an early disadvantage, as just over halfway through the first period junior forward Liam Coughlin received a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind.

Vermont was able to kill off the penalty, aided by the visitors taking a two-minute minor themselves.

This was the game’s turning point, head coach Kevin Sneddon said.

“I thought we did some good things on that kill to spark our energy a little bit,” Sneddon said. “They did have some sustained pressure.”

UVM opened the scoring in the dying seconds of the period. Following a penalty to the Tigers, sophomore forward Derek Lodermeier won the ensuing faceoff, and sophomore forward Ross Colton beat Colorado College goaltender Alex Leclerc for his first goal of the season.

After ending the first period strong, UVM opened the second with a goal as well.

First-year defender Owen Grant fired a shot from the blueline, and the puck pinged off the post and beat Leclerc to double Vermont’s lead to 2-0. It was Grant’s first career goal in his first official game.

Two and a half minutes later, another first-year got on the scoresheet, again on the power play.

First-year forward Bryce Misley, working below the goal line, found first-year defender Christian Evers with a pass, and Evers beat Leclerc with a one-timer to extend the lead to 3-0.

Lekkas made 33 saves, earning his second shutout in his last three non-exhibition games at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

For the visiting Tigers, Leclerc finished the game with 24 saves.

Sneddon credited Lekkas with making huge saves to keep the shutout intact.

“I think they had a lot of Grade-A [scoring chances], and Stef was sensational tonight,” he said. “I think we put a little too much work on his shoulders.”

The coach was also impressed with the play of Misley, Evers and Grant, all of whom were making their official college debuts.

“First college game in front of a great crowd, you never know how freshmen are going to respond, and I think they all responded great,” Sneddon said. “Owen, defensively, was outstanding; Christian looked like he’d done this before; and Bryce got better and better as the game went on.”

Lekkas credited his defense for the shutout.

“I left a couple rebounds out, and we had guys there,” he said. “Our new guys stepped up and played really well, and our returners played awesome as well in front of me.”

Following Saturday’s 4-3 defeat against the Tigers, UVM now goes on the road for four games, travelling to Quinnipiac University Oct. 14 and Union College Oct. 14 and 15, respectively before visiting the University of Michigan Oct. 20 and 21.

Their next home game is Oct. 28 against University of New Hampshire.