Thursday, February 12, 2015

Vermont Preview

For the 52nd time, Boston College will face-off vs the University of Vermont Catamounts tomorrow night @ Kelley Rink in what is sure to be hotly contested series between two teams vying for an NCAA tournament berth. To be honest, I'm not the greatest math guy out there but according to all the wizards, two wins this weekend would almost guarantee BC a 6th consecutive berth in the dance but before any of that is decided, they must be ready to play a UVM squad that is also right in the thick of things both nationally and in Hockey East. The green and gold enter the series coming off a tough loss last Saturday at home vs UNH and overall, UVM has struggled over the past month and a half. Since a win over Air Force on December 28th, the Catamounts are just 2-7-1 in their past 10 games, 7 of which came in the friendly confines of Gutterson Fieldhouse. Amazingly, BC is 10-0-1 in their past 11 games vs Vermont, with their last loss coming on November 13th, 2010. Since their rivals from the North entered Hockey East, BC is 15-1 in games between the two at Kelley Rink.

Who cares about what has happened in the past. We know Vermont is going to come out with all they've got this weekend because if they lose two games, their tournament hopes are all but down the drain sans a Hockey East tournament title. As is usually the case, Vermont is built around strong goaltending and defensive zone play. They have been rotating between Mike Santaguida and Brody Hoffman in net but it was Hoffmann who played both games vs New Hampshire last weekend. I have no clue what their staff will do but if I had to guess, Santaguida will make the start based on the team's poor performance on Saturday. On the blue line, these guys are as good as anyone and boast one of the top defenseman in the entire country, senior Mike Paliotta, who leads the entire team in scoring. UVM is 7th in goals allowed per game (2.11), 4th in penalty kill (90%), and 10th in shots on goal against per game (26.71). When BC players look out across the ice tomorrow they will notice a familiar enemy in former Boston University defenseman Alexx Privitera who has put together a nice campaign for UVM after being thrown off BU in 2013 by Parker.

Obviously, any time you get a chance to possibly clinch an NCAA tournament berth, you hope that your team is ready to play. I'm sure the staff has the guys wired in on the fact that two wins this weekend will put them not just a position to make the tournament, but potentially jump up as high as a #1 or #2 seed. I don't care if the Pittsburgh Penguins were coming in here to play a couple of games, any time BC takes the ice at Kelley Rink, they're the heavy favorites. Success in Chestnut Hill has been one of the hallmark's of the Coach York era and perhaps no one has fell victim to BC's home prowess more so than Vermont. It's probably not going to be the most exciting weekend of hockey due to the fact that both teams rely on great defense and goaltending but all that matters is that they find a way to pick up a pair of wins.

Scouting Vermont- 

Record- 16-10-2 (19th in pairwise)

Leading scorers- Mike Paliotta (8-19-27), Mario Puskarich (11-13-24), Colin Markison (7-14-21)

Projected top line- Brady Shaw- Jake Fallon- Mario Puskarich

Team offense- 2.89 goals per game (27th)

Team defense- 2.11 goals allowed per game (7th)

Power play- 22% (8th)

Penalty kill- 90% (4th)

Opponent power play percentage- 10% (4th)

Shots on goal per game- 30.30 (28th)

Keys for BC- 

1. Score first. 9-0-1 when scoring the first goal this year. Pretty self explanatory.

2. Just stay out of the box. When we don't play dumb, we don't lose. when we play dumb, we lose. Simple.

3. We are 10th in second period scoring but tied for 28th in first period goals. Like I said in #1, the better start we get out to, the better we play, that's just the way it is with a young team.

Injury notes- Silk nor Linell practiced all week so both very likely won't play. Doherty playing forward.

Go Eagles !

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