Category archive: Vermont Catamounts
The victory moved BU (34-6-4) into Saturday night's national championship game against Miami University (ESPNHD and ESPN360, 7 p.m. ET).
Vermont took a 4-3 lead at 9:40 when Drew MacKenzie scored on the power play -- the freshman's first career goal.
BU tied it up at 13:06 when Chris Higgins took a pass from Jason Lawrence and shot it toward UVM goalie Rob Madore and the puck then deflected off a Catamounts defender into the net. It was Higgins' 14th goal of the season.
BU opened the scoring at 11:19 when center Colin Wilson redirected a Kevin Shattenkirk shot from the left point that beat Vermont goalie Rob Madore low to the glove side.
It was the Hobey Baker finalist's 16th goal of the season and was evidence of why the sophomore was a first-round pick of the Nashville Predators in summer 2008.
BU made it 2-0 at 16:27 when Chris Higgins threaded a nifty pass though the legs of a diving Josh Burrows and found Jason Lawrence, who popped a shot into the top right corner above Madore. It was Lawrence's 24th goal of the season.
The second Terriers goal came less than a minute after the Catamounts almost broke through on the power play. A shot by Peter Lenes from the left circle was deflected and fluttered behind goalie Kieran Millan. But defenseman Colby Cohen was in the right place at the right time and swatted the puck in midair and out of harm's way.
Shots in the period were 14-7 in favor of the Terriers. UVM is 0-for-3 on the power play, and BU is 0-for-1 with the man advantage.
The only scoring in the final period came on an empty-net goal at 17:52 when Tommy Wingels scored his second of the night (10th of the season) to give the RedHawks a three-goal victory.
The final shot tally for the game was 37-25 in favor of Miami (15-7 in the third period).
The win means a CCHA team will appear in the championship game for the third year in a row. Michigan State beat Boston College in 2007, and Notre Dame lost to BC in the 2008 title game.
The other participant in the title game will come from Hockey East (for the fourth year in a row). No. 3 Vermont (22-11-5) takes on No. 1 Boston University (33-6-4) in tonight's second national semi (ESPN2HD and ESPN360, 8:30 p.m. ET).
Viktor Stalberg -- Brian Roloff -- Justin Milo
Colin Vock -- Dean Strong -- Wahsontiio Stacey
Peter Lenes -- Corey Carlson -- Jack Downing
Jay Anctil -- Jonathan Higgins -- Chris Atkinson
Patrick Cullity -- Josh Burrows
Kyle Medvec -- Kevan Miller
Drew MacKenzie -- Dan Lawson
John McCarthy -- Nick Bonino -- Brandon Yip
Chris Higgins -- Colin Wilson -- Jason Lawrence
Chris Connolly -- Corey Trivino -- Vinny Saponari
Zach Cohen -- Luke Popko -- Steve Smolinsky
Brian Strait -- Matt Gilroy
Colby Cohen -- Kevin Shattenkirk
David Warsofsky -- Eric Gryba
Three-seed Vermont came into Friday's East Regional trying to shed its only three-game losing streak of the season. The Catamounts dropped the regular-season finale to New Hampshire back on March 7 (6-5 in OT) and then followed that up with a pair of losses to UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East quarterfinals (4-3 in OT and 4-2).
All of those setbacks were at home, and the playoff series loss forced Vermont off the ice last weekend while the Hockey East championships were being played in Boston.
So Kevin Sneddon's club went back to practice in preparation for the NCAA tournament.
"We had some time to work on the little details that we obviously got away from the last couple weeks of the season," junior left wing Viktor Stalberg said.
Righting those wrongs was the trick.
Vermont came out flying against No. 2 seed Yale on Friday and posted an impressive 4-1 win over the Bulldogs at the Arena at Harbor Yard in front of building-record hockey crowd of 8,478.
Coupled with No. 4 Air Force's 2-0 victory over No. 1 Michigan earlier in the day, Vermont's win means both of the lower seeds will meet in Saturday's regional final (ESPNU, 6:30 p.m. ET) with a berth to the Frozen Four on the line.
"It's a big win for our program," Sneddon said. "We capitalized on our chances and I think that was the difference in the game. Most of the scoring chances we had our guys did a nice job of burying them.
"I told our guys in the locker room that was probably our best game of the year. Defensive intensity, the puck battles that we won, our back pressure. We made it difficult for Yale to create offense and that's their game."
After UVM (21-11-5) shut down Yale's power play (which went 0-for-7 for the game) late in the second period during a 5-on-3 kill, junior left wing Colin Vock scored a backbreaking goal at 19:01 to make it 3-0.
UVM made it 4-0 in the third before Yale scored a late goal at 18:15 to erase a possible shutout for freshman goaltender Rob Madore.
"This is a great win for our program that I'll enjoy at some other point and time," Sneddon said. "We've got work to do. Air Force impressed me, from what I saw. The blocked shots, the goaltending that they had; any team that can shut down that Michigan offense gets instant credibility with me."
Air Force and Vermont have met five previous times with the Catamounts winning all of them. The last matchup was back in 1992 when UVM swept a weekend series in Burlington.
The Falcons, who now have one NCAA win to their credit, will be trying to advance to the Frozen Four for the first time in school history while also becoming the first Atlantic Hockey school to reach the national semifinals.
Prior to Friday, Vermont's only other NCAA win in school history came in 1996 over Lake Superior State and it advanced the Catamounts to Cincinnati for the Frozen Four before they lost to Colorado College in double overtime.
In other NCAA action from Friday, another No. 1 seed went down in the West Regional that was played at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. No. 4 Miami (Ohio) skated past No. 1 Denver 4-2.
In the first three games played in this year's tournament there were three upsets, if you go by the seeds. Time will tell whether that trend will continue Saturday.
Making softball work in Burlington was always going to be a challenge. Massachusetts and certain Big Ten northerly outposts get past weather issues by playing away from home until late March or early April, but it doesn't make it easy to attract either the recruits who will generate wins and community interest or the fans who will generate at least some sort of positive revenue contribution. But in the end, it wasn't the cold and snow that did in Vermont as much as the nationwide cooling economy. The program fell as part of schoolwide cutbacks designed to save more than $10 million.
And that has repercussions well beyond the Green Mountain State, which became clear talking to Hawaii coach Bob Coolen at the Cathedral City Classic in California. The architect of a tremendous story two seasons ago when he led the Rainbow Wahine solidly into the Top 25 and within a game of the Women's College World Series, Coolen arrived in Cathedral City this spring with a struggling team and a stripped-down traveling party, all thanks to budget cutbacks.
"It's killing us," Coolen said of the economy.
Coolen is no longer able to bring key staff on the road, including volunteer coach John Nakamura (the team's hitting coach and someone who has been associated with the team in various capacities for more than two decades, including as head coach), as well as the team's manager and sports information director. He has also been told no additional expenses for this season will be approved for the program after March, and even now, he's spending extra time working with travel agents to find last-minute deals for the team's travel.
On one hand, new and revamped facilities at schools throughout the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and elsewhere offer an optimistic outlook for the college game's continued growth (although it's difficult to envision too many more major projects gaining approval in the short term). But when Hawaii, a well-coached program that earned its respect on the field, finds itself checking the proverbial couch cushions for change, it makes it easy to wonder whether what happened at Vermont is just the first domino.