A very big weekend for a couple of Vermont men’s college hockey teams …
The UVM Catamounts came home from Belfast, Northern Ireland with the Belpot as Friendship Showcase tournament champions. In doing so the Cats served notice that they also may be ready to contend for a Hockey East title this season. Rallying from an early 2-0 deficit on Friday, Vermont dominated the last two periods in a 4-2 league win over UMass. Then on Saturday the Catamounts dominated all three periods in a convincing 5-1 win over third ranked Quinnipiac.
Hey it is very early and Vermont still has a lot of Hockey East iron to deal with, but off what we have seen so far Cats fans have really got to feel encouraged. And how can you help but be excited about the newcomers in the UVM lineup, led by their goaltender, tournament MVP Stefanos Lekkas and their redhot freshman sniper Ross Colton? It is a little early I think, but I’m already hearing comparisons of their arrival with the arrival of Marty St. Louis and Tim Thomas over 20 years ago. That is pretty heady stuff.
Meanwhile Norwich University also got major contributions from some of their new players over the weekend as the Cadets won the Primelink Great Northern Shootout in Plattsburgh, topping Middlebury 3-2 in overtime on Friday afternoon and then shutting out Concordia of Minnesota 3-0 on Saturday night for their ninth title in the 19 year history of the event. While junior Payton Baldillez scored the game winner on Friday and junior Kevin Salvucci scored the game winner and won tournament MVP honors on Saturday, the Cadets got goals from three different members of their large freshman class, as Trent Dillinger, Taeron Lewis and Ian Williams all lit the lamp on the weekend.
With Norwich’s top two forwards, Will Pelletier and Tyler Piacentini, both laid up with injuries, they needed people to step up and the newcomers came up big. Add in superb goaltending from veteran Braedan Ostepchuk and the Cadets will be feeling pretty good about themselves as they come home for a huge NEHC weekend with UMass Boston and Babson at Kreitzberg Arena this coming weekend.