BOSTON — Vermont defeated Northeastern, 3-1, Saturday night to complete a weekend sweep of the Huskies at Matthews Arena.
Junior winger Chris McCarthy scored twice of UVM in the win. His game-winner at 8 minutes, 24 seconds of the third period broke a 1-1 tie. Brett Bruneteau added an empty-net goal for the Catamounts with 29 seconds left in regulation to seal the win.
The points put UVM in seventh place in the Hockey East playoff race. Northeastern, however, remains out of a playoff spot.
What I Saw
- Brody Hoffman continued to play well for Vermont. Northeastern carried play for lengthy stretches on Saturday night. UVM’s freshman goaltender help it weather these spells. His save total wasn’t particularly lofty — 21 saves — but he made every save he should have a few he probably shouldn’t have. Offensive woes aside, the Huskies have plenty of talent up front. They moved the puck well on Saturday, creating some difficult saves that Hoffman wiped away without too much trouble. The Catamounts are in a battle with the Huskies and two other teams for two playoff spots. Quality goaltending will be the difference. Hoffman provided that all weekend, and he has for most of the season.
- Hoffman’s success aside, Northeastern’s forwards missed a series of high-quality scoring chances in the third period. NU coach Jim Madigan’s frustration with his team’s inability to finish has been clear for most of his tenure. The group is among the league’s most talented and diverse, but offense hasn’t been consistent for the Huskies the last two seasons. Saturday night, Cody Ferriero scored the Huskies’ lone goal on a lovely finish. The sequence is one of many from the season that revealed the talent level of this Northeastern team. The misses in the third period showed the other side of this Northeastern team.
- The Catamounts thrive on keeping opponents out of synch. Throughout the weekend, they prevented Northeastern from gaining any real rhythm. The Huskies’ breakouts rarely resulted in offensive zone possession time. The Catamounts snuffed them out before they got that far. A physical slant to UVM’s game also kept Northeastern from generating much consistency on Saturday.
What I Thought
- Northeastern’s injury problems were among the reasons they struggled to win games in the early parts of the second half. At this point, they’ve become the reason the Huskies won’t make the Hockey East tournament. Madigan dressed seven defensemen on Saturday, with freshman Dustin Darou returning to the ice for the first time since the New Year. Despite the extra blue liner, it seemed like Colton Saucerman or Josh Manson were on the ice every other shift for the Huskies. The two rarely played together, but they certainly saw time with the rest of their colleagues. They’re both quality defenseman, but it’s difficult for players to remain at their best when they’re playing that a often as these two have to. It extends to the forwards lines as well. Ferriero, Kevin Roy, Vinny Saponari and the other more talented NU forwards play major minutes in all situations. The injury situation for the Huskies isn’t going to improve any time soon.
- Chris McCarthy was brilliant on Saturday night. The winger is among UVM’s biggest scoring threats. He scored twice for the Catamounts in the win over Northeastern. His eighth and ninth goals of the season were both critical. His first came at 12:10 of the second period to tie the score, 1-1, before he scored his second at 8:24 of the third. McCarthy’s wrist shot is among the league’s best. He brought it out for both of his markers on Saturday. Despite UVM’s place in the standings, coach Kevin Sneddon expects the team to compete for a league championship should it earn a playoff spot. McCarthy needs to continue scoring to make that a possibility.
- UVM’s defensive unit looked as sharp as it has in a long time. Sophomore defenseman Michael Paliotta logged major minutes on Saturday, along with freshman Caylen Walls. Both are big bodies who add a physical presence along with efficient puck movement. Nick Bruneteau, Nick Luukko and the other UVM defensemen contributed with strong performances in front of Hoffman.
What They Said
“He’s raw from a technical standpoint, but if you want to talk about maturity, poise and those kinds of things, he’s not a freshman.” — UVM coach Kevin Sneddon on Brody Hoffman
Hockey East is full of talented freshmen. It’s unlikely Hoffman will warrant any consideration for Freshman of the Year or even on the all-Freshman team. Still, he’s been a critical component of a talented UVM team that’s improved on last season’s struggles. After the weekend, Hoffman’s save percentage is at .909 on the year, while his goals-against average is 2.74. Neither of these are elite — or even particularly good — numbers, but Hoffman’s performance in his first year with UVM has Sneddon excited about his potential moving forward.
What They Didn’t Say
Sneddon didn’t elaborate too much on some injuries that occurred during the game, but neither Kyle Reynolds or Robert Polesello should miss much time. Reynolds left the game in the first period and did not return. Polesello’s bump came in the third.
What Else You Should Know
- Northeastern is back in action on Tuesday night against Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. The date is the result of the postponement from last weekend’s snow storm in New England.
- UVM hosts New Hampshire for two games at Gutterson Fieldhouse next weekend.
- This weekend’s games left Northeastern in 10th place in Hockey East. The Huskies are four points behind UMass for the eighth and final playoff spot. Meanwhile, Vermont is three points clear of UMass for seventh place.