Fresh off their second consecutive Beanpot title, the Northeastern Huskies return to Hockey East action this weekend when they host the Vermont Catamounts for two games at Matthews Arena. In their first matchup this season, the Huskies squeaked out a 1-0 victory behind Zach Solow‘s goal and a 26-save shutout from Cayden Primeau.
Vermont Lately– Vermont currently sits outside the playoff picture for Hockey East in ninth place, five points out of the final playoff spot currently held by Maine. However, Vermont has come on as of late, victorious in four of their previous six games (4-1-1 overall), including victories over Providence and New Hampshire. In that stretch, Vermont has scored 17 goals (2.83 per game), better than their average to date. In four of those six games, goaltender Stefanos Lekkas gave up only a single goal. Lekkas has a reputation as one of the more underrated goaltenders in the conference, so while the display of skill is not surprisingly, it is nevertheless worrisome that his show-stopping ways could make their way into Boston this weekend.
- Overall Corsi%: 47% (47th nationally)
- Even Strength Corsi%: 47.9% (43rd nationally)
- Corsi% “Close” (tied or within one goal): 47% (45th nationally)
- Powerplay: 15.2% (T-48th nationally)
- Penalty Kill: 86.3% (8th nationally)
- Faceoff percentage: 52% (T-20th nationally)
Players to Watch
- Goaltender Stefanos Lekkas is easily the best player on Vermont this season, and he has had an excellent season in goal despite the UVM record. This season, Lekkas has played every minute of Catamount goaltending, to the tune of a stellar .931 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against-average. For just comparison’s sake, this season Cayden Primeau has a .923 save percentage and 2.37 GAA. Lekkas is excellent, and will be a tough test for a Huskies team that has been struggling to score.
- Sophomore Max Kaufman (8-10-18) leads Vermont in scoring and in goals scored. The Catamounts have struggled to find any semblance of offense since Ross Colton signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kaufman is shooting 20% on the season which isn’t entirely sustainable however.
- In terms of offensive generation, the top shot producers on the team are forwards Alex Esposito (6-9-15, 2.9 shots/game, last year’s top scorer excluding Colton), freshman Joey Cipollone (7-6-13, 2.1 shots/game), and senior Craig Puffer (2-9-11, 2 shots/game). Junior defensemen Matt O’Donnell (4-8-12, 1.9 shots/game) and Jake Massie (4-5-9, 2.04 shots/game) lead the charge from the blue line.
- Liam Coughlin is the final name we will highlight, he is a former BU commit who is now a senior at Vermont. He is second on the team in scoring (6-10-16), tied for first in powerplay goals (3, with Massie), and also averages two shots per game. He is a big-bodied forward that fits Kevin Sneddon’s system well,
Final Thoughts– Like the UConn game, this is a series that the Huskies should sweep. They are the better team top to bottom, from the goaltender through the forwards, and have the better coaching staff and possession numbers. However, also like the UConn game, the Huskies need to play with a full 60-minute effort and not try to get too fancy in trying to beat Lekkas. They beat BU and BC by throwing pucks on net, by scoring on chaos and rebounds around the net, and by pressuring the goalie rather than trying to skate around everyone. UVM having one of the better penalty kills in the nation will also make the Huskies’ lives difficult once they go on the man advantage, so the Huskies need to take advantage of their chances when they get them at even strength.
Fallon (25 points): NU sweeps
Downie (19 points): NU sweeps 1-0, 1-0
Davis (19 points): NU sweeps 2-0, 4-2
Gordon (17 points): NU sweeps 2-1, 3-1