Friday, October 25, 2019

Weekend Preview: Vermont Catamounts

Wyatt Bongiovanni leads Quinnipiac with 3 goals this season

Vermont Head Coach: Kevin Sneddon (17th season)

2019-2020 Vermont record: 1-1

All-time vs. Vermont: Quinnipiac leads series 3-1

University of Vermont Key Players: Max Kaufman (F), Alex Esposito (F), Joey Cipollone (F), Vlad Dzhioshvili (F), Derek Lodermeier (F), Jacques Bouquot (F), Andrew Lucas (D), Matt O'Donnell (D), Christian Evers (D), Stefanos Lekkas (G)

The Catamounts are coming off a road trip split up in North Country in which they fell 3-2 to Clarkson last Friday before rebounding the next night with 2-0 win over St. Lawrence. Prior to coming to Hamden on Sunday, Vermont will host Maine in its home opener. Kevin Sneddon is back for his 17th season in Burlington but six of his last nine seasons have resulted in seasons with 19 losses or more. He is definitely a coach that will be on the hot seat this season in the NCAA.

If there is a weakness for the Catamounts, it probably their offense which they did not get much from a year ago. Four of their top five scorers return from a season ago but the top scorer in Max Kaufman led Vermont with just 21 points. He was the only player to reach the 20 point plateau for the Catamounts a year ago. They are going to need players outside of Kaufman to step up including Joey Cipollone, Derek Lodermeier, Alex Esposito and Vlad Dzhioshvili. Vermont's season really will be based on how well the offense improves from a year ago. Through two games Vermont has yet to score on the power play.

The Vermont defense despite not having a ton of big names is a veteran group that played very well on opening weekend with a shutout against St. Lawrence and going down to the end with Clarkson on the road. They have handful of upperclassmen led by captain Matt O'Donnell. The Bobcats were limited offensively a year ago up at Vermont and its likely this game will be very similar too. The Catamount penalty kill is a very respectable 85.7% just two games into their season.

Senior goaltender Stefanos Lekkas is a four year starter for the Catamounts and is the backbone of this Vermont team. He has been a workhorse for Vermont starting 104 games in his three plus years so far. While he doesn't bring elite size in goal he moves well and sees a lot of pucks. He sees a ton of shots so he usually has a pretty solid save percentage even if he doesn't have an elite goals against average. Lekkas is a player who can steal a game so Quinnipiac will need to pound the senior with shot after shot.

This will be Quinnipiac's fourth consecutive season that they have faced Vermont after only facing the Catamounts once prior to that. It will be interesting to see what type of changes Quinnipiac has in store or if you will see freshman Evan Fear possibly get a start this weekend before this team travels west to face Arizona State in a rematch of last years NCAA tournament.

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