Site: Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, Vt.
Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 29-30, 2007
Participants: Western Michigan, Quinnipiac, Holy Cross, Vermont
Game 1: Western Michigan vs. Quinnipiac, 4:00 p.m. ET
Western Michigan Broncos (6-10-0, 2-8-0 CCHA)
Head coach: Jim Culhane Leading scorers: Jr. Patrick Galivan (5-14 — 19), Jr. Jeff LoVecchio (6-5 — 11)
Leading netminder: So. Riley Gill (4-5-0, 3.08 GAA, .901 SV%)
Quinnipiac Bobcats (8-5-2, 3-3-2 ECAC)
Head coach: Rand Pecknold
Leading scorers: Sr. Ben Nelson (8-8 — 16), Jr. Bryan Leitch (6-9 — 15)
Leading netminders: Sr. Peter Vetri (5-2-1, 2.09 GAA, .914 SV%), Jr. Bud Fisher (3-2-1, 2.32 GAA, .911 SV%)
Game 2: Holy Cross at Vermont, 7:00 p.m. ET
Holy Cross Crusaders (5-4-4, 4-3-3 Atlantic Hockey)
Head coach: Paul Pearl
Leading scorers: So. Brodie Sheahan (6-9 — 15), Sr. Dale Reinhardt (3-11 — 14)
Leading netminders: Sr. Ian Dams (2-1-2, 2.73 GAA, .911 SV%), Fr. Adam Roy (3-3-2, 2.82 GAA, .913 SV%)
Vermont Catamounts (4-6-3, 3-3-2 Hockey East)
Head coach: Kevin Sneddon Leading scorers: Jr. Dean Strong (2-11 — 13), Jr. Corey Carlson (5-7 — 12)
Leading netminder: Sr. Joe Fallon (3-5-2, 3.31 GAA, .893 SV%)
There are four conferences represented in this year’s tournament, but only one team from someplace other than New England. Western Michigan, the lone heartland representative, tangles with Quinnipiac for the first time in the opening game. The Broncos, the 11th-place team in the CCHA at midseason, ended the first half with a 4-2 loss in exhibition to the U.S. Junior Team, the same squad that is competing in the IIHF World Championships in Europe right now. In that game, Max Campbell (3-8–11) netted both goals for the Broncos, and three goaltenders saw action. Through the first half, however, it was Riley Gill who paced the Broncos through 13 of 16 games played. The last D-I action WMU had was a two-game sweep of Wayne State Dec. 7-8.
Quinnipiac ended its first half with three wins in December, including a road sweep of Robert Morris. The Bobcats, outscoring opponents 43-34 overall, have relied on their first line of Jamie Bates (3-10–13), Bryan Leitch and Ben Nelson for nearly 40 percent of their total scoring this season (17-27–44), and after Leitch have only one other player (David Marshall, 6-3–9) with as many as six goals. The Bobcat power play is 11th in D-I (19.7), while the Quinnipiac penalty kill is fifth-best in the nation (90.5) and sophomore Jean-Marc Beaudoin is tied for first in the country with three shorthanded goals. Peter Vetri and Bud Fisher split time in net; Vetri has the 19th-best goals-against average in the country, Fisher the 28th.
Holy Cross is 1-0-3 in its last four games and currently in seventh place in Atlantic Hockey, but just three points out of second in a tightly knit race. The Crusaders are 3-1-1 in their last five games against Hockey East opponents, including a 6-4 win at Providence this season. The Crusaders are a senior-driven team, with 10 on the roster who were sophomores when the team shocked the college hockey world with a 4-3 upset of Minnesota in the 2006 NCAA tournament. Goaltenders Ian Dams and Adam Roy have been splitting time in net with nearly identical numbers.
The host Catamounts finished the first half of the season with just four wins, having gone 1-1-2 since Thanksgiving. That one win was also an overtime game, a 4-3 victory over ECAC foe St. Lawrence. Trailing 3-2 going into the third, Corey Carlson tied the contest at 6:34, and freshman Jack Downing 2-1–3) had the OT game-winner at 3:32 on the power play. Vermont, in seventh place in the Hockey East standings at midterm, lost the title game of its midseason tournament last year to St. Cloud State, and has won its holiday tourney just once in five years when the Catamounts rolled through the then-Sheraton/TD Banknorth Tournament with shutout wins over Dartmouth and Clarkson.