Preview: Catamount Cup

Site: Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, Vt.
Friday-Saturday, Jan. 2-3, 2009
Participants: Ferris State, St. Lawrence, Colgate, Vermont

Game 1: Ferris State vs. St. Lawrence, 4:00 p.m. ET Friday

Ferris State Bulldogs (9-8-3, 6-6-2-0 CCHA)
Head coach: Bob Daniels
Leading scorers: Sr. Brendan Connolly (5-11–16), Jr. Aaron Lewicki (8-5–13), Jr. Blair Riley (7-6–13)
Leading netminder: So. Pat Nagle (5-6-1, 2.33 GAA, .921 SV%)

St. Lawrence Saints (7-8-1, 2-5-1 ECAC)
Head coach: Joe Marsh
Leading scorers: Jr. Mike McKenzie (6-7–13), Sr. Brock McBride (5-6–11)
Leading netminder: Jr. Alex Petizian (5-6-1, 2.15 GAA, .924 SV%)

Game 2: Colgate vs. Vermont, 7:00 p.m. ET Friday

Colgate Raiders (5-7-4, 1-4-3 ECAC)
Head coach: Don Vaughan
Leading scorers: Jr. David McIntyre (6-9–15), Fr. Austin Smith (8-6–14)
Leading netminder: Jr. Charles Long (4-5-4, 2.22 GAA, .913 SV%)

Vermont Catamounts (9-4-2, 6-3-1 Hockey East)
Head coach: Kevin Sneddon
Leading scorers: Sr. Peter Lenes (5-12–17), Jr. Viktor Stalberg (7-7–14)
Leading netminders: Jr. Mike Spillane (5-2-1, 2.73 GAA, .898 SV%), Fr. Rob Madore (4-2-1, 2.79 GAA, .906 SV%)

Tournament Outlook

For the 13th edition of the Catamount Cup — properly the Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup — Vermont recruited two of its former ECAC Hockey mates in Colgate and St. Lawrence, along with Ferris State out of the CCHA, to fill out the schedule. The hosts have reached the title game three straight years but haven’t won since 2005, falling 4-1 to Quinnipiac last season.

SLU will take on Ferris in Friday’s matinee. The Saints, coached by four-time ECAC Coach of the Year and former Spencer Penrose national coaching honoree Joe Marsh, have been sound in nonconference play with a 5-3-0 record despite a challenging schedule that has included Michigan, New Hampshire, Boston University and their hosts this weekend, Vermont. However, SLU is mired in a tie for seventh place in ECAC Hockey thanks to four one-goal losses, including two 1-0 shutouts (against Harvard and Cornell). Netminder Alex Petizian certainly hasn’t been to blame for the ill fortune; the junior has picked up where he left off in his freshman year after a disappointing sophomore campaign, but SLU could stand to up its just-okay offensive production (34th out of 58 teams nationally) a bit.

Ferris State, meanwhile, stands just above .500 this season after a similar season in 2007-08. FSU last played Dec. 12-13, a sweep over Alabama-Huntsville, and are middle-of-the-pack nationally in both scoring offense and defense. Senior Brendan Connolly leads the team in scoring both this season and over his career among active Bulldogs (69 points total), and Ferris has seven players in double digits in scoring. Sophomore Pat Nagle and freshman Taylor Nelson have largely split time in net so far, but Nagle has the better numbers despite a worse record (5-6-1 versus Taylor’s 4-2-2). Like SLU’s Marsh, FSU bench boss Bob Daniels is a former Penrose winner, taking the honors after the Bulldogs’ breakout 2002-03 season.

The nightcap sees Colgate begin its second holiday tournament this season, a distinction made possible by 2008-09’s unusual scheduling — usually, most if not all of the holiday tourneys are the same weekend. Only the Raiders and Army opted to take advantage of that quirk, and this is actually Colgate’s third in-season tournament of the year (the Raiders finished second at both the Governor’s Cup and the Florida College Classic). The Raiders’ last outing was their 2-2 tie against No. 10 Cornell in the championship in Florida, in which they lost the title-deciding shootout. The brightest light in a difficult season for Colgate has been netminder Charles Long; the junior has been solid after seeing little playing time his first two seasons.

The 13th-ranked Catamounts hit the ice after a three-week layoff, last dropping a 4-3 decision at none other than St. Lawrence on Dec. 13. As far as the Catamount Cup, Vermont has improved dramatically under head coach Kevin Sneddon’s guidance, going 5-2-1 after a previous record of 3-12-1 in the tournament with no titles and just one championship-game appearance. UVM, which is tied for second place in Hockey East, has gotten decent goaltending from the tandem of Mike Spillane and Rob Madore and features balance offense led by Peter Lenes. The Catamounts’ goal differential of just +3 belies their sterling record; seven of Vermont’s nine wins this season have been by one goal, with two of those coming in overtime, where the Cats are 2-0-2.

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