Vermont Hopes to Build On Success Over BU
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
They're familiar foes playing in unfamiliar surroundings.
Indeed, Vermont and Boston University — featuring a combined zero players who have played in an NCAA Frozen Four — know each other well, having already played three times this season. But the Catamounts and Terriers are far away from their familiar confines of Agganis Arena in Boston and the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington.
And they're playing for a lot more than they were in their November regular season matchups, of which Vermont won two of three. In the first contest, BU pummeled a seemingly outmatched Vermont team 7-2, scoring four times in seven chances on the man-advantage.
However, three weeks later, Vermont visited BU and exacted revenge, sweeping a weekend series — not an easy feat on the road at Agganis Arena. In each game, the Catamounts broke a 3-3 tie in the third period to win 4-3. Those wins, Sneddon suggested, may have laid the early groundwork for his team to achieve the success it has enjoyed thus far.
"We hadn't really tasted a lot of success early on," said Sneddon. "Earlier, BU beat us 7-2 at Gutterson arena, so we were a little bit down in the dumps. And then we had the chance to go back and redeem ourselves two weekends later. I thought we played some excellent hockey and were fortunate to come away with two close one-goal wins at Agganis Arena, which is a very difficult task. So I think that gave us confidence. We knew they were an excellent team and one of the best teams in the country, so that helped us out for sure."
Now, the familiarity Vermont has with BU may help the Catamounts prepare for this Thursday night. Of course, any benefit is mutual.
"We're looking forward to it," said Sneddon. "We're obviously very familiar with each other. We've had some great games. We've certainly had some tough games against BU as well, where they didn't let us touch the puck very often. Most of the games are tight checking, and we expect that to be the same this weekend."
Added BU head coach Jack Parker, "It's not as if we've had success against Vermont, so it'll be interesting to see how this unfolds.
"They're a real solid team in all facets of the game, solid power play, a lot of balance up front. From an offensive point of view, they put a lot of pressure on you because they forecheck you, and they can also make plays on you on the initial rush. Where they present the biggest challenge is that they get great goaltending, and they are strong defensively. We're going to have to work to possess the puck down low because they can take it away from you pretty quickly and take it the other way. The good thing is, we won't be surprised. We know each other pretty well, and it'll be an emotional game for both teams."
Vermont has not only enjoyed success against BU this season but in the last six games of the series between the teams. Over that span, the Catamounts have enjoyed a 4-1-1 record against the Terriers.
But Sneddon is quick to point out that it's not just a familiarity with Boston University that will help his team this week, but a season long preparation that for Vermont has included — according to KRACH — the 11th toughest schedule in the nation this year.
"The strength of Hockey East this year has really prepared our team to do well at the national level," said Sneddon. "We're battle tested because of the strength of our schedule and ready for the next challenge.
"I think we're confident just because when we play to the best of our ability, we can beat anybody in the country."