Cardiac Cats leave it until late vs BC

January 12, 2009

“Things are always better late than never” will be the lesson taken away by the Cats from this weekends series versus No. 9 Boston College.

The Catamounts have played three games against their conference rivals and defending National Champion Eagles this season, and while they have only led for seven minutes — the last seven minutes of Saturday’s game — they found a way to split the series.

Earlier this season UVM dropped a 3-2 decision in Boston in which the Cats never led and Friday night saw UVM have to overcome three one-goal deficits — including a goal with one second remaining on the clock by Brian Roloff — en route to a 3-3 tie.

After fighting back two previous times, the Cats found themselves down one goal with just four seconds remaining in the game.

Following a stoppage in play, UVM had a two-man advantage with their goalie on the bench and BC center Brian Gibbons in the penalty box and a faceoff in the left circle.

“Four seconds left, everyone was kind of scrambling a little bit heading into that draw,” Roloff said. “We just kind of threw everybody in front of the net.

“The plan was to draw it back to Petey [Lenes], which [Dean Strong] did. He was supposed to shoot it, but I just kind of dropped off to the side thinking that they see Petey up top there, they’re going to run out and try to block his shot, so he must have saw the same thing and slid it over to me.

“I caught the pass, figuring the goalie would try to slide across, so I just tried to throw it to the far post and luckily enough it just slid in,” Roloff said.

The goal was reviewed but eventually upheld with one second remaining on the clock. The teams went on to play a scoreless overtime period.

This was not the first goal off a faceoff in the game for the Cats.  Earlier in the third, in an eerily similar play Strong won a faceoff in the left circle back to Lenes who fired a wrist shot past BC goalie, John Muse.

On Saturday night the No. 10 Cats could not parlay the momentum from previous game as they fell behind 2-0 in the first period, but found a way to fight back and snatch a late victory.

“I think we kinda thought that we were going to jump all over them again because we had momentum coming in from last night,” senior Corey Carlson said. “We kinda thought they were going to sit back, but they came out and they were flying.  We played a really bad first period.”

After a stern talking to by Sneddon between periods, UVM came out, controlled the play and scored four unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes including a Carlson goal with 7:02 remaining in the third to give UVM their first lead against the Eagles this season.

The comeback would not have been possible if it was not for freshman goaltender Rob Madore who made 14 saves — some of them spectacular — in the first period, the same number of saves he made in three periods on Friday night.

“Rob [Madore] allowed us, single handedly, to get back into this hockey game,” head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “That game could have been 5-0 after the first period. Rob deserves a lot of credit for us being able to come back.

“I was impressed. To go against one of the best teams in the country and not play your best and find a way to win shows me we have a very solid team,” he said.

On top of Carlson’s tally, UVM got goals from Lenes, now has nine on the season, Jack Downing and Viktor Stalberg, who scored on Friday night as well and now leads the team with 10 goals.

After this weekend, the Cats have a record of 12-4-3 and 6-3-2 in Hockey East where they are currently in third place.  Vermont travels to Boston to face conference leaders, No. 4 Northeastern, in a two game series this weekend.

Originally published in the Vermont Cynic.


Real Madrid @ Mallorca: Halftime Thoughts

January 11, 2009

The first half ended 2-0 in favor of the visitors.

There has been a lot of talk about Messi coming into his own as the best in the world over the last few weeks and lost has been the absolutely incredible play of Arjen Robben with Real Madrid.  

Robben was back at it today, destroying Mallorca along the wight side of the field for the entire first half including a goal in the third minute.

Mallorca started the game with five defenders hoping to curb some of the speed Robben brings to Los Blancos, but the islanders had no answer when Higuain and Robben took off on the counter early in the game.

Robben is definitely not in the CR7 and Messi stratosphere yet, but he has taken over games consistently since Juande Ramos took over as manager and has looked unmarkable—even by four or five defenders.

It was also nice to see Higuain make a spirited comeback from injury.  He set up both first half goals and looked dangerous throughout.

Continuing with our theme of exalting attacking players, this is a special day for El Capitan, Raul, who, in his 500th game, got a goal.  While the goal should probably be credited to Higuain for all of his work, Raul was in the right place at the right time to tap it home and deserves all the credit in the world.

On the other side of the pitch, the defense that was put together at the beginning of the season—Ramos, Cannavaro, Pepe, and Heinze—are all finally healthy and have looked great the past two days.

Casillas has been in true Saint Iker form as well, but it has helped to have a competent back four in front of him.  This is not something that could be said for much of the season.

The defense is also benefiting from the arrival of Lassana Diarra, who is fitting right in alongside Gago and doing a great job disrupting the opponents flow in the midfield.  I was worried about how quickly he would be able to jump in, but he has, thus far, been much better than advertised.

Thats all for the first half.  I will have more after the final whistle.


Comeback Cats

January 8, 2009

I definitely did not think my first post would be about hockey—especially UVM hockey.  But here I am after a weekend where I covered the Cats two games against Boston College and all I can talk about is the Catamounts.

I have been to many games over my four years here and seen some great teams and great games, but this weekend may top them all.

First, we have to start with Friday’s buzzer beater.  I have never seen something like this in hockey.  UVM, down by one with four seconds left, is on the power play and pulls their goalie so it is six on four.  The faceoff is in the left circle where team captain Dean Strong wins it cleanly back to Pete Lenes who swings it to the right circle where Brian Roloff blasts a shot past BC goalie John Muse.  One second remains on the clock.

ABSURD!

The Gut goes crazy as the players mob Roloff.  I did not things could get any better, but then tonight, they did.

UVM went down early as BC scored on their first shot of the game and quickly added a second.  I thought UVM would carry all the momentum from last night into the game but it was not to be.  The only thing that kept the game from getting completely out of hand was freshman Rob Madore.  He was sick in goal all night long.

I thought that there would be a significant drop off in goal after Fallon graduated last year but apparently I was wrong.  After watching what Madore did to this great offensive team from BC the last two nights, I am convinced he is the real deal.

Coach Sneddon must have had some serious words in the locker room after the first period and whatever he did worked wonders.  The Cats came out in the second rearing to go and by the end of the period we were all even at two.

The third period belonged to the Cats who finished the Eagles off with two more goals for a final of 4-2.

I am still not entirely sold on this team as national championship contenders but I do think they have a chance to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in over 10 years.

I do have worries about such a young team keeping it together down the stretch, but after looking two seemingly insurmountable deficits in the face against the defending National Champions and coming out on top, I think anything is possible.

Look for more on Tuesday in the Vermont Cynic.