Union-Vermont NCAA hockey East Regional semifinal pregame report
Good afternoon from Webster Bank Arena, where it’s time to drop the puck on the NCAA hockey tournament as top-ranked Union takes on Vermont in the first East Regional semifinal.
Here’s a look at the teams.
The Dutchmen (28-6-4) are the top seed in the regional, and the No. 3 tournament seed overall. They come into the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country. They are 12-0-1 in their last 13 games. Union won its third straight ECAC Hockey tournament title last weekend. The Dutchmen were the only team to win their league’s regular season and tournament title this season.
Union was business-like in their practice and press conferences Thursday. There is a quiet confidence among the players. They know what their goal is, winning an NCAA title. There is pressure on them, but they don’t see fazed by it.
The Catamounts (20-14-3) are the 14th seed in the tournament. They finished seventh in Hockey East. Vermont beat UMass in a preliminary-round tournament game before falling to UMass-Lowell in three games in the quarterfinals.
Vermont is coached by former Union coach Kevin Sneddon. The team’s top scorer is senior forward Chris McCarthy with 16 goals and 24 assists. Freshman forward Mario Puskarich, who was named Hockey East Rookie of the Year, leads the team in goals with 19.
Freshman Mike Santaguida and sophomore Brody Hoffman have each played in 19 games this season. Hoffman is 10-7-1 with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. Santaguida is 10-7-2 with a 2.4 GAA, a .912 save percentage and one shutout.
The teams have only played once since Vermont left the ECACH for Hockey East in 2005. That game took place in last season’s Catamount Cup. Vermont took a 2-1 win.
Daniel Carr/Mike Vecchione/Daniel Ciampini
Matt Wilkins/Eli Lichtenwald/Nick Cruice
Matt Hatch/Max Novak/Kevin Sullivan
Cole Ikkala/Sam Coatta/Michael Pontarelli
Mat Bodie/Sebastien Gingras
Shayne Gostisbehere/Jeff Taylor
Noah Henry/Charlie Vasaturo
Colin Stevens starts in goal.
Brendan Bradley/Chris McCarthy/Mario Puskarich
Brady Shaw/Jake Fallon/Colin Markison
Connor Brickley/Matt White/Anthony DeCenzo
H.T. Lenz/Jonathan Turk/Pete Massar
Rob Hamilton/Mike Paliotta
Nick Luukko/Nick Bruneteau
Caylen Walls/Yvan Pattyn
Hoffman starts in goal.
Twitter and hashtags
Follow me on Twitter @slapschotts. The hashtags for the game are #UnionHockey, #VCats, #ECACHockey and #NCAAHockey. If you have questions before, during and after the game, please ask. I will try to reply as quickly as possible.
Enjoy the game!