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The Jekyll and Hyde Catamounts

The Vermont Catamounts have improved big time this year. That doesn’t make them any less unpredictable.

Rachael Ade (7) shoots the puck during Vermont’s 3-3 tie with Northeastern on November 18 at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
UVM Athletics

One week, they’re blowing a two goal lead at home to Yale. Another week, they sweep Northeastern on the road.

That’s been life for the Vermont Catamounts this year.

In terms of results so far, the Catamounts have drastically improved from last year’s 9-25-3 finish. The Cats are 10-7-7 overall, already bettering their win total from last year; and, going into this weekend’s games against the Boston College Eagles, they sit on a 6-3-5 Hockey East record, with their 17 points already eclipsing last season’s total of 14.

However, the Catamounts have proven to be one of the most erratic teams in women’s college puck this season.

UVM sits at 3-0-3 against the three teams (BC, BU, and Northeastern) even with or ahead of them in Hockey East, with three remaining games (two this weekend and one on February 12, all against BC). They’ve also given fits to some of the top teams outside of Hockey East, earning a draw away at seventh-ranked Robert Morris, only losing to fifth-ranked St. Lawrence in the final minute of regulation, and giving Clarkson a run for their money in the Windjammer Classic final.

But against everyone else in Hockey East? The Cats are 3-3-2, with all three of those wins coming against a 8-14-1 Maine side. They’re 0-3-2 against New Hampshire, Providence, Connecticut, and Merrimack, with a goal difference of -7 and have had some worrying non-conference games as well, including throwing away a two goal lead at home to Yale on December 30. To be fair, four of those games were away, but the Catamounts could be in a much more comfortable position.

Right now, they sit tied with BU at 17 points for third in Hockey East with three games in hand, as well as four on second-place Northeastern, who is only three points ahead of them. If the Catamounts went even .500 (2-2-1) against UNH/Providence/UConn/Merrimack, they’d have 20 points, on par with Northeastern and six back of BC. The Cats play the Eagles three times this season, including twice this weekend, and also have two games in hand. The Cats could have used this weekend to show that BC isn’t so safe atop Hockey East. Instead, they’ll be looking to use games in hand on BU and Northeastern to lock down home ice in the first round.

The culprit for the Cats has been their offense. In Hockey East play, they rank seventh (of nine) in goals per game with 2.29, just ahead of UConn (2.21) and Merrimack (2.00). They’ve also had the conference’s worst power play, going a paltry 7.04% with the advantage.

The defense and goaltending have sparkled, however. The Cats are second in Hockey East in goals against average (2.07), while goaltender Madison Litchfield leads all of Hockey East and is fifth in the country in save percentage. The team’s penalty kill has also been superb; prior to BU forward Sammy Davis’ power play marker on January 14, they had not allowed a power play goal since November 20 against UConn, a span of ten games.

With two home games against a top-tier BC team this weekend, the Catamounts could give women’s hockey an upset special or two — but they’re just as likely to sweep the Eagles as they are to get swept by Connecticut next weekend.