So who’s in goal?

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Early this University of Vermont hockey season, presumed No. 1 goalie Rob Madore wasn’t the same goaltender he was as a freshman who helped lead the Catamounts to the NCAA Frozen Four last year.

Rob Madore

Madore’s struggles opened the way for senior Mike Spillane, a two-year backup to Joe Fallon who lost out to Madore in the duel for No. 1 in 2008-09, and he responded with several good outings.

That left head coach Kevin Sneddon without a clearcut No. 1 and a developing rotation system. That’s not necessarily the worst scenario possible, but Sneddon, like many other coaches, would prefer one goalie to play well enough to start nearly every game.

Over the past six UVM games, the goalie sitaution has taken more twists and turns as Madore shows signs he’s ready to be The Man Behind the Mask. By his own evaluation, Madore said he was trying too hard to be perfect early in the season and too concerned about stopping second and third shots before making the first save. He’s since refocused and he’s relaxed and confident, as he showed with a spectacular early save against St. Lawrence that help set the tone.

In his last three starts, Madore has allowed five goals with a goals-against average of 1.62, a save percentage of .945 and his second career shutout.

Even if his relief numbers against New Hampshire — 1 goal allowed, 9 saves, 29 minutes — are thrown in, he still has impressive numbers: 1.68 GAA and .940 save percentage.

Spillane meanwhile has been on a rollercoaster. He had a 26-save shutout of Yale but yielded 10 goals in his

Now comes the question: Whom does Sneddon start against Dartmouth?

If Sneddon stays with the rotation, it’s Spillane turn. However, if Sneddon feels Madore is ready to assert himself as No. 1, should he start this Saturday rather than face the extended layoff from Dec. 12 to Jan. 2, the opening round of Vermont’s holiday tournament?

As of Tuesday, Sneddon isn’t saying; nothing unusual about that since he often uses the input of goalie coach Terry Lovelette as well as performances in practice in naming his starter.

As a guess (educated or otherwise), though, look for Madore to go against Dartmouth, Spillane to open against Alabama-Huntsville in the tourney’s first game and Madore to play either Minnesota-Duluth or Mercyhurst in UVM’s second tourney game.

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