It’s been a brutal week for the University of Vermont’s Big Three of intercollegiate sports: men’s hockey, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.
Going into today’s games, the Catamounts are a collective 1-4 since Sunday — 0-4 after Sunday — and the salt in those wounds are that those UVM teams have been losing just the kind of games they need to win to assert themself in the Easts, Hockey and America.
Let’s start with the hockey team. Friday night, the Catamounts had the opportunity to gain ground in the chase for home ice for the conference quarterfinals.
To be polite, they tripped over their own skate laces, stumbling to a 6-3 defeat by Maine..
Maine is a good team and the Black Bears definitely did what they needed to do to win. Credit them for that. Yet their task was made much easier by UVM’s baffling ability to make crucial mistakes, failure to produce at key times and not play with the necessary urgency until the game was out of reach.
This was an ugly loss. Four power play goals yielded; no power play goals scored when the outcome was still in doubt (and they had plenty of opportunities); tentative play, except for the likes of freshmen Tobias Nilsson-Roos, Sebastian Stalberg, David Pacan and Chris McCarthy.
It appears more and more likely that this team, once thought to have the potential to be at least a darkhorse challenger for a league title, is a mediocre, middle-of-the-pack team at best.
If something doesn’t happen soon, as much as last year was the wonderful season that was, this one will go into the record books as one of the most disappointing of what might have been. By the end of tonight’s rematch with Maine at 7, the Catamounts might be more worried about just making the playoffs than getting home ice.
As for the men’s basketball team, it, too, has a chance for some redemption with a 2 p.m. game against Albany at Patrick Gym.
After a 5-0 league start, the men have lost three straight, including road decisions to Binghamton and New Hampshire this week. Before that, they let a potential home win against Stony Brook slip through their hands.
The Catamounts have one win over Albany and they need another. Like the hockey team, it seems to be something different every night: failure to make a clutch play here, having no outside game there, defensive breakdowns everywhere.
Once a contender for the America East title, Vermont now must rebuild is confidence and its status. No time better to start than today.
And the women? They split this week, thrashing Stony Brook on Sunday after a slow start but coming up short in their biggest league game to date, 38-36 to Hartford at Patrick.
That win all but assured Hartford of the top seed for the tournament, pending a UVM win at Hartford and the Hawks unexpectedly stumbling somewhere.
Hartford’s defense, plus Diana Delva, played major roles in the Hawks’ win, but so did Vermont’s poor shooting: 1-for-12 from 3-point range, 24.5 percent from anywhere overall, and that includes way too many easy chances when the Cats beat Hartford’s defense.
Sunday, the women will try to regain their swagger against New Hampshire — the Wildcats nearly beat them in Durham — at 2 p.m.
Time has nearly run out on the hockey team for the regular season; it’s getting there for the basketball teams.