In an effort to get the University of Vermont hockey team back on track this week, coach Kevin Sneddon drove home his points with hard practices and lineup adjustments.
One game-time change featured the insertion of young defensemen Anders Franzon and Lance Herrington in place of two veterans.
Another included shuffling of lines, a situation exacerbated by the last minute unavailability of Wahs Stacey (day-to-day; non-specific injury).
The other move was a direct attempt to improve UVM’s woeful penalty killing, where the Catamounts’ 75.4 percent kill rate ties them for 51st out of 58 teams nationally.
Into the lineup went Brett Leonard, Jay Anctil and Jonathan Higgins, true role players.
“We wanted to get some of our veterans in the lineup from a penalty kill standpoint. We wanted to get Brett Leonard, Jay Anctil and Jon Higgins, guys who have worked the kill in practice a lot, sometimes on the mock penalty kill, and done a nice job,” Sneddon said Sunday.
“We just felt we needed those guys that we feel could get the job done. That was first and foremost on our minds: get some guys in that could kill penalties for us.
“We’re tired of seeing a 70 percent kill. We’ve got to be betgter than that. That really sparked the decision within the lineup,” said Sneddon, who said other line combinations were instituted because “we felt we needed to spread our talent around a litte bit, combine it with some grit. For the most part, it worked out pretty well.”
As for the penalty kill move, the Catamounts were 4-for-4, holding Northeastern scoreless man-up, a key factor in UVM’s 3-2 win.
The lesson: Know your role, play your role, and you get to play the game.