Catamount rookie earns success in league

First-year forward Mario Puskarich was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Week for the fourth time in the past six weeks.

Puskarich is also currently in the running for the Hobey Baker Award, which is awarded to the best collegiate men’s hockey player in the country.

If Puskarich were to win this award, he will be the first Catamount in history to achieve the honor.

“He is a player who has consistently scored at every level,” Kyle Wallack, assistant coach, said. Wallack helped recruit Puskarich.

“Watching him last year in Langley, the British Columbia Hockey League, he elevated his game away from the puck to make him more of a complete player,” Wallack said.

Puskarich attributed his success as a hockey player to his consistency, both in games and during practices.

“Working hard on and off the ice is something I was taught at a young age that has really paid off,” he said.

Puskarich started playing hockey at the age of three when he was exposed to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Puskarich said he admires Penguin and Captain of the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team Sydney Crosby.

At 16 years old, Puskarich moved away from his home in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. to play hockey in Chicago.

“It was a decision made by my parents and me, and we decided it would be best for my hockey career,” he said.

“Mario has been great all year,” senior forward Chris McCarthy said. “He has grown in just a short time here at UVM as a player and a person, you can see that throughout practice, which has led to his success in our games.”

McCarthy has been one of Puskarich’s linemates for most of the season.

Puskarich said he has enjoyed his first year as a Catamount. He has given the team more depth on offense, which causes problems for oppenents.

“I love playing for UVM, the guys on the team are great and the coaching staff is great. Everyone has a great attitude and we all want to win,” Puskarich said.

“Not a lot of programs have fans like we do and we all feel very fortunate to be able to play in front of them,” he said.