After rounding out the 2011-2012 season with an unfortunate record that consisted of 27 losses and only six wins, the Vermont men’s ice hockey team has made a significant effort to recover for the upcoming year. The program has added both new coaches and players in hopes of returning to their former hockey powerhouse glory.
According to the recent Hockey East Preseason Coaches’ Poll, UVM was projected to finish 10th in the league, earning a total of 23 points by the end of the regular season. This is a significant knock down from the team’s ranking the previous year of a projected sixth in the league, earning a total of 44 points. On the opposite side of the spectrum, defending champion Boston College was selected to earn the top spot in the league again this year. Other teams that fans can expect to see out on the ice with Vermont this season include Merrimack, Providence, the University of New Hampshire, Boston University, Northeastern, UMass Amherst, Minnesota, Maine, Dartmouth and St. Lawrence.
This past summer head coach Kevin Sneddon announced the addition of two fresh faces to the Vermont coaching staff, Kevin Patrick and Kyle Wallack. Together they bring nearly 25 years of Division I coaching experience and knowledge that will no doubt help to improve the Catamounts this season. “We are extremely fortunate to add two of the nation’s finest assistant hockey coaches to our family,” said Sneddon in a preseason interview.
The Catamounts graduated seven seniors from the team last year, consisting of four forwards and three defensemen. By the end of last season, the seniors alone racked up a total of 72 points out of the team’s total 223. Eight new players from across the country have been added to Vermont’s roster as part of the 2012 recruiting class. The class features forwards Jacob Fallon, Robert Polesello, Ryan Rosenthal and Jonathan Turk, defensemen Yvan Pattyn and Caylen Walls, and goaltenders Billy Faust and Brody Hoffman. Each member was specifically chosen by the coaching staff based on their elite skills both on and off the ice. They are all projected to be big contributing factors in the team’s success this season.
UVM has also added two transfer student-athletes that will now be eligible to play due to NCAA transfer rules. Junior forward Pete Massar comes to Vermont from Clarkson University, while sophomore forward Jacob Fallon originally played with the Indiana Ice in the USHL for now-assistant coach Kyle Wallack. “Our returning student-athletes, led by our captain and three assistant captains, have done a tremendous job of making the newcomers feel like a part of the family from day one,” said Sneddon during a preseason interview.
Along with these many new faces, there will be several familiar ones returning to the ice, with eight of the team’s top 10 scorers having returned ready for action.
Forwards Connor Brickley and Chris McCarthy, and defenseman Nick Luukko are also returners that missed games last season due to personal injuries. Brickley endured a major injury to his knee during a game at the World Championships this past year. McCarthy also endured a season-ending shoulder injury five games into the season, while Luukko sustained a severe injury to his abdomen, leaving him benched for the remainder of the season as well.
The season started off as anticipated as the men in yellow and green earned their first win in their exhibition game against Concordia University, with a final score of 7-1. Even with little time to prepare, Vermont proved that they’re ready for the competitive season ahead of them. The boys jelled together as a team and set the standards for the rest of the season.
In their second game of the season, the Catamounts went on the road to face No. 6 ranked UMass Lowell. After four periods of a fierce back and forth battle, the score was left at a tie of 1-1. Sophomore Colin Markinson scored the goal to tie the game midway though the third period of play, saving the team from a heartbreaking loss.
The Catamounts return to action this week as they head out on the road to face No. 8 ranked Merrimack Oct. 26 and 27. UVM will be back in Gutterson the following week when they face Providence College.