Hockey season ends in defeat

The men’s hockey season has come to a close following a heartbreaking 7-4 quarterfinal loss to Boston College.

The team finished with a record of 20-13-5. Their 10-8-4 record in Hockey East play put them at No. 6 in the conference, their highest finish since the team finished at No. 3 in 2009.

The Catamounts outperformed preseason expectations, as the Hockey East preseason poll had UVM tabbed for No. 8 place.

The season was the Cats’ fourth season in a row with at least 15 wins, and their third season in that time where they finished with at least 20 wins.

However, this was not enough to make their seventh appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Arguably the biggest highlight of the season came in the form of a tournament victory.

In late November, the Catamounts traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland to participate in the Friendship Four tournament.

They defeated the University of Massachusetts Amherst 4-2 in the semifinal, booking their place in the final against Quinnipiac University, who were ranked No. 3 in the nation in the poll. The Catamounts would prevail 5-1 to take home the tournament title.

The Catamounts saw a huge contribution from their newcomers this season, which shows that despite a solid senior class graduating, the future is in good hands.

First-year forward Ross Colton tied for the team lead in goals with 12, and finished second in total points with 27. For this, he earned a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.

Fellow first-year forwards Derek Lodermeier, Matt Alvaro and defenseman Matt O’Donnell all posted more than 10 points in their first season as well.

Behind them, first-year goaltender Stefanos Lekkas took home several Hockey East awards. Lekkas was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week four times, Rookie of the Week once and Goaltender of the Month twice.

The team also saw bigger impacts from their returning players.

Sophomore forward Brian Bowen finished the season with 27 points, up from seven his first season, while sophomore forward Craig Puffer more than doubled his output from 2015-16, jumping from nine points to 19 this season.

Since the end of Vermont’s season, a number of seniors have tried their luck turning professional.

Puskarich and senior defender Rob Hamilton signed with the ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs following the season, while senior forward Brady Shaw joined the American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage on an amateur tryout contract.