Mitchell Signs With Sharks

Vermont men’s hockey standout, Torrey Mitchell, will pass up his senior year to join the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate

Growing up in Greenfield Park, Quebec, University of Vermont junior co-captain Torrey Mitchell dreamed of one day skating alongside his childhood hero, Joe Sakic, in the NHL.

On March 19, the agricultural and resource economics major took a giant step toward achieving his lofty goal.

A fourth round pick (126 overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Mitchell announced in a press conference Monday at Patrick Gymnasium that he will forgo his senior season to pursue a professional hockey career with the San Jose Sharks.

“This is an opportunity I could not pass up,” explained the sparkplug forward. “After consulting with my family, coaches and advisor, this is the best decision for me.

“I want to thank my teammates, coaches and the University of Vermont for a great experience. It was a dream of mine to play college hockey and I was able to develop as a student athlete here at Vermont and it’s something I’ll cherish forever.”

Putting UVM Back on the Map

Arriving in Burlington as a highly touted freshman out of Connecticut’s Hotchkiss School. in 2004, Mitchell wasted little time in turning around a scuffling hockey program.

Named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team, Mitchell finished with 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points in 38 games.

Offensive output aside, Mitchell’s arrival sparked a 12 win improvement from the previous season.

Head coach Kevin Sneddon credits Mitchell with leading the surge.

“He helped put Vermont back on the map. We had some lean years here at UVM including my first year, when we did not have any success. Torrey came in and raised the bar in terms of skill, work ethic and desire to win.”

As a sophomore, Mitchell recorded 12 tallies and 28 helpers for 40 points in 38 games on his way to earning a Hockey East All-Star honorable mention.

However, it was Mitchell’s exceptional play in all phases of the game, especially defensively, that was most remarkable.

“He is our top penalty killer, one of our best face-off players, and his knowledge of what to do on defense is exceptional. He is a ‘go to’ player in every situation for us,” Sneddon said.

As a junior co-captain this past season, Mitchell led the Cats to the Hockey East quarterfinals against Boston University.

Finishing the 2006 – 2007 campaign with a team-high 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists), Mitchell was named a Hockey East All-Star honorable mention for the second consecutive year.

A Winning Personality

Performance aside, what makes Mitchell so attractive to NHL executives is his attitude.

In addition to his supremely poised and composed demeanor under pressure, Mitchell’s unparalleled work ethic renders him with great potential to succeed at the next level.

“He has great confidence without being conceited.” Sneddon said. “He does not have an attitude off the ice, but plays with an attitude on the ice.

“He rarely gets frustrated; instead he finds a way to make things work for himself. He is one of the hardest working players on our team each year.”

Totaling 35 goals and 70 assists for 105 points in 110 career games, Mitchell leaves UVM tied for 35th on the school’s all-time scoring list.

During Mitchell’s three year tenure, the Cats secured a whopping 57 victories.

Still, what stands out most is how quickly and completely Mitchell has matured both as an athlete and a young man.

Such remarkable personal development will no doubt aid Mitchell in his imminent tran-sition from student athlete to professional hockey player.

“Torrey came to UVM as a very gifted young player,” Sneddon explained. “He needed to mature on and off the ice, and UVM provided him with a great environment to grow and mature.

“He became a great defensive player as well as a more skilled player. He learned how to become a leader on and off the ice. All of this will help him make the step to the next level.”

Dedication to Education

Although Mitchell will not return for his final year of collegiate eligibility, he is not walking away from his education.

Part of Mitchell’s decision to make the leap hinges on his intention to earn the remaining credits toward securing his degree.

A coach in every sense of the word, Sneddon was instrumental in the decision making process.

“I told him that I would lay out the advantages and disadvantages of staying in school or accepting San Jose’s offer,” Sneddon said. “It would then be up to him to make a smart decision.

“The only thing I asked him to do was promise me he would graduate from UVM,” Sneddon continued

“He is well on his way to doing that and has plans to work during the summers and next season to complete his degree.”

Defying the Odds

The path to the NHL can be long and arduous.

Players like former Cats’ goaltender and current Bruin Tim Thomas have spent years competing overseas and in the AHL – the NHL’s minor league – before seeing their profes-sional dreams come true.

Yet, Sneddon believes Mitchell has all the tools to succeed alongside “Jumbo” Joe Thornton and Scott Marleau of the Sharks some day.

“He is the best two-way forward I have ever coached.

“The combination of his overall skill package along with his desire to be responsible without the puck makes him a very special player, and that is what San Jose really likes about him,” Sneddon said.

“His confidence, his work ethic, his intelligence and his overall skill package will make him a very good pro.”

Torrey Mitchellless for the first time in four seasons, the Cats will surely miss his charismatic leadership, locker-room presence and consistently stellar performance.

However, as Mitchell enters the select and hallowed path of featured greats Martin St. Louis, Eric Perrin, Tim Thomas and John LeClair, the eternal pride his leap creates for both the University and Burlington community is sure to far outweigh the present-day loss.