New Cats Adjust to NCAA

     After losing several key members of the 2014 men’s hockey team, head coach Kevin Sneddon said along with the returning team, this year’s recruiting class will help them compete for the Hockey East title and a national championship, according to UVM athletics.

     With the loss of graduates Mike Paliotta and Nick Luukko on defense and former goalie Brody Hoffman to free agency via the Minnesota Wild, the Catamounts are in need of a reload.

 In 2015 the Catamounts welcome nine new players to the team in their recruiting class.

First-years Jake Kearley and Patrick Munson are looking forward to playing at Gutterson Fieldhouse as they fill in the roles of former Catamounts.

“The game is definitely a lot faster; the guys are a lot bigger,” Kearley said.

Munson says he also sees a big difference playing college hockey, especially as a goaltender.

“Guys definitely shoot the puck faster and have quicker moves, but with [all the first-year players] coming in the summer for six weeks, we got better, we got classes done and we’re all just taking it game by game together,” Munson said.

The Cats failed to make the NCAA tournament last year, despite winning 20 games during the regular season.

“Obviously with the losses on defense, hopefully I can be that guy to eat up some minutes and help out,” Kearley said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

     With former Catamount goaltender Brody Hoffman gone, junior Mike Santaguida and sophomore Patrick Feeley will be competing for the starting position, but Munson said he has been learning from both.

     “Coming in this year, I learned a lot from Santaguida and Feeley,” Munson said. “I’m just trying to come in every day and get better and play in as many games as I can to help the team.”

Munson is expected to compete for playing time.

     “At 6-foot-3, he replaces some size in the net and will compete with Mike Santaguida and Pat Feeley for playing time this year,” Sneddon said ,according to UVM athletics.

All eyes are set on one thing and one thing only, a national championship.

     “I think we have a good squad this year,” Kearley said. We can make a run for it.”

      Despite failing to make the NCAA tournament, the Catamounts finished with a 22-15-4 record and seventh in Hockey East. 

      The Cats lost to UMass Lowell in last season’s Hockey East tournament semifinals to end their season.

     Men’s hockey kicks off their pre-season with an exhibition game against Acadia University Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

     The regular season will begin for the Cats Oct. 16 at Gutterson Fieldhouse against the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks.