Senior tops team in points

Over the course of a regular season in hockey, players are plagued by inconsistency, bad puck luck and, of course, injuries.

One thing is certain: numbers never lie. Obviously one cannot just look at stats to see who the best players are; you have to watch each and every game and pay close attention.

So who is the best player this year for the men’s hockey team? If we are talking strictly goal scoring and the intangible “clutch factor”, the numbers point to sophomore Brady Shaw.

Shaw led the team during the regular season with 14 goals, had nine assists and scored six of his 14 goals on the power play. He was also tied for the team lead with fellow sophomore and linemate Mario Puskarich, with three game-winning goals.

Shaw has also been one of the more consistent scorers on the team, with one of the most steady point-growth rates, which is the rate of points earned by a player throughout the season.

The obvious answer for defense would be the goaltender, sophomore Mike Santaguida.

Santaguida allows one-third of a goal less than senior Brody Hoffman on average per game and has three shutouts compared to Hoffman’s goose-egg.

However, for skaters, senior captain Mike Paliotta has led the team from the start of the season in most statistical categories.

A players’ plus-minus can be seen as an irrelevant statistic, especially when taking into account who the player plays against and who he plays with on the ice.

Paliotta’s plus-minus ratio is 13, five higher than anyone else on the team.

That player happens to be senior Dan Senkbeil, who plays about half of the minutes that Paliotta does each night.

“It’s tough not to vote for Mike Paliotta as the team MVP this year given that he’s leading the team in scoring as a defenseman, something that hasn’t been done at UVM since 1978,” said Alastair Ingram, men’s hockey play-by-play announcer and media contact. “He’s also been equally valuable off the ice as the captain and leader of the program since day one.”

Paliotta is generally the leader of both the first power play unit and the first penalty kill units.

He’s scored five out of 26 UVM’s power play goals and has helped the Catamounts maintain an 87.8 penalty-killing percentage. So who is the best player overall?

Well according to the stats, the numbers point to Paliotta. Head coach Kevin Sneddon plays a defense-oriented system.

Paliotta excels away from the puck as well as on the puck. He leads the Catamounts in points this year with 10 goals and 27 assists for a total of 37 points.

Students seem to think so as well. First-year Zachary Hawkins agrees that Paliotta is the “MVP of the team.”

“He quarterbacks all the plays, he runs point,” Hawkins said.   “He leads the team by example and makes everyone around him better.”

Besides serving as serving as the team’s captain, Paliotta also has the honor of being a finalist for the men’s hockey Senior CLASS Award.

The award is given to the player who excels both on and off the ice in games and the classroom setting.