Hockey East Preview: Vermont Catamounts

By Josh Brown

Head Coach: Kevin Sneddon (11th season, 147-174-53 career record at UVM)

Last season: 11-19-6 (HE: 8-13-6), 7th place

Losses: F Ben Albertson, F Brett Bruneteau, D Blake Doerring, G Billy Faust, D Anders Franzon, F Mike Montagna, F RyanRosenthal, F Tobias Nilsson-Ross, G John Vazzano, D Charlie Wemyss

Newcomers: F Brendan Bradley, G Pat Feeley, F Tom Forgione, D Rob Hamilton, F Malcolm Mckinney, D Chris Muscoby, F Mario Puskarich, G Mike Santaguida, D Dan Skenbeil,  F Mike Stenerson

Although the Catamounts only improved by 5 wins from their 2011-2012 season total and were quickly bounced from the Hockey East tournament by division rival Boston College, their are a couple rays of hope for the ‘Cats faithful heading into the 2013-2014 campaign. With a combination of fresh new talent and returning veterans, many are looking at Vermont as a potential “sleeper” pick to have a solid season and maybe even surprise a team or two in the Hockey East tournament.

Last season Vermont’s power play was non-existent, finishing last in Hockey East at 11.1 percentage. Also finishing last in Hockey East was the Catamounts penalty kill which finished at a forgettable 79.1 percent. Both of these stats should improve for Vermont with the addition of freshman offensive powerhouses Brendan Bradley (EJHL) and Mike Stenerson (BCHL). On the defensive side of the puck junior Michael Paliotta and junior Nick Luukko return after both finishing last year as top 10 shot blockers in Hockey East.

Returning between the pipes this year is sophomore Brody Hoffman. Last season Hoffman became the first Vermont goalie since former Bruin’ Tim Thomas (1996-1997) to start every game in goal, as well as earning the honor of being the only rookie goalie in the nation to start every regular season game. The 3 time Hockey East Rookie of the Week Award, and 3 time Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week Award winner finished last season with an average .907 save % as well as a respectable 2.77 goals against average (in conference play).

Offensively look for senior Chris McCarthy to have another big season. After last year in his junior red-shirt season, leading the team in goals (13), assists (18) and points (31), as well as being named a Hockey East Honorable Mention All-Star, McCarthy will once again wear the “A” for the Catamounts along with senior forward and Florida Panther prospect Connor Brickley, who will be coming off of a season derailed by injuries. The “C” will be worn by senior H.T. Lenz for the third consecutive season.

Bottom line: Don’t be surprised to see Vermont finish middle of the pack this year after many predicted a 9th place finish forUVM. Although the new talent looks very promising, goal scoring could still be an issue after only lighting the lamp 82 times last season, good for second worse in Hockey East. Look for Brody Hoffman to have a break out year and keep the ‘Cats in a lot of close contests, in what should be a very interesting year for the boys from Burlington.