Picked to finish ninth in the ECAC Coaches’ Poll, there’s no time like the present for Kevin Sneddon’s new club as the Catamounts kick off the 2003-04 season with a home contest against Boston College on Oct. 4. Sneddon is a talented young coach who will help establish a much-needed new attitude and atmosphere in Burlington.
Sneddon’s hiring was an excellent move by UVM’s new administration and will lay the groundwork for the return to prominence of the program. This season will be a transitional one for all involved, but soothed to some degree by the return of the Catamounts’ top two scorers.
Senior captain Jeff Miles led the team with 19 goals and 36 points last season and is joined by junior Brady Leisenring (27 points) to provide the Catamounts with a one-two punch up front. Junior Scott Mifsud (19 assists, 24 points) also returns.
On defense, ECAC All-Rookie pick Jaime Sifers (18 points) returns for his second season and teams up with lone senior co-captain Oriel McHugh and sophomore Phil Youngclaus to lead the defense. Keep your eyes peeled for freshman blueliner Art Femenella, who at 6-7 and 248 pounds, will be hard to miss.
Workhorse netminder Shawn Conschafter graduated, which leaves the netminding job wide open for sophomores Travis Russell and Matt Hanson. Junior Scott Sortal, who returns to the ice for UVM after missing last season, is also expected to get a shot at capturing the starting role.
The Catamounts start the season with October games against BC, New Hampshire and Boston University before hitting the road to Michigan Tech and then opening the ECAC season against Harvard and Brown. It’s hard to imagine Vermont emerging from those seven games unscathed — and it could be much worse. Let the “moral victories” begin.