Coming off back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, including a Frozen Four berth in 2008, last season was, in an understatement, disappointing for Vermont.
The Catamounts struggled to an 8-20-8 regular season record and were swept out of the Hockey East quarterfinals by New Hampshire.
Thus, for coach Kevin Sneddon, the 2011-12 season is as much about getting his program back to the level of success it enjoyed in the two years prior as it is getting past this last season.
“This team is motivated, to say the least, not just to be better than last year but to get back to greatness,” said Sneddon. “That’s been a big theme of ours, talking about what it takes to be a champion in this league. We think we have the pieces there; we just have to put it all together.”
Those pieces begin with the team’s most experienced player in goaltender Rob Madore. The netminder led his team to a Frozen Four as a freshman and showed signs of brilliance in the past two seasons. If anything, said Sneddon, Madore was hampered last season by a team that struggled in front of him.
“I think so much of him in the way he prepares daily,” Sneddon said of Madore. “He’s so committed to excellence that he leads by example. He was overshadowed by the fact that he didn’t have a great team in front of him last year.”
Vermont returns a number of young scorers up front, including Chris McCarthy, Sebastian Stalberg and Anthony DeCenzo, who for much of the year made up the Catamounts’ top line. Defensively, Vermont is thin after graduation but hopes that top prospect, Michael Paliotta, can fill part of that void.
About the Catamounts
2010-11 overall record: 8-20-8
2010-11 HEA record: 6-14-7 (seventh)
2011-12 predicted finish (coaches poll): Sixth
Key losses: Forwards Jack Downing, Wah Stacey and Josh Burrows; defensemen Dan Lawson, Kyle Medvec and Kevan Miller
Players to watch: Goaltender Rob Madore; forwards Sebastian Stalberg and Chris McCarthy; defensemen Drew MacKenzie and Nick Bruneteau
Impact rookie: Defenseman Michael Paliotta
Why the Catamounts will finish higher than the coaches poll: Rob Madore goes out with a bang.
Why the Catamounts will finish lower than the coaches poll: Still not enough scoring.