Hockey East 2010-11 season preview

By DJ Powers

This season, Hockey East features 45 NHL prospects representing nine of the ten member schools. The lone Hockey East team without a prospect on their roster is UMass-Lowell. Boston College and Boston University lead all conference teams with 11 prospects each, followed by Maine and Northeastern with five apiece. Below is a closer look at each member school. All noted start dates are for non-exhibition, regular season games.

Boston College
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 11

The reigning National Champions will look to successfully defend their crown when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 9 at Northeastern.

Boston College graduated only five players. And with no early departures along with a small but stellar freshman class, the Eagles have put themselves in position to potentially repeat as National Champs.

Like last season’s squad, this year’s team is exceedingly balanced from top to bottom. And while the five graduated players will be missed, it doesn’t take anything away from their depth. Boston College has simply reloaded.

One area where the Eagles depth was quite evident last season was in their offensive attack. Boston College had the nation’s second-best offense last season that averaged 4.07 goals per game and was one of only two teams in the nation (Yale was the other) to average more than four goals per game. Furthermore, the Eagles co-led the nation with 171 total goals.

As great as Boston College was on offense last season, they were equally as great on defense. The Eagles ranked 11th in the nation, allowing an average 2.48 goals per game. They also sported a penalty-kill that ranked 15th, with an efficiency rating of 84.3 percent.

Last season, few NHL teams enjoyed as much success with their collegiate prospects as the Columbus Blue Jackets. Leading that group, as well as Boston College this season is junior Cam Atkinson. The Greenwich, CT native led the nation with 30 goals last season and finished tied for third with 53 points in 42 games. Atkinson, along with returning senior Brian Gibbons, gave Boston College the distinction of being one of only two teams in the nation last season with more than one 50-plus point producer. While much has been made of Atkinson’s offensive ability, he has also grown into a dependable, defensive player as well.

Another player who continues to make great strides in his development is sophomore defenseman Brian Dumoulin (CAR). His increased confidence could be seen in both his patience with the puck and in one-on-one situations. The Biddeford, ME native had the opportunity to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes in the off-season, but opted to return to Chestnut Hill this season. In 42 games last season, Dumoulin posted 22 points (one goal, 21 assists) and led the nation with a whopping plus-40. And with the departure of graduate Carl Sneep (PIT), Dumoulin could see his point total increase this season.

Coming into last season, few freshmen were as highly-touted as Chris Kreider (NYR), and he didn’t disappoint. The Boxford, MA native posted 23 points (15 goals, eight assists) in 38 games last season, and was selected to the Hockey East All-Rookie team. Where Kreider’s development can best be seen is in how he has been able to put all of his skills together consistently and effectively.

Boston University
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 11

Boston University will look to get things going in the right direction again when they open their 2010-11 on Oct. 8 versus Wisconsin in the Icebreaker Tournament in St. Louis.

After capturing the National Championship in 2009, Boston University struggled through a tumultuous 2009-10 season, despite a third-place finish in Hockey East. The Terriers woes continued into the off-season and as a result will be quite young this season.

In addition to graduating three players – defenseman Eric Gryba (OTT), and forwards Zach Cohen and Luke Popko, Boston University also lost three top players to early departures. Defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen opted to forego their final year to sign with the Colorado Avalanche. Centerman Nick Bonino did the same, signing with the Anaheim Ducks. Shattenkirk and Cohen gave Boston University an excellent tandem on the blue line, finishing with 29 and 30 points playing in 38 and 36 games respectively. Bonino led the Terriers with 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) in 33 games last season.

To make matters worse for the Terriers, they will begin the 2010-11 campaign without two key players – junior Corey Trivino (NYI) and sophomore Max Nicastro (DET). The pair has been suspended for the first two regular season games by head coach Jack Parker as a result of team rules violations stemming from an off-ice incident this past spring that also saw the dismissal of the Saponari brothers.

In spite of it all, Boston University will still be very good and definitely worth watching this season.

One reason is their sensational freshman class, which is arguably the best in the nation. Two must-see players are Charlie Coyle and Matt Nieto.

Coyle, the first round selection (28th overall) of the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 Draft, is a player that can control a game and should make an immediate impact on the Terriers this season.

“Charlie is certainly a big recruit for us,” said head coach Jack Parker. “He’s the type of player that will have an impact on both our club and this league right off the bat. The thing that we’ve really noticed about him is that he’s got a lot of poise. Charlie plays with some humility out there, but he’s got confidence as well. And that’s a nice attribute to have.”

Nieto, one of three Californians on the Boston University roster this season, is another player who should make an immediate impact. He is noted for his superb skating and offensive prowess. Nieto, along with teammate defenseman Adam Clendening, are two of college hockey’s top players eligible for the 2011 NHL Draft.

“Matt is a very, very skilled,” said Parker. “He’s an extremely smooth skater and a good sized kid, even though he’s still growing. It’ll be interesting to see how well Matt acclimates (to the college game). With a little experience, I think Matt will be a very solid and important player for us. Both he and (Adam) Clendening will both be draft-eligible this coming year for us, which is very unusual.”

One area where Boston University struggled mightily last season was on defense. The Terriers ranked 42nd in the nation, giving up an average of 3.26 goals per game. They also ranked 32nd in the nation on the penalty kill with an 81.1 percent efficiency rating. Interestingly, Boston University’s shorthanded goals scored were tied for most in the nation.

With the loss of Shattenkirk, Cohen and Gryba, improving their defensive numbers this season will be a challenge.

The man leading the defense this season is junior and assistant captain David Warsofsky (STL). The Marshfield, MA native was outstanding last season, finishing third on the team in defenseman scoring with 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) playing in all 38 games. Wafsofsky proved to be particularly dangerous was on special teams. His four shorthanded tallies co-led the nation. He also added three power play goals as well.

“David is a premier player in this league and he’ll be getting a lot of ice time this year,” said Parker. “He is going to be one of the guys that were going to be depending on while we’re breaking in the new guys.”

University of Maine
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 5

Maine will look to build on a successful 2009-10 season when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 8 versus UMass-Lowell.

The Black Bears came oh so close to capturing their seventh Hockey East Championship last spring, but were stopped by Boston College in a heartbreaking 6-7 overtime loss. Coming into this season, Maine hopes to remedy that with a stellar core of returning of veterans and a terrific group of newcomers.

One area that the Black Bears will look to improve is their defense, which ranked 47th in the nation last season. Maine gave up an average 3.33 goals per game and the 130 total goals surrendered were the most of any Hockey East team.

The task of improving the defense will be a daunting one because the biggest issue that the Black Bears will contend with to begin the season is in goal. Scott Darling (PHO) was dismissed from the team and Dave Wilson has graduated. Darling appeared in 27 contests and posted a 15-6-3 record before his departure in March. Wilson appeared in 13 games and posted a 3-5-0 record with one shutout.

This season, the goaltending duties will fall to junior Josh Seeley, sophomore Shawn Sirman, as well as freshmen Martin Ouellette and Dan Sullivan. Sirman served as the third-string netminder last season. He appeared in eight games and posted a 1-6-0 record.

While defense was a problem for Maine last season, offense was quite the opposite. The Black Bears possessed one of the best offenses in the nation. The team ranked fourth, averaging 3.67 goals per game. Maine was also lethal on the power play, where they led the nation with a sparkling 27.7 percent efficiency rating, converting on 62 of 224 opportunities.

The catalyst of the Maine offense is junior Gustav Nyquist. The Malmo, Sweden native is the lone returning Hobey Hat Trick finalist from last season and is an early candidate to win the award this season. Last season, he led the nation both in points (61) and points per game (1.56). In 39 appearances, Nyquist racked up 19 goals and 42 assists. His 42 assists ranked tied for first in the nation as well. Nyquist turned down an offer to sign with the Detroit Red Wings this summer in favor of returning to Maine this season. And as head coach Tim Whitehead explains, it is a testament to the quality and character of his star player.

“We’re happy to have Gustav back. He’s excited to be back and has no regrets (returning to Maine). Gustav has become such a complete player that he’ll be able to contribute in any other ways besides scoring. I think he’ll be in the running for the Hobey Baker right from the start, but that’s not really what his personality is all about. Gustav is a team guy through and through. His focus has been on the team the whole time. So he has nothing to prove to us.”

Another junior that will help to lead the Black Bears this season is defenseman Will O’Neill (ATL). The Salem, MA native continues to make great strides in his development both in his offensive contributions and sound defensive game. And last season it paid big dividends to his team. O’Neill led all Maine blueliners in scoring with 31 points (eight goals, 23 assists) playing in all 39 games.

“We’re very excited about Will, “said Whitehead. “He’s worked extremely hard to become one of the top players at this level. He’s been great on our power play and excellent in joining the rush. Will has worked extremely hard to improve his defensive game to the point where we want him on the ice in all situations. So I’m really excited about his development.”

University of Massachusetts
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 1

UMass will look to move up in the Hockey East standings when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 8 at Minnesota.

In terms of numbers, no Hockey East team lost more impact players this off-season than UMass. Top defenseman Justin Braun (SJ) and forward Will Ortiz have graduated. Top scoring forwards James Marcou and Casey Wellman, and offensive defenseman Matt Irwin opted to forego the remainder of their collegiate eligibility to turn pro. Marcou and Irwin signed with the San Jose Sharks, while Wellman signed with the Minnesota Wild. All of the aforementioned players, who all played in 36 games, comprised UMass’ top five scorers. Marcou led the group with 51 points (11 goals, 40 assists). He was followed by Wellman with 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists), Braun with 31 points (eight goals 23 assists), Ortiz with 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) and Irwin with 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists). The group also accounted for a whopping 61 percent of UMass’ entire offensive production that will need to be filled this season. In all, the Minutemen had to replace 12 departed players.

The top returning scorer for UMass this season is junior T.J. Syner. He appeared in 32 contests last season and posted 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists). He’ll be one of the veterans that UMass will be looking to lead the offense and increase his point production.

Another junior that the Minutemen will look to boost his point total is Danny Hobbs (NYR). In 33 games last season, Hobbs posted just nine points (three goals, six assists). In his first two years at UMass, Hobbs has posted few points (11 combined), and hasn’t had the so-called ‘breakout’ season yet. The Minutemen are hoping that Hobbs will have it this season.

Mike Pereira is a newcomer to watch who could fill the Minutemen’s offense needs this season. The West Haven, CT native comes to UMass from Avon Old Farms, where he posted 64 points (28 goals, 36 assists) in 29 games. Pereira is noted for his point-producing ability and explosive speed. He was passed up in the 2010 NHL Draft, but will be eligible again in 2011.

While the big question for UMass is offensive production, the team’s strongest position coming into the season will be in goal. Junior Paul Dainton returns after a solid 2009-10 campaign, posting a 15-15-0 record with a .901 save percentage and a 3.08 goals against average. With the loss of Braun, Irwin and stalwart graduate Martin Nolet (LA), Dainton will be relied upon to help solidify the youthful Minutemen defense this season.

University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 0

UMass-Lowell looks to shake things up in Hockey East when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 8 at Maine.

Like their counterparts in Amherst, UMass-Lowell also lost many impact players – all of them graduated. In addition, the River Hawks also lost top incoming freshman defenseman Julian Melchiori (ATL) to the OHL.

Nowhere were the River Hawks harder hit than on the back end. UMass-Lowell lost four defensemen and their goaltending tandem of Carter Hutton and Nevin Hamilton. Hutton and Hamilton comprised one of the best goaltending duo in the nation last season that help make the River Hawks one of top defensive teams. Hutton, who has since signed with the San Jose Sharks, was brilliant between the pipes. He appeared in 27 games and posted a record of 13-12-2 with four shutouts. His .928 save percentage ranked third in the nation, while his 2.04 goals against average ranked fourth. Hutton’s goaltending partner Hamilton appeared in 13 games and posted a 6-4-2 record, along with a .905 save percentage and a 2.91 goals against average. The two netminders combined to allow just 92 total goals, which were the fewest of any conference team.

The good news for UMass-Lowell coming into the season is the return of T.J. Massie. The sophomore netminder returns to the team after spending last season in the USHL. Massie will get some competition fellow sophomore Michael Heffron, who did not play last season, and freshman Doug Carr.

While the River Hawks defensive corps will be very young, they should be quite good. Leading the defense this season is senior assistant captain Maury Edwards. The Rocky Rapids, AB native is the team’s top returning offensive defenseman. Edwards posted 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 38 appearances last season. He is a terrific puck-moving defenseman that has been a mainstay on the River Hawks power play, and will be looked to for not only offensive support but defensive stability as well.

Despite the loss of Kory Falite, UMass-Lowell returns two of their top three scorers in senior captain Scott Campbell and junior David Vallorani, that will lead the River Hawks offense this season. Falite and Campbell co-led the team with 34 points apiece. Falite posted 18 goals and 16 assists, while Campbell posted 16 goals and 18 assists. Vallorani finished behind them with 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists). All three players appeared in 39 games last season.

Merrimack College
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 2

Merrimack will look to build on a strong on a 2009-10 campaign when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 9 at Niagara.

The Warriors fought to a sixth-place tie with UMass last season and are poised to potentially move up the Hockey East standings this season. While Merrimack lost six players to graduation, they return an outstanding core of players that will make them well worth watching this season.

The most notable of the returning players is sophomore Stephane Da Costa. The reigning National and Hockey East Rookie of the Year was absolutely sensational last season. He led the nation in rookie scoring with 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) as well as in points per game (1.32) in 34 appearances. What made it so remarkable was the fact that he was not an NHL prospect. But by the end of the season, he was clearly on the NHL’s radar. Da Costa declined offers to turn pro, opting instead to return to Merrimack this season. He could also become a potential candidate for this year’s Hobey Baker Award as well. And with the Warriors returning their top four scorers (including Da Costa), the team should be even better offensively this season.

An area where the Warriors were excellent last season was on the power play. The Warriors ranked eighth in the nation on the man-advantage, clicking at 21.1 percent.

One key loss that Merrimack suffered this off-season was of goaltender Andrew Braithwaite. The Kingston, ONT native split time with returning junior Joe Cannata (VAN) last season. Braithwaite appeared 16 games, posting a record of 6-6-1 with a .902 save percentage and 3.06 goals against average.

After sharing them last season, Cannata may find himself carrying the bulk of the goaltending duties this season. The Wakefield, MA native enjoyed a solid sophomore campaign. He appeared in 24 games, posting a 10-13-1 record that included two shutouts, along with a .902 save percentage and a 3.04 goals against average. This season, Cannata will get some competition from sophomore Nick Drew, who did not play last season and newcomer Sam Marotta.

University of New Hampshire
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 4

New Hampshire will look to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 8 at Miami.

The Wildcats lost only four players to graduation this off-season, but those four were all key players too.

Perhaps the most significant loss was of goaltender Brian Foster (FLA). The Pembroke, NH native was very good in his final season. Last season, Foster posted a 17-14-7 record with a .908 save percentage and a 2.98 goals against average. Foster was also a workhorse for New Hampshire, appearing in 38 of the team’s 39 games and logging just under 2,300 minutes in net. Only North Dakota’s Brad Eidsness (BUF) logged more minutes last season. Foster capped the year with being named to the All-America East Second team.

With the loss of Foster, the Wildcats biggest issue coming into this season will be in solidifying their goaltending. Junior Matt DiGirolamo returns as the likely starter, but he only appeared in three games last season, mainly in a relief role. Competing with DiGirolamo is junior Tyler Scott, who did not play last season, and freshman Jeff Wyer.

The job of stabilizing the back end will fall to New Hampshire’s outstanding defensive corps, led by junior Blake Kessel (NYI). The Verona, WI native was one of the best offensive defensemen in the nation last year and returns as the nation’s top scoring defenseman this season. He finished his 2009-10 campaign with 38 points (ten goals, 28 assists) in 38 games. Kessel capped the year with a selection to the All-America East Second team.

One incoming defenseman to watch this season is the towering Eric Knodel (TOR). In addition to size, the West Chester, PA native possesses good vision and a powerful shot. Unlike Kessel, Knodel isn’t likely to put up many points, but he will be a force to be reckoned with.

One of the cornerstones of the New Hampshire Wildcats has always been their offensive depth. They possessed the nation’s tenth-best offense that averaged 3.36 goals per game last season. The 131 total goals were the most of any Hockey East team behind only Boston College and Maine. Coming into this season however, that depth will be tested due to losses of top scorers Bobby Butler (OTT) and Peter Leblanc (CHI).

Butler capped a terrific collegiate career with a phenomenal senior season that saw him take the Hockey East Player of the Year honor as well as being named as one of the Hobey Hat Trick finalists. The Marlborough, MA native finished tied for third in the nation in scoring with 53 points (29 goals, 24 assists) in 39 games. His 29 goals also ranked second in both Hockey East and the nation as well. Leblanc finished fifth on the Wildcats teams with 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 39 games.

Leading the New Hampshire’s offensive charge this season are senior captain Mike Sislo and junior Phil DeSimone (WSH). The two played much of last season alongside Butler. Sislo finished sixth on the team with 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists). DeSimone, who has blossomed into one of the conference’s top centers, finished fourth on the team with 37 points (ten goals, 27 assists). Both Sislo and DeSimone appeared in all 39 games last season.

Northeastern University
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 5

Northeastern will look to better their ninth-place finish when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 8 at Providence.

The main reason behind Northeastern’s demise last season was the rash of injuries that plagued the team. One injured player that returns this season is Steve Quailer (MON). The redshirted sophomore missed the entire 2009-10 regular and post-season due to a torn ACL.

The Huskies lost seven regulars from last year’s squad in the off-season. And nowhere were the losses more significant than on their blue line. Stalwarts David Strathman and Jim Driscoll have graduated. Chris Student left Northeastern and is transferring to Minnesota. Top scoring defenseman Jake Newton opted to forego the remainder of his collegiate eligibility to sign with the Anaheim Ducks. Strathman appeared in 32 games last season, posting 11 points (four goals, six assists). Driscoll appeared in 26 games, posting seven points (two goals, five assists). Student appeared in 24 games, posting two assists. Newton, who enjoyed a stellar freshman season, appeared in all 34 games, posting 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists). He was also named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.

With such a young defense, Northeastern will be relying on their experienced goaltending to help stabilize the back end. Towering sophomore Chris Rawlings returns this season after posting a 15-14-2 record that included three shutouts last season. Challenging Rawlings for ice time will be back up sophomore Bryan Mountain and talented newcomer Clay Witt.

Despite losing second-leading scorer Kyle Kraemer to graduation, the Huskies look to have some more scoring punch this season. Northeastern struggled offensively last season. The team ranked 41st in the nation averaging just 2.74 goals per game. The 93 total goals that they scored were the second fewest in Hockey East.

Top scoring senior Wade MacLeod leads what is shaping up to be a very good Huskies offensive attack this season. The Coquitlam, BC native led Northeastern with 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in 33 games last season.

One newcomer that will also help to boost the team’s point production is Cody Ferriero. The Essex, MA had originally committed to his brother Benn’s alma mater, Boston College. The younger Ferriero is one of three San Jose Sharks prospects on the Northeastern roster this season. He was taken in the fifth round (127th overall) this past June. Ferriero is an excellent skater who plays with an edge. And like his older brother possesses great playmaking ability as well.

Providence College
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 2

Providence will look to get things back on track when they open their 2010-11 on Oct. 8 versus Northeastern.

The 2009-10 season proved to be a forgettable one for the Friars, struggling in numerous areas that ultimately led to finishing out in the Hockey East basement.

Nowhere did Providence struggle more than on offense. The Friars ranked 56th in the nation, averaging just two goals per game. The team’s 68 total goals were the second fewest in the nation. Only UConn scored fewer goals. And their power play didn’t fare much better. It finished 47th in the nation, with a dismal 15.7 percent efficiency rating. As head coach Tim Army explains, improving the team’s offense will be a top priority.
“We just need to score more goals as a team, whether it’s five-on-five, four-on-four, or on the power play. We also need to generate some more power play opportunities so that we can generate more offense, especially at mid-season, where we struggled last year. So that’s kind of a focus for our team.”

This season, the Friars should be able to improve their offensive production with the return of nine of their top ten scorers. The lone top point-producer lost was defenseman Mark Fayne (NJ), who graduated. He finished third on the team with 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) playing in all 34 games.

Leading Providence’s offense this season are senior Kyle MacKinnon and junior Matt Bergland. MacKinnon led the Friars with 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 34 outings last season. Bergland finished second with 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) also playing in 34 games. Both players were also the only Friars last season to post ten or more goals as well.

Despite the loss of Fayne, Providence’s blue line looks quite good coming into this season. Two defensemen to watch are sophomore Alex Velischek (PIT) and freshman Mark “Roo” Adams (BUF). Velischek was one of the team’s best and most improved players last season. He returns as the team’s top scoring rearguard after posting 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 34 games last season. Adams is a big, mobile, two-way defenseman that will add some size and depth to the Friars defensive corps. Army notes that both Velischek and Adams bring a similar attributes to Providence.

“Alex is a package of size, mobility, hockey instincts and puck skills. And all of those things will allow him to continue evolve (as a player). I think the greatest area where Alex has improved has been in his awareness without the puck, especially in defending against the rush and in transition. He will be one of the guys that we’ll be leaning on to play in any situation this year. Roo is like Alex in that he has size, mobility and good offensive instincts, but he needs to learn the game defensively. He’s a very coachable kid and will add a lot to our defense.”

Providence’s strongest position last season was in goal. Junior Alex Beaudry enjoyed a very solid sophomore campaign, despite finishing with a 9-18-4 record in 31 appearances. His .916 save percentage ranked tied for 18th in the nation last season. Beaudry was instrumental in Providence’s ability to be in many low scoring contests as well. The 99 total goals the Friars gave up were second fewest of any team in the conference.

Another area the Friars were very good last season was their penalty-killing. Providence ranked 13th in the nation with an 84.4 efficiency rating. Interestingly, they were also one of five teams in the nation that did not have a shorthanded goal last season.

University of Vermont
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 4

Vermont will look to make their third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 8 versus Denver.

The Catamounts will have some significant holes to fill, specifically up front coming into the season. Vermont lost their top three scorers in Brayden Irwin, Colin Vock and Brian Rohloff to graduation. Irwin, who has since signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, led Vermont with 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists). Vock finished second with 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) and Rohloff finished third with 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists). All players played in 39 games last season. In addition to Irwin, Vock and Rohloff, the Catamounts also lost David Pacan (CHI). The sophomore-to-be was recently dismissed by the team due to violating the school’s student-athlete code of conduct. Pacan finished the 2009-10 campaign with 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 39 appearances.

Senior and assistant captain Jack Downing leads the Catamounts offense this season. He is the top returning scorer after posting 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 36 games. If Vermont expects to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, they will need Downing along with the rest of the veterans to pick up the scoring slack.

One newcomer that can help fill the hole left by the departures is Connor Brickley. The Everett, MA native was a second round (50th overall) selection of the Florida Panthers this past June. Brickley brings a number of facets to Vermont including excellent playmaking and tempo-setting ability.

Special teams is one area that the Catamounts will be looking to improve this season. The team ranked 39th in the nation last season on the penalty-kill with an efficiency rating of 80.2 percent. Vermont’s power play fared no better. It ranked 44th in the nation with an efficiency rating of 16.1 percent. Compounding matters is the fact that half of the power plays scored last season (13), left with their Irwin, Vock and Rohloff.

Having graduated just one defenseman (Patrick Cullity), the Vermont blue line looks to be their strongest position coming into this season. Senior Kyle Medvec (MIN) will be among those leading the group. The Burnsville, MN native has continually made strides in development, specifically in rounding out his game. Medvec posted 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) playing in all 39 games last season. Two of his goals came on the power play. He also finished third on the team with 50 penalty minutes.

Another area that the Catamounts will be quite good this season is in goal. While Mike Spillane has graduated, the team returns starting junior Rob Madore. The Pittsburgh, PA native appeared in 34 games last season, posting a 13-13-7 that included four shutouts, along with a .908 save percentage and a 2.66 goals against average.