Hockey East Team Previews: Vermont Catamounts
We’re continuing our Hockey East team previews with a closer look at the Vermont Catamounts.
What Happened: The Catamounts got off to a miserable start last year, winning only two games through the first three months of the season. Things seemed to be getting worse for Vermont as the second half of the year got underway when forward and leading scorer Wahsontiio Stacey decided to leave the team. Given that the Catamounts struggled for offense all year and ranked second-to-last in Goals For (82) among Hockey East teams, losing Stacey could have been a death blow to their season. But Vermont was able to battle their way into the playoffs as a seventh seed, before being promptly swept by New Hampshire.
- Dan Lawson: Lawson was one of three senior defensemen on the roster and one of only two Vermont defensemen to skate in all 36 contests last year (the other being freshman Nick Bruneteau). The senior was an anchor on the Catamount defense this past season, providing veteran leadership that Vermont will sorely miss this year.
- Jack Downing: The senior forward led all Vermont goal-scorers with 13 in 2010-11, and was third on the team with 18 points. The assistant captain also scored the game-winning goal in half of Vermont’s wins, including their 3-1 win over Northeastern at Matthews Arena in January.
- Wahsontiio Stacey: He might not have finished out his senior season for Vermont, but make no mistake, losing Stacey did and will continue to hurt the Catamounts. Before leaving the team mid-season, Stacey was averaging almost a point per game (17 GP, 9 G, 6 A). The void in offensive production that he created when leaving the team went unfilled for the most part, and that will need to change for Vermont to get better on offense this year.
- Sebastian Stalberg: The younger brother of former Vermont standout Viktor, Sebastian Stalberg made a name for himself last year, as he was among the team leaders in most offensive categories. Sebastian led the team in points (28), assists (19), and was tied for second on the team in goals (9). Going into his junior year, Stalberg will have to play a big role in order for this UVM offense to improve from last year.
- Rob Madore: Last year, Madore put up another solid statistical season but was often let down by his team’s lack-of-offense. Despite having only eight wins to his name, Madore had a GAA of 2.98 and a Save Percentage of .907, both of which are on par with his career numbers. Madore was a key reason that Vermont was able to make a late postseason run two years ago. Entering his final season in Burlington, he’ll be looking to recapture that form.
The Outlook: Vermont has holes to fill on defense with Kevan Miller, Kyle Medvec, and the aforementioned Lawson moving on after graduation. However, despite the turnover on the blue line, the key area to focus on for the Catamounts in 2011-12 is still their offense. Madore will be able to steal a game or two for Vermont, but UVM will need big offensive seasons out of guys like Stalberg and Chris McCarthy, as well as production from some unexpected players, in order to find itself towards the top of Hockey East at season’s end.
- Ben Horner