'Super Mario' Puskarich Thrives in UVM's Ice (Hockey) World

Published 01/23 2014 09:40PM

Updated 01/23 2014 09:51PM

Burlington, VT -- This season University of Vermont men's hockey has been plunged into Super Mario's World. Freshman Mario Puskarich has been a revelation at Gutterson and they'll need him to keep it up if they want to make it in Hockey East.

Super Mario spent last season going 5-hole on King Bowser in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), leading the league with 41 goals and 89 points. 16 more points than any other skater. After conquering that world, Puskarich warped to UVM and Hockey East. 

"There was actually pretty high expectations for scoring because I had a good year last year with the goals." remembered Puskarich. "He [UVM head coach Kevin Sneddon] told me he's going to give me the opportunity and how I respond to it would determine how much I play and stuff like that."

"Mario's a special player. We saw that early in practices." said Sneddon. "He can score goals. That's what we believed when we were going through the recruiting process and he's been an excellent addition to our hockey team."

His power-ups continued at Vermont. Super Mario has 10 goals (1st for Hockey East freshman) and 22 points (2nd).

Monday, he was awarded his 4th Hockey East Rookie of the Week award in the last 6 weeks which goes nicely with his Hockey East December Rookie of the Month awards. 

"He's been very consistent for us and I think that's impressive when you're talking about a freshman." said Sneddon.

"It's a tough transition and I give him a lot of credit." said UVM junior defenseman Michael Paliotta. "He's done a really good job at just adapting to the way we play as a team and also college hockey. It's a lot different than juniors and he's been able to find the back of the net and he's really proven himself so far."

The Cats will need Mario to continue gathering 1-ups as they finish out the regular season with 10 Hockey East games, 6 against teams ranked in the top 25.

"Those are exciting games to be a part of." Puskarich said. "We're fortunate that the rest of the games are Hockey East and it should be exciting."

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