"I like our schedule a lot." said Sneddon. "I think we have some great teams on our schedule that will certainly prepare us for our goals of winning a Hockey East championship and getting back to the NCAA tournament. Certainly there's no question that the strength of schedule is there."
Half of Vermont's 12 non-conference games are against old ECAC rivals including Friday-Saturday home and home's with Clarkson and St. Lawrence. Take out the non-conference games against fellow Hockey East teams and 6 of 8 are against ECAC clubs. That's the same number as last year but the previous year had just three. Sneddon says his relationship with Clarkson's head coach is responsible for the scheduling trip down memory lane.
"It really started with Clarkson. Casey Jones and I are pretty good friends." Sneddon said from Gutterson Fieldhouse Thursday. "We talked about the great rivalry that we had with Clarkson. Certainly in the latter years of Mike Gilligan's tenure there was some great playoff series. Certainly their fans will travel here. Our fans will travel there. We just felt like doing a home and away in the same weekend would be great for all the fans."
It's not just about the fan experience but also about the student-athlete experience. Playing in the NCAA tournament, the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and even at Notre Dame are all selling points to potential recruits.
"We're trying to create experiences for our student-athletes. A chance to play at Wells Fargo Center again against Penn State in front of a sold out crowd is a moment that your student-athletes don't forget and neither do your fans. We're excited to have that relationship continue." said Sneddon.
As mentioned, there are once again 4 non-conference games against repeat Hockey East opponents. It was a bonus for UVM's strength of schedule last year but it doesn't offer much variety for fans. Sneddon would rather schedule different schools but the expansion of Hockey East has made that difficult the past two seasons.
"Quite often when there's a large realignment in college hockey there is kind of a scramble to find games for at least the first couple of years and that's really what happened." Sneddon said. "North Dakota, we would have liked to have returned this year but due to their schedule they'll come back next year."
With 61% of their scoring returning and the Hockey East Rookie of the Year in Mario Puskarich, the VCats might be the team circled on everyone else's calendar especially since many of the league's top stars are gone to the pro's and graduation.
"He's [Puskarich] certainly a tremendous player." said Sneddon of Puskarich. "He had a great freshman year and the challenge is that he's not going to be an unknown player anymore. He'll have somebody checking him tightly I'm sure. When teams like BC [Boston College] lose some great players, they also bring in some great players. So, I'm not going to feel sorry for them."
A link to the full 2014-2015 schedule and the UVM Athletics release is below:
BURLINGTON, Vt. - The University of Vermont men's hockey team will make its first-ever trip to Notre Dame, host a pair of Hockey East schools in the 19th annual Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup, and renew its matchup with Penn State for the third edition of the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff during the upcoming season. Head coach Kevin Sneddon officially announced the team's schedule for the 2014-15 campaign on Wednesday.
"The release of our schedule always indicates we are not far from day one of an exciting new season at UVM," said Sneddon. "Despite some scheduling challenges with the realignment of conferences during the past two years (Hockey East included), we feel we've put together a very tough schedule for our team. With the ultimate goal of winning a conference championship as well as a national title, our schedule offers our fans a chance to see some of the top teams in college hockey while preparing our team to compete for championships. Our student-athletes are working hard to prepare for another rigorous schedule."
The Catamounts begin the season with an exhibition game against Royal Military College of Canada at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Sunday, Oct. 4. The regular season opens the following Saturday (Oct. 11) with a trip to Matthews Arena for a Hockey East contest against Northeastern. UVM opens the home slate on Friday, Oct. 17 against former ECAC rival Clarkson, then hits the road to face the Golden Knights the next night (Oct. 18) at Cheel Arena in Potsdam, New York.
A year after introducing Notre Dame to the league at Gutterson, Vermont welcomes the University of Connecticut men's hockey team to Burlington on Saturday, Oct. 25 as the Huskies officially become the 12th member of Hockey East in 2014-15. The following weekend, the Catamounts make their inaugural trip to South Bend, Indiana to take on Notre Dame on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
After two-game Hockey East series vs. Maine (Nov. 7-8) and at Providence (Nov. 14-15), UVM heads into Thanksgiving with road games against UConn (Nov. 21) and UMass Amherst (Nov. 22). The Minutemen return to Gutterson on Tuesday, Nov. 25 for the annual pre-Thanksgiving matchup, and Vermont travels to Maine after the holiday for a two-game non-conference series at Alfond Arena on Nov. 28-29. A home-and-home series with longtime rival St. Lawrence on Dec. 12-13 wraps up the first half of the schedule.
Providence, UMass Amherst, and Air Force will form the field for the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup on Dec. 28-29 in Burlington. The Catamounts open the event by playing Air Force for the first time since the 2009 East Regional Final when UVM reached the NCAA Frozen Four. Vermont then faces off with Providence to close the tournament, which the host has won in back-to-back years and four times in the last six seasons. UMass Amherst plays Providence and Air Force in the 4 p.m. game each day.
After New Year's, non-conference road games are slated against ECAC schools on Jan. 3 at Yale and Jan. 11 at Dartmouth. UVM returns home the following weekend for a Hockey East battle with Northeastern on Jan. 16 and its final non-league game against the Huskies on Jan. 17. Vermont then plays host to Boston University in Hockey East play the next weekend (Jan. 23-24) before returning to the Wells Fargo Center for the third annual Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff against Penn State on Jan. 31.
The Catamounts close the regular season with their final eight league contests, beginning at Gutterson with their longest standing rival New Hampshire on Feb. 6-7. Road tests await Vermont in the final month with trips to reigning Hockey East regular season champion Boston College (Feb. 13-14) and two-time defending tournament champion UMass Lowell (Feb. 27-28). Senior weekend is set for Feb. 20-21 against Merrimack at Gutterson Fieldhouse to wrap up the home slate.
The bottom eight teams in the final Hockey East standings will face off in best-of-three series during the first round on Mar. 6-8. The remaining eight teams then compete in the quarterfinals on Mar. 13-15 at campus sites, followed by the 2015 Hockey East Championship on Mar. 20-21 at TD Garden in Boston. TD Garden will also host the 2015 NCAA Frozen Four on April 9-11.
The Catamounts celebrated their 50th anniversary last season and won 20 games for the first time in the last five years. UVM qualified for its sixth NCAA Tournament in school history and made the Hockey East playoffs for the eighth time in the last nine seasons. Vermont collected a pair of Hockey East All-Star honors and had a player (Mario Puskarich) win the league's Rookie of the Year Award for the first time. The team will return 61-percent of its scoring for the upcoming campaign.
(Courtesy-- UVM Athletics)
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.