BURLINGTON – The UVM men’s hockey team is trying to get the focus back to the game as the school year nears. On Wednesday, Interim Head Coach Steve Wiedler spoke with the media about the teams’ future.

Wiedler wasn’t supposed to lead the Catamounts for the 2023-2024 school year, but after an investigation that led to former Head Coach Todd Woodcroft’s firing on July 18th, that’s exactly where Wiedler finds himself.

“I grew up idolizing this league,” said Wiedler on Hockey East. “I think for me this was always a destination, UVM specifically was a destination. I was excited to come here three years ago, and I’m excited to lead the program now in this seat.”

Wiedler has plenty of experience coaching college hockey. He spent six years as an assistant between Curry College and AIC. With AIC, he specialized in recruiting, penalty kill and defense. In his final season with the Yellow Jackets he was promoted to associate head coach.

Wiedler was brought in to the UVM coaching staff as an assistant coach in 2020 at the same time as Woodcroft. Since then, the coaching staff has been creating a culture to breed winning within the program. That culture won’t change, but the roadmap may.

“Whenever a new head coach comes in, you have to put your stamp on the program,” said Wiedler. “There are some things that, along with [assistant coach] Scott Moser, we will be doing differently. We’re having those conversations as a staff right now. And yes, from a personal standpoint I want to make sure the progress that we have had up to date continues, and I’m tasked with moving it one step further.”

With a program that’s already been struggling, the Catamounts haven’t seen a winning season in seven years, the distraction of an investigation and regime change can further cast a shadow, especially in recruiting. Wiedler is counting on his players to seal the deal.

“Players are our best salesmen. They’ve lived it, they’ve been in this program for multi-years,” said Wiedler. “It’s not so much of us going out and telling people that. It’s them letting everybody know what direction we can take this program, what we can do, and how special this place is.”

Wiedler wouldn’t comment on the news of highly touted first-year Alex Bump’s decision to transfer, or the possibility that other players could follow suit, but he did say that he looks forward to coaching those who join him on the ice for their first practice on August 28.