The UVM men’s and women’s hockey teams gathered at Gutterson Fieldhouse Tuesday afternoon for the annual hockey media day.
The Vermont men’s team is coming off last year’s 12-19-3 record which resulted in the team missing the playoffs.
Head coach Kevin Sneddon is entering his 17th season at the helm at UVM, and also the last year of his current contract.
Sneddon declined to comment on his contract situation, but he did shed some light on adjustments the coaching staff has been making to try and lift the program to success.
“We have to re-evaluate, re-focus, re-energize, and be willing to make changes ourselves,” Sneddon said of the coaching staff.
“I’m just excited about some of those changes and what we’ve seen in the modified practices so far. That’s the name of the game right now, and we have an outstanding goaltender, one of the best in the country.”
Stefanos Lekkas, the senior starting goaltender, led multiple goalkeeping statistics categories throughout last season, even leading the nation in saves per game at one point.
“I think with that, it’s something I want to keep proving every time I step on the ice, every game I play, and just be there for these guys; keep them in all those close games and give them a chance to make that one-goal game a win this year,” Lekkas detailed.
Captain and senior forward Derek Lodermeier echoed the team-first mentality, and also the equalization of talent.
“I think it’s going to take every guy,” Lodermeier explained.
“We don’t really have a stud player, we don’t have a Ross Colton or anything like that this year, but from top-to-bottom we’re solid. I think if everyone is contributing it’s going to lead to success and it’s going to lead to goals.”
For the UVM women’s team, Jim Plumer’s squad faces similar challenges to last season, in addition to the new challenge of Plumer coaching from the bench instead of the ice.
Plumer had knee surgery, so he can’t coach up close on skates, but his physical limitations have pushed him mentally.
“I have this theory that at the end of the season I’m going to write an article entitled, ‘How blowing out my knee made me become a better coach,'” Plumer said with a smile.
“Obviously I can’t be on the ice, and seeing the game from the bench, seeing practice from the bench is a bit of a challenge, but I think it’s really helped me focus on communicating with the players. So I look at it as an opportunity to learn how to coach from a different perspective.”
That new perspective includes new ideas to help the team’s offensive struggles. The main one, Plumer explained, is recruiting players who are already proven goal-scorers in high school.
Last season, the Catamounts finished 10-20-6, making the conference playoffs, but losing in the first round.
In addition, Plumer said this year’s team is the deepest team he’s ever coached, both in numbers and talent.
“There’s a different vibe on the ice that’s very high intensity when we’re out there together, when we’re in the weight room, everyone’s dialed in when we’re in meetings,” senior forward Allie Granato detailed.
“It’s definitely a different feel and I couldn’t agree more that it’s a deeper team.”
UVM men’s hockey starts the new season with a home exhibition against Guelph on Saturday, October 5 at 7:05 p.m.
The women’s team embarks on the new campaign with a home exhibition as well, hosting the University of Ottawa on Saturday, September 28 at 4:00 p.m.