Chat about College Hockey
Joining INCH on The Show Thursday is Vermont beat writer Ted Ryan. The sports editor of the Burlington Free Press, Ryan has been covering the Catamounts since the late '60s. UVM is off to a hot start in its first Hockey East season, sitting third in the INCH Power Rankings, and travels to UNH this weekend to renew that rivalry. Saturday's game is at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
Send your questions now and join INCH every Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET.
INCH Archive: Chats
Nate Ewell, Inside College Hockey (1:31 PM)
Thanks everyone for joining us and it's great to see so much excitement out there as we get the second half of the season started.
Nate Ewell, Inside College Hockey (1:32 PM)
We're thrilled to have Ted Ryan of the Burlington Free Press join us today, so without further ado ...
Ted Ryan (1:33 PM)
Welcome everyone, and I aprpeciate the opportunity to join SportsNation and discuss college hockey in general and the Catamounts in particular.
Carson (Stowe, VT)
Who are some of the unsung heroes on the Catamounts this year?
Ted Ryan (1:35 PM)
The unsung heroes include many of the third- and fourth-line players and the defensemen. Players such as Reese Wisnowski, Chris Myers and Matt Lutz particularly on defense. In a sense many of their star players are probably unheralded for their attention to defense when you can see players like Torrey Mitchell and Dean Strong blocking shots in the final minutes of close games.
Ted Ryan (1:36 PM)
More than anything this season, Vermont has truly adopted the team concept. Every player has been willing to fill any role and do whatever's necessary to win at the moment.
Pierre (Massena, NY)
A lot of the players and coach Sneddon talk about the strength and conditioning program at UVM. What makes it so great?
Ted Ryan (1:38 PM)
Part of it is certainly the person who directs the program, Paul Goodman. He certainly knows what is necessary for athletes in all sports, and tailors the program for hockey players. They also stress off-season training and this season a number of players remained in the Burlington area to work out under Goodman's guidance. That kind of dedication carries over into the season when the players achieve game shape and consequently they've probably been one of the most fit Vermont teams I've seen, particularly in third periods or late in the second game of a weekend. Paul has worked with, among others, Martin St. Louis, former Vermont player and reigning NHL MVP, and Martin certainly praised Paul's dedication and willingness to drive players.
Harvey Fickle (Missingyou, MN)
Cap'n Ryan: Observations from the Catamount Classic? How'd the Beavers stack up?
Ted Ryan (1:40 PM)
The Beavers played very well. They looked a shade rustier than a couple of the other teams, but that might be travel considerations since they certainly had the farthest to go. I was very impressed with their quickness and work ethic, although it looks like they need another scorer or two to be able to challenge in every game. The goaltending seemed to be very solid from what we saw.
Thad O'Aaslesson (Slick, SD)
Ted > What's Vermont's recruiting base? Is there a solid pool of high school hockey talent in-state?
Ted Ryan (1:41 PM)
The recruiting base in the past has often been New England prep schools and Quebec. One thing Coach Sneddon and his staff are working on is geratly expanding that base. They have been looking more toward the junior leagues, the USHL in particular, and Western Canada, far more than in the past. This is one of the areas, when Sneddon took over the position, that the administration realized needed to be addressed in terms of resources for the coaches to pursue players who are excellent students as well.
Ted Ryan (1:43 PM)
The pool in Vermont has been quite small -- the population isn't large. But UVM usually tries to have 2-3 players from the state each year, many of whom now begin their high school play in Vermont and then transfer to prep schools before they come back to play for the Catamounts. The objective is to have players who contribute to the program, not just to have hometown names on the roster. Coach Sneddon and his staff have done a very good job with this with the addition of Peter Lenes and Reese Wisnowski to go with Vermont players previously recruited by Mike Gilligan, including Travis Russell and Brady Leisenring.
Ted, are there any specific things you miss about being in the ECAC?
Ted Ryan (1:46 PM)
Personally, as a longtime reporter, what I miss are some of the old rivalries. Not seeing Vermont play Harvard or Cornell or RPI is certainly something I'll miss. On the other hand, some of the rivalries that Vermont will develop in Hockey East are sure to be tremendous. Again, personally, I don't miss the winter traveling to many places in the ECAC. Hockey East is a little more contained in terms of geography, and when you're on the road you're there for two nights -- not driving from New Haven to Princeton, etc. Fortunately the university hopes to maintain some rivalries with ECAC teams. The games against St. Lawrence, Clarkson and Dartmouth illustrate why Vermont's in the perfect position to have the best of all worlds in Eastern college hockey.
Trevor Vanderjack (Mississiqua)
Not very familiar w/ VT's program any famous NHL'rs I should know??
Ted Ryan (1:48 PM)
The two most obvious have been John LeClair, who had three 50-goal seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens, as well as Martin St. Louis, the current MVP and top scorer from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Aaron Miller, a very good defensive defenseman and Olympian, plays for the Los Angeles Kings. Those are probably the three most successful, although Tom Draper had a solid goaltending career with a number of NHL teams.
What teams out east hold a realistic shot at taking down one of the Big Three(UW, UMN, CC) from the WCHA?
Ted Ryan (1:50 PM)
Right now it's still a little unclear who's going to emerge as the top teams in the East. Boston College is probably the best team I've seen outside of Vermont. The way Vermont plays defense you'd have to give the Catamounts a chance. Providence and New Hampshire certainly appear to have talent, if a little inconsistency. St. Lawrence was certainly impressive in terms of team speed, goaltending and defense in the game I've seen. I find it hard to pick out one or two at this point that stand above the others. We'll probably see challengers emerge over the next three to four weeks as the ECAC and Hockey East teams really dig in to their league schedules.
I will be attending my first UNH game this Saturday against Vermont. What should I expect the rest of the year from the (inconsistent) Wildcats?
Ted Ryan (1:52 PM)
Right now the Wildcats appear to be struggling to find their personality over the last six or seven games. Sometimes teams go through that sort of a shake-out period. But with the offensive talent on that team, I would expect them to be right in the middle of the Hockey East chase through the playoffs. Again, consistency seems to be their biggest drawback. When you get in the routine of playing the weekend games in the second half of the season, that often works itself out.
Kirby Hrbek (Jackmorris, MN)
What are your favorite Road Arenas?
Ted Ryan (1:54 PM)
I've enjoyed a number of venues. In the old ECAC games at St. Lawrence's Appleton Arena were always fun, along with any trip to Cornell. Dartmouth always had a lot of excitement. I must admit I'm kind of prejudiced toward some of the older arenas for the character although I know they don't always have the glitz and fan amenities the new ones have. In Hockey East I used to enjoy going to UNH's Snively Arena. The Whitt is a nice arena, but for us oldsters, something seems to be a bit missing with the newer arenas. I have not seen BU's arena which I understand is tremendous. It's been a long times since I went to Alfond, but that was certainly a fun place to go.
John (Dorchester, Ma.)
How is Vermont's incoming recruiting class look?
Ted Ryan (1:57 PM)
At the moment they have six players committed, and they continue to look for speed and skill. I had the opportunity to see one of their players, Chris Atkinson, with the Under-18 Team, and he fits that mold. They also have a defenseman named Patrick Cullity who had originally planned to go to BU. Instead he's coming to UVM where his father I believe is a hall of famer. Sneddon and his staff are still looking at a number of players. This should be one of the larger classes Vermont has brought in in a while, since the Catamounts will lose nine players, including a couple of top-notch players in Jaime Sifers, Brady Leisenring and Jeff Corey, among others. I get the sense that the quality of this incoming class should rival the past two, which have certainly been big factors in Vermont's improvement the last two seasons.
Ted Ryan (1:59 PM)
I thank all the college hockey fans for taking the time to pose some interesting questions and for their interest in Vermont hockey. And I wish everyone a great hockey season. Thank you to Inside College Hockey for the opportunity to visit with you.
Nate Ewell, Inside College Hockey (2:00 PM)
Thanks, Ted. And thanks for all the great questions -- we didn't get to all of them, so tune in to the INCH Podcast next week and we'll tackle a few more. You can find that on insidecollegehockey.com, and you can see Vermont Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
Nate Ewell, Inside College Hockey (2:00 PM)
And we'll see you next week here on The Show.