Vermont Frozen Four Notebook
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
Eleven players on Vermont's roster have played in every game of the season for the Catamounts. And no other team at this year's Frozen Four comes close to boasting that kind of consistency.
Said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon, "When you have a group of guys who collectively have played in every situation for you, obviously they have confidence in those spots. We've tried to be as consistent as possible as far as line combinations go. Obviously injuries play a part in that, or if you need to spark your lineup offensively, you make some changes here and there. But I think our players deserve a lot of credit because they've responded very well to any changes at all. Again, it's been nice to have consistency with our defensive corps. I think they know each other very well, and we've had great consistent play from our goaltender all through our lineup.
"When I look at what our seniors have gone through, they're able to pass that along to our freshmen. To be able to relay information to our younger players, it's crucial for us. Without them, we're probably not where we're at right now."
Vermont's senior class may be small, featuring just four veterans, but it features arguably the most consistent player in Vermont's 45 year hockey history in Dean Strong.
Strong, the captain for the Catamounts has played in all 154 games in his career, scoring 107 points in that span. Last month, Strong passed Ryan Gunderson ('07) for the most games played in Vermont program history.
Vermont is 51-15-14 in games that senior captain Dean Strong has recorded at least one point during his career but is just 22-41-9 in games when Strong does not record at least one point.
If there is one matchup to watch at the Frozen Four, it's this one: Boston University's power play against Vermont's penalty kill.
The Terriers have converted on 22.0 percent of his power play chances this season, which was the second best clip in the country. Meanwhile, the Catamounts have killed just 81.3 percent of opponent power plays — representing the 42nd best penalty kill in Division I.
Needless to say, Vermont will have to stay out of the penalty box. But it's been doing a commendable job of that all season, committing just over 13 penalty minutes per game, 11th fewest in the country.
Meanwhile, Boston University's 18.3 penalty minutes per game are the 12th most in the nation.
Those were the days
Vermont's last NCAA Tournament team, which came when the Catamounts were a member of the ECAC, featured current NHL All-Stars Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Lightning and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. Eric Perrin of the Atlanta Thrashers was also a member of the team. All three were seniors that season, 1997. St. Louis was a three-time Hobey Baker Award finalist and three-time NCAA All-American with the Catamounts. His 267 points still ranks first all-time at UVM.
Thomas, meanwhile, ranks second all-time in NCAA history in saves. As for Perrin, the player with the least NHL success of the three? He was a Hobey Baker Award finalist, NCAA All-American, and ECAC Player of the Year in 1996. Perrin ranks first all-time at Vermont in goals scored (107).
At the Frozen Four in 1996, that Vermont team lost in the national semifinals to Colorado College, 4-3 in double overtime.
Stalberg and the NHL connection
Vermont features four NHL draft picks on its roster: freshmen Matt Marshall (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Drew Mackenzie (Buffalo Sabres), sophomore Kyle Medvec (Minnesota Wild), and junior standout Viktor Stalberg (Toronto Maple Leafs).
Stalberg was named one of the 10 Hobey Baker finalists this season. He ranks sixth in the country in goals (23) and his 43 points lead the team. His 23 goals are the most for a Catamount since Eric Perrin had 26 goals in 1996-97. Stalberg, who is just the third Catamount in the last 12 years to reach the 40 point plateau, finished just one point behind Boston University forward Colin Wilson and UMass forward James Marcou, who both finished with 35 points, for the Hockey East scoring title this season.