Vermont's Sneddon 'Shocked' by Union Player Sentiment
by Jashvina Shah/Staff Writer
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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. Mat Bodie was eight years old when Kevin Sneddon started coaching Union. And he was 13 when Sneddon left for Vermont.
But on Friday evening after Union defeated Vermont 5-2, Bodie was one of the Dutchmen who thanked Sneddon for everything he did at Union.
“I thought it was a pretty classy move,” Sneddon said after the loss.
“I was pretty surprised. You don’t often hear [that] in a handshake line.”
With the win over Vermont, the Dutchmen will play in the East Regional Final. This is the fourth straight year the Dutchmen, who have won three ECAC championships in a row, are skating in the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight season.
Sneddon was the head coach at Union for five seasons before moving to Vermont. When he started coaching at Union, the Division I program was seven years old. In those seven years, the Dutchmen recorded two seasons of 10-plus wins.
Three times the Dutchmen won six games or fewer.
Sneddon took over in 1998-99 and stayed until 2002-03, when current Providence coach Nate Leaman took over. Under Sneddon, the Dutchmen increased its win total on a yearly basis. In his first season the team went 3-26-3, and in his last season Union finished 14-18-4.
Mainly, Sneddon was finally able to convince the then-stubborn Union administration to start a booster club, the Garnet Blades. That laid the foundation for what was to follow.
“I just said thanks for everything you’ve accomplished at Union. He came in at a real tough spot and he was the first one to really get that program moving in the right direction,” Bodie said.
“I’m grateful for what he did for us and I just thought it was important that he heard from current players.”
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Four Philadelphia Flyers front office personnel and scouts were at the game, watching two of their prospects, in particular prized defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere of Union. Vermont's Nick Luukko, who father, Peter, was an executive with the Flyers' parent company until a few months ago, is also a Flyers draft pick.
The Flyers' brass did a collective gasp, however, when Gostisbehere was drilled into the boards by Vermont's Jonathan Turk in the first period, and came up favoring his right knee. Gostisbehere turned out to be OK and played the next shift.
Union senior Kevin Sullivan also came off holding his hand late in the game. He seemed relatively OK, but his status isn't 100 percent for Saturday's East Regional Final.