Woodcroft focused on team ahead of UVM debut
UVM men’s hockey opens the Todd Woodcroft era Saturday night at UMass.
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) -The UVM men’s hockey team will take the ice for the first time this season on Saturday as they open a two game, weekend series at tenth ranked UMass.
The game will be the first behind the Vermont bench for new head coach Todd Woodcroft. Woodcroft was hired as UVM’s new head coach back in April. He brings a wealth of experience from both the NHL and international ranks as an assistant coach, but this weekend will be his debut as a head coach.
It’s sure to be a special moment in his career, but since his arrival in Cat Country, Woodcroft as preached a ‘we before me’ mentality, and he’s bringing that same approach to this milestone moment.
“The answer, really, is that it has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with these 29 guys that have been working since, really, the end of last season.”, says Woodcroft. “This is the message every day, is that it’s the team over the individual. This is a testament to the hard work that they’ve done. This is showing that we can solve problems together and if we remain resilient in our plan and believe in our process, which we’ve done since the end of last season and all the way through all the challenges with COVID throughout the summer and the uncertainty of a season. In the small area practices, in groups of nine, in groups of 15, so it doesn’t really have much to do with me, this is a time for celebration for the 29 guys that are lucky enough to play for us.”
Like the other of UVM’s winter sports teams, men’s hockey was preparing to start its season in late November when, just days before their first game, the University announced that it was pushing back the start of the winter season approximately a month, into mid-December.
While this decision was disappointing, the Catamounts also looked at it as an opportunity. With a new coaching staff installing a new program and trying to create a new mindset, having an extra month of practice before the first game was played was time both coach Woodcroft and his players feel was valuable for the team’s development.
“Really just focusing on the details, from your stick detail, to your skate detail, every time you’re on the ice there’s so many little things you have to work on and focus on. So it’s just been great working with a new coaching staff on the little things.”, says sophomore captain Andrew Lucas.
“The extra month we had allowed us to work on the habits and details that were trying to get out of these players.”, adds Woodcroft. “They’re habitual, you have to do them all the time and all the time and all the time, so all those extra practice hours, we believe, have let us to have a little bit more confidence going into the season.”
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