The state of Vermont men’s hockey with Todd Woodcroft

Checking in with the Ice Cats’ head coach
Checking in with the Ice Cats’ head coach
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 10:09 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It has been a tumultuous last few years for the UVM men’s hockey program, with the Cats welcoming in an entirely new coaching staff, playing the transfer and international recruiting games, and trying to find their footing in one of the best conferences in the country. We caught up with head coach Todd Woodcroft to check in on the state of Vermont Hockey.

Jack: “Coach, we’re kind of about the midpoint of the season so far. How would you kind of assess the way that your team has performed to this point?”

Woodcroft: “Well, Jack, I like to always start with where we are, kind of what we have. We have 14 new players on our team here, which we’ve integrated. We’re not content with the number of wins that we have, but we’re really happy with the product that we’re building, the habits that are going into these players. I think a lot of times people get enamored with the prize of victory, often over the process of improving. And we’re improving. And I think if you can use maybe an analogy of swimming, like we’re just in the shallow end right now with what we’re trying to do, we’re not ready to swim in the deep end. And then you add in sharks and raining and hailing and you know, all the different types of weather elements we could deal with. So we’re happy with where we’re going. We wish we had some more wins, but we’re aware of where we are. And we know that the one goal games that we’ve been in, whether they’re the wins or whether they’re the losses, that’s kind of showing us we’re going in the right way.”

Jack: “What are some of the things, maybe some of the players that have surprised you in a positive way so far this year?”

Woodcroft: “Geez, I think from the goaltending out, I think Gabe Carriere has fantastic. I think the evolution of Andrew Lucas as a player and as a captain is fantastic. I think the additions of all the transfer students, we have Robbie Stucker, Joe Leahy, Cory Babichuk on the backend. These guys coming in, working with the guys, we already have in the Carter Long’s and Andy Petrillo’s, Cody Shiavan, I’ve liked our defensive metrics and the forwards. I think that the fact, our young guys are playing huge roles and getting lots of minutes bodes well for the future. We can’t score right now. And that is something that we need to work on all the time.”

Jack: “Now you’re about a year and a half into your head coaching position here, what’s maybe similar and what’s different from your experience working with young guys in the NHL?”

Woodcroft: “I think I probably have a perspective that my experience can provide here working with young players in the NHL. You’re getting an almost finished product when you’re dealing with NHL players, certainly players who are beginning their NHL career, but they’re really, really good players. The players that we have in NCAA, or if they’re coming from junior, they’re not finished yet. Our job is coaches here is to finish them or to at least polish them and hand them off to the next coaching staff a little bit more ready. The habits I’ve found that I took for granted in the NHL aren’t consistent across, at least our team. I can say they weren’t yet. And we’re working on that every single day, just even in game habits, sticks on pucks, guys wanting to hit people all the time, which is happens for many young players that age. They want to hit somebody because they think that’s going to elicit a big thing from the crowd. And everyone thinks that they’re tough because they can hit, but then the puck gets through you. So we are spending so much of our time working on the habits inside the game and even outside: how to behave, how to juggle being a student, how to be a member of the community, which is very important here, keeping their grades up. Those are things I didn’t really have an awareness of before I came. And I’m learning and I’m embracing them. I see how important they are. But for the NHL guys that I was lucky enough to work with, I learned a lot from them too. And I think that’s something I’m bringing here. I’m trying to use that perspective to teach these young players working alongside Steve Wiedler and Scott Moser and the rest of our staff. Patrick Sharp as much as he’s around to be able to teach these young players, these habits, that’s something we’re talking about every single day.

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