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Woodcroft working through the offseason

UVM head coach seeks turnaround in year three
UVM head coach seeks turnaround in year three
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 7:56 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As the weather has started to warm up a bit over the past few weeks with Summer on the horizon, next Winter may the be the last thing some of you want to talk about. But for the UVM men’s hockey program, and specifically head coach Todd Woodcroft, that’s the first thing on his mind.

We’ll start with the basics everyone already knows: the record on the ice this past season was not what the Cats were hoping for. In Woodcroft’s first somewhat-normal season, the Cats sputtered out of the gate and ultimately finished 8-25-2. It wasn’t ideal for anyone involved, but Woodcroft says there were valuable lessons his team could take from it.

“The progress we’ve made is massive,” Woodcroft said. “Our power play itself, which is an area that we constantly need to improve, that that went up by 5%, which was good for us. We wanted to be a team that had a bigger shot differential. So our shot output went up way higher. I think we were seven shots more per game. We had our shots against go down. Our goals per game went up. Our goals per game against went down.”

Woodcroft and his staff brought in a ton of talent ahead of last season, with 5 NHL draft picks on the roster, but injuries and inexperience limited their impact in year one.

“We set the UVM record for man games lost,” he said.” I think that a young player like Timofei Spitserov, who we got glimpses of last year, he got into games against guys who have full beards and mortgages. And Andre Buyalsky we only saw play for a couple of games before an injury took him.”

Which brings us to what they’re doing to fix that record.

“Well, we lost that game against Providence, and the next morning we were on planes,” Woodcroft said of himself and his staff. “What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to find players that are gonna be better than the players that we have.”

Now the NCAA has all kinds of rules about who and when Woodcroft can talk about incoming players, but according to social media posts and Elite Prospects, the newcomers this Winter will include Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Max Strand, Anaheim Ducks draft pick Ethan Brown, and former Penn State graduate goaltender Oskar Autio. Mix in those newcomers with the pieces already in place, who have another year of experience under their belt, and Woodcroft is excited for the upcoming season.

“We’re really excited about the ones that we were able to sign,” he said. “I think that with this team specifically, we are looking for exacts. We’re looking for specific pieces, recruiting to an identity of how we want to play in the future. Same thing for the (transfer) portal. We knew exactly who we wanted it. We wanted a specific position with a specific handedness. We wanted to have somebody that was known for character, whatever it might be. So we’ve been busy doing that and we’re actually all filled up now for some time we’re excited.”

And he made it clear that the results of the past few seasons aren’t going to cut it anymore.

“When I accepted this job, I had a five year detailed plan,” Woodcroft said. “We’re going into really year three. This coming year is a year that we have to take a leap. Now, the comfort of being the new team and the team that’s building, that’s gone. This is the time for us to take a big step. I think the preparation that has come from the players, from the staff to put into the players, I think that is gonna pay dividends.”

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