Checking in with Todd Woodcroft
UVM head coach talks draft, World Juniors
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Step outside with highs in the 80s and maybe even into the 90s this week and most people could be forgiven for not spending too much of their time thinking about hockey. But Todd Woodcroft is not most people, and this morning we caught up with him on a couple different topics surrounding the UVM men’s hockey program.
“I think that we can talk about, you know, where things have been, and that’s always important,” Woodcroft said. “But it’s also about where we’re going.”
Year three of the Woodcraft era is effectively underway in Burlington, some members of the team already back on campus, skating ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.
“Any challenges we’ve really had, they aren’t really performance challenges,” Woodcroft said. “They’re really expectation challenges. You have to manage your expectations as your team evolves. We’re now evolving into a team that I think is ready to take the next step going forward.”
This winter, the cats figure to have their most talented team in years.
“The two incoming classes we had, there were six NHL draft picks,” Woodcroft said. “From a third party site, our first incoming class, we were ranked first in Hockey East, and we were eighth in the NCAA. And then this year, our second recruiting class, we were second in Hockey East in sixth in the NCAA. We had 11 players at NHL development camps the past week, which is the program record. That’s outstanding.”
Now one of those guys drafted this year was rising sophomore forward, Joel Maatta. And it appears now that UVM is developing quite the pipeline to the Edmonton Oilers.
“I obviously have a high level of care for the Oilers,” Woodcroft said of the team where his brother Jay is the head coach. “We do have two pretty good players and big pieces of our team that are now gonna be property of the Edmonton Oilers, when they’re done. With those two players, specifically Luca Munzenberger and Joel Maatta, like they have the work ethic of Spartans, right? And we want that to be contagious.”
And if you follow the UVM men’s hockey program carefully, you probably know the Cats had a number of players and a handful of coaches participating in the World Junior Championships last Winter. Unfortunately, tournament organizers ultimately made the decision to pull the plug after games kept getting canceled due to COVID cases. But they’re circling back to redo that tournament next month. And again, there’ll be a lot of Vermont representation.
“You have Steve Wiedler, who’s coaching team Norway. Scott Moser, he’s an assistant coach for team Slovakia. So he will be up there and I’m an assistant coach for team Sweden,” Woodcroft said. “But the most exciting thing is the players. So Luca Munzenberger’s playing, Joel Maatta’s playing, and many future Catamount are actually on rosters. So we’re trying to make sure everybody has as many experiences as they can take what you can bring it back here and make Catamount hockey even stronger.”
And it won’t be long before the Cats suit up to open the regular season in October.
“When Scott and I get back from the World Juniors it’s right around August 22nd, we start really the next week,” Woodcroft said. “So we’re excited about that. And we know that as soon as that September 1st rolls around, we’re already counting down the days until we play in that first weekend in October.”
We don’t know the full schedule as of yet, but in addition to a lot of return regional games from opponents like Yale, Holy Cross, and usual suspects this year (RPI, Clarkson, Dartmouth), the Cats will also face first year D1 program Lindenwood as well as American International in the non-conference slate. And then of course, we’ve got the Hockey East campaign.
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