Season Recap: The Defense

The second of our three-part series recapping UVM hockey’s season. Today we look at the defenders.

For Part One, focusing on goaltenders, click here.


WOMEN

Taylor Willard (Jr.) – 38 GP, 4-12-16

Daria O’Neill (So.) – 38 GP, 1-15-16

Rachael Ade (Sr.) – 38 GP, 7-7-14

Amanda Drobot (Jr.) – 37 GP, 1-8-9

Katherine Pate (Jr.) – 36 GP, 2-4-6

Sammy Kolowrat (So.) – 35 GP, 1-4-5

Rachel Khalouf (So.) – 17 GP, 0-1-1

Improvement across the board offensively; only Willard had fewer points than 2015-16 (she had 19). Ade in particular had a huge jump up in production, with 6 points in each of her first three seasons but 14 as a senior. The shots  against remained the same, around 30 per game, but the goals against went way down (2.34 per game this season as opposed to 3.24 last year), and the PK was dazzling, at one point going almost two months without a power play goal against. Now some would attribute it to improved goaltending…but I  think the D improved as well this year. The only teams that really poured on the shots against the Cats were BC (who the Cats managed to push to OT twice, including the 2OT instant classic in the WHEA semis), Robert Morris (in the second game of a road series, and the Cats did come away with a point), and Clarkson (I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they kind of just won a thing). Even BU and Northeastern were outshot on multiple occasions by the Cats.

Only one loss in the senior class in the form of Rachael Ade. Per HockeyTech’s commits list, the Cats do have one defender coming in next season, Anna Erickson from the Minnesota Revolution.

Apologies this won’t have as much stats as the men’s will have…advanced stats for the women’s game are not readily available. Given that many of the #FancyStats crowd I’ve seen are women…get it together people!


MEN

Rob Hamilton (Sr.) – 38 GP, 10-11-21

Matt O’Donnell (Fr.) – 36 GP, 3-10-13

Trey Phillips (Jr.) – 31 GP, 3-7-10

Chris Muscoby (Sr.) – 27 GP, 1-8-9

Jake Massie (Fr.) – 29 GP, 0-7-7

Corey Moriarty (Fr.) – 19 GP, 1-4-5

Ori Abramson (Sr.) – 22 GP, 1-3-4 – His year situation’s complicated…and also relatable

Mike Lee (So.) – 15 GP, 0-3-3

Max Daigle (Fr.) – 8 GP, 0-3-3 – Departed after first semester

This year’s crop on D was freshman heavy, with four first-years heading into the season. Daigle left in December, but everyone else stuck around and showed rather well. Matt O’Donnell gets a LOT of flak, and though he’s shaky defensively, I think he’s got quite a bit of talent offensively and proved as such throughout the year. Massie looked fairly solid once he adapted; he’s nothing great offensively but has decent size and mobility and can get into passing lanes. As for Moriarty…I feel like half the times I watched him, he was hemmed in his own zone and unable to get out.

Now to the upperclassmen. Mike Lee played less than his freshman year, so really tough to judge any improvement…though I’d be concerned that you’re losing your spot to a newbie. Ori Abramson’s injury, in my opinion, was probably the turning point of UVM’s season when the team started to dip; they badly missed his size. Muscoby was Muscoby, solid but not great, and Trey Phillips had a nice run in December when he had 3 game winners in 4 games, but was otherwise fairly unremarkable.

And then we get to Robbie Hamilton. My good grief. Two goals his first three years combined…10 this year. Throw in 11 assists and the best he’s ever been defensively, and I don’t think I’ve seen a guy turn around this quickly at UVM. I’d heard some rumors during the fall that he was the intended second cut on D and not Mitch Ferguson, and that he’d asked Sneddon for a second chance. I don’t know if there’s truth to that – we’ll probably never know – but on a UVM team that, going into the season, didn’t really have a go-to #1 D…this guy comes out of NOWHERE and puts together the first 10-goal season by a defender since Louis Côté.  Mike Paliotta couldn’t do it. Aaron Miller couldn’t do it. Drew MacKenzie couldn’t do it. Kenny MacAulay couldn’t do it. Rob Hamilton did.

The Cats on the season were a positive possession team in all situations except the power play, with a 51.4 CF% overall, 52.3 CF% on even strength, and 53.2 CF% in one-goal or tie situations. Remove blocked shots, and though the numbers change, the point stands: the Cats had the puck more than they didn’t, and you’ve got to transition the puck from defense to attack. The D did just that this year.

The Cats have, at the very least, Christian Evers and Owen Grant coming in next season. Evers is ex-NTDP who decommitted from North Dakota; Grant is coming off a year in which he was named CCHL Defenseman of the Year. Let’s see who joins them; this D corps has a lot of potential.

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