We’ve got a lot to get to so let’s not waste time. Two goalies, four defenders, six forwards.
Tyler Harmon – Goaltender – Ramsey, New Jersey – Jersey Hitmen (USPHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 22-7-1, 2.26 GAA, .922 SV%, 2 SO
Named the 2017 USPHL Goaltender of the Year, Harmon will likely be Stef Lekkas’s backup or a 1B goalie in a platoon system with UVM’s sophomore goalie. A multi-sport athlete at Ramsey High School, where he was not only a standout goalie for the Rams (posting a .948 SV% his senior year and earning The Record’s Player of the Year award) but also a star lacrosse player (potting 35 goals and 29 assists his senior year and was named NJ.com’s Cullen Division Player of the Year). For four years, Harmon split time between his high school team and the Jersey Hitmen U18 team (winning a state Public B championship with the former in 2015-16 and a USPHL U18 title with the latter in 2014-15), but last season starred for the Hitmen senior team. At 6’3″, Harmon brings size to the position the Catamounts lacked last season, as well as a winning pedigree.
Matt Beck – Goaltender – Westport, Connecticut – Philadelphia Jr. Flyers (USPHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 7-13-0, 4.06 GAA, .905 SV%
Based on his numbers and what I’ve heard of him, Beck will likely fill the Pat Feeley role as the competitive goalie who, while he may not see the ice much, will certainly push guys in practice. In high school at Fairfield Prep, Beck twice led the Jesuits to the state title. So yeah, all three of UVM’s goalies this year have won something (Lekkas won the USHL, Beck and Harmon both won state championships in high school), which is cool.
Brian Kelly – Defender – Purchase, New York – Connecticut Jr. Rangers (USPHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 32 GP, 2-12-14, 6 PIM
No, it is not the head coach of #GoAway football. Described as a player who will bring “a high end work ethic, hockey sense and skill” to UVM, Kelly graduated from Kent School in 2016, posting 13 points in his final two years. I don’t watch much USPHL, but I would guess that his low numbers point to him being more of a defensive defenseman. Which is nice, because outside of Massie and Abramson, UVM lacked good defensive defensemen last season.
Cory Thomas – Defender – St. Brieux, Saskatchewan – Flin Flon Bombers (SJHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 49 GP, 2-8-10, 24 PIM
Last season, the Cats had very little size on D with only Abramson and Massie standing at over 6’0″. Enter Cory Thomas, a massive 6’5″ shutdown defenseman from Western Canada. A member of Team Canada West at least year’s World Junior A Challenge, Thomas doubled his point total from 2015/16 this year. During his time in the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border town, Thomas was a member of the SJHL’s All-Rookie team in 2015-16, and helped the Bombers reach back-to-back Canalta Cup finals. He still needs to fill out (as despite his huge frame he’s still only 200ish pounds) but having another big, strong defender should help.
Owen Grant – Defender – Stittsville, Ontario – Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 56 GP, 5-19-24, 24 PIM
Grant had a rockstar year with the Canadians this season. With his club, he won the CCHL title for a third straight season, received the RBC/Arthur K Nielsen Memorial Award for “combining hockey excellence, academic success and also volunteer activities,” was named CCHL Defender of the Year, and was named to the CCHL First All-Star Team. He graduated high school with a 92% average. At the World Junior A Challenge on Team Canada East, Grant again received plaudits for his play, earning a spot on the tournament All-Star Team. You get the point. This is the kind of guy you want on a college hockey team – stellar on the ice, fantastic in the classroom, active in the community. Could be a future captain.
Christian Evers – Defender – Waukee, Iowa – Lincoln Stars (USHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 60 GP, 8-10-18, +2, 69 PIM
The last defender on the list is Evers who, like Thomas, brings solid size to the table standing at 6’2″. A former North Dakota Fighting Hawks commit and #1 overall pick in Phase 2 of the USHL draft, Evers is an alumnus of the United States National Team Development Program, the first Catamount with this status since Michael Paliotta. He brings size, physicality, and solid puck-handling skills, and can read the game well. I think he might be a top-4 defender right away for Kevin Sneddon.
Alex Esposito – Right Wing – West Haven, Connecticut – Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 59 GP, 18-16-34, +4, 144 PIM
An alumnus of the Loomis Chaffee program, Esposito is a tough team player. According to Esposito himself, he is “not too flashy, but I like to make plays and I like to be responsible all over the ice. (I just) really do anything the coaches ask me to do, or the team asks me to do.” (source) He started last USHL season on a tear offensively, sitting at second on the USHL scoring charts for a time. A 12-game scoreless drought eventually dropped him off, but he finished strong. Esposito will probably be playing the role that Forgione played last year: a tough forward that can grab you a goal. He’ll be a fan favorite.
Fun fact: Esposito’s younger brother, Eric, also plays hockey. The two were teammates with the Phantoms last year, and also spent some time together at Loomis Chaffee.
Bryce Misley – Center – Calgary, Alberta – Oakville Blades (OJHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 46 GP, 26-36-62, 14 PIM
Most would probably consider Misley the jewel in the crown of this class. He’s VERY talented, and was drafted in the NHL draft by Minnesota earlier this year. He’s a talented player who will almost certainly be a top-6 center, skating well and dangling with ease. He shows up when it counts, posting 14 points in 16 playoff games for the Blades despite battling a foot injury that slowed his mobility. He was First Team All-Prospect in the OJHL this year, and represented Canada East at the World Junior A challenge. Get hyped, because this guy is good.
Vladislav (Vlad) Dzhioshvili – Forward – Moscow, Russia – Bloomington Thunder (USHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 58 GP, 19-23-42, -9, 86 PIM
Anyone that knows me in real life knows that I adore Russian hockey, so I may be a tad biased. But Dzhioshvili (JEE-osh-vee-lee) is probably #2 behind Misley in my books as the best recruit from this class. A former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knight (a program that has churned out a lot of talent recently, with the crown jewel probably being Philadelphia Flyers defender Ivan Provorov), Dzhioshvili led the Thunder in goals and points, and was named the team’s forward of the year. Vlad describes himself as a power forward, and he can play both center (where he played for the Knights) and wing (where he played for the Thunder), which makes him an even stronger weapon. He owns a powerful shot and very good hands.
Fun fact: Dzhioshvili’s older brother, Maxim, also plays hockey. Maxim spent last season with the Vityaz Podolsk organization in Russia, including stints with junior side Russkie Vityazi and VHL (think the KHL’s AHL) side Tver.
Martin Fréchette – Right Wing – Rockland, Ontario – Cumberland Grads (CCHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 59 GP, 20-41-61, 20 PIM
After a monster 2015/16 where he posted 71 points (up from 32 the year before), Fréchette took a bit of a step back last year. He’s small, very small (standing at just 5’7″), but makes up for that with speed. “I am a fast and skilled player,” Fréchette said in a Q&A with the Grads’ website. “I do not have the luxury of size so that means I have to be quick and smart to make up for it. I have a great vision and feel that possess a high hockey IQ on the Ice.”
The best part of that Q&A, if you ask me, was the part where he said “I’m not the type of player that will dump and chase.” I like this kid already! Controlled entries (passing and carry-ins) tend to generate more shot attempts (and thus more opportunities to score).
Ace Cowans – Center/Left Wing – Beverly, Massachusetts – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 27 GP, 5-7-12, -3, 33 PIM
OverTheBoards.net describes Cowans, who starred at Groton School in Massachusetts, as “small, high skilled, very sharp” and a “quick, high-flying forward who zips around the ice.” I feel like much of what was said about Fréchette also applies here. Small, quick, fantastic hockey IQ. Missed the tail end of last season with an injury, but should be good to go to start his college career.
Max Kaufman – Forward – Pittsford, New York – Langley Rivermen (BCHL)
2016/17 Statistics: 47 GP, 31-24-55, Even, 20 PIM
And for our third straight 5’7″ skill forward, and the final newcomer on our list, we have Max Kaufman, who was actually teammates with Brian Kelly at Kent in 2014/15. Our last small-but-skilled forward from Langley worked out pretty well (Mario Puskarich), though I’m not going to heap those expectations on Kaufman. During two years of high school hockey at Pittsford High, Kaufman was named All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year in 2011-12 after posting 32 points in 20 games and leading the Panthers to a state runner-up. He then played three seasons at Kent School, a prep school, leading the team in scoring his senior year before spending two years at Langley, where he posted 106 points over two regular seasons.
Also, check out this goal he scored. On infinite loop. That is a beauty.
Welcome to UVM everyone!