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Lake Hockey
photography by Shayne Lynn ’93

One of the coldest winters in Vermont history is not without its rewards, such as a smooth sheet of Lake Champlain ice, 50 yards wide and easily a half-mile long, tucked inside Burlington harbor’s stone breakwater. Dennis Miller ’89, head coach of the Catamount women’s hockey team, remembers skating ice like this during his varsity days with the men’s program, when Coach Gilligan would bring the team down for some outdoor fun. On an early February afternoon, Miller did the same for his squad.

It’s a hike out to the black ice, and with a stiff wind and gray skies, a few of the players don’t look so sure about the fun part. For those new to big-lake skating, an ominous rumble from the depths underfoot doesn’t help.

But soon skates and green leather hockey gloves are on and all is forgotten but the game and the friends it is played with. Gray sweatshirts versus black sweatshirts, a pair of shoes marking each goal. It’s clear that the camaraderie on this team is strong — lots of smiles, lots of jokes, lots of elaborate celebration of goals, and a mock hockey fight for good measure.

As the light fades, photographer Shayne Lynn has the players put their game jerseys on for a few team shots. As they pose, Coach Miller quietly skates out to the breakwater, plants a hockey stick in the snow and leaves a puck beside it. When he returns, someone says, “It looks like you’re staking claim on behalf of UVM hockey.” An understated kind of guy, Miller shrugs, “Somebody will be skating out here in the next few days who could use it.” Seeds of inspiration, maybe, on this arctic landscape. —Thomas Weaver