Second in Nationals,
Hockey Cats are Back
in east, NCAA runner-up
The Catamount ski team put together a strong season, winning all of the
Eastern competitions with the exception of their own UVM Carnival, where
rival Dartmouth carried the day. They also brought the Eastern Intercollegiate
Ski Association title back to its longtime home in Burlington. In 2004,
Middlebury snapped the Cats 28-year winning streak at Easterns.
This years team started a new streak of their own.
the 2005 NCAA Skiing Championships on home snow at the Stowe Mountain
Resort and Trapp Family Lodge, the Catamounts went into the meet with
thoughts of a possible national championship. Thanks to spectacular performances
by skiers in the giant slalom, that looked like an early possibility as
the Cats jumped out to a first-day lead.
the womens giant slalom, Vermonts junior standout Jamie Kingsbury
won by a full two seconds, taking her second national championship in
three years. Kingsbury is the first Catamount to win two national championships
in the womens giant slalom.
Overall, the Catamounts went 1-6-8 in the event as freshman Jilyne McDonald
and junior Amy Cochran finished sixth and eighth to earn All-America honors
in their first NCAA appearances.
Its nice to be in the winners circle for sure,
said Kingsbury. It was hard snow and I like the hard snow. I had
a good lead, so for the second run I just wanted to make it down without
any major mistakes.
In his first NCAA appearance, Vermont freshman Greg Hardy skied to a national
championship in the mens giant slalom. Second after the first run
of the day, Hardy used a solid second run to take over first place and
become the third Catamount since 2000 to win the national championship
in the mens giant slalom. Paul Epstein backed him up with a tenth
Displaying the strength of their team balance, especially their Nordic
squad, Denver moved into first place on the second day of the competition.
UVM alumnus Knut Nystad 94 is the Pioneers head Nordic coach.
The Cats held onto second for the rest of the competition with a number
of strong performances. Ethan Foster and Lowell Bailey both earned All-America
status in the Nordic races. Hardy finished on the podium again, with a
third place in the slalom, where Epstein took tenth again to earn his
All-America citation. Amy Cochran battled through a tough second run to
take sixth in the womens slalom.
Vermonts second place at the national championships was the 14th
in the history of the program and third in the past five years. Overall,
the Catamounts picked up 10 All-America citations in the 2005 Championship.
Final Four farewell
Pre-season polls predicted the UVM mens hockey team would finish
near the bottom of the ECAC. By most accounts, Gutterson was supposed
to be closed for the season by mid-March instead of gearing up to play
host to a three-game quarterfinal series against rival Dartmouth. But
the 2004-2005 edition of Catamount hockey proved themselves over and over
to be a talented, resilient team, rejuvenated in the second year of Coach
Kevin Sneddons tenure.
With one win and four losses early in the season, it seemed that those
predicting another down year for UVM hockey may have been right. That
changed quickly in late October when the Cats took on Minnesota-Duluth,
the top-ranked team in the country at the time, and put up a win and a
tie on consecutive nights playing on the Bulldogs home ice. UVM
followed the upsets in Duluth by going unbeaten in nine straight games,
working their way to a #11 national ranking.
The Cats got on another roll in the late season to earn home ice in the
ECAC quarterfinals. The team closed with wins over St. Lawrence, Yale,
Princeton, and Brown, before ending the regular season with a tie against
The playoff series against Darmouth was the first hosted at Gutterson
since 1996-97, the Perrin-St. Louis-Thomas era. Playing before the usual
full house, UVM lost to Dartmouth in the Friday night opener. And Saturday
night it looked like the Cats were teetering on the brink of extinction
until, with 1:46 left in overtime, Mark Lutz fired a pass to Chris Myers,
who put the puck in the goal to even the series.
Coach has talked about composure all year and thats what we
want to do, Myers said after the game. Stay composed no matter
what happens out there, and thats what really paid off in the end.
After UVM put Dartmouth away the next night, Sneddon was full of praise
for his team. To come back after losing game one and sweep the next
its all character in that room. Thats what
got the job done, the coach said.
Though things didnt go the Cats way at the ECAC Final Four,
where they lost to Cornell and Colgate, Vermont left the ECAC in style.
The Catamounts join the Hockey East conference next fall. Season-end individual
honors went to Jaime Sifers, named the ECACs best defensive defenseman
and second-team all conference; goalie Joe Fallon, ECAC Rookie of the
Year; Scott Mifsud, second-team ECAC; and Torrey Mitchell, ECAC All-Rookie