Looking to build off of a successful — if not erratic — campaign that saw Vermont punch a ticket to the Hockey East semifinals, the Catamounts will have to adjust this season without the presence of both Mike Paliotta and Nick Luukko on the blue line and Brody Hoffman in net.
That being said, few teams are better equipped to absorb the loss of key contributors than Kevin Sneddon's Catamounts.
While Hoffman, who finished second amongst Hockey East goalies with a 2.06 GAA, left UVM a year early in order to sign an entry-level deal with the Wild, the Catamounts still feature a plus netminder in junior Mike Santaguida.
The 5-foot-9 Santaguida might not convey much of an intimidating presence in net, but the Mississauga, Ontario, native has certainly proved that he can take the reins as the Catamounts primary goaltender after posting a 2.08 GAA with a .923 save percentage in 21 games last season.
In most cases, losing an All-American like Paliotta would serve as an irreplaceable hit for a Catamount defense that ranked ninth nationally last season at 2.22 goals allowed per game.
However, former Boston University defenseman Alexx Privitera is expected to step up as an integral member of UVM's blue line. Privitera made his mark across the stat sheet last season with UVM, ranking third on the team with 26 points while placing fourth among all Hockey East skaters with 78 blocks. Privitera and Co. will also welcome the arrival of freshman Mike Lee — a puck-moving defenseman that helped the Penticton Vees of the BCHL win the Fred Page Cup and the Western Canada Cup in 2014-15.
After sitting out 12 games last season due to injury, former Hockey East Rookie of the Year Mario Puskarich will look to reassert himself as one of the top scorers in the conference, while fellow junior Brady Shaw will look to sustain momentum after a 19-goal season last year.
After previously announcing commitments to both BU and UMass Amherst, expect freshman power forward Liam Coughlin to produce in the dirty areas around the crease after a successful run with BCHL's Vernon Vipers.
Armed with a multitude of talent in just about every area on the ice, it should come as no surprise if Vermont is able to once again make some noise in the postseason.