The Vermont Catamounts will finally get their season kicked off on Saturday night, as they will welcome the New Hampshire Wildcats (1-5) to the Gutterson Fieldhouse. It’s been a very long offseason and players and coaches alike are excited about Saturday night. “I think the adrenaline is going to be sky-high, I don’t think you can be any more excited to play than this group is for as long as they’ve had to wait,” said Coach Plumer.
Before the season gets kicked off on Saturday, let’s take a look at how the Freshmen class will add a ton of talent to the already strong UVM forward core heading into December 19th.
When I spoke to Coach Plumer on December 8th and mentioned the name Natalie Mlynkova to him, he mentioned how excited he is to have a player of her caliber on the UVM Roster. “Natalie Mylnkova is one of the most talented freshmen in the country, she’s an elite player, elite skill set, elite hockey brain, loves the game,” Plumer said. Mlynkova spent the last two seasons playing in Mulmur, Ontario with the HTI stars. There, she put up numbers comparable to video games.
During the two seasons she spent there, the forward scored 108 goals along with 69 assists for 177 points. She did so in 86 games. During the 2019 IIHF World Championships, Mlynkova put up three goals and was named one of the Czech Republic’s top three players.
Maddy Skelton is one of four players from Minnesota on the Catamounts roster for the upcoming season. The 2018-19 season was a career year for Skelton, as she racked up 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points. She did so in 25 games. The forward followed that up with 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points in 25 games last year. This was with North Wright County.
Hailey Burns, from Kirkland, Quebec, got off to a fast start in her Freshmen year at UVM. In the first month of the season, she would pick up the opening goal, which would end up being a game-winner in a 5-2 victory against the St. Lawerence Saints. She would also add an assist the following game in which the Catamounts faced the New Hampshire Wildcats.
Her fast start offensively wouldn’t last, as her only other point of the season would come as an assist against the Black Bears in February. Prior to committing to college, just like Sara Levesque, Burns attended John Abbot College, where she captained the Islanders women’s team for three seasons. During the tenure she spent there, Burns put up 37 goals along with 26 assist which made for 63 points.
During the 2017-18 season, Burns recorded 13 goals along with nine assists which made for 22 points. She was also named the team’s MVP while earning an invite to the QCHL All-Star Game. Burns may be listed as a forward, but saw time up the middle and on the wing for UVM last season. When watching her, you’ll notice that she’s strong on the puck and is someone who’s going to steal the puck and turn it into an opportunity for her team.
Lily Humphrey is coming off a solid freshman year, where she put up seven goals along with seven assists for 14 points in 35 games last season. The left-handed forward spent two seasons with the New Hampton Huskies before joining the Catamounts. She can always be found crashing the net and I expect her to be a player who will reach double digits in both the goals and assists categories this season.
Corrine McCool is coming off a bounce-back year, which saw her put up 13 goals along with 11 assists for 24 points in 35 games. She was one of four players last season who managed to record at least 100 shots on goal. The 21-year-old forward would also add Player Of The Month honours in December, which saw her put up three goals and one assist in three games throughout the month.
Prior to coming to UVM, the West Roxbury, MA native was a three-sport athlete at St. Lawerence University. During her senior year, McCool would end up captaining all three teams and was named team MVP in hockey and lacrosse in her junior and senior years. The forward plays a solid game offensively and has a really nice and quick shot as well. I think McCool could be one of the stronger players this season for UVM.
Lilly Holmes is entering her third year at UVM and was named an assistant captain along with Sini Karjalainen for 2020-21. In Holmes’s three years at UVM, she’s put up two goals and four assists, which has made for six points in 72 games. However, both of those goals came via the shorthanded variety. Just like McCool, she was a three-sport athlete prior to, with the Westminster Martlets located in Connecticut.
The Saratoga Springs native is one of those players who may not put up a lot of points, but will always be involved in the play. She’s got solid hands and overall just plays a strong 200-foot game.
Alex Gray has struggled to find herself a regular in the UVM lineup, playing in only 40 games through her first two seasons and only putting up a single assist. Prior to heading to Burlington, Gray spent two season playing at Stanstead College, which is based in Quebec. There, the 20-year-old winger became a two-time NAHPA champion.
Gray won’t be a flashy player on the ice, but coach Plumer had mentioned that Gray was one of three players who have helped some of the Freshmen get acclimated to college hockey and UVM.
Theresa Schafzahl is entering her third season at UVM after leading the team offensively last season. She led the team with 14 goals while her 29 points saw her tied for first place. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as in her freshmen season, she led all rookies in points (17) and was second overall in that category on the team. Schafzahl has solid speed down the wing while also comprised with a very quick shot.
Prior to joining the Cats, Schafzahl was apart of DC1A and was a member of Team Austria for the Olympic Qualifiers. A native of Weiz, Austria, she skated with the team back in 2016. Having spent three years with the Austrian National Team, the lefty, in 36 games, managed to score 30 goals while representing her country. In 2016, she placed third in the Skills Challenge in Lillehammer, Norway in the Youth Olympic Games.
Before even talking about her time at UVM, we can’t overlook what she did before she was a Catamount. In her four years at Loyola Academy, Caldwell racked up an impressive 112 goals and 49 assists for 161 points, which holds the scoring record at the school. Her most impressive season was in 2014-15, where she put up 24 goals along with seven assists for 31 points in 10 regular-season games.
She then put up 11 goals and seven assists for 18 points in 11 playoff games. She would be part of the Loyola team in 2016 that would end up securing the state championship. The Glenview, IL native would also go on to win multiple state championships with the Chicago Mission, including a runner-up performance in 2017.
The 21-year old forward has played 105 games with UVM, where she’s managed to put up 14 goals along with 22 assists, amassing 36 points. Last season, she racked up 103 shots, which was second on the team behind Maude-Poulin Labelle. The left-handed shooter almost tripled her numbers from her sophomore season, as she recorded nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points in 36 games. Caldwell has the ability to play up the middle and is gonna be a player who’s gonna draw penalties and be able to break up plays.
Senior Olivia Kilberg had a rough season last year, as she racked up only one assist in 34 games, after putting up a combined nine goals and eight assists in her previous two seasons. Prior to her time in Vermont, Kilberg spent three seasons playing at Edina High School, where she also played lacrosse in addition to hockey. In her final season with the Hornets, Kilberg put up 10 goals along with 15 assists for 25 points.
This statistics helped lead Edina High to securing a state title. That season, she was named an All-Conference Honourable Mention, and was named a recipient of the Hobey Baker Character Award, which is given to players who “exemplify the Hobey Baker ideal that “Character Builds Excellence.” When you look at Kilberg, the one thing that really stands out over anything is her speed. Expect a bounce-back year from her.
Captain Kristina Shanahan is entering her senior year with the Vermont Catamounts after scoring 25 goals along with 26 assists, amassing 51 points in 107 games with the team. Prior to committing to UVM, Shanahan spent two seasons at CEGEP after receiving a scholarship from the Montreal Canadiens at the Quebec Athletic Excellence Foundation. In her two years at Dawson College, Shanahan tallied 60 points, recording 32 goals along with 28 assists. She did so in 46 games.
In 2016-17, Shanahan led her team with 20 goals along with 33 points in 24 games. Those numbers ranked her fifth in CEGEP. At Dawson, she spent one year as an assistant captain and was an assistant last year with Vermont.
When asked about how she helped grow the team chemistry, Shanahan credited good chemistry on the team while also mentioning the extended pre-season. “Were very blessed to already have a very good team culture,” said Shanahan. She also mentioned that it’s also been a collective team effort on that end. The Quebec native is another one of those players who can play up the middle and is a big part of the UVM penalty kill.