Sports

Winter Sports Report: MUHS boys’ hockey

MIDDLEBURY — This past season the Middlebury Union boys’ hockey team battled to a 9-8-3 regular season, good for the No. 4 seed in Division I, and then won a quarterfinal matchup before falling to eventual champion Essex in a semifinal.
With nine seniors on this winter’s team, plenty of depth, and a blue-collar approach, Coach Derek Bartlett expects results at least that good this season.
“It’s going to be our compete, our attitude, and how we show up to compete every night,” Bartlett said. “We’ve got a good core. We’ve got nine seniors, and the new guys who are stepping in are learning fast what it’s like to play at this level. I think the cohesiveness right now is good, and the chemistry is going to play a huge role in our success this year.”
Two of those seniors, Zeke Hooper and Jeff Stearns, return to share the bulk of the goaltending work, with sophomore Eddie Hodde ready to step in. Bartlett said the top pair on the blue line will be junior Tucker Stearns and sophomore Joey Niemo, with junior Abel Anderson working with either senior Daniel Hodsden or sophomore Matthew Kiernan as the second pair. Sophomores Trevor Schnoor and Joe Morsman are also in the mix in what Bartlett said will be a Tiger strength.
“We’ve got a great defensive core unit and goaltending,” he said. “There aren’t any spots that are causing us any concern as far as spots in the lineup.”
Bartlett plans to roll three lines up front. Senior center Kamrin Bartlett will work with seniors Devon Kearns and Hale Hescock on what can be fairly called the top unit, senior Robbie Bicknell will center junior Bode Rubright and freshman Owen Lawton on another line, and senior Ryan Nadeau will serve as the pivot for junior Andy Giorgio and senior Logan Pierson-Flagg on a third group. Junior Timothy Hunsdorfer and sophomore Jordan Martin will look to work their way into the lineup.
Coach Bartlett said the Tiger offense will most often be the product of effort.
“We’re going to go out and try to manufacture goals, because goals are going to be a premium all year long. But I think guys are looking forward to it, the challenging of competing every night and getting pucks to the net and getting second and third opportunities,” he said. “We’ve just got to figure out a way to convert on those. That’s going to be who we are, the team that works, that out-competes and gets pucks to the net and hopefully takes advantage of those second and third chances.”
In all, Bartlett said all the pieces are in place for a solid season.
“We have what it takes to be in the top four this year and make a run,” he said. “We believe that. The coaches believe that. The players believe that. That’s our goal.”

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