by CVU Grad Challenge student Samuel Evans
The Champlain Valley Union (CVU) boys hockey team have played beyond expectations this year. According to CVU head coach Mike Murray, the Redhawks began the season with a rebuilding mindset and a young roster containing mostly freshman and sophomores.
Even with the inexperience, the team has turned heads this season with a record of 12-4-3. The Redhawks feel good about their possible match-ups in the playoffs because of their impressive record.
In fact, Murray and the Redhawks are anxious to begin playoff hockey. But just like any other team at any level there’s always room to improve. And that’s exactly how the team feels as they continue to work on executing their powerplay, getting pucks to the net, tightening up the defensive zone, and putting focus on their own assignments. The Redhawks are having success because all four lines contribute to the system.
“A couple guys have stood out this season,” Murray said. “First-year junior captain Alex Bulla and sophomore goaltender Greg Talbert are leading by example and raising their game to a different level. Team chemistry has been strong as there has only been one reshuffle, allowing defensive pairings to stick together since day one,” he added.
The losses have been mostly by one goal which gives the Redhawks more confidence entering the state tournament.
Bulla said, “The level of focus needs to be there day in and day out in preparation for playoffs.”
No teams can be taken too lightly at this point of the season.
Freshman forward Jack Hall and sophomore forward Elliot Mitchell lead the Redhawks in scoring this season, which only emphasizes to the rest of the league how deep the team is up and down its lineup.
CVU must keep the same mindset of “not taking anything for granted,” said Bulla. Fundamental and disciplined hockey will be important.
Assistant captain Kirk Fontana would like to see more “screening the goalie, tipping shots from the point, and getting into the dirty areas to rebound the puck.”
The Redhawks are without a standout player, instead they rely on everyone to do his job in all three zones and teamwork is obviously essential. The line of Timmy Pattison, Fontana, and Cam Rivard is clicking in the last couple of weeks although the threesome have felt comfortable playing together although since the beginning.
“Dry land [training] has been keeping the Redhawks mentally and physically fit with a loose attitude,” said Fontana.
“If the Redhawks can get to the semifinals it would be a successful season,” said coach Murray.
The Redhawks feel they can beat any team in the league including South Burlington, Colchester, and Essex. That mindset has kept them going all season. When everyone does his part, this strong CVU team can have fun and advance in the state tournament.