Goal scorers must have a selfish streak. They want the puck for one reason: to beat the opposing goalie.
This is not a negative trait, not if a player has a scorer’s touch. To shoot hard and wildly time after time is one matter. To release the shot quickly with accuracy is an entirely different matter.
Justin Milo is a shooter and a scorer, something too few University of Vermont hockey players are, or even try to be.
“He’s got a shooter’s mentality,” said UVM coach Kevin Sneddon this week after Milo scored three goals against Lowell and Providence after missing Vermont’s first five games.
“He can get the puck going to the net quickly. He scores goals that most of our guys can’t,” Sneddon said.
As a sophomore a year ago, Milo finished with 12 goals, displaying a knack for the game-changing goal. Now, with Viktor Stalberg (24 goals) and Peter Lenes (15 goals) off to the pros, Milo is one Catamount with the potential for a breakout goal-scoring season.
“It’s real important to get shots on net,” Milo said. “A lot of guys on a lot of teams pass up the shot and pass up chances to score. You never know what will happen when you throw the puck on net.
“As long as it’s headed toward the net, good things happen,” said Milo, who says his quick release and accuracy are the products of instinct and hundreds of hours of practice. “Last year, I was a little bit more pass-first and this year, it’s my turn to be the shooter on the team and I’m trying to put the puck on net as much as possible.”
Playing with Brian Roloff and Colin Vock suits Milo since, he said, “Both are great passers and puck movers.
“I just try and find some open ice and try to get that quick shot off,” he said. “I feel we can create chances every shift we get.”
Vock recognizes Milo’s ability to pull the trigger without settling the puck for the split second many players take, a split-second that lets goalies square up or defenders get a stick in the way. Milo’s second goal against Providence was exactly that: a Vock pass from below the end line to Milo in the slot for a no-hesitation, rising wrist shot that caught the goaltender moving side-to-side.
“Not everybody has the ability to put the puck in the back of the net like he does. He’s got a great shot, a quick release,” Vock explained. “He’s a very skilled player. He likes to shoot the puck a lot. Sometimes Brian and I look to pass first, so when you have a guy like him who likes to shoot and bury the puck, it’s good to play with him.”
Milo’s return from an early season injury should help the Catamounts develop a power play that can provide at least average production.
“He’s the one guy who can control and reset a power play,” Sneddon said. “He knows when to slow it down, when to speed it up and he can finish.”
Sometimes, being selfish is not a bad thing.