Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Cullity’

Cats’ leadership needs to grow

December 11, 2009

At the collegiate hockey level, it’s difficult to find a team captain who excels in all aspects of being a leader.

Some lead by example; first to practice, last off the ice, hardest worker, most willing to sacrifice the body.

Some lead by skill: great speed, quick hands, hard shot, baffling moves.

Some lead through emotion: unloading a big hit, vocally challenging teammates on the ice and in the locker room.

That’s why the better teams not only have the captain but a group of players who can provide leadership in one or more ways, who can demand much of themselves while demanding as much from teammates. There are players who can lead quietly and those who can provide constructive confrontation, those who lead the way and those who have your back.

Even with those qualities, until the leaders accept those roles and the remainder understand their roles, a team can struggle no matter what the level of talent. While coaches provide one kind of leadership, few teams excel until the players take responsibility for their own actions and demand accountability from their teammates.

There’s nothing new in this. Middlebury College coach Bill Beaney has been asserting for over two decades that his teams never reach their potential until, in his words, “they make it their team.” Not the coach’s team; not the fans’ team; not the school’s team; their team.

So it is at the University of Vermont this winter.

“I’ve always said accountability and responsibility are the number one things I can teach young men. When it’s all said and done, if they can look at themselves in the mirror, know they did everything possible, hold themselves accountable but also hold each other accountable, that equals ownership. It becomes their team,” said UVM head coach Kevin Sneddon this week.

“Right now, we don’t have that yet. I think we’ll get there; I know we’ll get there. A lot of that has to do with the leadership, guys feeling comfortable with positive confrontation, feeling comfortable with holding guys accountable. That maybe hasn’t been our strong point to date, but I’m hopeful they’re learning what it takes. I think the character is there for them to be great leaders. It’s a matter of much like everything, putting it all together.”

As a leader by example, captain Brian Roloff is superb, but he might not be comfortable with confrontation. Assistant captain Patrick Cullity is an emotional leader, though his emotions sometimes get the better of him on the ice. Assistant captain Kevan Miller might have the best blend, but he’s a junior still adjusting to his responsibilities.

Those from the Martin St. Louis/Jaime Sifers mold are rare, but they will tell you, for all their leadership qualities, they didn’t do it alone. Neither can Roloff, Cullity and Miller, though they are where leadership begins with these Catamounts. How quickly everyone adjusts to the team’s new leadership may determine how quickly the Catamounts start reaching their potential.

UVM defensemen must step up

November 23, 2009

The bedrock of this year’s University of Vermont men’s hockey team is a veteran defense returning six starters.

In senior Patrick Cullity, juniors Kevan Miller, Kyle Medvec, Josh Burrows and Dan Lawson and sophomore Drew MacKenzie, the Catamounts boast a tourney-tested corps of big, tough, mobile defenders who can provide key hits and key goals.

Yet the group hasn’t jelled into the force it should be, can be and, from a Vermont perspective, must be for the Catamounts to be contenders in Hockey East and for a second consecutive NCAA berth.

“I don’t they’ve been great,” said head coach Kevin Sneddon on Monday. “We’ve had some players, we’re really had to reiterate their roles. For whatever reason — the hype going into the season, aspirations change — even though you have the same group of guys, some guys think they’ve got to be offensive-minded and it’s not their role.

“So you’re making sure your guys know what they need to do to give us shots at winning hockey games,” Sneddon said. “There have been some guys who just haven’t performed very well up to date.”

While some inconsistency should be expected from freshman Anders Franzon, the degree exhibited by others is surprising and it’s been across the board, though some have struggled more than others.

“It’s been one guy one night, a couple of guys the next night … It’s been a little bit of everybody,”  said Sneddon. “The three rocks back there right now have been Medvec, Cullity and Miller.

“It’s been more coverage and running around and not taking charge back there than anything. Our breakouts have been pretty good. We’ve had a few moments turning the puck over, not making the simple play, and that’s been working itself out of our game right now. It’s mainly been poor coverage or two guys playing the same guy and leaving somebody open … things you would expect out of a young defensive corps, not a veteran corps.”

With a longer and harder week of practice, Sneddon said, “We’re seeing improvement back there.”

It’s certainly what UVM needs and what this corps of defensemen can deliver.