Hearing the crowd roar in excitement as you win a state championship is something that you will never forget. For the returning members of the U-32 ‘15-’16 Raiders, that memory is fresh in their minds as they return to the ice this winter.
Walking out and stepping onto the ice this year, the boys hockey team will be without five seniors along with their starting goalie Connor Carbo, who moved on to play with The Lumberjacks, a club hockey team.
Despite these losses the team has gained two defensemen: Harper Wimble and Parker Schaarschmidt. Wimble has rejoined the team after playing last years season with the Lumberjacks and Schaarschmidt has moved back up to Vermont after playing for South Kent, a prep school in Connecticut.
So far, U-32 is off to a 3-0 start to the year, with wins over Harwood, Northfield and North Country. When asked about the season so far Wimble had this to say, “It’s good to be back with the team, so far we are doing pretty well and my eye is on the ship.”
Returning senior captains Lucas Eldred and Connor Barrett are leading the U-32 attack, with Brendan Marineau filling out the first line this year. That line is the only remaining line from the ‘15-’16 championship winning team. However freshman Ethan Eldred, along with sophomores Malone Bruce and Brady Hill, are holding strong in their first season together as a unit. Marineau commented, “We are constantly rotating lines this year. We have had a couple injuries that we are trying to work though.”
The defensive pairings this year are full of new faces to U-32 hockey as well. Returning Junior captain Zach Lague starts on first line defense with Colby Gillander followed up by the hard hitting duo of Wimble and Schaarschmidt. Jared Vincent and Troy Bolduc round out the defensive pairings for the Raiders this year.
This new look raiders team will have to step it up a notch this year as they are being moved up divisions from Dll to Dl. They join Stowe, Woodstock and Middlebury as the teams that are making the transfer.
“4 times in 5 years, 2 championships so far, but tonight could make it 3,” said Dave Pickel. At that time it was a blessing to have that opportunity. Now it is a curse. With 3 championships in 5 years, U-32 climbed to the top of the “bubble schools”, which includes Hartford, Middlebury, Lyndon Institute, Harwood, and Stowe.
“Alignments in Vermont high school sports of soccer, baseball, basketball and softball are done every two years, while sports like hockey are based on a specific formula based on decisions brought forward by coaches in the VHL” said Bob Johnson. There is a large meeting in the off-season between every season were all the coaches in vermont meet to bring forth ideas on rules, alignments and other concerns or ideas.
When coaches bring up alignment changes in this meeting, they propose their specific idea. The coaches then talk about the idea until a majority of them are in agreement. The VPA committee then reviews what the coaches want to change and makes the final decision: “A specific formula that looks at the individual programs, number of participants, wins/losses, etc, along with the ideas that the coaches have brought forward”.