Yesterday morning UVM men’s hockey coach Kevin Sneddon confirmed to the media that their leading goal scorer this season, Wahsontiio Stacey, would be permanently leaving the program. Stacey informed the coaching staff Tuesday afternoon before the team’s practice that he would be quitting the team.
The announcement comes following Stacey being suspended by his coaches this past weekend before games at Northeastern University without a concrete return date to the dressing roster. This initial suspension was a disciplinary decision by the Vermont coaching staff after Stacey had missed one too many team meetings.
“When we held him accountable and told him to either get on board or get off board, he made the decision for us by saying he no longer wanted to play hockey,” explained Sneddon. “He had been doing some really good things in games. I don’t want to take anything away from that. We just knew something was up.”
Stacey was leading the Catamounts with nine goals and six assists this season, his nine goals equating to about 20 percent of all pucks Vermont had put in the net.
One would think Sneddon might miss the offensive contributions of Stacey, but when asked about how losing his leading scorer might affect his team’s performance he responded, “Not much at all, to be honest with you. If a player’s not 100 percent committed to what we’re doing, it doesn’t matter how good they are or what their potential is or what they’ve done in the past. It’s useless energy.”
Stacey is the second leading scorer to leave the Catamounts midway through the season in the past two years. Last season it was Justin Milo who found himself on the outside looking in after Sneddon decided it would be best for the team to move forward without him.
At the time when Milo was asked about the reasoning for his departure from the Cats he explained “The reason I was given was because of inconsistent play and attitude. There were no incidents or anything. I don’t really know what he(Sneddon) was talking about by giving me those reasons. It kind of left me just shocked and wanting to know the real reason because it doesn’t seem right.”
Whether it be attitude, performance, academics or other reasoning, Sneddon has shown he is not afraid to trim the fat where he finds it a necessity, even if that fat is the team’s leading scorer. Along with Stacey and Milo, two other members of the Vermont hockey team have been removed from the active roster midway through the season in the past two years.
“The only thing I can say is this: What I ask of our student-athletes is pretty simple. Work hard every day, be accountable for their actions on and off the ice in all areas, socially, developmentally off the ice, development on the ice and selflessness,” explained Sneddon on his demand of his players.
Sneddon holds what it means to be playing hockey for the Catamounts in a high regard.
“I’ve got a responsibility here,” he said. “I’ve got high expectations, but if you think about it, these players, a lot of them aren’t paying a dime to go to school here. They’ve got a chance to play Division I hockey at one of the best programs in the country. They play in front of one of the best fan bases in college hockey and they’re representing something bigger than this university, they’re representing the State of Vermont.”
While Sneddon may have seemed stern in his ruling he explained that it’s nothing personal against players, but their ability to live up to the creed he sets out for his teams every year.
“I harbor no ill feeling toward any of those athletes. They just were not able to live up to the expectations that we uphold as a family,” he said. “This isn’t just me. This is something that has been laid out by the staff, by the players: This is what it means to be a Catamount hockey player.”