Tough D-I competition awaits Bulldogs in 2017-18
Making it all the way to the state semifinals last season before falling 8-4 to Harwood, the Bulldogs are a battle-tested team with experience in high-pressure situations.
The question now begs, can they replicate that success at an ever higher level competition?
That question will surely get a definitive answer this year as BBA prepares to go from playing in Division II last season to Division I in 2017-18.
Bulldogs coach Mark Slade knows its going to be a major challenge for BBA as they move up a division. The Bulldogs will be tested pretty much game in and game out, and will take on each of the four teams that made the Division I state semifinals last season during their regular season slate.
"We've found a lot of success in D-II, so it's a change of focus and a quicker game play," Slade said. "There are things we're trying to build on at the beginning of the season to be ready for the end of the season, so we can hopefully make good run."
Slade knows his team has to be more disciplined in competition than ever before, if they want to compete with D-I powers like BFA-St. Albans, CVU, Spaulding and South Burlington, among others.
"You need to be spot on always. Mistakes cost more in D-I," Slade said. "Therefore, you need to practice at a degree higher than you have in the past. You're not going to get away with as much as you could."
BBA is returning a solid group from last year's 15-5-2 squad. The Bulldogs have six seniors, six juniors, seven sophomores and seven freshman on the roster.
Two players who are expected to make a major impact for BBA this season are juniors Egan and Steven Schmitt. The brothers from Schuylerville, N.Y. were both named to the D-II all-state team as sophomores.
Egan was the Bulldogs top offensive threat last season as he scored a team-high 29 goals. He was also dangerous on the power play, netting seven goals in a special teams situation.
His brother Steven was a linchpin in the BBA defense last season and looks to continue that role as a junior. He scored seven goals and dished out 15 assists last year.
Slade has been nothing but impressed with the pair and the leadership they show on and off the ice.
"Leadership on the ice and off the ice is a major feature for the Schmitt brothers," Slade said. "They work the hardest on the ice. They are teaching the younger kids. They help raise the level of play of our entire team."
The Bulldogs will get their regular season slate started next Wednesday on the road as they take on Rutland at Spartan Arena. The two teams met once last year in late December with BBA coming out on the losing end 6-5.
Puck drop for Wednesday's contest is set for 4 p.m.
Roster: Garren Aberth, Alex Carpenter, Mark Carthy, Duncan Chamberlain, Edward Dalgewicz, Jonathan Datz, Garrett Delaney, Jordan Eisenman, Dale Graves III, Cameron Hedberg, Phoenix Heleba, Owen King, Edward Knowles, John Miceli, Quinn Murnaghan, Ethan Paligo, Hans Pedersen, Giancarlo Russo, Egan Schmitt, Steven Schmitt, Connor Simonds, Ethan Simonds, Declan Sullivan, Andrew Toussaint, Cameron Turner, Erik VanDerMark.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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