Peters' White steps from and center for Vermont
Matt White is back at center and hopes to be in the middle of the University of Vermont's resurgence.
White, a junior from Peters Township, is off to a good start for the Catamounts. He helped set up the goal in the team's season-opening
1-1 tie against UMass Lowell, which was ranked sixth in the country at the time.
“I didn't do much; I just made a pass off the wall. Colin (Markison) made a good play with his speed to get the goal,” White said. “It was good to be a part of but I really didn't do too much.”
While White deflected any praise, he was happy to help Vermont earn a point, especially on the road in a hostile environment. Consider, the Catamounts picked up just 13 points last season as they finished with a 6-27-1 record.
“UMass Lowell was the No. 6 team in country, and it was a really good atmosphere at the game. It was a point on the road. Even though it wasn't a win, it was something positive,” White said. “It's encouraging. It allows us to keep working hard and stay to it.”
Vermont will take the point, especially with its rugged schedule. The Catamounts face a gauntlet during Hockey East action and have a tough nonconference slate as well.
“We have a very difficult schedule, but that comes along with being in the Hockey East. That'll prepare us for our other tough games, too. We're not looking ahead to anyone in particular. We're just trying to get ready for each week,” White said.
“We learned a lot from last year and it carried over to this year. Guys are really hungry and very competitive. Everyone is fighting to play, and that's made our practices great. I think that'll help us be a better team.”
White finished with 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) last season and tied for second on the team with four power-play goals. The 6-foot-2, 198-pounder played on the wing last season, but moved to center on the team's top line this year.
“When you're a center, you have more defensive responsibilities. My style of game, I am a bigger player and I try to be strong on the puck and use my body as one of my assets, not necessarily hitting guys, but using my body to position and protect the puck and get my linemates some space,” he said.
“I like wing and center. I have enjoyed playing center this year. I feel like I am more involved with the play at all times. I think my job is just to be an impact player each night. I try to play physically on both sides of the puck and contribute when I can.”
White spent the summer trying to improve his strength and quickness.
“It's been a couple-year process. I am definitely working on my strength and everything that goes into that, like eating properly and lifting correctly to get stronger, which helps my speed,” he said.
“Working on skating is always important for me. Being a bigger guy, quickness is a big thing and it can be tough to get your feet moving. So, I focused on getting good acceleration with my first few steps. That's something I put a lot of time into. Hopefully, that'll make a difference.”
As an upperclassman, White hopes to provide leadership, too.
“The transition of going into your junior year is more confidence and being more comfortable at school,” he said. “I am looked at as one of the leaders on the team. When you get here as a junior, it's your time to step up and do the best you can.”
He hopes that translates into more victories for the Catamounts.
“I just focus in on each game and don't worry too much about personal stats or goals,” White said. “My main goal is to win as many games as we can. It'd be exciting to be a part of doing whatever I can to help us achieve that.”