WILLISTON, Vt. (BVM) — Much of the progress that hockey in Vermont has had can be attributed to Jim Cross. The former long-time head hockey coach at the University of Vermont, Cross helped shape the sport in the state to what it is today. Success was a standard set by Cross for the Catamounts program. Following his graduation from Boston University in 1960, where he led the Terriers to a third place finish in the NCAA Tournament, Cross would take the reins of the men’s hockey program at UVM from 1965-84. The Catamounts, led by Cross, won three ECAC Division II tournament championships (1970, 1973 and 1974). He took home Coach of the Year honors from the AHCA earning the 1973 Edward Jeremiah Award. That season saw UVM win back-to-back D-II titles under Cross by going 28-5-0, a school and national record for most wins in a season. Cross’ success at the school led the Catamounts’ transition to Division I. They’d finish third in the ECAC in their first season of D-I hockey, reaching the semifinals. He finished his 19-year career off with a record of 280-251-9. Cross retired from UVM in 1984 as the winningest coach in ECAC D-II history. Cross’ legacy can still be seen throughout the state as his success in the rink transferred over to popularity in the area. Rinks were added around the state, along with an increase in high school programs adopting the sport during the 1970s. You can also find many of Cross’ former players around Vermont, as many have taken up coaching at high school and youth hockey programs. The awards continued long after Jim Cross’ retirement as the coach of the Vermont Catamounts. The New England Hockey Writers Association presented Cross with the Sheaffer Pen Award, for his contributions to college hockey. In 1992, The University of Vermont named their renovation in the Gutterson Fieldhouse the Jim Cross Varsity Locker Room. Last year, Cross was awarded the Hobey Baker Legend of College Hockey, which is handed out to a coach, player or contributer who has impacted college hockey. Jim Cross, who was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2014, had two former players accept the award on his behalf. Cross passed away in early May from complications of COVID-19. His crowning achievement comes posthumously as Cross enters the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020. He shares the honor with nine others on Oct. 24.
Think your team or athlete is better? Show us, submit your story, photo or video