Thursday, October 30, 2014

UNH Answering Preseason Questions: Part I

UNH Freshman Adam Clark
4th Best Save Percentage in Hockey East


The UNH squad playing against 8th-ranked UMass Lowell this weekend is dramatically different than the one defeated by Lowell in the Hockey East Championship game last March. Casey DeSmith, one of the top Hockey East goalies the last two seasons, won't be there (suspended indefinitely). The three top scoring defensemen - Eric Knodel (29 points), Trevor van Riemsdyk (23), and Justin Agosta (26) - and the top two forwards - Kevin Goumas (52 points) and Nick Sorkin (40) - have moved on. All of which begged the preseason questions - Are the 2014-15 UNH Wildcats capable of winning the Hockey East Championship and/or qualifying for the NCAA Northeast Regional to be held at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH next March?

The current group of 10 UNH freshmen players is the largest since the 10 freshmen who came in the 2003-04 academic year. That group included Daniel Winnik, Jacob Micflikier, Matt Fornataro, Brett Hemingway, and Josh Ciocco - players who had very productive NCAA careers. Of the returning upperclassmen, only Matt Willows (18 goals) and Grayson Downing (10) scored double-digit goals last season and only six scored double-digit points - Willows (39 pts), Downing (21), Brett Pesce (21), Tyler Kelleher (16), Dan Correale (11), and Kyle Smith (10). Would the freshmen and upperclassmen fill the large scoring hole left behind by the departing players? Would freshman goalie Adam Clark or the returning Jamie Regan, who has only played briefly in one NCAA game, serve as a capable, starting goalie?

Four games into the 2014-15 season, some potential answers are emerging. Defending NCAA Champion Union College downed UNH 3-1 in the season opener. Union was ranked 5th in the country at the time. The Wildcats won the first game out in Michigan 5-1 and lost the second game 2-1. Michigan was ranked #10 in the national polls. Last Saturday, before a packed Whittemore Center in the home opener, UNH decisively beat Colorado College 6-2. Overall, UNH is tied for 4th in scoring (13 goals, 3.25 goals per game) among Hockey East teams and 2nd in goals allowed (8 goals, 2 per game). The Wildcats' penalty kill is the best in Hockey East having killed off all 16 penalties without allowing a goal.

GOALTENDING

Casey DeSmith began his freshman season as the backup to senior Matt DiGirolamo but became UNH's #1 goalie by the 16th game of the season. Over the last two and a half seasons, DeSmith started in 95 out of the 97 games UNH played. In November of his sophomore season, DeSmith set a UNH program record for the most consecutive minutes of shutout play (203 minutes, 32 seconds). The historic stretch included three shutout games. Last season, DeSmith finished 8th among all Hockey East goaltenders in goals against average (2.40) and save percentage (.920). His overall record was 20-16-0 with three shutouts.

Freshman goalie Adam Clark expected to be a backup goalie this season but that all changed over Labor Day weekend. Casey DeSmith was arrested by Durham Police and charged with domestic assault and resisting arrest. The University subsequently suspended DeSmith from the UNH hockey team pending further investigation.

Adam Clark has played every minute of the first four games and has performed very well. In terms of conventional stats, Clark is 4th among all Hockey East goalies in Save Percentage (.926) and 5th in Goals Against Average (2.01). Needless to say, the 6'5", 220 lbs. goalie covers a lot of the net. Pasco Valana, one of Clark's goalie coaches over the past two years, provided this description of Adam's style:
"A large goaltender, calm, emotionally controlled and positional. We have been working to refine Adam's game to best occupy the netspace, control rebounds, and place them into non-populated areas, and adopting a game that encourages a 6-inch movement in net regardless of the shot. The second area, and one that he will always be working on, will be his skating both on his skates and on his pads. Goaltender power-skating along with puck skills and playing the puck has been at the corner stone of Adam's training."
As this highlight video shows, Clark skills have allowed him to make a smooth transition from junior hockey to NCAA Division I play.



FIRST-LINE SCORING

Last season, Kevin Goumas (19 goals) and Matt Willows (18) were mainstays on UNH's first line. Freshman Tyler Kelleher (5 goals), Dalton Speelman (7), and leading scorer Nick Sorkin (20) also played games as the third member of the top line at various points in the season. Sorkin moved up to the first line for good during the latter weeks of the season when UNH was battling for home-ice advantage for the Hockey East Playoffs. Sorkin played left wing, Goumas was at center and Willows on right wing. Sorkin, Goumas, and Willows had a total of 57 goals in 41 games.

So far this season, the starting forward line for UNH has been Dan Correale at left wing, Grayson Downing at center, and Matt Willows on right wing. If Correale (1 goal), Downing (2 goals), and Willows (2 goals) continue to score goals at the current rate, then they would combine for 50 goals in 40 games. The top line is currently holding its own.



SEARCH FOR A SECOND SCORING LINE

In recent years, UNH teams which have earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013) have had a second line of forwards scoring 30 or more goals. For example, the 2012-13 team which beat Denver in the opening round of the NCAA Northeast Regionals had Kevin Goumas (10 goals) at center and John Henrion (15 goals) on right wing. Left winger Casey Thrush added 6 goals. Last season's team did not qualify for the NCAA's. The second line during the Hockey East playoff run included Dalton Speelman (7 goals), Grayson Downing (10), and freshman Tyler Kelleher (5).

So far this season, UNH's second line has players who are more known for aggressive, two-way hockey than scoring. Casey Thrush (left wing) and Maxim Gaudreault (center) - part of the "Maryland Connection" - are smart, tight-checking forwards who are strong along the boards and effective penalty killers. Jay Camper played second line, right wing over the first three games and freshman Jason Salvaggio substituted for Camper (concussion precautions) against Colorado College. Thrush, Gaudreault, and Camper scored a total of 7 goals last season.

The threesome of forwards which has emerged as a scoring line is Foegele-Poturalski-Kelleher. Freshman Warren Foegele was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round last June and Andrew Poturalski was the 6th leading scorer in the United States Hockey League last season. Sophomore Tyler Kelleher was the leading scorer on the US National Team Development Program's U17 and U18 teams.

Here's how Coach Umile described the trio:
"They’re very clever; I think they like playing with each other. Poturalski we think is a real clever centerman. … We think that they can score goals and be creative."
Other descriptors come to mind like dynamic, quick, and tenacious. Just watch some of their offensive zone play in these highlights as well as the scoring plays by #18 Poturalski (2 goals, 1 assist), #16 Kelleher (1 g, 2 asst) and #3 Foegele (2 asst).



SHANE EISERMAN

6'1", 200 lbs. forward Shane Eiserman turned 19 earlier this month. During the 2012-13 season, Eiserman played in 15 games against NCAA Division I teams as a member of the US National Team Development Program U18 team. In December, 2012, Eiserman, teammate Tyler Kelleher, and Team USA played UNH at the Whittemore Center. Last June, Shane Eiserman was drafted in the 4th round (100th overall) by the Ottawa Senators. He is arguably the most prepared "true" freshman to join the UNH Wildcats in recent memory.

Playing left wing on UNH's fourth line, along with juniors Kyle Smith at center and Collin MacDonald on right wing, Eiserman has been a force at both ends of the ice. He uses his size and physicality in tight spaces (e.g., along the boards, in front of the oppositions net), to create space and gain position. In open ice, Eiserman is remarkably fast and moves the puck well. He has scored 2 goals in 3 and 1/3 games (he left the second Michigan game in the first period with a "head injury"). Watching him play (see video highlights of #12), it's difficult to imagine him remaining on the fourth line for the entire season.





UNH fans have legitimate cause for optimism when considering the play of the UNH goaltender and forwards over the first 4 games of the 2014-15 season. It'll be fun and interesting to see if the positive trends continue as the team faces Hockey East competition. In Part II, I'll take a look at how the UNH defensemen, including 4 freshmen, are progressing.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Oct-28-2014

BCHL Leading Scorer
Liam Blackburn

Player of the Week - Liam Blackburn

Since West Kelowna Warriors' forward Liam Blackburn committed to UNH on October 7th, he has played in 7 BCHL games, scored 2 goals and added 10 assists. He now sits atop the BCHL scoring race with 28 points in 14 games. His 20 assists are also the best in the league.

Last weekend, West Kelowna played away games on three consecutive nights, won 2 and tied the other (losing in overtime to Cowichan Valley). On Friday in Nanaimo, Liam Blackburn scored the game-tying goal, the game-winning assist, added another assist, and was awarded the #1 Star of the Game. Blackburn posted 2 more assists the following night in Cowichan Valley and added 2 more, including the game-tying assist, on Sunday in Victoria.

When I interviewed Liam earlier this month, he indicated the target date for enrollment at UNH was either the Fall of 2015 or 2016. In an interview with the local press in Kelowna, he said:
"An extra year of junior would be really nice to develop physically but I think I’m ready mentally to make that jump (in Fall 2015)."
Blackburn will turn 19 in June. If he continues his torrid scoring throughout this season, he may come to UNH sooner rather than later.



NOTE
The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH. For example, the "2015 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2015 to begin playing for UNH.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2015 Recruits
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 4 0 0 0 2
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 6 1 1 2 4
USHL 7 1 2 3 6
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 12 3 4 7 6
Danny Tirone  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 10 7W 3L 2.33 .929
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 15 14 4 18 30
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 13 1 6 7 14
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 14 8 20 28 10
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 9 2 4 6 6
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 15 8 10 18 8
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 0 0 0 0 0
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 9 2 1 3 0
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 15 0 1 1 12
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 7 4 10 14 0
CT Wolfpack U16 Full AYHL 25 15 19 34 24
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 0 0 0 0 0
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 10 1 0 1 2
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Boston Jr Rangers EHL 6 3W 3L 2.75 .924
Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 27 14 13 27 34
Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 10 5 6 11 9


News & Notes

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ 2015 recruit Brendan van Riemsdyk got a taste of playing on the big sheet of ice at the Whittemore Center in the Beantown Fall Classic last Friday. BvR scored the overtime, game-winning goal as the the Islanders Hockey Club downed the Springfield Pics 4-3. Van Riemsdyk is now tied for 3rd in goal-scoring (14) in the Premiere Division of the USPHL. He has played in 3 fewer games than the other leading scorers.

~ Charlie Kelleher (younger brother of UNH sophomore Tyler Kelleher) nearly doubled his point total last week. He scored 2 goals and 5 assists in 3 games with the Junior Bruins Premiere team. Kelleher is now tied for 9th, along with Brendan van Riemsdyk, in USPHL scoring (18 points)

Under 16:

~ 2017 or '18 recruit Eric Esposito plays fall hockey with the Connecticut Wolfpack U16 Split Season team. Last Saturday, Esposito scored the hat trick and added 2 assists as the Wolfpack downed the MidFairfield Yankees 7-1. On Sunday, Esposito added 2 more goals and an assist to his totals in the Wolfpacks' 7-0 win over West Haven T1. Beginning next month, Eric will play for the Loomis Chaffee School in the New England Prep School Hockey Conference.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Top Maryland Prospect Jason O'Neill Commits to UNH

17-Year-Old Forward
Jason O'Neill Commits to UNH


The ties between UNH hockey and the hockey community surrounding our nation's capital date back to NHL Hall of Famer Rod Langway. After playing linebacker for the UNH football team and defenseman for the hockey team, Langway left UNH following his sophomore year to play professional hockey. Langway played four years with the Montreal Canadians including the 1977-78 Stanley Cup winners. But it was his trade to the fledgling and hapless Washington Capitals in 1982 that lead to his emergence as an NHL star.

Before Langway came to D.C., the Capitals - an expansion team founded in 1974 - had struggled to win games and were on the verge of leaving town. Langway was named to the NHL All-Star team in his first season with the Caps and the team made the NHL Playoffs each of the 11 seasons Langway played for them.

Back then, the Capitals' actual home was the Capital Centre (demolished in 2002) located east of the DC Beltway in the suburb of Landover, Maryland. As the team took root and thrived throughout the 1980's and 90's, numerous ice arenas sprang up just south of the Mason-Dixon Line and athletic kids in suburban Maryland and Virginia took up the game of hockey. That's where Jason O'Neill, UNH's newest recruit, learned to skate and hone his skills.

Jason O'Neill (DOB: 3-23-1997), a native of Odenton, MD, played Pee Wee and Bantam hockey for Team Maryland, based at the Rockville Ice Arena and The Gardens Ice House (Laurel, MD). As a 15-year-old, O'Neill played for the 2012-13 Washington Little Caps U-16 which plays out of the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the Washington Capitals' practice arena in Arlington, Virginia. O'Neill scored 10 goals and 15 assists in 39 games. In a review of the 2013 Tier 1 AAA Playoffs, Chris Dilks of SB Nation wrote that O'Neill has "good hands and moves the puck quickly".

Skipjacks Hockey Club's Jason O'Neill
The breakout season in Jason O'Neill's young career came last year with the Skipjacks Hockey Club 16U team. In the inaugural season of the United States Premier Hockey League, O'Neill was the second leading scorer in the 16U Division. In 29 regular season games, O'Neill scored at a goal-a-game clip (27 goals) and added 49 assists. Midseason, O'Neill was named to the 16U All-Star Team. The Skipjacks lost to eventual USPHL 16U champions Selects Academy in the Playoff Quarterfinals. 2016 UNH Recruits Joey Cipollone and Jake Ryczek were top scorers on the Selects 16U team. O'Neill had 2 goals for the Skipjacks in 2 playoff games.

In a postseason wrap up prepared by usphlprospects.com for juniorhockey.com last May, Jason O'Neill was identified as the #1 Player in the USPHL 16U Division. They wrote:
"O'Neill gets the top ranking due to the fact that he not only posted 78 points for the Skipjacks U16 team, but O'Neill was also able to score at the U18 level. In 13 games, the Maryland native had 2 goals and 3 assists while collecting 14 penalty minutes. He was big among U16 players at 5'11", 165 pounds and will catch your eye with off the charts skill. He has a natural stride and makes the game look easy. One can only assume an NCAA commitment is in the near future for O'Neill."
This season, the 6'0", 175 lbs. O'Neill is playing full-time for the Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U team. He is currently tied for 7th in scoring in the league with 5 goals and 6 assists in 8 games.

Since Jason O'Neill joined the Skipjacks last season, he has been coached by Jason Kersner, one of the top midget-level coaches in the country. Coach Kersner represents another strong connection between the greater D.C. hockey community and UNH. Jason Kersner has coached a succession of UNH hockey players during their formative years. Defenseman Jamie Fritsch (UNH, 2005-09) played for Coach Kersner on the Washington Little Caps. Fritsch's hometown is Odenton, MD, same as Jason O'Neill. Nick Sorkin (Rockville, MD) was coached by Kersner on the Team Maryland U16 and Midget Major teams. Sorkin was the first Maryland native to commit to an NCAA Division I hockey program directly from a Maryland-based developmental organization.

Current UNH Alternate Captain Casey Thrush (Easton, MD) and Sorkin were teammates on Coach Kersner's Team Maryland U18 squad. In their first NHL draft eligible year, NHL Central Scouting Service ranked Thrush the #89 North American Skater and Sorkin was ranked #169.

UNH junior Maxim Gaudreault (Annapolis, MD) was teammates with Casey Thrush on Team Maryland U18 when he also committed to UNH. Sophomore UNH defenseman Dylan Maller (Parkland, FL) also played for Coach Jason Kersner. Though he wasn't a native of Maryland, Maller moved to play for Kersner and the DC Capitals U18 team. When Maller committed to UNH, Coach Kersner told U.S. Hockey Report "Don’t beat me up in the article. We’ll have kids going other places!”

Jason O'Neill becomes the latest player coached by Jason Kersner to commit to UNH. However, UNH has not cornered the market on top players who've played for Kersner. Jason Kersner has coached a number of players committed to Division I programs including Jason O'Neill's older brother Colin (UMass-Lowell commit), Christian Meike (Michigan) and Ryan Finnegan (Quinnipiac).

I had an opportunity to interview Jason, via email, about his background, commitment to UNH, and future plans:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?
Jason O'Neill: I was really excited when UNH offered and it was kind of an easy choice for me. I went to a hockey camp there when I was a Bantam Minor and I’ve really always wanted to go to school at UNH ever since then. I really liked the campus and the chance to play for a team that regularly competes for a Hockey East and National Championship is a dream come true.
I felt really comfortable with the coaching staff and the style of hockey they play at UNH. I thought the style and the big rink was a really good fit for my game. It also helped that a lot of older players I know have played there and all really enjoyed their time, so it just felt right for me.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Jason O'Neill: UMASS-Lowell was another school that I had talked to quite a bit and had a lot of interest in. My older brother Colin, who plays for the Aberdeen Wings in the NAHL is committed to Lowell. Lowell has had some great success the last few years and it would have been fun to play there with my brother, but I just felt that UNH was a better fit for me personally. So, I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to play against Lowell and my brother in the future!

Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?
J. O'Neill: I'll either come to UNH in 2017 or 2018.

Lowry: Last season with the Skipjacks Hockey Club, you were an USPHL 16U All-Star and so far this season, you're tied for 7th in USPHL 18U scoring. At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?
J. O'Neill: I think my strengths as a player are my skating, my vision and playmaking ability. I’ve had a couple of really good offensive seasons and looking forward to continuing to help my team win a championship this year. I think I’m a smart player and I can play in all situations.
I’m really trying to improve and become stronger. I’m really continuing to work on my habits and trying to become more of a professional on and off the ice.

Lowry: Several current and former UNH players- Jamie Fritsch, Nick Sorkin, Casey Thrush, Maxim Gaudreault, and Dylan Maller - have played for Coach Jason Kersner with the Washington Little Caps and/or Team Maryland. Is your style of play similar to any of these players?
J. O'Neill: We don’t get a chance to see many games because of our own hockey schedule, but I have had a chance to skate and train with these guys every summer. I think I’m different and don’t really play like any of those older guys. But I definitely try to emulate them. I want to continue to improve and be a blend of all of them. I think if I had the hands/offensive skill of Nick, the skating and compete level of Casey, and the vision and Hockey IQ of Maxim I would be a great player!

Lowry: You've played for Coach Kersner over the last two seasons. What's the most important thing you've learned from him?
J. O'Neill: I’ve definitely learned a lot from Coach Kersner on and off the ice. In addition to all of the on-ice stuff, I think the things I’ve really learned the most about are being a professional. Professionalism is what our program is all about and it is talked about every day. We spend a lot of time talking about the Mind, we read books, and we even have a Peak Performance Coach that we work with.
I’ve learned a lot about Preparation. Developing daily routines and developing good habits every day in practice has been huge. I’ve learned a lot about goal setting and having a plan to achieve those goals. I’ve learned that the process is more important than the outcome and because of what I’ve learned from him, I compete against myself to improve everyday.

Lowry: Do you anticipate playing junior hockey before coming to UNH? If so, what leagues would you consider playing in?
J. O'Neill: I will definitely be playing Juniors for a few years before coming to UNH. I would really be interested in playing in either the USHL or the BCHL.

Lowry: When do you plan on graduating from high school? What are your academic strengths?
J. O'Neill: I’m a senior so will graduate this year, 2015. I’m a good student and work hard at it. I have a 4.0 GPA. I’m not yet sure what I’m interested in studying when I get to UNH.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Oct-21-2014

UNH Recruit Patrick Grasso

Player of the Week - Patrick Grasso

Last season was a disappointment to fans of the Des Moines Buccaneers. The team only managed 20 wins in the 60-game regular season and failed to make the USHL Playoffs. What a difference a year makes. Almost a month into the 2014-15 season, the Bucs are the only undefeated team in the USHL. They've won 6 games and tied in a 7th game (losing in the shootout).

A key element in Des Moines' resurgence is right-shot center Patrick Grasso. In his second full season in the USHL, Grasso plays on the Bucs' first power play and penalty kill units. Last week, he posted 2 goals and an assist as the Bucs won three more games.

In a 5-3 victory over the Omaha Lancers, Grasso scored the Bucs' first goal redirecting a pass on a backdoor play. On Saturday night, Grasso scored a power play goal and added an assist as Des Moines defeated the US National Team Development Program U17 team 5-3. This season, Grasso has been playing on the right point of the Bucs' power play and quarterbacks the play at the top of the umbrella setup. Both of these goals are shown in the highlight video. Grasso now has 2 goals and 4 assists in 7 games. He also was the only Buc to score a goal in the shootout against the Tri-City Storm earlier this month. The 18-year-old is on target to enroll at UNH in either the Fall of 2015 or 2016.



NOTE
The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH. For example, the "2015 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2015 to begin playing for UNH.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2015 Recruits
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 2 0 0 0 0
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 4 0 1 1 0
USHL 7 1 2 3 6
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 11 3 4 7 6
Danny Tirone  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 8 6W 2L 2.16 .936
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 13 13 3 16 30
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 11 1 6 7 12
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 11 8 14 22 6
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 7 2 4 6 6
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 12 6 5 11 8
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 0 0 0 0 0
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 7 2 1 3 0
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 12 0 1 1 8
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 5 4 10 14 0
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 0 0 0 0 0
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 8 1 0 1 2
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Boston Jr Rangers EHL 5 3 2 3.37 .921
Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) CT Jr Wolfpack CT HC 25 9 10 19 30
Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 8 5 6 11 9


News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2015 or 16 UNH recruit Liam Blackburn continues to put up big numbers for the West Kelowna Warriors. In two games last week, Blackburn scored 2 goals and 3 assists. Blackburn is tied for 1st in BCHL scoring (22 points in 11 games) and is tied for 2nd in assists (14).

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ 2015 recruit Brendan van Riemsdyk netted another 3 goals last week in the Premiere Division of the USPHL. Over the first 13 games of the season, BvR is scoring at a goal-a-game clip. He is 2nd in the league in goals (13) and tied for 1st in power play goals (4).

~ Jason O'Neill, UNH's newest recruit, plays for the Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U team in the USPHL's 18U Division. He is currently tied for 7th in scoring in the league with 5 goals and 6 assists in 8 games. Look for a "Recruit Profile" of Jason in the coming days.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

#10 Michigan Evens Series; Mich 2, UNH 1

Freshman Adam Clark Stops
32 Out of 34 Shots on Goal


After dropping a 5-1 decision on Friday night, the Michigan Wolverines rebounded with a 2-1 victory over the UNH Wildcats at Yost Ice Arena this evening. The game was more evenly matched than the night before with Michigan finishing with 34 shots on goal and UNH with 32.

On both Michigan goals from just inside the blueline, UNH uncharacteristically did not block the long-distance shot before it reached goalie Adam Clark. UNH continued to battle as Senior Captain Matt Willows scored a short-handed goal with 5:35 left in the second period.

At the outset of the game, UNH was down one defenseman as John Furgele was injured in the second period Friday night. Freshman Dylan Chanter replaced Furgele. UNH lost another defenseman with 1:29 left in the second as Dylan Maller was penalized with a 5-minute major. UNH managed to kill off the penalty.

UNH had several opportunities to tie the game in the 3rd period as they outshot Michigan 16-8. But Michigan goalie Steve Racine closed the door. UNH goalie Adam Clark was very impressive over both nights in the pressurized environment of Yost Ice Arena. In all he faced 60 shots and he made 57 saves. I'll have more details on the weekend series in a future post, but for now, here are the goals from tonight's game.

On Michigan's first goal at 19:32 of the second period, Mike Downing launched a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle. Defensive stalwart Brett Pesce was in front of goalie Adam Clark, but the puck got past both of them. Michigan 1, UNH 0.



The second Michigan goal, which came a little over a minute later, was a bit of a fortunate bounce for the Wolverines. Defenseman Cutler Martin fired a shot from the top of the opposite faceoff circle. The shot appeared to be going wide of the UNH net, but Kyle Smith inadvertantly redirected the puck past Adam Clark. Michigan 2, UNH 0.



With over 6 minutes left in the second period, Michigan had an opportunity to go ahead by 3 goals as they went to the power play. Matt Willows blocked a pass with his skate just inside the UNH blueline, gathered the puck in the neutral zone, and outraced the Michigan defenseman down the ice. He beat Racine with a quick backhand shot. Michigan 2, UNH 1.



UNH went on the power play with 1:56 left in the second period. Michigan dumped the puck into the UNH zone and Andrew Sinelli and Dylan Maller raced for the puck as it went into the corner to Clark's right. Maller hit Sinelli with his arm and shoulder just as Sinelli appeared to be turning away from him. Sinelli went hard into the boards and Maller was given the game misconduct penalty. Sinelli was not injured.



With the final seconds ticking away, UNH pulled Adam Clark for an extra skater. UNH generated a couple quality bids but did not score the tying goal.



With three games in the books, UNH's record is now 1-2-0. They've played two top 10 teams, scored 7 goals and allowed 6 goals. Next up is the home opener against Colorado College a week from tonight at the Whittemore Center.

Friday, October 17, 2014

UNH Spoils Michigan Home-Opener 5-1

UNH Senior Grayson Downing
Scores Game-Winner vs Michigan


The UNH Wildcats have never beaten Michigan at famed Yost Ice Arena on the campus of the University of Michigan - until tonight. After hanging tough with the highly skilled, energized Wolverine squad for most of the first period, UNH completely changed the character of the game beginning with a power play goal late in the period.

It was a game of firsts for UNH. Senior Alternate Captain Grayson Downing scored his first goal of the 2014-15 season with less than 2 minutes left in the first period. On a blue collar type goal, UNH got the puck to the net, created traffic in the crease, and poked away until the puck went in. UNH 1, Michigan 0



The momentum shifted to UNH following Downing's goal. UNH came out strong in the second period. Then came another first - Shane Eiserman scored his first NCAA goal as a member of the Wildcats. Playing left wing on UNH's fourth line, Eiserman snapped a wrister from a severe angle and buried it. Collin MacDonald set him up with a pretty cross slot pass. UNH 2, Michigan 0



With Trevor van Riemsdyk moving on to play in the NHL, junior defenseman Brett Pesce was poised to step his offensive game up a notch. Midway through the second period, Pesce looked like a power forward on a 3-on-2 break into the Michigan zone. Tyler Kelleher slipped the puck to Pesce as he crossed the blueline to the left of the Michigan goalie. Freshman Warren Foegele was streaking down the slot to Pesce's left. Pesce looked toward Foegele but took the puck to the net himself and lifted the puck under the cross bar. UNH 3, Michigan 0



With time running out in the second period, another first - junior Dan Correale's first goal of the season. Sophomore defenseman Dylan Maller, who played a strong two-way game, sent the puck around the boards behind the Michigan net. Correale corralled the puck to the left of the crease and poked into the open net. UNH 4, Michigan 0.



Freshman Andrew Poturalski, who scored 27 goals for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders last season in the USHL, nabbed another UNH first at the 8:38 mark of the final stanza. Pesce fired a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle, Warren Foegele deflected the puck behind the Michigan net, and Poturalski buried the rebound off the backboards into the net. It was Poturalski's first NCAA goal. UNH 5, Michigan 0.



Freshman goalie Adam Clark came very close to registering a shutout against 10th-ranked Michigan. He faced 26 shots and made 25 saves. Here's one of his first saves of the game:





UNH will face Michigan again Saturday night at 7:30 in Ann Arbor. The Wildcats are now 1-1-0 on the season.

High-scoring Liam Blackburn Commits to UNH

UNH Recruit Liam Blackburn


Over the last two decades, some of the top scorers in the British Columbia Hockey League have come to play for the University of New Hampshire. UNH players who finished in the top 5 in BCHL scoring include Hobey Baker Award Winner Jason Krog (2nd, 1994-95), Lanny Gare (3rd, 1998-99), Nathan Martz (3rd, 1999-00), Brett Hemingway (Tie-5th, 2002-03), and Michael McNicholas (5th, 2013-14).

Last week, UNH received a verbal commitment from another high-scoring forward from the BCHL. 18-year-old Liam Blackburn (DOB: 6-8-1996), a 5'10", 167 lbs. center from Prince George, British Columbia (the same hometown as current UNH junior Dan Correale) committed to UNH with a target to enroll either next fall or the Fall of 2016. Blackburn plays for the West Kelowna Warriors and is currently the leading scorer in the BCHL with 6 goals and 11 assists in just 9 games. As the center for the Warriors first power play unit, Blackburn has scored 3 power play goals and he has added a short-handed goal.



As a BCHL rookie last season, Liam Blackburn posted 17 goals and 26 assists in 47 regular season games. 6 of his goals were game-winners - the second highest among all BCHL players. While the Warriors were eliminated in the first round of the 2013-14 BCHL Playoffs, Blackburn scored 2 goals and 2 assists in the six playoff games.

Liam Blackburn has been a prolific scorer at each level of his youth hockey career. In the 2012-13 season with the Cariboo Cougars, Blackburn was the second leading scorer in the British Columbia Major Midget League. His 35 goals and 50 assists in 40 regular season games paved the way for selection to the BCMML All-Star Team. In November 2012, the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League added Blackburn to their protected list. When he was 15 years old, Blackburn played for the Prince George Cougars in the British Columbia Midget Tier 1 League. He scored 38 goals and 53 assists in 50 games in the 2011-12 season.

I had an opportunity to interview Liam, via email, about his background, commitment to UNH, and future plans:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?
Liam Blackburn: Some of the main reasons I chose UNH included the campus, which I thought was gorgeous. I also like that the team plays in Hockey East, the travel is simple and allows less absences from class. I also feel the style of play will fit me best and the olympic ice size will benefit me.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Liam Blackburn: I had considered a few other schools such as Nebraska Omaha, Merrimack, and Penn State. I visited a couple schools but after my visit to UNH there were no schools in competition..

Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?
Blackburn: The target date on my freshman year is still undecided, it will either be 2015-2016 or 2016-2017.

Lowry: After being a leading scorer in the British Columbia Major Midget League, you decided to play for the West Kelowna Warriors in the BCHL. What kind of adjustments did you make when you moved up to Junior A hockey?
Blackburn: There were some adjustments that had to be made with the jump. I was playing against older stronger guys, really the hardest thing to adjust to was the speed of the game. After the first couple months of the season, my confidence grew and I fell into some good ice time and a lot of chances to succeed. I really worked on foot speed and being able to win battles against bigger guys.

Lowry: You've been a prolific scorer wherever you've played. What are the current strengths of your game and what areas are you working to improve?
Blackburn: The strengths in my game are that I am a threat as a playmaker and as a scorer. When you can do both it makes you more of a threat which is how I have tried to base my game around. My biggest strength in hockey is my smarts in the game. I can read the play well and see plays before they happen. I would like to work on shot power, foot speed and strength specifically over the next few years.

Lowry: In November, 2012, the Victoria Royals of the WHL added you to their protected list. Do you have any interest in foregoing the NCAA route and playing major junior hockey in Canada?
Blackburn: I have full commitment to continue in the NCAA as I feel it is the route for me to best succeed in becoming a better hockey player.

Lowry: When do you plan to graduate from high school? What are your academic strengths?
Blackburn: I graduated from high school summer of 2014. I am interested in sciences especially biology.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Oct-14-2014

UNH Recruit Brendan van Riemsdyk

Player of the Week - Brendan van Riemsdyk

Last season, Brendan van Riemsdyk lead Christian Brothers Academy to the New Jersey State Championship. In his senior year, BvR scored 17 goals and 13 assists in 12 regular season games and added 2 goals and 5 assists during CBA's playoff run. He also played for the Jersey Hitmen in the United States Premier Hockey League 18U division. The Hitmen 18U finished as the runnerup team in the USPHL Playoffs. Brendan scored 5 goals and 9 assists in 11 games with the Hitmen.

This season, van Riemsdyk has moved up to the Premiere Division of the USPHL and is the starting left winger for the Islanders Hockey Club. 11 games into the season, BvR is the third leading goal scorer in the USPHL with 10 goals. Last week, van Riemsdyk extended his goal scoring streak to 6 consecutive games. During that stretch, BvR scored 9 goals.

These highlights show Brendan van Riemsdyk's first USPHL goal as well as 2 goals from last week. BvR wears #17 for the Islanders Hockey Club.



NOTE
The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH. For example, the "2015 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2015 to begin playing for UNH.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2015 Recruits
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 0 0 0 0 0
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 2 0 1 1 0
USHL 7 1 2 3 6
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 9 3 3 6 4
Danny Tirone  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 6 5W 1L 2.06 .943
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 11 10 2 12 30
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 8 1 3 4 6
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 9 6 11 17 4
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 4 0 2 2 4
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 10 4 3 7 6
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 0 0 0 0 0
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 4 2 1 3 0
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 8 0 1 1 4
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 5 4 10 14 0
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 0 0 0 0 0
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 5 1 0 1 0
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Boston Jr Rangers EHL 5 3 2 3.37 .921
Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) CT Jr Wolfpack CT HC 25 9 10 19 30
Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0


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