Friday, March 06, 2015

UNH Recruits Update: March-6-2015

Marcus Vela
Langley Rivermen
Frankie Cefalu
Walpole Express

Player Spotlight - Marcus Vela

The next year for 6'2", 200 lbs. forward Marcus Vela, who turned 18 a few days ago, is sure to be an eventful one. As the Langley Rivermen begin their run in the BCHL Playoffs, Vela just put an exclamation point on the end of his second regular season in the league. Vela scored his first BCHL hat trick in the Rivermen's last home game of the regular season. Though Langley lost to Salmon Arm 4-3 in overtime, Vela's first goal gave the Rivermen the initial lead and his second and third goals tied the game up. Here's a video of Marcus Vela's hat trick - he is #12 in the dark blue jersey:

Vela ended the regular season with 20 goals and 26 assists - the third best scorer on the Rivermen roster. He more than doubled his offensive production this season. As a 16-year-old rookie last year, Vela scored 11 goals and 11 assists. The Rivermen are facing the Prince George Spruce Kings in the opening round of the BCHL Playoffs. Each team has won a game in the best-of-seven series and Vela has posted an assist so far.

When Marcus Vela's season ends, he'll be looking forward to two major events in his young hockey career. In June, the NHL will hold its Entry Draft in Florida. Vela was ranked as the 123rd North American skater by the NHL Central Scouting Service in their Mid-Term Rankings. When those rankings were released on January 20th, Vela had scored 7 goals in 37 games. Over the subsequent 13 games, Vela exploded for 13 more goals. This puts Vela in a good position to be drafted by an NHL team come June.

Another important event will come Vela's way sometime over the summer. He, his family, and the UNH coaching staff will make a decision on whether he comes to UNH next Fall or plays one more season in the BCHL before enrolling in the Fall of 2016. It's interesting that Langley Rivermen play-by-play announcer Jake Elliot, who called Vela's hat trick on the video highlight, said "For me, he is NCAA ready." Whatever decision is made, Vela's hockey future looks very bright.

Player Spotlight - Frankie Cefalu

UNH's newest recruit Frankie Cefalu has also been on a roll as of late. He and the Walpole Express finished up the regular season in first place in the Boston Division of the Eastern Hockey League. Cefalu's 46 assists in 44 games was the most of any EHL player. His 63 points made him the second leading scorer in the EHL.

In the opening round of the 2015 EHL Playoffs, the Express swept the Vermont Lumberjacks in two games. Cefalu lead the Express in scoring with 2 goals and 3 assists. Though he's played one fewer game than the leading scorers, Cefalu is tied for second in scoring in the EHL Playoffs. Walpole will face the Connecticut Oilers in the EHL Quarterfinals. The best-of-three series begins this Saturday at the Rodman Arena in Walpole, MA. Cefalu is on track to enroll at UNH in either the Fall of 2015 or '16.

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) Bloomington Thunder USHL 34 1 7 8 42
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 18 5 5 10 14
USHL 15 0 6 6 39
NAHL 2 0 1 1 0
Int'l. 8 0 4 4 18
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 33 8 12 20 10
Playoffs 3 1 2 3 0
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 55 22 51 73 34
Playoffs 1 0 0 0 0
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 26 2 6 8 -
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Frankie Cefalu  (F) Walpole Express EHL 44 17 46 63 48
Playoffs 2 2 3 5 2
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 47 7 22 29 10
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 47 8 10 18 14
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 56 1 6 7 41
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 47 29 12 41 56
Playoffs 2 1 1 2 12
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 50 20 26 46 57
Playoffs 2 0 1 1 0
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 24 18 33 51 30
Playoffs 4 4 3 7 2
Non-League 30 7 20 27 -
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 19 10 13 23 18
Playoffs 4 2 1 3 2
Non-Conf 33 21 24 45 26
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 37 11 21 32 26
Playoffs 3 2 1 3 0
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 30 1 1 2 8
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 45 3 9 12 22
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 25 7W 16L/2T 3.20 .902
Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 26 17 14 31 -
Playoffs 1 1 0 1 -
CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 34 17 15 32 44
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 29 16 24 40 39
Playoffs 4 3 3 6 0
Non-League 9 4 2 6 -
2018 Recruits
Joel Farabee  (F) Selects Academy 16U USPHL 16U 28 8 25 33 16
Playoffs 3 0 2 2 0
Non-League 31 6 10 16 -

News & Notes

United States Hockey League:

~ In his rookie season in the USHL, Ara Nazarian and the Des Moines Buccaneers are battling for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They currently trail Sioux Falls by 6 points. Last Friday, Nazarian helped the Bucs down the Lincoln Stars 5-2. Nazarian scored the Bucs' first goal, assisted on the game-winner, and was awarded the #2 Star.

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2015 or '16 recruit Liam Blackburn finished the regular season tied for 6th in BCHL scoring. His 51 assists were the third most in the BCHL. As an 18-year-old in his second BCHL season, Blackburn scored 22 goals and 51 assists in 55 games. Current UNH senior Grayson Downing posted 34 goals and 36 assists in 52 regular season games in his final season with the Westside Warriors. Downing was also 18 years old though it was his third season in the BCHL. Blackburn and the Warriors are currently tied 1-1 with the Penticton Vees in the opening round of the BCHL Playoffs.

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ Brendan van Riemsdyk finished the Islanders Hockey Clubs' regular season with 29 goals in 47 games. He tied for 4th in goal-scoring in the USPHL Premiere Division. The IHC swept the P.A.L Junior Islanders in the opening round of the USPHL Playoffs. BvR scored a goal and an assist in the two playoff games. The IHC will face the Philadephia Flyers in a best-of-three series beginning tonight.

~ 2015 recruit Christopher Miller, 2016 recruit Charlie Kelleher, and the Junior Bruins lost a closely-contested series against the South Shore Kings in the USPHL Premiere Division Playoffs. Trailing by a game, the Junior Bruins won Game 2 on the strength of a game-winning goal by Miller and 2 goals by Kelleher. They lost the rubber game 2-1.

~ Joey Cipollone and the Selects Hockey Academy U18 advanced to the Championship Game of the USPHL U18 Playoffs but lost to the Jersey Hitmen in overtime. Cipollone was the USPHL's second leading scorer in the regular season (18G, 33A) and tied for second in the Playoffs (4G, 3A). Jason O'Neill (16G, 24A) of the Skipjacks Hockey Club tied for 3rd in Playoff scoring with 3 goals and 3 assists in 4 games.

Prep School Hockey:

~ Justin Fregona and St. Andrew's College won their third straight Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association Championship. Fregona scored 2 goals and an assist in 4 Playoff games.

~ Eric Esposito of the Loomis Chaffee School finished the regular season with 17 goals and 14 assists in 26 games. As a sophomore, Esposito tripled his scoring production over his freshman season (5G, 6A). The 4th-seeded Loomis Chaffee squad lost to #5 Seed Salisbury in the Elite 8 Quarterfinals. Eric Esposito scored Loomis Chaffee's only goal.

~ Defenseman Liam Darcy, a Senior Captain at Berwick Academy, was named an All-Star by the New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association. Darcy was ranked as the #156 North American skater by the NHL Central Scouting Service in their Mid-Term Rankings.

Monday, March 02, 2015

UNH Sweeps Merrimack, Earns Home Ice: Goal-by-Goal

Freshman Andrew Poturalski
2 Goals
Senior Grayson Downing
Game-Winning Goal/50th Goal
Junior Brett Pesce
3 Assists

DURHAM, NH - When UNH's newest Century Club member Grayson Downing fell to the ice with a severe ankle injury during the second Vermont game in early February, the prospects of staying out of the basement of the Hockey East standings dimmed. If you had told me that UNH would go on to beat UVM, win 6 of their final 7 games, finish in 8th place, and earn home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs, I might have questioned your grasp of reality. By shutting out Merrimack College 3-0 on Saturday night and completing the weekend sweep, the Wildcats have met all those goals.

Fortunately, Grayson Downing's recovery from the left ankle injury was relatively speedy and he only missed the two games against Boston University the week after the trip to Burlington, VT. In the post-game press conference on Saturday (available on UNHWildcats.TV), Merrimack Head Coach Mark Dennehy said:
“We’re not a team that necessarily has a nuclear weapon. Grayson Downing can change the momentum of a game by himself when he gets the puck.”
With just under 5 minutes left in the opening period, Downing deflected a Brett Pesce shot past Merrimack goalie Rasmus Tirronen for the first goal of the game. It turned out to be the game winner and marked the 50th goal of Downing's UNH career. He became the first UNH player to reach the 50-goal mark since Paul Thompson (57) and Mike Sislo (51) in the 2010-11 season.

As I pointed in the game report of UNH's 4-1 victory over Merrimack on Friday night, the late-season surge has been sparked by the four senior forwards. During the 5-game win streak to end the regular season, Matt Willows scored 4 goals (GWG vs Merrimack) and 2 assists, Jay Camper scored 3 goals (GWG vs BU) and an assist, and Casey Thrush had a goal and 2 assists. Over the final four games, Grayson Downing posted Saturday's game-winning goal and added 4 assists. Quoting Coach Dennehy again:
"Right now UNH is playing some good hockey. I think their best players are their seniors, although that freshman (Poturalski) is good too.”
Which leads to the story of Andrew Poturalski.

During the weekend sweep of Merrimack, Poturalski scored UNH's first goal on Friday and the second and third goals on Saturday. The freshman center now has 14 goals and 13 assists in his first 34 games. Poturalski is currently tied for second in goal scoring among all Hockey East freshmen. Fellow freshmen Alex Tuch (BC) and C.J. Smith (Lowell) also have 14 goals while Jack Eichel (BU) leads with 18.

With 27 points in 34 games as a freshman, Andrew Poturalski is over a quarter of the way to the century mark. So far, Poturalski stacks up well when compared to the UNH players who have joined the Century Club since the Whittemore Center opened in the 1995-96 season. This table shows the 20 UNH players who became members of the Century Club while playing their entire college career in the era of the Whittemore Center. It also includes 3 other notables from recent years who left UNH early - James van Riemsdyk, Daniel Winnik, and Trevor Smith. In addition to the total career points, the table shows how many goals and assists each player scored in their freshman season at UNH. As you can see, there are only 3 members of the Century Club (marked with an *) who scored more points than Poturalski in their freshman year. Darren Haydar scored an amazing 66 points in 41 games as a freshman, Sean Collins had 45 points in 40 games, and Derek Bekar had 33 points in 34 freshman games. Current Toronto Maple Leafs' star James van Riemsdyk scored 34 points in his freshman season at UNH. While current performance does not guarantee future accomplishments, Andrew Poturalski compares favorably, so far, with some the best UNH scorers over the last 20 years.

UNH Century Club in Whittemore Era
Freshman Year Scoring

Player Years Total Pts GP Goals Assists Points
Jason Krog 1995-99 238 34 4 16 20
Darren Haydar 1998-02 219 41 31 30 61*
Sean Collins 2001-05 173 40 20 25 45*
Mike Souza 1996-00 156 39 15 11 26
Jacob Micflikier 2003-07 150 39 11 15 26
Colin Hemingway 1999-03 148 26 3 5 8
Kevin Goumas 2010-14 146 32 6 12 18
Lanny Gare 1999-03 142 32 6 14 20
Brett Hemingway 2003-07 135 34 7 12 19
Derek Bekar 1995-98 132 34 15 18 33*
Preston Callander 2001-05 130 24 4 8 12
Bobby Butler 2006-10 121 38 9 3 12
Matt Fornataro 2004-08 118 41 8 12 20
Steve Saviano 2000-04 117 16 1 1 2
Mike Radja 2004-08 117 42 8 12 20
Mike Sislo 2007-11 116 38 3 5 8
Paul Thompson 2007-11 112 35 6 6 12
Phil DeSimone 2007-11 109 38 3 10 13
Justin Aikins 2001-05 103 29 4 4 8
Grayson Downing 2011-15 105 34 10 13 23
Daniel Winnik 2003-06 95 37 4 10 14
James van Riemsdyk 2007-09 74 31 11 23 34*
Trevor Smith 2005-07 63 39 10 10 20
Andrew Poturalski: 34 GP, 14 Goals, 13 Assists, 27 Points
Another positive indicator for the UNH squad that will face UConn in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs this Friday is the offensive play of its top two defensemen - junior Brett Pesce and sophomore Matias Cleland. Pesce assisted on all three goals against Merrimack on Saturday. He has scored a goal and 7 assists over the last 7 games. Although Cleland did not score on Saturday, he rang the post twice in the third period (see video highlights below). Over the last 9 games, Cleland has scored 3 goals and 7 assists.

Goal-by-Goal Breakdown


Grayson Downing-15 PP (Assisted by Brett Pesce-8)
16:32 of 1st Period - UNH 1, Merrimack 0
~ Less than a half minute into UNH's first power play of the game, Pesce and Downing rushed the puck through the neutral zone and into the Merrimack end. Downing dropped a pass to Pesce at the top of the slot and he sent a wrister toward the goal.
~ The puck caromed off Downing's skate past Merrimack goalie Rasmus Tirronen. The referees reviewed the play and determined that Downing did not kick the puck into the net.

Andrew Poturalski-13 (Assisted by Tyler Kelleher-22 & Brett Pesce-9)
18:39 of 1st Period - UNH 2, Merrimack 0
~ On a pretty passing play, Brett Pesce gently dumped the puck off the backboards right onto Tyler Kelleher's stick. Kelleher proceeded past the side of the net to Tirronen's left and sent a behind the back, backhand pass to Poturalski in the low slot.
~ Poturalski deked the goalie, drew the puck to his backhand, and lifted it into the net.


Andrew Poturalski-14 (Assisted by Tyler Kelleher-23 & Brett Pesce-10)
15:15 of 2nd Period - UNH 3, Merrimack 0
~ The threesome of Pesce, Kelleher and Poturalski combined again for UNH's third goal. After Pesce sent a wrister toward the goal, Kelleher gathered the puck, wheeled at the half-boards and charged the net.
~ Tirronen turned aside Kelleher's shot but Poturalski was there to clean up the rebound.
~ Kelleher's assist was his 37th point of the season. He is now the 6th leading scorer in Hockey East.


Danny Tirone's Key Save
~ Merrimack only managed 11 shots on goal. Freshman goalie Danny Tirone only needed to make one outstanding save in the entire game and that came 4 minutes into the final stanza.
~ Tirone earned his first shutout as a collegian.

Matias Cleland Hits Post Twice
~ With 5:56 left in the game and again with 3:35 left, defenseman Matias Cleland nearly scored UNH's 4th and 5th goals. Each time, he rang the post over Tirronen's blocker.

With the victory, UNH ends the Hockey East regular season with a record 10-11-1. They finished in sole possession of 8th place. Overall, UNH is 15-17-2. UNH will play a best-of-three playoff series against UConn at the Whittemore Center this Friday, Saturday, and, if necessary Sunday. Merrimack's record in Hockey East fell to 5-14-3 and they finished the regular season in next to last place. Their overall record is 14-16-4. Merrimack will travel to Vermont for the opening-round series of the Hockey East Playoffs.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

UNH Dominates Merrimack 4-1: Goal-by-Goal

Captain Matt Willows
Game-Winning Goal, 5 SOG
Senior Jay Camper
1 Goal, 3 SOG
Alt. Captain Casey Thrush
1 Goal, 4 SOG

DURHAM, NH - Just two weekends ago, UNH was hovering near the bottom of the Hockey East standings and facing Boston University, the #2 team in the nation and #1 team in Hockey East. Up until then, there had been some bright spots in the Wildcats season. Underclassmen like sophomore Tyler Kelleher and freshmen Andrew Poturalski, Warren Foegele, Shane Eiserman and goalie Danny Tirone had shown steady progress. But to become a competitive team heading into the Hockey East Playoffs, UNH needed its seniors to step up. And that's exactly what they have done.

Beginning with a 4-3 victory over the BU Terriers at the Whittemore Center, UNH has gone on a four-game winning streak. They have outscored their opponents - BU, UConn, and Merrimack - 17 to 6. The Wildcats have clawed their way up the Hockey East standings and now sit in sole possession of 8th place. UNH can earn the home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs with a win on Senior Night against Merrimack College.

Credit the four senior forwards for sparking UNH's late-season surge. Captain Matt Willows, who scored the game-winner Friday night, has scored 4 goals and 2 assists and earned a +3 rating during the four-game win streak. Jay Camper has scored 3 goals, including the game-winner against BU, added an assist and posted a +/- rating of +3. Casey Thrush has a goal, 2 assists, and a +4 rating. Grayson Downing, who suffered a severe ankle sprain at Vermont and missed the BU series, has contributed 4 assists and a +6 rating over the last three games.

Late Saturday afternoon will be a time to honor all the UNH seniors and their families. Durham native Ryan Randall, who helped stabilize a very young defensive core early in the season, will join Willows, Camper, Thrush, and Downing at center ice for one of the great college hockey traditions. UNH fans who will pack the Whittemore Center are hoping it won't be the last time they see the seniors skate on the Towse Rink. The prize is there for the taking. Just one more win and the Wildcats will be there next weekend.

Goal-by-Goal Breakdown


Andrew Poturalski-12 PP (Assisted by Matias Cleland-10 & Tyler Kelleher-21)
10:44 of 1st Period - UNH 1, Merrimack 0
~ On the first shot in this scoring sequence, Andrew Poturalski is wide open on the weak side and rifles a one-timer off a feed from Matias Cleland.
~ Then, Poturalski scrambles to keep the puck from leaving the zone and Cleland keeps it in at the blue line.
~ After a tap pass from Cleland, Poturalski turns on the afterburners, streaks down the slot, and blasts a slap shot past the right pad of Merrimack senior goalie Rasmus Tirronen.


Mathieu Tibbet (From Kolomatis & Henning)
5:28 of Period 2 - UNH 1, Merrimack 1

Matt Willows-18 (Assisted by Cameron Marks-9 & Dan Correale-11)
13:49 of 2nd Period - UNH 2, Merrimack 1
~ Just before the goal is scored, freshman defenseman Cameron Marks sends a wrister from the blue line that was blocked right in front of the goal.
~ Dan Correale gathers the puck on the half-wall and feeds Marks for another attempt from the blue line. This time, Matt Willows is parked on the doorstep of the crease and redirects the shot past Tirronen.

Jay Camper-3 (Assisted by Warren Foegele-10)
15:13 of 2nd Period - UNH 3, Merrimack 1
~ With an outstanding individual effort, freshman Warren Foegele steals the puck at the top of the slot, accelerates toward the goal and flips a backhand shot at Tirronen.
~ Camper races down the slot and bangs the rebound over Tirronen's glove.


Casey Thrush-6 ENG (Assisted by Shane Eiserman-9 & Grayson Downing-14)
19:48 of 3rd Period - UNH 4, Merrimack 1
~ Senior Grayson Downing, coming off a severe ankle sprain, shows great mobility in the UNH zone. He steals the puck, wheels and sends a backhand pass off the half-wall. Junior Dan Correale sends Thrush off on a breakaway with a pass off the sideboards.
~ Thrush hauls butt down the ice and is hauled down by a Merrimack player. If the Merrimack goalie had been in net, Thrush would have been awarded a penalty shot. With the net empty, Thrush was credited with the goal.

With the victory, UNH improved its Hockey East record to 9-11-1. They are in 8th place in Hockey East one point ahead of Maine and Connecticut . Overall, UNH is 14-17-2. Merrimack's record in Hockey East is now 5-13-3 and they are in next to last place, two points ahead of UMass. Their overall record is 14-15-4.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

UNH Sweeps UConn: Goal-by-Goal Video Highlights

Captain Matt Willows
2 Goals, 1 Assist
Alt. Captain Grayson Downing
3 Assists
Alt. Captain Casey Thrush
2 Assists

DURHAM, NH - It was entirely fitting that UNH's first weekend sweep of the 2014-15 season would be lead by it's senior leaders. The first line of Captain Matt Willows at right wing, Alternate Captain Grayson Downing at center, and Alternate Captain Casey Thrush at left wing accounted for three of UNH's five goals in the 5-1 win over the University of Connecticut. Sophomore Tyler Kelleher potted the game-winning goal, his second goal of the weekend, midway through the second period. It was Kelleher's 34th point of the season and 50th point in his first two years - half way to the UNH Century Club.

UNH's dominant 5-1 victory over UConn on Saturday night and weekend sweep moved them ahead of the Huskies in the race for home-ice in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs. Before the weekend began, the Wildcats trailed UConn and Maine by 3 points for 8th place. Now, UNH is ahead of UConn by a point and trails Maine by only 1 point. Whoever finishes in 8th place will earn the final home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Next weekend UNH closes out the regular season with two home games against 11th-place Merrimack while Maine travels to Providence for a pair of games. To finish in 8th place, UNH will need to earn two more points than Maine.

As of the time of this posting, there were no video highlights of UNH's goals against UConn available online. Here are rink-side video clips of all 5 UNH goals:

Goal-by-Goal Breakdown


Jay Camper-2 (Assisted by Warren Foegele-9 & John Furgele-8)
6:18 of 1st Period - UNH 1, UConn 0


Tyler Kelleher-14 (Assisted by Dan Correale-8 & Matias Cleland-7)
9:12 of 2nd Period - UNH 2, UConn 0

Trevor Gerling (From Kirtland & Ojantakanen)
17:13 of Period 2 - UNH 2, UConn 1

Matias Cleland-6 (Assisted by Matt Willows-12 & Grayson Downing-11)
17:55 of 2nd Period - UNH 3, UConn 1


Matt Willows-16 (Assisted by Casey Thrush-16 & Grayson Downing-12)
4:58 of 3rd Period - UNH 4, UConn 1

Matt Willows-17 (Assisted by Grayson Downing-13 & Casey Thrush-17)
8:10 of 3rd Period - UNH 5, UConn 1

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Kelleher, Correale Lead UNH Over UCONN: Goal-by-Goal

Sophomore Tyler Kelleher
1 Goal, 1 Assist
Junior Dan Correale
1 Goal, 2 Assists
Junior Brett Pesce
Game-Winning Goal

The addition of UConn to Hockey East necessitated a change in the format for the 2015 Hockey East Playoffs. All 12 HE teams will qualify for the Playoffs. The opening round will be a best-of-three series involving the 5th to 12th-ranked teams. Teams 5-8 will have the home-ice advantage for the series. The winners of the opening round advance to a best-of-three quarterfinal series against the top 4 teams.

The big incentive for UNH over the final four regular season games is to earn home-ice by finishing in 8th place or better. Last night, UNH took the first step in achieving that goal. UConn entered the game with 16 points in a tie for 8th place with the Univeristy of Maine. UNH, with 13 points, trailed UConn and Maine by 3 points. With a convincing 4-1 victory in Hartford last night, UNH is now only 1 point behind UConn and Maine in the battle for 8th place. UNH has played one less game than UConn so far this season. The two teams match up again tonight at the Whittemore Center in Durham, NH.

In Friday's game, UNH's third line of Dan Correale-Andrew Poturalski-Tyler Kelleher game up big accounting for three of UNH's four goals. After a scoreless first period, the threesome scored twice on its first shift of the second period. Sophomore Tyler Kelleher got UNH on the scoreboard off a 3-on-2 rush into the UConn zone. A minute later, junior defenseman Brett Pesce scored the eventual game-winner with the primary assist going to fellow junior Dan Correale. After missing 4 games in December with a knee injury and 4 more games in January with a respiratory problem, Pesce has begun to heat up his offensive game. He has a goal and 4 assists over the last four games.

UConn broke up freshman goalie Danny Tirone's shutout on a power play goal late in the second period. Tirone, a native of Trumball, CT, was playing in his home state for the first time as a collegian. Midway through the final stanza, Correale picked up the insurance goal on a pretty feed from Kelleher. Senior Captain Matt Willows potted his second empty-net goal in the last two games to close out the 4-1 victory.

Points of Interest

~ Remarkably, Senior Alternate Captain Grayson Downing returned to the lineup after missing only two games. Downing suffered a severe ankle sprain two weeks ago at UVM. Though he looked to be skating slightly slower than usual, he skated his regular shift on the first line and played on UNH's first power play and penalty kill units.
~ Downing returned to center the first line between Casey Thrush and Mat Willows. The other three forward lines were the same as in last Saturday's victory over BU: Foegele-Camper-Eiserman, Correale-Poturalski-Kelleher, Salvaggio-McNicholas-Hill.
~ UNH had 9 freshmen in the lineup - 5 forwards, 3 defensemen and goalie Danny Tirone
~ It was a special evening for freshman Jason Salvaggio. A couple years ago, he played for the Selects Hockey Academy at the South Kent School in Connecticut. He originally had verbally committed to UConn but came to UNH instead after UConn changed coaches.

Goal-by-Goal Breakdown


Tyler Kelleher-13 (Assisted by Dan Correale-6 & Harry Quast-4)
1:44 of 2nd Period - UNH 1, UConn 0

Brett Pesce-2 (Assisted by Dan Correale-7 & Andrew Poturalski-10)
2:21 of 2nd Period - UNH 2, UConn 0

Cody Sharib PP (From Gerling & Poe)
6:37 of Period 2 - UNH 2, UConn 1


Dan Correale-4 (Assisted by Tyler Kelleher-19 & Matias Cleland-6)
11:48 of 3rd Period - UNH 3, UConn 1

Matt Willows-14 ENG (Assisted by Richard Boyd-2)
19:55 of 3rd Period - UNH 4, UConn 1

Thursday, February 19, 2015

UNH Recruits Update: Feb-19-2015

Liam Blackburn
West Kelowna Warriors
Justin Fregona
St. Andrew's College
Joey Cipollone
Selects Academy U18

Player Spotlight - Liam Blackburn

In his second full season in the British Columbia Hockey league, 18-year-old Liam Blackburn has set the West Kelowna Warriors' single-season record for most assists. Blackburn's record-breaking assist, his 48th of the season, came with a minute left in regulation in a game against the Trail Smoke Eaters last Friday night. Blackburn's wrist shot was kicked out by the Trails' goalie but the rebound was banged home by Jason Cotton, a Northeastern University recruit. Here's a video of the goal - Blackburn is #26 in the black jersey:

Liam Blackburn's 48th assist of the season was his 113th point as a West Kelowna Warrior. He is now #9 on the Warriors' all-time scoring list. Current UNH senior Grayson Downing is 5th on the list with 129 points. Downing played three seasons with the Warriors before coming to UNH. In his final season with West Kelowna, Downing scored 34 goals and 36 assists in 52 regular season games. So far this season, Blackburn has 22 goals and 48 assists in 54 games. The Warriors have 4 games remaining in the regular season.

In November, Liam Blackburn signed a National Letter of Intent to attend UNH and play for the Wildcats. He will enroll either next fall or in the fall of 2016.

Player Spotlight - Justin Fregona

Justin Fregona is a 17-year-old senior at St. Andrew's College - Warren Foegele's alma mater. For the third season in a row, St. Andrew's College finished in first place during the regular season of the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association. Fregona's 8 goals and 12 assists in 16 conference games made him the second-leading scorer in the CISAA. Last season, Foegele lead the league with 17 goals and 6 assists in 14 games.

St. Andrew's also played many nonconference games against some of the top prep schools in the United States. Justin Fregona scored 21 goals and 23 assists in 31 nonconference games. When all CISAA and nonconference games are considered, Fregona was St. Andrew's leading scorer with 29 goals and 35 assists in 47 games. Fregona is on track to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2016.

Player Spotlight - Joey Cipollone

The Selects Hockey Academy at the South Kent School Under-18 team is having a remarkable season. At present, they are the 6th-ranked Midget 18U team in the nation with an overall record of 48-8-6. 2016 UNH recruit Joey Cipollone is the captain of the Selects Academy 18U squad.

The Selects Academy's primary affiliation is with the United States Premiere Hockey League 18U Division. They just completed the regular season in first place in the USPHL 18U with a record of 26-2-0. Cipollone, the team's first line center, scored 18 goals and 33 assists in 24 games and was the second-leading scorer in the league. Five of his goals were game-winners. The Selects Academy 18U team begin the USPHL Playoffs on Saturday against the NH Junior Monarchs.

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) Bloomington Thunder USHL 30 0 7 7 40
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 18 5 5 10 14
USHL 11 0 4 4 33
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Int'l. 8 0 4 4 18
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 32 8 11 19 10
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 54 22 48 70 32
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 22 2 4 6 -
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Frankie Cefalu  (F) Walpole Express EHL 42 17 41 58 46
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 43 7 20 27 10
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 43 7 9 16 14
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 52 1 6 7 41
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 45 29 12 41 55
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 46 14 24 38 55
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 24 18 33 51 30
Non-League 30 7 20 27 -
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 15 8 12 20 6
Non-Conf 31 21 23 44 36
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 36 11 20 31 26
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 25 1 1 2 8
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 43 3 8 11 22
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 22 7W 13L/2T 3.00 .913
Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 23 15 14 29 -
CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 34 17 15 32 44
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 29 16 24 40 39
Non-League 9 4 2 6 -
2018 Recruits
Joel Farabee  (F) Selects Academy 16U USPHL 16U 28 8 25 33 16
Non-League 31 6 10 16 -

News & Notes

Team USA:

~ During the first week in February, Joseph Masonius and the US National Team Development Program U-18 team competed in the 2015 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic. Team USA defeated Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic but lost to Russia 4-5. Masonius had an assist in three out of the four games. Team USA won the silver medal. Masonius is on track to enroll at UNH next fall.

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2015 or '16 recruit Marcus Vela has scored 5 goals in his last 6 games and is tied for 3rd in scoring on the Langley Rivermen.

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ Brendan van Riemsdyk has scored 29 goals in 45 games and is tied for 3rd in goal-scoring in the USPHL Premiere Division.

~ Jason O'Neill (16G, 24A) of the Skipjacks Hockey Club finished the regular season of the USPHL U18 Division tied for 5th in scoring.

~ Joel Farabee (8G, 25A) was the 5th leading scorer on the Selects Hockey Academy U16 team during the regular season. They are currently the 14th-ranked Midget 16U team in the nation with an overall record of 47-13-4.

New England Prep School Hockey:

~ With just 3 games remaining in the regular season, Eric Esposito and the Loomis Chaffee School are ranked #2 in the US Hockey Report Prep School Poll. The sophomore has posted 15 goals and 14 assists in 23 games and is the 2nd-leading goal scorer on the Loomis Chaffee squad.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Former UNH Star Stevie Moses Breaks KHL Goal-Scoring Record

KHL Star Stevie Moses

In just his third year of professional hockey, former UNH Wildcat Stevie Moses has broken the single-season record for most goals in the Kontinental Hockey League. Less than one-half hour ago, Moses scored on a penalty shot in the first period of a game between his team Jokerit and the Atlant Moscow Oblast. It was Moses' 36th goal of the 2014-15 KHL season.

Here's the first available video of Moses' record-breaking goal.

High-Scoring Stevie Moses Weighs NHL and KHL Options

Stevie Moses
KHL's Top Goal Scorer

In the article " Former UNH Star Stevie Moses Ties KHL Goal-Scoring Record", posted last week on The UNH Men's Hockey Blog, Stevie Moses described what it took to become the top goal scorer in the Kontinental Hockey League - the second best professional hockey league in the world after the National Hockey League. So far in his first season in the KHL, Moses has added 21 assists to his league-leading 35 goals. With 56 points in 56 games, Stevie Moses is currently tied for 6th in KHL scoring. This video provides a small sample of Moses' passing and shooting skills from a Jokerit victory earlier this season:

With four games remaining in the regular season, Moses is focused on boosting Jokerit's position in the standings ahead of the playoffs and breaking the KHL single-season record for most goals. When the season is over, Moses will be in the enviable position of choosing where to play next year. His contract with Jokerit expires this season and he will become a free agent in the KHL. He is also a free agent in the National Hockey League.

Just days after Moses finished his senior season at UNH, he signed an amateur tryout contract with the Connecticut Whale (now known as the Hartford Wolf Pack), the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers. As an undrafted free agent, he scored 2 goals in the remaining 8 games in the Whale's regular season and 1 goal in 2 AHL playoff games. With a lockout looming in the 2011-12 NHL season, Moses decided to sign with Jokerit, then a member of Liiga, the top professional league in Finland. A number of established NHLers played for Liiga teams that season and Moses was the 4th-leading goal scorer in the league with 22 goals in 55 regular season games.

On January 30th, I had an opportunity to interview Stevie Moses via Facetime.** He had just completed a game against the KHL team from Bratislava, Slovakia in front of over 12,000 fans at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. Stevie had scored the 3rd goal in the Jokerit's 4-0 victory. It was his 33rd goal of the season - just two shy of the record.

Among the topics we discussed were the various signing options available to him at the end of this season. As you'll see, Stevie has been carefully weighing the pros and cons of signing with an NHL team or remaining in the KHL. What follows are some excerpts from the interview.

Mike Lowry:
"In retrospect, your decision to leave North America and pursue your professional career in Finland has been a smart move for a number of reason. As you pointed out in a December, 2012 interview with Hockey's Future, the NHL lockout in 2012 lead to very few openings on AHL squads. If you had stayed in the United States, you would likely have played in the lower-tier East Coast Hockey League. Ironically, by signing with Jokerit, you got to play against a number of NHL players who played in Europe during the lockout. Now, this year, Jokerit made the big leap into the Kontinental Hockey League which is widely regarded as the second best professional hockey league in the world. It goes without saying that folks who have followed your career are wondering if you will sign with an NHL team next season. Can you share your current thinking about that prospect?"

Stevie Moses:
"It’s a unique situation I’m in now. My agent has spoken with 12 to 15 teams in the NHL at this point. I will only go to the NHL on a one-way contract not a two-way contract like I was just coming out of college. For example, like Bob (Butler) or Paul (Thompson) or any of the UNH guys. When you sign a two-way contract coming out of college, there’s a certain amount of money you make for playing games in the NHL and a certain amount you make playing minors."

"I’m now 25, I’ll be 26 next season so I’m able to sign a one-way contract. Let’s say it’s worth 700,000 – I get $700,000 whether I’m in the minors or the NHL. My agent has told every team 'If you’re going to sign him or make any offers, then it’s going to be a one-way contract' – which is a nice situation to be in."

"It comes down to if I feel like an NHL team is going to give me a realistic chance to play in an offensive role and put me in a position to be successful, then I’ll take much less money coming back to North America than I could get from some of the big Russian clubs. They can pay pretty big salaries. With the season I’ve been able to have, I ought to be up for a good amount of money from a Russian team."

"It comes down to if I feel like I want to play in the NHL, I can find a team that will give me a real chance to play games in the NHL, on a top 2 line, on the power play and then I’ll make that decision. That will be something I’ll have to deal with probably over the next two months or so. I’ve been telling my agent that I’d like to finish this season and focus on Jokerit and what we’ve got going right now. When the season is over, we’re going to sit down and weigh both sides, whether it be staying and playing in Russia somewhere or trying to go back to the NHL. Obviously, it’s a really exciting time and I’ll have some big decisions over the next couple of months."

"Of course, people have asked me, especially in Finland, what my plans are. I’ve made it known throughout the season that my goal is to go back and play in the NHL. My agent has been very proactive and talking to NHL teams. I have no preference about where I would play in the NHL. It’s all about having the GM, coach and the management on board saying - 'Look, we have a guy coming in who took a different development path who needs to be given a realistic chance'. I would hate to sign somewhere in the NHL just for the sake of signing in the NHL and being able to say ‘I did it’ and then going and playing in the minors. I wouldn’t do that. At that point, I’d probably go back to Europe anyways."

Mike Lowry:
"So, the other very attractive option you have is to sign with one of the Russian teams for a lot more money?"

Stevie Moses:
"KHL teams are not paying Americans, Canadians, and Swedes like they pay the top Russian stars who get 4 or 5 million dollars a year. But something like 2 to 2 and a half million dollars would be very possible. This is a job where I can only play for 10-12 more years and you have to think about your life after and what you want to do after your playing career is over. As much as it’s about the dream of playing in the NHL, you want to be pretty comfortable financially when you’re done playing."

Mike Lowry:
"Do you ever pinch yourself and say - 'Holy crap, I’m playing for 100’s of thousands possibly millions of dollars. I never imagined this would happen'. - or did you always think you would be able to do it?"

Stevie Moses:
"I didn’t know. I never doubted myself, I think a lot of people did. My career in college was good, not great. In comparison to what other players have done coming out of UNH, maybe it wasn’t expected that I would have this much success. But I always knew I had the ability to play at a higher levels."

"It’s still something that I’m really grateful for and I don’t take anything for granted. It’s pretty special what I’ve been able to do and I’ve been very lucky. A lot of it comes down to luck and timing. Even if I had signed an NHL contract coming out of college, it’s so easy to get buried in the minors. Three or four years out of school and you only play games in the AHL and you’re hoping at that point that maybe you can sign a contract in Sweden or Finland and make a little bit more money."

"But, having gone to Finland when I did and playing in the KHL three years out of school and being global - obviously everything has worked out well for me and a lot of that had to do with timing."

Mike Lowry:
"Your senior year at UNH you were listed at 5'9" and 170 lbs. You are now at 5'9", 176 lbs. There are a number of NHL stars who have a stature similar to yours. Guys like Martin St. Louis (5'9", 180 lbs), Patrick Kane (5'11", 177 lbs) and Johnny Gaudreau (5'9", 150 lbs). At the start of this season, the average height and weight across all NHL players was 6'1" and 203 lbs. What kinds of skills and characteristics allow the relatively smaller players to succeed at the NHL level?"

Stevie Moses:
"Ya, actually I was just talking about this. I had a meeting just yesterday with an NHL GM who came to Finland to meet with me. We talked about this, that the average size in the league is big. Guys are big players and it’s tough to make it as a smaller guy. No management guy, GM or coach, wants to stick their necks out for somebody small because if it doesn’t work out, it’s pretty easy to say - ‘Why did you sign him, the guy’s too small and he was never going to make it anyway' ?"

"I look at the names of the smaller players you’ve mentioned – Marty St. Louis, Patrick Kane, and Johnny Gaudreau. There’s plenty of other smaller guys like Tyler Johnson who plays for Tampa Bay and Nathan Gerbe. Even as unbelievable as Gerbe was in college, he’s kind of like hanging on in the league hoping to get a job. He’s not a guy who knows he’s going to be in the league every year signing for big money so it’s really tough."

"When I look at these smaller players who have been successful in the NHL, all of them play differently and have their own unique skill set. The one thing they have in common is that all of them are incredibly competitive. That’s a huge part of their success because you have to be mentally stronger and hate losing more than anyone else on the ice. Every time you get into a battle you’re the underdog and you have to relish that role. The role of ‘people don’t expect you to be successful and I need to prove them wrong’."

"Even with a guy like Patrick Kane who was drafted first overall, still there were people who doubted him because of his size. Obviously, some of these guys have world-class skills - Kane is arguably the most skilled guy in the league. But all of those guys have smarts on the ice and are incredibly competitive. That’s what makes smaller guys successful at any level, especially the NHL where everything is so business oriented. If somebody sticks their neck out and signs you and it doesn’t work out, they are putting themselves at risk. Everybody is on edge when a lot of money is on the line and everybody is trying to win, especially the players. Any of the successful smaller guys you mentioned compete every night and they don’t make excuses like ‘It’s OK if I lose this battle because I’m smaller or weaker than the other guy’."

Mike Lowry:
"If at some point in the future you decide to return to the North America to play, what will you miss about living and playing in Europe?"

Stevie Moses:
"It’s been unique for me because I’ve just played in Helsinki with Jokerit for three years. I think what I’ll miss most is this organization from the fans to the management to the players. I’ve had some unbelievable teammates here and with some guys, I’ve become really good friends. The fans here are just amazing. I think we average 12,000 per game and we just sold out tonight. We sell out plenty of games."

"Hockey in Finland is the biggest sport by far. There’s no other sports team that comes close in terms of popularity. We’re in the biggest city and we’re the biggest team in the city so Jokerit is the biggest hockey club in Finland which is a huge hockey market. You have a celebrity status here where everybody recognizes you wherever you go. But Finns are also really quiet, respectful people so they never bother you for pictures or autographs at the grocery store, movie theater or other places. They’ll recognize you but know enough to let you live your life. You might see the same fan at a game waiting in line to get an autograph and they’ll be thrilled to get a picture, but they wait for the right time."

"I just can’t say enough about the fans here and they’ve really been awesome to me. I was lucky to have awesome fans at UNH and I left there to play here and the fans really took me in. That’s something that I’ll really miss if I leave Helsinki. Living in this city, as hard as it is being so far away from home, it’s an awesome city. The size is just right, similar size to Boston say 5 to 6 hundred thousand people. It’s become a second home for me and I’ll definitely miss the city and the Jokerit organization."

Stevie Moses and Jokerit have 4 games remaining in the KHL regular season. All of them are away games. Moses next opportunity to break the single-season goal-scoring record is today, Wednesday, in Moskow, against Atlant.

In the final installment of this series of articles, Stevie Moses reflects back on his four-year career at the University of New Hampshire.

** Special thanks to long-time UNH hockey fan Tina Thibodeau for helping to coordinate my interview with Stevie Moses.

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