Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Goalie Danny Tirone Brings Quick, Athletic Style to UNH

Danny Tirone Set to Join UNH Roster


When goaltender Danny Tirone verbally committed to UNH back in March, 2013, he had just completed his senior season with the Loomis-Chaffee School and been named the Prep School Player of the Year by US Hockey Report. In my interview with Tirone (Pronounced Ti-row-knee) at the time, he described the plan to play a couple of seasons, probably in the United States Hockey League, and enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2015.

A couple months later, Tirone was drafted by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL and he went on to a successful rookie season last year. In 44 regular season games, Tirone posted a 2.63 goals against average (8th best in USHL) and a .917 save percentage (6th best in USHL).

Throughout this past summer, UNH's plan for an orderly goalie succession was on track. Incoming freshman Adam Clark, a 6'5" veteran goalie from the British Columbia Hockey League, would be the backup for senior Casey DeSmith. Danny Tirone would play one more season with Cedar Rapids and come to UNH next fall. However, that plan was sidetracked on August 31st when 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 became the #1 goalie and has started every game since the UNH season began. Meanwhile, preliminary steps were taken to admit Tirone to UNH for the second semester. Head Coach and General Manager of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Mark Carlson, allowed Tirone (his #1 goalie) to come back to the Northeast and play for the Junior Bruins in the USPHL. As expected, Tirone has started nearly every game for the Junior Bruins (20 out of 28) and maintained a high standard of performance. His record was 14-5-1 with a goals against average of 2.24 and save percentage of .929.

On December 6th, Coach Umile announced that senior goalie Casey DeSmith, would not be returning to the team:
“Our student-athletes here at UNH are held to a higher standard than the general student body, and because of Casey’s actions the weekend of August 31, I’ve made the decision to dismiss Casey from the team.”
A December 12th press release provided by the parents of DeSmith presented their account of how the accusations were addressed in the Dover District Court and before the University's disciplinary hearing. DeSmith will reportedly be allowed to return to UNH as a student.

Last Wednesday, I traveled to the New England Sports Center to watch Danny Tirone play in his final game with the Junior Bruins. They downed the Islanders Hockey Club (fellow UNH recruit Brendan van Riemsdyk plays for them) 4-1 and Tirone stopped 45 out of 46 shots on goal. It was my first opportunity to see Tirone play in person. In the interview back when he committed to UNH, I asked him about his strengths. He said:
"I think that the strongest aspects of my goaltending skills are my speed, my athleticism, and my overall compete level when I am in the net."
In this sequence of highlights from last Wednesday's game, notice how quickly Tirone skates laterally to block and control the puck:





On these plays, Tirone's athleticism is evidenced by how quickly he can go down into the butterfly position and spring back up:





Danny Tirone is listed as 5'10" and 168 pounds. That's a stark contrast with Adam Clark who is 6'5", 220 pounds. Needless to say, it's relatively easy for Clark to cover large sections of the net when a shooter is approaching him head-on. Tirone compensates for his smaller stature, in part, by standing tall and holding his catching glove away from his body:





The contrasts between Adam Clark and Danny Tirone may translate into an effective goalie tandem for UNH over the next few years. At the risk of oversimplification, Clark is a big goalie who economizes his movement in the crease while Tirone uses his quickness to cover the net space. It will be interesting to see how the UNH coaches utilize Clark and Tirone during the second half of this season and the subsequent three years.

Over the past decade, UNH coaches have identified a #1 goalie who played the bulk of minutes and a backup who played in the occasional game. Even when two talented goalies were on the roster, one was in net for the majority of games. For example, in the 2007-08 season, senior Kevin Regan played in 32 games while sophomore Brian Foster only played in 6. Both were NHL draft picks - Regan a 9th round pick of the Boston Bruins in 2003 and Foster a 5th round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2005.

Will UNH change the way it utilizes its goalies over the next four years? The combination of Clark and Tirone is relatively unique. They are close to the same age - Clark is 21 and Tirone is 20. An unpredictable set of circumstances has lead both to be freshmen in the same season. They are very different goalies both in stature and style. They are even exact opposites in handedness - Clark catches with his left hand and Tirone with his right.

At the extreme, one can imagine UNH playing Clark in one game of a weekend series and Tirone in the other. The opposing team would need to adapt their scoring strategies, to some degree, from one night to the next. Granted, that type of goalie tandem is rarely used at the NCAA or professional levels. Regardless of how Clark and Tirone are ultimately utilized, it is true that UNH will have more options with them both on the roster.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Dec-16-2014

Skipjacks U18 Forward
Jason O'Neill
Selects Academy U18 Forward
Joey Cipollone

Player Spotlight - Jason O'Neill & Joey Cipollone

The United States Premiere Hockey League's 18U League is in it's second season of operation. Since the inception of the league, hockey enthusiasts have wondered how the USPHL 18U players and teams would stack up against the Tier I Elite League teams from other parts of the US. Over the December 7-9 weekend, six USPHL 18U and 16U teams travelled to Chicago to compete in the first Tier 1/USPHL Showdown. Two UNH Recruits - Jason O'Neill of the Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U team and Joey Cipollone (pronounced Sip-ih-LOAN) of Selects Hockey Academy 18U - competed in the showdown. Each played in 4 games against teams ranked in the top 50 in the MYHockey USA Midget 18U Tier 1 Rankings.

17-year-old Jason O'Neill (DOB: 3/23/97), a 5'11", 170 lbs., left-shot forward and the Skipjacks defeated the LA Jr Kings (4-3), Dallas Stars Elite 18U (4-1), and Chicago Fury (4-3), but lost in overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 18U (3-2). O'Neill scored the game-winning goal in the Dallas and Chicago games. Overall, Jason posted 2 goals and an assist over the four games. The Skipjacks' successful play moved them up to #52 in the US 18U rankings.

Joey Cipollone (DOB: 3/29/97) is just 6 days younger than Jason O'Neill and also a left-shot forward (5'10", 165 lbs.). He and the Selects Academy at South Kent School 18U team also won three games in the Showdown defeating the Colorado Thunderbirds (10-1), LA Jr Kings (4-0), and Dallas Stars Elite 18U (3-1). They lost to the St. Louis Blues 18U team (0-3) who were ranked #14 in the country. Cipollone scored a goal and added 3 assists at the Showdown. The Selects Academy moved up to the 11th-ranked 18U team in the country.

The Skipjacks were on the road again this past weekend while the Selects Academy returned home to South Kent, CT. Jason O'Neill and his teammates traveled from Chicago down to Huntsville, Alabama to play the Thunder AAA midget teams. O'Neill missed the Saturday game due to illness but he came up big for the Skipjacks 18U in their victory on Sunday. O'Neill scored two goals during regulation including the game-tying goal with less the 2 seconds remaining. Then he scored in the shootout as the Skipjacks downed the Thunder.

Joey Cipollone and the Selects Academy teams played a pair of home games against the Northwood School from Lake Placid, NY. The match-ups were played at the brand-new Admiral James and Sybil Stockdale Arena on the campus of the South Kent School. The Selects Academy 18U team downed the Northwood School Junior Hockey team 4-0 on Saturday and Cipollone posted an assist. In the 2-2 game on Sunday, Cipollone scored one of the Cardinals' goals.

Both O'Neill and Cipollone are among the top scorers in the USPHL 18U League. Jason O'Neill's 20 points in 15 games makes him the 5th leading scorer in the league. Joey Cipollone has 4 goals and 10 assists in only 8 games. Though he has played in several fewer games than other USPHL 18U players, he is still tied for 7th in assists.

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) Bloomington Thunder USHL 13 0 2 2 12
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 11 3 4 7 4
USHL 8 0 3 3 18
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Int'l. 4 0 1 1 14
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 13 3 4 7 6
Danny Tirone  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 18 13W 6L 2.31 .925
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 32 14 35 49 18
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 6 1 3 4 -
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 24 5 10 15 8
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 24 3 6 9 8
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 31 0 2 2 24
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 27 18 6 24 44
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 28 5 19 24 32
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 8 4 10 14 0
Non-League 6 2 4 6 -
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 5 4 1 5 4
Non-Conf 16 9 9 18 18
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 18 8 13 21 8
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 10 0 0 0 4
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 23 2 2 4 6
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 2 1W 0L/1T 3.00 .918
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 34 17 15 32 44
Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 5 4 3 7 -
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 15 10 10 20 21
Non-League 5 4 2 6 -

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ Marcus Vela and Canada West played their first game in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge last Sunday night. Canada West lost a close game with Denmark 3-2. Vela was the starting right wing and played substantial minutes on Canada West's penalty kill and power play. In a preview of the WJAC, the NHL Central Scouting Service selected 3 "Players to Watch" from each of the 6 international teams. This is what they said about Marcus Vela:
"Key on the power play and penalty kill … plays a responsible two-way game … very strong on the puck … solid on face-offs … brings a physical element … plays with a purpose … good vision … high compete level."
~ 2015 or '16 UNH recruit Liam Blackburn competed for, but did not make the Canada West squad for the 2014 World Junior A Challenge. Since returning to the West Kelowna Warriors' lineup, Blackburn has added a goal and 2 assists to his scoring totals. He is still the second leading scorer in the BCHL and his 35 assists are 7 more than the BCHL player with the second most assists.

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ Both Charlie Kelleher and Christopher Miller have been out of the Junior Bruins' lineup for an extended period. Kelleher had mononucleosis and has not played since November 11th. He was cleared to play on December 8th. Miller was out of the lineup from October 24th until last Thursday with a mild concussion.

Prep School Hockey:

~ 2017 or '18 recruit Eric Esposito, a sophomore at Loomis-Chaffee, is putting up impressive numbers in the 2014-15 New England Prep School season. Esposito has 4 goals and 3 assists in 5 games. As a freshman last season, he scored 5 goals and 6 assists in 28 games. Loomis-Chaffee is undefeated and Eric Esposito is tied for second in scoring on the team.

~ Goalie Mike Robinson, a 2017 recruit, won his first ever New England Prep School game last Wednesday. Robinson faced 35 shots on goal and made 33 saves as Lawrence Academy downed Milton Academy 4-2. According to US Hockey Report, the 6'5", 200 lbs., Robinson is being watched by NHL scouts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

UNH Recruit Marcus Vela Makes Canada West Team

Langley's Marcus Vela Named to Canada West Team


Hockey Canada has announced the 22-player roster for Canada West and UNH Recruit Marcus Vela is on it. Vela, a 2015 or '16 UNH recruit, is one of 9 players selected from the British Columbia Hockey League. Canada West also includes players from the Junior A leagues from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Superior International. They will compete in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge on December 14-20 in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. Canada West will face teams from Canada East, the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.

From December 7-9, Vela (Langley Rivermen), and fellow UNH recruit Liam Blackburn (West Kelowna Warriors) competed with 60 players at the Canada West selection camp. 25 of the players represented BCHL teams while the other 35 players represented the Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Superior International Leagues.

17-year-old Marcus Vela, has scored 5 goals and 19 assists in 28 games. He is the 4th leading scorer on the Langley Rivermen squad. Liam Blackburn is currently the second leading scorer in the BCHL. So far this season, he has scored 13 goals and 33 assists in 29 games. His 33 assists are the most for any BCHL player. Like Vela, he is on target to enroll at UNH in either the Fall of 2015 or 2016.

Since the World Junior A Challenge was first played in 2006, 7 players, who would later play for UNH, have participated (see table below). The most recent was Shane Eiserman who scored 2 goals for the USA team that won the gold medal in 2013. Two UNH players have represented the BCHL on Canada West teams. Both Grayson Downing (2009, 2010) and Damon Kipp (2006, 2007) played in two World Junior A Challenges. The leading scorer among UNH players who have played in the Challenge was Blake Kessel who scored 2 goals and 5 assists in the 2007 Tournament.

UNH Player Year Team Medal GP Goals Asst Pts
Shane Eiserman 2013 USA Gold 4 2 0 2
Grayson Downing 2010 Canada West - 5 2 2 4
2009 Canada West Silver 5 0 0 0
Casey DeSmith 2010 USA Gold 2/3 1W 0L -
Nick Sorkin 2009 USA Gold 5 0 1 1
Greg Burke 2008 USA Gold 5 1 1 2
Blake Kessel 2007 USA Bronze 4 2 5 7
Damon Kipp 2007 Canada West Gold 5 0 2 2
2006 Canada West Gold 4 - - -


Tuesday, December 02, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Dec-2-2014

Marcus Vela - NHL CSS Player to Watch
(Photo Credit: Garrett James Photography)

Player of the Week - Marcus Vela

November was a memorable month for 17-year-old Marcus Vela (DOB: 3/3/1997). On the 20th, the NHL Central Scouting Service released its Preliminary 2015 November Players to Watch list and Vela (pronounced VELL-a) was on it. He was rated as a "C" prospect meaning he's a candidate to be drafted in the 4th, 5th, or 6th round in the 2015 NHL Draft next June.

Then, last Friday, Hockey Canada announced the list of 60 players invited to the Canada West selection camp on December 7-9. Marcus Vela is one of 25 players from the BCHL who will attend the camp. The other 35 players represent the Junior A leagues from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Superior International. All will compete for the 22 roster slots on the Canada West team in advance of the 2014 World Junior A Challenge. The Challenge, to be played in Kindersley, Saskatchewan Dec. 14-20, includes teams from the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and two from Canada.

Vela's on-ice accomplishments with the Langley Rivermen have also stood out over the last couple weeks. In the last 6 games, he has scored a goal and added 5 assists. In a 4-3 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors, Vela posted 2 assists and was awarded the #2 Star of the Game. When the Rivermen downed the Surrey Eagles 5-2 on November 21st, Vela scored a goal and an assist and was named the "Energy Player of the Game".

In just 27 games this season, Vela has already matched his total point output (22 points) from last season (54 games). His 18 assists is tied for 9th place in the BCHL. Vela leads the Rivermen in assists and is tied for 3rd in scoring. Recently, Vela has been the centerman on Langley's first line and logged substantial time on the power play. In his second season in the BCHL, Marcus Vela is on track to double his production from a year ago.

Here are some of the highlights from Vela's recent games:



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) Bloomington Thunder USHL 9 0 3 3 8
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 10 3 4 7 4
USHL 6 0 2 2 16
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Int'l. 4 0 1 1 14
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 12 3 4 7 6
Danny Tirone  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 16 11W 5L 2.32 .926
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 27 13 30 43 14
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 2 1 2 3 -
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 20 4 9 13 8
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 20 3 4 7 6
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 26 0 1 1 18
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 23 17 5 22 44
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 27 4 18 22 30
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 8 4 10 14 0
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 4 4 1 5 2
Non-Conf 12 8 6 14 16
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 18 8 13 21 8
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 6 0 0 0 0
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 20 2 1 3 6
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 34 17 15 32 44
Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 1 1 1 2 -
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 15 10 10 20 21

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ On November 19th, Liam Blackburn signed a National Letter of Intent to play for UNH. He will enroll in either the Fall of 2015 or 2016. Blackburn was also invited to the Canada West tryout camp. He and fellow UNH recruit Marcus Vela will be trying to earn a spot on the Canada West team which will compete in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge in mid-December. Over his last 5 games with the West Kelowna Warriors, Blackburn has scored 3 goals and 3 assists. He currently has the most assists (30) of any BCHL player and is the second leading scorer (43 points) in the league.

United States Hockey League:

~ In a game between the Des Moines Buccaneers and Omaha Lancers on Sunday night, 2015 or '16 UNH recruit Patrick Grasso scored the game-tying goal with just 55 seconds left in regulation. The Bucs went on to win the shootout. In that same game, fellow UNH recruit Ara Nazarian scored the Bucs' second goal and was awarded the #2 Star of the Game. Des Moines, who missed the USHL Playoffs last season, is currently in 2nd place in the Western Conference. Here's Patrick Grasso's dramatic goal:



Team USA:

~ Over the last couple weeks, 2015 UNH recruit Joseph Masonius and the US National Team Development Program Under-18 team have competed against NCAA teams. On November 21st, Team USA defeated 4th-Ranked Minnesota 5-4 in overtime. Masonius, a 6', 180 lbs. defenseman, scored the team's third goal and assisted on the game-tying 4th goal. Last Saturday, the US National U-18 team defeated the NCAA Division III team from Neumann University (Aston, Pennsylvania) 7-1. Masonius registered a goal and 2 assists.

Prep School Hockey:

~ Liam Darcy, a Senior Captain at Berwick Academy, scored the first goal of the season for the Bulldogs in the first period of the first game. Berwick shut out North Yarmouth Academy 4-0. Darcy scored two assists in the 6-0 shutout of the Moses Brown School. In the opening weeks of the New England Prep School season, Darcy is the 3rd leading scorer among all defenders. Like fellow UNH recruit Marcus Vela, Liam Darcy was included on the NHL Central Scouting Service's Preliminary 2015 November Players to Watch list. He too was rated as a "C" prospect with the potential to be drafted in the 4th, 5th, or 6th round in the 2015 NHL Draft.

~ 2017 or '18 recruit Eric Esposito posted a goal and an assist in Loomis-Chaffee's first game of the New England Prep School season. The Pelicans defeated Groton Academy 9-0 at the St. Paul's School Jamboree. Eric Esposito, a sophomore, and his older brother Alex (a Vermont Commit), a senior, are forwards on the Loomis-Chaffee team. Against Groton, the Esposito brothers did not play on the same line. This video shows Eric's first goal of the season:



~ 2016 recruit Justin Fregona is off to a fast start for St. Andrew's College in the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Conference. In 4 league games, Fregona has scored 4 goals and an assist. He is tied for 1st in CISAA goals and tied for 3rd in scoring. Last season, Fregona and current UNH freshman Warren Foegele were teammates on the St. Andrew's squad.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

UPDATE: Young UNH Defensemen Face Challenges Without Brett Pesce

UNH Defensive Stalwart
Brett Pesce Out of Lineup

UPDATE - November 26, 2014

Prior to last night's game between UNH and RPI, play-by-play announcer Dan Parkhurst reported more information on Brett Pesce's sprained knee:
"More on Pesce injury for UNH: Occurred after clean hip check in last game. Injury was caused by awkward landing after check. So probably 3-4 weeks out for Pesce, but with Holiday break, he will get extra time to heal before game action."
According to Justin Loring, sports editor of The New Hampshire, Head Coach Dick Umile said "Thank god it wasn't a tear."

A recovery time of 3-4 weeks would allow Pesce to return to competition when UNH travels to the University of Nebraska-Omaha for two games on December 30th and 31st. Three of the games Pesce will miss - RPI, Maine at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester (Dec 13) and at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland (Dec 14) - are nonconference games which do not count in the Hockey East standings. He will also miss the home-and-home series against Boston College the first weekend in December.

Last night, UNH dropped a 2-1 decision to RPI at the Whittemore Center. Freshman defenseman Rich Boyd was in the lineup in place of Brett Pesce. Boyd was paired with senior Ryan Randall on the third defensive pairing and finished the game with a +/- rating of 0. As a team, UNH allowed 31 shots on goal. As a group, the UNH defensemen generated 5 shots on goal with freshman John Furgele accounting for 3 of them. Furgele also assisted on UNH's lone goal.

ORIGINAL POST - November 24, 2014

Last season, UNH was fortunate to have one of the best core of offensive defensemen in Division I hockey. Eric Knodel (7G, 22A), Justin Agosta (6G, 20A), Trevor van Riemsdyk (4 goals, 19 assists), and Brett Pesce (7G, 14A) were UNH's 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th leading scorers, respectively. All four were also known for their 1-on-1 defensive skills. TvR and Knodel have moved on to professional hockey and Agosta elected to use his 5th year of NCAA eligibility playing closer to home at Quinnipiac University.

The departure of Knodel, van Riemsdyk, and Agosta plus the enrollment of four freshmen has resulted in one of the most youthful group of UNH defensemen in recent memory. As this table shows, the 9 defensemen are young in age and/or inexperienced at the NCAA level. Cameron Marks, Rich Boyd and Dylan Chanter are 19 years old and junior Brett Pesce just turned 20 a couple weeks ago. Five of the 9 have played in fewer than a dozen NCAA games.

UNH Defensemen 2014-15

Player DOB Age Class Career Games '14-'15 Games +/- Goals
Brett Pesce 11/15/94 20 yr/0 mn JR 90 11 +4 1
Matias Cleland 1/28/94 20 yr/10 mn SO 51 10 +0 0
Dylan Maller 4/15/94 20 yr/7 mn SO 31 11 +2 0
Cameron Marks 4/9/95 19 yr/7 mn FR 11 11 -2 0
John Furgele 1/15/93 21 yr/10 mn FR 7 7 +0 1
Ryan Randall 2/20/92 22 yr/9 mn SR 5 4 +3 0
Rich Boyd 6/7/95 19 yr/5 mn FR 8 8 +0 0
Dylan Chanter 9/19/95 19 yr/2 mn FR 1 1 +0 0
Harry Quast 3/26/91 23 yr/8 mn JR 41 3 -5 0


Brett Pesce, a third-round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, is by far the most experienced defenseman on the 2014-15 UNH roster. Since the first game of his freshman season, Pesce has played in every game (91 games) but one. Over the first 11 games of this season, Pesce leads all UNH defensemen in goals (1), points (3), and +/- rating (+3).

Unfortunately, UNH will need to find a way to compensate for Pesce's absence after the injury he suffered Saturday night against Providence. With just under 8 minutes left in the second period, Pesce rushed the puck through center ice and into the Providence zone. As he streaked across the mid-slot, Providence defenseman Jake Walman bent low to the ice and lifted his hip up into Pesce's left thigh, just above the knee. Pesce barrel rolled to the ice but got back up and managed to hobble back to the blue line. He then handled two cross-ice passes from Matias Cleland, passing one back to Cleland and dumping the other into the corner. He then gingerly skated to the bench. Here are two replays of the hit with one in slow motion:







Brett Pesce did not return to the game and in the post-game press conference, Coach Umile said:
"He is probably going to be out for quite a while, but I am not quite certain yet. We will do some x-rays and MRI’s and find out."
As of the time of this posting, there is no further information on the nature of the injury or recovery time. Needless to say, it will be difficult to fill Brett Pesce's skates. In addition to having the most experience among all UNH defenders and the most points, his play in the defensive zone is exceptional.

Pesce has honed a style of defensive play which emphasizes the use of his stick, quickness, and positioning to gain and maintain possession of the puck. As he approaches the opposing puck carrier, he usually leans forward with his stick poised to poke or snatch the puck away. Where a more conventional defender would tend to play the body, Pesce focuses on where the puck is and anticipating where it is about to go. His hand-stick coordination is so quick, he often beats the opponent to the puck and/or digs it away from him. Watch him gain control of the puck in these highlights:





When Pesce left midway through the game on Saturday night, Providence had 14 shots on goal. UNH was down to 5 defensemen on the bench - Cleland, Maller, Marks, Furgele, and Randall. The combined NCAA experience of this corp was 105 games, just 15 more than Pesce has played. All things considered, UNH played well defensively over the final 28 minutes. Providence only generated 9 more shots on goal but one of them got past freshman goalie Adam Clark with 12 minutes left in regulation.

As the table above shows, all four freshman defensemen have seen game action so far this season. Cameron Marks has played in all 11 games. Somewhat surprisingly, the defensive statistics for this team is similar to last year's Wildcats, who advanced to the Hockey East Championship Game. The 2013-14 UNH team gave up an average of 2.59 goals per game which was 7th among the 11 Hockey East teams. The current team has allowed an average of 2.72 goals per game which is 9th among the 12 HE teams. If you disregard the 8 goals they surrendered at UMass Lowell - something which can't be ignored - the GAA goes down to 2.2 goals per game. This year's penalty kill percentage is 88.1% (5th in Hockey East) while last year's was 82.6% (9th in HE).

On the offensive side of the ledger, a comparison of this year's relatively young, inexperienced group of defensemen with last year's is more stark. In 2013-14, Knodel, TvR, Agosta, and Pesce combined for 24 goals. Of the 9 UNH defensemen last season, they were the only ones to score goals. So far this season, freshman John Furgele, who will be 22 in January, has scored the only goal other than Brett Pesce's.

When Pesce left the Providence game with an injury, freshman Cam Marks (0G, 1A) took his place at the point of the power play unit. Rich Boyd, the second youngest defenseman at 19 and 1/2, has seen substantial minutes on the power play in the 5 games he's played. Boyd has generated 13 shots on goal and has 2 assists. Sophomores Dylan Maller (0G, 2A, 4SOG) and Matias Cleland (0G, 1A, 9SOG) are logging many more minutes this year, on both regular shifts and specialty teams.

Senior Ryan Randall (22 years, 9 months), the second oldest UNH defenseman, has played in 4 of his 5 NCAA games this season. He's been a steadying presence with a +/- rating of +3 and has contributed an assist. The "oldest" defenseman, Harry Quast, has fired 8 shots on goal in 3 games. At 19 years, 2 months old, freshman Dylan Chanter is the youngest UNH defenseman and the third youngest player on the team - Shane Eiserman and Warren Foegele are younger. Although Chanter has played in only one game and not yet scored, he scored 4 goals and 3 assists in the BCHL Playoffs last spring.

All-in-all, the 2014-15 UNH Wildcats - with freshman goalie Adam Clark, 4 freshman defensemen, and 5 freshman forwards - are performing relatively well in the defensive zone. Only time will tell whether the freshmen defenders can help fill the scoring gap left behind with the departure of Knodel, van Riemsdyk, and Agosta. The next stretch of 5 games against RPI, Boston College, and Maine will be a stern test, particularly if Brett Pesce is not in the lineup.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Young UNH Defensemen Face Challenges Without Brett Pesce

UNH Defensive Stalwart
Brett Pesce Out of Lineup


Last season, UNH was fortunate to have one of the best core of offensive defensemen in Division I hockey. Eric Knodel (7G, 22A), Justin Agosta (6G, 20A), Trevor van Riemsdyk (4 goals, 19 assists), and Brett Pesce (7G, 14A) were UNH's 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th leading scorers, respectively. All four were also known for their 1-on-1 defensive skills. TvR and Knodel have moved on to professional hockey and Agosta elected to use his 5th year of NCAA eligibility playing closer to home at Quinnipiac University.

The departure of Knodel, van Riemsdyk, and Agosta plus the enrollment of four freshmen has resulted in one of the most youthful group of UNH defensemen in recent memory. As this table shows, the 9 defensemen are young in age and/or inexperienced at the NCAA level. Cameron Marks, Rich Boyd and Dylan Chanter are 19 years old and junior Brett Pesce just turned 20 a couple weeks ago. Five of the 9 have played in fewer than a dozen NCAA games.

UNH Defensemen 2014-15

Player DOB Age Class Career Games '14-'15 Games +/- Goals
Brett Pesce 11/15/94 20 yr/0 mn JR 90 11 +4 1
Matias Cleland 1/28/94 20 yr/10 mn SO 51 10 +0 0
Dylan Maller 4/15/94 20 yr/7 mn SO 31 11 +2 0
Cameron Marks 4/9/95 19 yr/7 mn FR 11 11 -2 0
John Furgele 1/15/93 21 yr/10 mn FR 7 7 +0 1
Ryan Randall 2/20/92 22 yr/9 mn SR 5 4 +3 0
Rich Boyd 6/7/95 19 yr/5 mn FR 8 8 +0 0
Dylan Chanter 9/19/95 19 yr/2 mn FR 1 1 +0 0
Harry Quast 3/26/91 23 yr/8 mn JR 41 3 -5 0


Brett Pesce, a third-round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, is by far the most experienced defenseman on the 2014-15 UNH roster. Since the first game of his freshman season, Pesce has played in every game (91 games) but one. Over the first 11 games of this season, Pesce leads all UNH defensemen in goals (1), points (3), and +/- rating (+3).

Unfortunately, UNH will need to find a way to compensate for Pesce's absence after the injury he suffered Saturday night against Providence. With just under 8 minutes left in the second period, Pesce rushed the puck through center ice and into the Providence zone. As he streaked across the mid-slot, Providence defenseman Jake Walman bent low to the ice and lifted his hip up into Pesce's left thigh, just above the knee. Pesce barrel rolled to the ice but got back up and managed to hobble back to the blue line. He then handled two cross-ice passes from Matias Cleland, passing one back to Cleland and dumping the other into the corner. He then gingerly skated to the bench. Here are two replays of the hit with one in slow motion:







Brett Pesce did not return to the game and in the post-game press conference, Coach Umile said:
"He is probably going to be out for quite a while, but I am not quite certain yet. We will do some x-rays and MRI’s and find out."
As of the time of this posting, there is no further information on the nature of the injury or recovery time. Needless to say, it will be difficult to fill Brett Pesce's skates. In addition to having the most experience among all UNH defenders and the most points, his play in the defensive zone is exceptional.

Pesce has honed a style of defensive play which emphasizes the use of his stick, quickness, and positioning to gain and maintain possession of the puck. As he approaches the opposing puck carrier, he usually leans forward with his stick poised to poke or snatch the puck away. Where a more conventional defender would tend to play the body, Pesce focuses on where the puck is and anticipating where it is about to go. His hand-stick coordination is so quick, he often beats the opponent to the puck and/or digs it away from him. Watch him gain control of the puck in these highlights:





When Pesce left midway through the game on Saturday night, Providence had 14 shots on goal. UNH was down to 5 defensemen on the bench - Cleland, Maller, Marks, Furgele, and Randall. The combined NCAA experience of this corp was 105 games, just 15 more than Pesce has played. All things considered, UNH played well defensively over the final 28 minutes. Providence only generated 9 more shots on goal but one of them got past freshman goalie Adam Clark with 12 minutes left in regulation.

As the table above shows, all four freshman defensemen have seen game action so far this season. Cameron Marks has played in all 11 games. Somewhat surprisingly, the defensive statistics for this team is similar to last year's Wildcats, who advanced to the Hockey East Championship Game. The 2013-14 UNH team gave up an average of 2.59 goals per game which was 7th among the 11 Hockey East teams. The current team has allowed an average of 2.72 goals per game which is 9th among the 12 HE teams. If you disregard the 8 goals they surrendered at UMass Lowell - something which can't be ignored - the GAA goes down to 2.2 goals per game. This year's penalty kill percentage is 88.1% (5th in Hockey East) while last year's was 82.6% (9th in HE).

On the offensive side of the ledger, a comparison of this year's relatively young, inexperienced group of defensemen with last year's is more stark. In 2013-14, Knodel, TvR, Agosta, and Pesce combined for 24 goals. Of the 9 UNH defensemen last season, they were the only ones to score goals. So far this season, freshman John Furgele, who will be 22 in January, has scored the only goal other than Brett Pesce's.

When Pesce left the Providence game with an injury, freshman Cam Marks (0G, 1A) took his place at the point of the power play unit. Rich Boyd, the second youngest defenseman at 19 and 1/2, has seen substantial minutes on the power play in the 5 games he's played. Boyd has generated 13 shots on goal and has 2 assists. Sophomores Dylan Maller (0G, 2A, 4SOG) and Matias Cleland (0G, 1A, 9SOG) are logging many more minutes this year, on both regular shifts and specialty teams.

Senior Ryan Randall (22 years, 9 months), the second oldest UNH defenseman, has played in 4 of his 5 NCAA games this season. He's been a steadying presence with a +/- rating of +3 and has contributed an assist. The "oldest" defenseman, Harry Quast, has fired 8 shots on goal in 3 games. At 19 years, 2 months old, freshman Dylan Chanter is the youngest UNH defenseman and the third youngest player on the team - Shane Eiserman and Warren Foegele are younger. Although Chanter has played in only one game and not yet scored, he scored 4 goals and 3 assists in the BCHL Playoffs last spring.

All-in-all, the 2014-15 UNH Wildcats - with freshman goalie Adam Clark, 4 freshman defensemen, and 5 freshman forwards - are performing relatively well in the defensive zone. Only time will tell whether the freshmen defenders can help fill the scoring gap left behind with the departure of Knodel, van Riemsdyk, and Agosta. The next stretch of 5 games against RPI, Boston College, and Maine will be a stern test, particularly if Brett Pesce is not in the lineup.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

UNH Recruit Liam Blackburn Signs NLI

Liam Blackburn Signs
National Letter of Intent


It's official - elite scorer Liam Blackburn will be a UNH Wildcat. The 18-year-old 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), has signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) with the University of New Hampshire.

The NLI is a written agreement in which the player agrees to attend the school for at least his freshman year and the school agrees to provide an athletic scholarship for at least the freshman year. NCAA recruits are permitted to sign an NLI during two signing periods. This year's early signing period began last Wednesday, November 12th and extended until today. The other signing period is anytime after April 15, 2015.

Last year, three of the ten UNH recruits - Dylan Chanter, Shane Eiserman, and Cameron Marks - signed during the November signing week. Liam Blackburn is the first UNH recruit to sign an NLI during the current period. He will enroll at UNH either in the Fall of 2015 or 2016. That decision will probably be made after the current season.

Warriors' Forward Liam Blackburn Signs with UNH
(Photo Credit:  Greystoke Photography)
Liam Blackburn verbally committed to UNH on October 7th. The day after, Kyle Anderson, the Director of Media and Play-by-Play Voice of the West Kelowna Warriors interviewed Blackburn about the commitment. Liam said that he "talked with New Hampshire before, through the summer quite a bit". At the BCHL Showcase in mid-September, UNH Associate Head Coach Glenn Stewart "watched me both games and we talked after each game and I had good interest in them right away." Coach Stewart had been hired by UNH in late August.

Right after the BCHL Showcase, Blackburn flew to New Hampshire and toured the UNH campus. When I interviewed Liam after he committed, he explained how this visit factored into his decision:
"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. 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."
In his interview with Kyle Anderson, Blackburn laid out his thoughts about coming to UNH next season or the year after:
"I'm just trying to make myself the best player possible and whether that's making myself ready for college next year or the year after, I mean, that's a choice I'm probably going to make later in the year. Either way, I don't think there's a wrong choice. An extra year of juniors would be nice to develop physically but mentally, I think I'm prepared to go."
Blackburn plays for the West Kelowna Warriors and has been a leading scorer in the BCHL since the season began. He is currently the second-leading scorer in the league with 10 goals and 28 assists. He has 6 more assists than his closest pursuer. Here are some of Blackburn's scoring plays including his goals at the BCHL Showcase:



UNH Recruits Update: Nov-18-2014

2015 UNH Recruit
Joseph Masonius

Player of the Week - Joseph Masonius

In his second season with the US National Team Development Program, defenseman Joseph Masonius (pronounced MA-SO-KNEE-US) is starting to attract noteworthy attention. Ryan Kennedy, the associate senior writer and NHL draft expert for The Hockey News, spent last weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan taking in Team USA U-18 and University of Michigan games. Kennedy included Masonius in his list of prospects who impressed him. He wrote:
"By the end of the weekend, anytime I sensed a big hit coming, I just assumed it was Masonius – and I was usually right. The University of New Hampshire commit can rock opponents with his physicality and he also has a pretty decent point shot. Draft eligible in 2015."
Kennedy was referring to Masonius' play in two USHL matchups. On Friday, the NTDP U-18 team downed the Bloomington Thunder 4-3 in a shootout followed by a 9-3 drubbing of the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Sunday. In the Bloomington game, Masonius not only dispensed some solid hits, he also made a few offensive moves. Against Muskegon, Joseph posted his second assist in this season's USHL competition and played solid defense. His +/- rating in each game was +1. Here are some of the highlights:



Masonius is on track to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2015. Current UNH players Shane Eiserman, Tyler Kelleher, and Brett Pesce are also veterans of the US National Team Development Program.

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) Bloomington Thunder USHL 4 0 1 1 2
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 6 1 1 2 4
USHL 6 0 2 2 16
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Int'l. 4 0 1 1 14
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 12 3 4 7 6
Danny Tirone  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 15 10W 5L 2.47 .921
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 21 16 5 21 42
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 21 3 13 16 26
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 22 10 27 37 14
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 16 3 9 12 6
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 18 8 13 21 8
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 2 0 0 0 0
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 16 2 4 6 4
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 22 0 1 1 16
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 8 4 10 14 0
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 0 0 0 0 0
Non-Conf 9 7 5 12 14
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 16 2 0 2 4
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 34 17 15 32 44
Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 15 10 10 20 21


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