Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Hockey Monday *2008 WJC Update*

The final Happy Hockey Monday of 2007!

What a year!

Wildcats are the 2007 Hockey East Regular Season Champions.

After going 18-7-2 for the University of New Hampshire's fifth Hockey East Regular Season Title our 'Cats made a deep run into the Hockey East Championship and ultimately fell to a very good Boston College team in the final game to earn Hockey East Tournament Runners-up.

They proceeded to cap off the year with their Sixth Straight and Seventeenth All-Time Appearance in the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament. There they fell very disappointingly to a Miami Red Hawks hockey team that this year has led more D-I hockey polls than any other team, though they lost to Boston College in the next game to end their '07 season. That same Boston College team would finish Runners-Up themselves to the 2007 NCAA Div I Men's Ice Hockey Champions, the Michigan State Spartans.

So, the close of the '07 season saw our five graduating seniors - Captain Josh Ciocco, top scorers Jacob Micflikier and Brett Hemingway, defenseman Chris Murray and hard-nosed role-player Shawn Vinz finish the season and then ALL go on to play professional hockey - and to date, they are all sticking with it. Can I get a Go 'Cats!? Add to that the early departure of Trevor Smith for the pro ranks after having had a stellar sophomore year and no less than SIX MORE Wildcats are playing professional hockey this year at some of the highest levels in the world. You can find some not-necessarily up-to-date stats in the 'Cats in the Pros section below - YOU try keeping up with 32 Wildcats who are now playing pro!

So on to this year! And the arrival of a NINE MAN freshman squad who have made immediate impact. You have to start with James vanRiemsdyk. The overall number two draft pick has lived up to all but the most ridiculous of expectations in his first season of college hockey and has really come on lately. He leads the freshman class with 15 points, 6 goals and 9 assists, in just 13 games and is currently tied for the International Ice Hockey Federation 2008 World Junior Championship lead in points where he has 3 goals and 3 assists in 6 games. Next in line is Paul Thompson. The Derry, New Hampshire native has picked up almost where he left off from his domineering, scoring ways in the Eastern Junior Hockey League which saw Paul earn 2007 EJHL Player of the Year Honors after scoring more than a goal per game and nearly two points per game. This year he has 6 goals and 4 assists in 15 games - keep up the great work! Next would have to be Phil DeSimone. The 2007 United States Hockey League Player of the Year and it's easy to see why. In 16 games Phil has posted 7 assists and is a +3 in a line-up that has seen him center three different sets of linemates! Expect even more from Phil as time goes on. Then you have Danny Dries who picked up his first goal of the year Saturday night in the 7-4 win over North Dakota. Add to that his 5 assists and you have a 6 point contribution in 15 games from this talented freshman. Then you have the core of the class Mike Sislo, who somehow only has 1 assist to this point but can often be seen playing with the poise and confidence of an upperclassman. Greg Manz, who got the call-up in the absence of fellow freshman vanRiemsdyk, to play in the huge series in Grand Forks. Then you have Matt Campanale and Mike Beck back on the blueline who have been tremendous in their limited games as freshmen. And finally the little speedster Danny Vranek who has not played in an official game - who I much look forward to seeing when he is ready. An incredible year of addition to our Wildcat Men's Hockey Team!

There's just so much to talk about! The continued penultimate performance of our senior class. The improvement of our new crop of upperclassmen. Feel free to chime in with your favorite or biggest UNH Hockey moments of '07.

But so much of that is in the past. That is 2007. Let's take what we have learned from 2007 and march forward into 2008!

Here's to the new year!

*As an update - James vanRiemsdyk added a goal and three assists today bringing his totals to 4 goals and 6 assists in 4 games and in the process helped the US World Junior Team to a top-seed in its pool leading up to the beginning of the playoff round of the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship which will begin on January 4th for the US Team as they earned a first-round bye with their perfect play in their pool.

A complementary ECHL article on Trevor Smith.

Go 'Cats!


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