Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Recruits Kessel and DiGirolamo Shine

Incoming recruits Blake Kessel and Matthew DiGirolamo's season goes on as they lead their Waterloo Black Hawks into the USHL's Clark Cup Semifinals versus the Chicago Steel.

Kessel leads the squad in points and DiGirolamo is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.38 GAA and a .934 save percentage.

See the title-linked preview for more information on the 2008 Semifinals from the USHL's website.

Play hard the rest of the way fellows!

Go 'Cats!

Monday, April 28, 2008

2008 NHL Entry Draft

Still a little early to be talking NHL Draft right now so I'll keep it brief.

It looks like just one Future 'Cat is lined up for being drafted if you're going by the Central Scouting Service's Final Rankings for 2008.

That recruit is Lee, NH native, Greg Burke. Burke, ranked number 140 by CSS, is most like headed to the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in his final season before coming to UNH in the fall of '09. He spent his last two seasons with the high-flying New Hampshire Junior Monarchs of the EJHL where Burke led the team in scoring and to a second consecutive Tier III Junior A National Title during the 2007-2008 campaign.

While Burke is the only apparent draftee for his class this year it is certainly possible there will be others next summer in the 2009 Draft as players like Ryan Bourque and John Henrion increase the value of their prospect stock.

The coming season will see the matriculation of 2007 New York Islanders' draft pick, Blake Kessel, who'll join fellow draftees and current Wildcats James vanRiemsdyk and Phil DeSimone giving the team 6 NHL Draftees including: Brian Foster (FLA), James vanRiemsdyk (PHIL), Peter LeBlanc (CHI), Phil DeSimone (WAS), Joe Charlebois (CHI) and Blake Kessel (NYI).

Current Wildcats eligible for the Draft include Danny Dries, Paul Thompson, Mike Sislo, Greg Manz, Matt Campanale and Danny Vranek.

Incoming recruits that are eligible are goaltenders Matt DiGirolamo and Tyler Scott and players, Damon Kipp, Kevin McCarey, Steve Moses and Mike Borisenok - the entire incoming class besides Kessel who was already drafted.

As a reminder, talk of being drafted can be a bit beside the point as a number of the most successful Wildcats to go professional were undrafted - guys like Bryan Muir, Mark Mowers, Jason Krog and Ty Conklin.

So, in any case,

Go 'Cats!

*Dave's link to The Hockey News Downloads Page with the Mid-Term rankings showing Paul Thompson at #185.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wildcats Abroad

You've already heard how successful Nathan Martz was in Norway this past season so you're probably wondering how the rest of the Wildcats abroad faired. So here you are.

Wildcat Alums abroad (or who were abroad at some point in this season) include Eric Boguniecki, Eric Nickulas, Mark Mowers, Derek Bekar, Mike Souza, Kevin Truelson, Colin Hemingway, Lanny Gare, Mike Ayers, Steve Saviano, Nathan Martz, Tyler Scott, Preston Callander, Justin Aikins and Tyson Teplitsky. Fifteen in all!

So let me run down some of the highlights of the group in no particular order.

I'll start with Mike Souza. Mike has spent the last two seasons with Sportivi Ghiaccio Cortina, commonly referred to as S.G. Cortina, of the Lega Italiana Hockey Su Ghiaccio (LIHG).

The team was lead by Souza with 22 goals (nearly a third of his team's goals) and 22 assists in 42 games - well below his last year's numbers.

It's tough to figure out the exact nature of the league and its tournament rounds but I've learned that despite a poor season, Cortina staved off demotion from the league's relegation round putting together a brilliant 5-2-1 record with 40 goals for and just 15 against.

Way to go Mike!

Mark Mowers played a few degrees to the north of Mike for SC Bern after crossing the Atlantic AND the States coming from the NHL's Anaheim Ducks. He had 2 goals and 4 assists in 10 games in the Swiss league.

Preston Callander actually returned stateside in anticipation of raising his first child due in June. After two very successful seasons with Wolfsburg EHC of Germany's 2nd Bundesliga he now calls the Florida Everblades home (the ECHL hockey team, not the national park) where he has 25 goals and 32 assists in 47 regular season games but was held to just one assist in three games before the Everblades were eliminated from the Kelly Cup Playoffs this year.

Keep us updated, Preston, and congratulations again!

Next is Lanny Gare. Gare began his season in Denmark with the Herlev Hornets of the AL-Bank Ligaen. He tallied 10 goals and 12 assists in 32 games and was one of the top scorers for the Hornets before he departed to pursue an opportunity with ETC Crimmitschau of the 2nd Bundesliga. There he recorded a goal and an assist in nine games with Eispiraten - The Pirates.

Colin Hemingway. The Edinburgh Capitals', EIHL (Elite Ice Hockey League), star was incredible this season finishing 10th overall in scoring amassing 41 goals and 41 assists in 57 games including 90 penalty minutes! All this despite a very disappointing season for the Capitals.

Tyson Typlitsky. Fellow EIHL standout to Hemingway, Typlitsky wowed the Welsh again this season with 18 goals and 36 assists in 64 games for the Cardiff Devils equaling his last season's total of 17 goals and 37 assists - all from the blueline!

Derek Bekar moved on to play for HK Jesenice, parting ways with fellow Wildcat Eric Nickulas and the Hannover Scorpions of the Deutsch Eishockey League. Bekar found a niche in Austria with Jesenice scoring 15 goals and 24 assists in 49 games - good enough for third on the team. Nickulas meanwhile struggled with points but still proved a valuable team leader for Hannover scoring 6 goals and 8 assists in 41 games. Short-time Wildcat Matt Dzieduszycki came onto the Hannover team and scored 11 goals and 26 assists.

I'd be remiss not to mention my favorite Wildcat of all time (hey I've only been around so long, Nation!), Steve Saviano. Savi spent the season with Finland's SM-Liiga on the Tappara Tampere team scoring 7 goals and 16 assists in 56 games and had his contract extended for the upcoming 2008-2009 season having become a fan favorite and playoff sparkplug almost immediately which I'm sure you can all understand.
From the Tappara in English site:
Saviano's 23 points during the regular season probably wouldn't have been enough for a foreigner to get a new contract, but his 5 goals and 4 assists in the playoffs certainly sealed the deal!

And last but not least is Tyler Scott playing in France's Ligue Magnus pour Les Brûleurs de Loups de Grenoble - such an awesome team name! Tyler scored 5 goals and 4 assists over 26 games playing D for the Burners of Wolves.

There you have it for now. I did not get to them all as it is extremely intensive and difficult to sift through the information of these Wildcats playing pro in no fewer than 8 European countries!

Great job 'Cats!

Keep up the good work.

If you've enjoyed this post and all of the accompanying links in the 'Cats in the Pros section - you do know about all of those links, right!? - and want to see more like it please refer a bit further down the right-hand column of the page and look for the Donate button immediately below "The UNH Men's Hockey Blogger Guy's: Words to Live By". Donate any amount that you are able and be sure to note what you would like to see more of.

Go 'Cats!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Micflikier Dominating ECHL Playoffs

Back in the ECHL with the Stockton Thunder, Jacob Micflikier is showing what he's made of with 12 points (4 goals 8 assists) in just 6 games. (He ranks second to the Texas Wildcatters' Cleve Kinley, the UMass Lowell Riverhawk alum, who has 13 points by virtue of an extra goal in 8 games)

See the title-linked page for the recap and note Micflikier's career high and team playoff record 5 point night with a goal and 4 assists.

From the team website I also learned that Stockton Thunder and, of course, Wildcat Alum, Nathan Martz recently donated one of his Storhamar (Norway) jerseys for the Stockton Thunder Alumni Euro Jersey charity fundraiser, raising $227.51.

From the Stockton website:
Martz, 26, is the Thunder's all-time leading scorer with 122 points (25g-97a) in 126 games, spanning two seasons (2005-07) and was a National Conference selection at the 2007 ECHL All-Star Game. A fifth round selection (140th overall) of the New York Rangers in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Martz led the Thunder in scoring last season with 65 points (9g-56a) in 61 games and led the club while ranking fifth in the ECHL with 56 assists.

Martz led the Dragons in both regular season, 39gp-15g-38a-53p, (also leading the league with the highest plus-minus, +37) and post season scoring, 16gp-5g-11a-16p, where they captured the league Championship.
Leiny, Martz og Koivu
That's Nathan in the middle celebrating the championship.

Congratulations, Nathan!

Also doing very well for himself in the ECHL playoffs for his Bakersfield Condors is blueliner Kevin Truelson. Truelson has 5 points in 6 playoff games with 3 goals and 2 assists - a goal and 2 assists in his most recent outing, where, despite his three point night, his team fell 6-5 in OT.

He finished the regular season just slightly behind his last season totals with 13 goals and 33 assists for 46 points in 69 games - third among all ECHL defensemen.

Micflikier finished the season with 10 goals and 27 assists in 29 games with Stockton and a goal and 4 assists with the AHL's Springfield Falcons, where he spent a large part of the season with a broken leg if you recall.

Way to go Jacob and Kevin!

Go 'Cats!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Friends of UNH Hockey 2008 Awards Banquet

Is in the books - see a full write-up on the title-linked Official site.

Dubbed for the leadership of the upcoming season's team are Captains are Joe Charlebois and Greg Collins.

The list of honors (go to the Official page for a pretty good write-up)
*Roger A. LeClerg Trophy - Kevin Regan
-(MVP, back-to-back seasons)
*2008-09 Captains - Greg Collins & Joe Charlebois

*Most Improved Player Award - Nick Krates

*Ted Karmeris Fan Favorite Award - Mike Radja

*Warren R. Brown Memorial Trophy - Greg Collins
-(Best Defensive Forward)
*Guy Smith Award - Matt Fornataro & Mike Radja
-(Best Offensive Player(s))
*Sid Knight Award - Brad Flaishans
-(Best GPA)
*Robert A. Kullen Award - Greg Collins
-(Unsung Hero)
*Charles E. Holt Coaches Award - Craig Switzer

*Rod Langway Best Defenseman Award - Brad Flaishans

*SCO Nate Hardy Ironman Award - Thomas Fortney

*Terry Morton Most Worthy Opponent - Nathan Gerbe

Congratulations All on another great season!

I wish all the seniors the best in whatever and wherever their paths take them!

To our new Captains and the upcoming squad, bring it!

Go 'Cats!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

NHL on NBC - Stanley Cup Playoffs

See James vanRiemsdyk's and Phil DeSimone's future teams square off on NBC... RIGHT NOW!

Capitals, Flyers on NBC in HD!

Go 'Cats!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stealing Content

Goon, over on his North Dakota Fighting Sioux blog, Goon's World (in my link section), has called attention to a great hockey show called 'The Hockey Chicks'.

Fantastic stuff! Especially the April 14th show. I don't know much about them but I read that these are the ladies from HockeyBuzz.com and are definitely worth a listen.

One of these fine hockey fans is from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Have a listen and you'll find a permanent link on The UNH Men's Hockey Blog soon.

Go 'Cats!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hardowa Chooses New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire Men's Hockey Team extends its roots a bit further into the Canadian Junior leagues getting a commitment from big and rugged defenseman Connor Hardowa.

The 6'1", 200lbs Hardowa completed his 2007-08 season with AJHL's Spruce Grove Saints accruing 11 goals and 31 assists in 60 games. The Edmonton, Alberta native is, in his own words (from The Unofficial UNH Hockey Homepage Recruiting Page)

"a defense-first guy,”

who was whistled for just 35 penalty minutes during the last AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League) season.

He will return to the Saints for his third and final season before matriculating in the fall of 2009.

As to the future of his game Connor goes on to say,

“I like to worry about my own end first and kind of see what happens in the offensive zone. But I’m starting to get more confidence offensively, and I’m trying to become a more all-around player.”

Other accolades bestowed upon Hardowa this season were the position of Assistant Captain and he was also selected to participate in this past season's AJHL All-Star Game.

Welcome Connor!

Keep up the great work!

Go 'Cats!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Krog Ups The Ante

Jason Krog one-up'd Darren Haydar's incredible season last year by heaping yet another AHL accolade on by winning the Willie Marshall Award for the league's top goal scorer.

Krog was tops in points, assists and goals after netting the empty-netter on the last night of the regular season, having tallied an unassisted short-hand goal earlier in the game - the result, 5-3 Wolves.

And I'd be remiss not to mention the feed from Brett Sterling (Colorado College) who was tied in goals with Jason Krog, both having scored earlier in the night.

For a short time you'll be able to see all of the game's highlights here.

And not to steal any of Krog's thunder for another Wildcat but Darren Haydar has come back with a vengeance after having missed a couple games, tearing up opposing teams with a goal and 5 assists over the season's final two games.

Congratulations Jason!

Go Wolves!


Go 'Cats!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rooting For Regan

That's how I answered when asked who I was rooting for and I wasn't disappointed.

Kevin Regan recorded a 23 shot shutout in his first professional game.

He looked a little shaky at times but the bounces went his way, the P-Bruins' defense was solid and when called on he was there every time.

WMUR promised to have a lot more with Regan tomorrow on their 6pm newscast.

Way to go, Kevin!

Go 'Cats!

Friday, April 11, 2008

UNH Leads D-I Hockey All-Americans with Four

The University of New Hampshire Wildcats led all NCAA Division I teams with four All-Americans this year.

Our 2008 First Team All-Americans.
East Goaltender: Kevin Regan
East Forward: Mike Radja

And 2008 Second Team All-Americans.
East Defenseman: Brad Flaishans
East Forward: Matt Fornataro

Four honorees is a record for the program though they've had two honorees in a single season a total of seven times and three during the 2003 season.

Be sure to see the nice write-up on the official page.

Congratulations guys!

And once more, thank you seniors!

Go 'Cats!

A Wildcat Wins AHL's MVP Award... Again

In back-to-back years a Wildcat Alum has captured the AHL's top individual award, the Les Cunningham AHL MVP Award.

Jason Krog ('99) was honored with the award this season following former Wildcat teammate and current Chicago Wolves teammate, Darren Haydar's ('02) incredible season last year.

Krog will add this honor to his trophy case that includes his 1999 Hobey Baker Award.

The accolade celebrates an incredible year for the 9th year pro in his highest scoring pro year (though his points per game was higher last year), 104 points in 77 games. And until just last night he led the league in both goals and assists. He is also well ahead of any other AHLer in points, which means he will also receive the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as well - just as Darren Haydar did last season.

Eric Boguniecki is the only other Wildcat to win the AHL MVP award, which he did in 2002.

Congratulations Jason!

A well earned award! I really enjoyed seeing you play when your Wolves came to Manchester this season!

Speaking of which, anyone hoping to see Kevin Regan make his first professional start should get tickets for tomorrow night's Manchester Monarchs/Providence Bruins game and cross their fingers and hope the guys calling the shots in Providence are some cool dudes.

Go 'Cats!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Jumped The Gun - Regan Signs

Kevin Regan, the South Boston native, has signed to an Amateur Try-Out agreement with the Providence Bruins.

Regan leaves his mark indelibly on the University of New Hampshire hockey program after coming to own almost every last Wildcat netminder record over the course of his four years.

His accolades are numerous. Hobey Baker finalist. Walter Brown Award winner for the best American born player playing in New England. Wildcat career games record. Wins. Save percentage for UNH and Hockey East. Saves. And more. In short, arguably the best goaltender in the history of the University of New Hampshire hockey program.

Signing with the Providence Bruins is an interesting development as it seemed as if he would put off the event in order to participate in the NCAA Hockey Skills Challenge even a brief couple days past.

The Providence squad has the best regular season record in the AHL this year and are clear favorites for this year's Calder Cup. In an insane twist they brought in Regan today, who sits as tonight's back-up, and tonight's starter, Adam Courchaine, from the OHL's Ottawa 67's on March 30th - which can only be interpreted as a move to rest their primary goaltenders heading into the post season.

The P-Bruins are coming to Manchester this Saturday which would make for a very nice nod to New Hampshire should Regan get the start.

Congratulations Kevin!

Play hard!

Seniors, you will all be missed!

Now, we just await word on Brad Flaishans.

Go 'Cats!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Regan, Flaishans To NCAA Hockey Skills Challenge

Kevin Regan and late addition, Brad Flaishans, will represent the University of New Hampshire Men's Hockey Team on the East Team in the 2008 NCAA Hockey Skills Challenge.

Representing the Women's Team will be Martine Garland and Jennifer Hitchcock.

The event takes place at 9pm EST Friday, April 11th and will be televised on ESPNU after the Hobey Baker award is handed out earlier that evening (7:30 for those interested).

The Frozen Four itself begins this Thursday, April 10th at 6pm EST, with Michigan taking on Notre Dame followed by North Dakota and Boston College. All three Frozen Four games will be televised on ESPN2.

Go 'Cats!

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I have no idea what happened in this game but it will be interesting to see the recaps.

Syracuse 10, Rochester 3


I'd like to say that Radja and Fornataro combined to open it up on them but it wasn't the case.

The Wildcat duo - who played on the same Waterloo Black Hawks team in the USHL, along with Kevin Regan, before coming to UNH - didn't figure in the game until Radja banked his second pro assist on the Crunch's 9th goal of the night. But that wouldn't be all. With a 9-2 lead... throw the new guys out on the penalty-kill! And that's where one of the dynamic duo would score his first goal - a shorty! Nope. Not Radja. Matt Fornataro! Radja actually gave him the puck, collecting his third professional assist on the play in just his second game. For Fornataro, it was his first pro point and goal in his very first, professional game.

Way to go guys!

Keep up the good work!

*With the recap now title-linked, it just sounds like a great game. One where the puck just poured into the net on the Amerk's end of the ice on just 39 shots - with 30 of those shots coming in the first two periods but 6 goals arriving in the third on just 9 shots! There were only two special teams goals, both to Syracuse, a powerplay and the UNH Connection shorthanded goal. The Syracuse recap guy erroneously states that SIX Crunch players recorded multiple point games - it was SEVEN, as he left out Mike Radja!

Go 'Cats!

Professional Games Tonight

There are almost too many to list so I'll stick to encouraging Wildcat Nation to track what should be Matt Fornataro's first professional game as he is one of twelve listed forwards on the Syracuse Crunch roster along with fellow Wildcat Alum, Mike Radja. The Crunch meet the Rochester Americans again tonight at 7:05 EST.

Also of potential interest tonight is whether Craig Switzer will get his first professional game under his belt as the Milwaukee Admirals host the San Antonio Rampage. That game is a 5:00 EST start.

There will be plenty of other Wildcats in action across the professional ranks as the season winds down - be sure to get out there and catch some games (the 'Cats in the Pros section further down the page will provide quite a bit of information if you don't know where your nearest Pro Wildcats are).

The post-season is closing in quick and there are few games left on the schedule before we bid the 2007-2008 hockey season farewell - catch'em while you can!

Go 'Cats!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Switzer Signs ATO with Milwaukee

Senior defensman, Craig Switzer, signed an Amateur Try-Out agreement with the Milwaukee Admirals today which means that the NHL's Nashville Predators, who own his rights until 30 days after he has left college per 2004 NCAA exemption NHL Draft rules), have not signed him yet but still wanted the opportunity to see him play at the professional level.

An interesting note (see bottom of linked page): The University of New Hampshire is ranked 77th in terms of teams for the number of players sent to the NHL with 31.

Switzer played more games than any of the other seniors on the team with an iron-man record of 158 games in a Wildcat uniform. During that time he scored a career total of 12 goals, 6 this past season, and 55 assists, with 14 each of the last three seasons and 13 in his freshman season that saw him play in 41 games. He finished with a career plus-minus of +31, +11 this season and a career high of +21 last season.

The Admirals will host the Houston Aeros tonight at 8:30 EST.

Craig will be joining a host of other former Hockey East players including Jason Guerriero(NU), John Laliberte(BU) and Bryan Schmidt(Merrimack).

Congratulations Craig!

Play hard!

Go 'Cats!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Radja Earns First Professional Point

Mike Radja earned his first professional point in his first pro game, coming with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL.

Radja assisted on the team's second goal of the night a powerplay marker to help them take a two to one lead.

Fornataro who also signed an ATO with the Crunch today did not dress tonight.

With approximately five minutes to play in regulation the game is tied at three apiece.

*I've now title-linked the Crunch's release on the addition of Fornataro and Radja.

From the Syracuse Crunch Website on last night's game:
They Said It-

“Let’s hope these close games are preparing us for the playoffs. You know it’s going to be tighter come playoff time. When Columbus sends the guys back, in about five days, there’s going to be a change but right now it’s a great locker room to be in. It is so exciting. Mike Radja was my centerman tonight in his first pro game steps in and plays great. All these young guys are coming in stepping up and playing well.” Mark Rycroft’s post-game thoughts.

Go 'Cats!

Fornataro and Radja Sign with Syracuse

Captain Matt Fornataro and sniper Mike Radja have signed with the Syracuse Crunch.

Fornataro finished his career as Captain of the 2007-2008 squad having played 156 games in the Blue and White. During that time he scored 44 goals and earned 74 assists with 18 goals and 28 assists in his final season.

Radja was one of four deserving senior Assistant Captains. He amassed 139 games in a Wildcat uniform tallying 54 goals and 63 assists. Each of his last two seasons saw him score 19 goals as well as 18 and 24 assists respectively.

Both senior forwards agreed to Amateur Try-Out agreements with the AHL club.

It remains to be seen whether the Wildcat duo will suit up tonight at 7:30 EST when the Crunch take on the Rochester Americans - the game will be televised on Time Warner SportsNet (Rochester). It does look likely though as the Crunch have just 10 forwards on their website's updated team roster - which reveals that the two will join BC's, Brett Motherwell, who's played primarily for the Crunch since his early departure from BC this season. Also worth noting is that the Crunch recently clinched a Calder Cup playoff berth. The Crunch are the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Congrats guys! Play hard!

Check back often Nation as I'm sure more signings, news and info will be coming along and I'll be getting to some long overdue updates on our 'Cats in the Pros and more on the Future 'Cats.

It's all 'Cats, all the time!

Go 'Cats!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Recruits McCarey and Bourque Named To US WJU18

Recruits Kevin McCarey, Fall of 2008, and Ryan Bourque, Fall of 2009, have been named to the United States World Junior Under-18 Team to compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation's 2008 World Under-18 Championship in Kazan, Russia, April 13-23.

Congratulations guys and keep up the hard work!

See the title-linked USA Hockey release for more details.

Go 'Cats!

In Other News: More Honors for the Wildcats*

Be sure to catch the title-linked article from the Official Site of UNH Athletics.

Some Highlights:

Coach Umile was awarded New England Division I Coach of the Year - his fourth time for the honor.

Kevin Regan was lauded as New England's Most Valuable Player.

And was also included along with Matt Fornataro, Mike Radja and Brad Flaishans in being named to the New England All-Star Team.

*Almost forgot! James vanRiemsdyk was named Hockey East Rookie of the Month for March!

Congratulations all!

Go 'Cats!

The Players Say It Best

The players respond to the criticisms of Coach Umile in the title-linked Concord Monitor article from Dave D'Onofrio.

Great article Dave!

Quotes from the article:
"We know what everyone is saying. I don't think Coach gets the credit he deserves," junior wing Jerry Pollastrone said. "We had one of the best seasons in the program. I know winning championships is what it is, but it's frustrating when you've got people bashing your coach, because it's up to the players, too."

"Being a coach at a high level, you have to be willing to take that kind of heat. But at the same time I don't think it's fair at all what they're saying," said senior defenseman Brad Flaishans, noting that Umile was this week named New England coach of the year. "As seniors, it's very disappointing that he has to take that heat because he's always willing to take that heat for us, or for the team, because that's the kind of person that he is. When it's undeserved like this, it's ridiculous in my mind."

Who are you going to believe Wildcat Nation?

Go 'Cats!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Setting The Record Straight: The Numbers

Analyzing the facts, dispelling myths and quelling the fears and anxieties of Wildcat Nation - why calling for a new coach is preposterous.

Part One - The Numbers

The Wildcats are 10 and 14 in the NCAA Tournament under the guidance of Dick Umile. Whoa, a losing record in the NCAA Tournament, that can't be good. But let's really look at these numbers. Coach Umile has steered the team for 18 seasons. 24 NCAA Tournament games. Wait, the team has made the Tournament in 14 of those 18 seasons (how many coaches have attained such a percentage of successful seasons?), with the first missed Tournament being his very first year as head coach and 3 of those 4 missed Tournaments in his first 6 seasons behind the bench since which his team has made the Tournament 11 of 12 seasons. So 24 NCAA Tournament games in just 14 appearances - that's an average of 1.714 games per Tournament. How many times have they made it past the first round in those 14 appearances? 6 times - that's nearly half the time at 3 in 7. Of those six advances they have gone on to the Frozen Four 4 times or 2 out of 3. Of those four Frozen Fours how many times have they advanced to the Championship game? Twice - 1 in 2. And here is where the pattern breaks down and the ultimate reason for the loss of rational thought in many of the faithful. Of those two chances at the National Championship, they don't have one to show for it. The only title that Coach Umile has yet to attain behind a UNH Men's Hockey Team that is possible for them to win.

But they've been one and done for the past 3 years, you say. Well, I guess no team and no coach can have a slump. That's if you look past the fact that this horrible slump comes as the Wildcats have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament each of the last 7 years under Coach Umile. One of the 16 teams each season as opposed to the 43 left hitting the greens early. The fact that only 2 other teams have done so during this time frame and only Minnesota has a National Championship to show for it (though Michigan is certainly in position to leave UNH the last of these three this season) doesn't say much either, does it?

So let's look at the last three seasons.

Record in chronological order: 20-11-7, 26-10-2, 25-9-3
Goals Scored: 118, 138, 129
Goals Allowed: 92, 87, 87
PP: 19.1%, 20.0%, 18.6%
PK: 87.0%, 86.5%, 85.7%

Aside from a few less wins that translated into ties in the 05-06 season, not much different. So why would anyone expect a different result this year? As Albert Einstein is noted as saying, the expectation of different results while doing the same thing is the definition of insanity. Perhaps it was the insane, topsy-turvy nature of college hockey this year, not the least of which involved Hockey East itself, and was most obviously manifested in a 9th place Maine. Yes, you heard that right, 9th place in Hockey East after back-to-back Frozen Four appearances that saw them bow out in their first game of the Frozen Four and granted the now customary second Runner-Up.

Let's look at four seasons in which the 'Cats progressed to the Frozen Four, though I don't have all the numbers.

1998: 25-12-1 (the most similar year to the above but you'll quickly see the difference in the next three seasons)
Goals Scored: 163 (a significant difference)
Goals Allowed: 98

1999: 31-7-3 (First Wildcat Team to finish Runner-Up in the National Tournament)
Goals Scored: 170
Goals Allowed: 90

2002: 30-7-3
Goals Scored: 184
Goals Allowed: 102
PP: 29.4%
PK: 84.1%

2003: 28-8-6 (Runners-Up again)
Goals Scored: 156
Goals Allowed 96
PP: 23.9%
PK: 86.6%

When correlated with the results of their playoff record, I for one see a significant difference between this set of four years as opposed to the last three. Especially the stats concerning goals for and their powerplay percentage - though as noted before, the data set is incomplete.

So, what gives?

Looking at various college hockey coaches who have enjoyed tremendous success one thing becomes apparent - they all suffer slumps. Jack Parker went eleven years with only two NCAA Tournament appearances after his Terriers won in 1978 and is nearing a similar streak over the last eleven. Jerry York endured a similar period of appearances but nothing more before leaving Bowling Green after he had guided them to a National Championship. These are two great coaches, and Coach Umile hasn't gone anywhere near an 11 year slump, nor come close to missing the Tournament as often.

What explains these slumps? I would say recruiting. Every year coaches gamble on the future of their program. Sure, they are as informed as possible but at the end of the day it is a gamble with almost each and every recruit brought in. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and with no house profits involved, you generally break even at the Coaches' mean level. Some years the achievement is higher and some lower but you've got to admit that Coach Umile's mean seems to be extraordinarily high and that he's certainly had teams do everything but win that one final game.

A look through the books of college hockey National Champions reveals quite a short list of coaches and some of those whose names are present there have produced widely varying results from year to year, era to era. In other words, what we are witnessing here is well within reason for a great college hockey coach.

Could these Wildcat fans calling for Coach Umile's ouster simply be a bit spoiled by the Wildcats' successes? Combined with over-inflated expectations, this could be a dangerous combination. Can they just not stand the unjust taunts of others?

You can form your own conclusions. What I do know is that the numbers certainly don't support the notion that Coach Umile needs to go.

But there are still more of these illogical fallacies to consider concerning the absurd position that Coach Umile needs to go in order for a Wildcat Hockey team to win a National Championship. These points include:

Working hard over the long run and winning Regular Season Championships is cheap and worthless.

Fans who say, 'I won't buy season tickets to support a team that can't win a National Championship.'

Dick Umile gets paid to win a National Championship.

And more...

To be continued.

Go 'Cats!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Nice Article from theAHL.com: Trevor Smith

Alum, Trevor Smith, is carving quite a niche for himself in just his first professional season having landed a solid spot on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers' roster of the AHL.

The title linked article discusses his current point total (quite impressive considering he was sent to the ECHL for a number of games), the situation for him in Bridgeport and the tough decision to leave the University of New Hampshire early.

Way to go Trevor!

Go 'Cats!
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