Monday, January 05, 2009


Happy Wildcat Hockey Monday, Nation.

I must say, I was awash in thoughts of the demise of UNH hockey as we've known it when Maine buried their third and fourth goals. There was no defense. There was no offense. Goaltending looked shaky. Then, Mike Sislo sparked the team with a straightforward, get-it-done play on the shorthand to make it 4-3 and hope lived. I was exuberant to see the tying goal come on the powerplay as Captain Greg Collins got his second goal of the night and astounded to see the winning goal pop the ubiquitous verdant Gatorade bottle from its sagging resting place on the top shelf off of Bobby Butler's sharpshooting stick.

It was like watching a phoenix rising from its own ashes.

*I had hoped to find this video in the morning, but here is the ESPNU video highlights of Sunday's game!*

Aside from a bit of penalty trouble that came in gushes and the weak penalty-kills that ensued, there was a lot to like about this game. The team responded with confidence and surety without regard for the conspicuous absence of two of their best players in van Riemsdyk and Kessel. Phil DeSimone scored just seven seconds into the first powerplay of the game off a faceoff from outside the Maine zone. Additionally, the other two powerplay goals each came within a half a minute then under a full minute respectively.

While DeSimone and Sislo contributed with goals on the special teams it was the line of Collins-LeBlanc-Butler that really clicked which resulted in Greg's two goals, Peter's two assists and Bobby's game winner to go along with his earlier assist. They were everything that you could ask for in an upperclassmen line this night. They combined grit and determination, crashing the net and laser accurate shooting from prime spots on the ice to bury the puck in the back of the net. There's leadership for you.

The other storyline that comes out of this game is Captain Joe Charlebois. Last year's Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman and Co-Captain of this year's squad was off to an absolutely dismal start to the 2008-2009 season and was at one point a minus eight with just one point. Since then Joe has logged eight assists in the last eight games and returned his plus-minus to even with a plus-two performance last night, helping with an assist on Butler's game-winner. What a way to fight back in it for both Joe this season and his Wildcats last night.

*Late Addition* Speaking of James van Riemsdyk above, the super-skilled UNH sophomore dangler power-forward showed his stuff on the world stage securing the fifth place slot for the US Junior Team with a dazzler, going Colin Hemingway-esque to end the game in overtime, 3-2. James finished second in goals and points all-time for the US WJC team to some guy... Rowan, or Rownan, no Roenick! That's it! Roenick. Jeremy I think. I don't know. I think someone mentioned that this Roenick fellow has played in 1,349 NHL games and scored 1,211 points - I've heard he's pretty good despite the fact that he played in 14 WJC games to James' 12 and only outscored him 25-21. Whatever. Way to represent, James!

Oh, and if you don't know what Colin Hemingway-esque is - be educated. You can go for your advanced degree with this one at 2:34 but the entire vid is worth a watch though grainy - it's a classic.

Lastly, I have to thank all the well-wishers last night as I garnered my first shutout! I don't know how many I stopped but I do know the opposition caught the post four times and my team played a heck of a game in front of me, clearly preserving the goose-egg for me on a couple plays. Thanks everyone!

Go 'Cats!


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