Monday, March 16, 2009



That's what our Wildcats had Saturday night.

But I've got something for you.

A loss, or any number of losses, is not indicative of systemic failure.

Once again the Wildcats finished near the top of the toughest league in college hockey. And I want to stress that word - hockey. I know many of us die-hard hockey fans don't like to admit that other games that people play actually amount to a sport but let us suspend our disbelief for a moment. In many of these other games a single team or a couple teams often dominate an entire season. In hockey this is extraordinarily rare. We worship a sport where the top ranked Boston Bruins fell to lowly New York Rangers a couple weeks ago in a game in which the best professional team in the land simply could not put a play together for the first forty minutes. A game where the top ranked college team in the country lost a playoff game to a program on its last, dying breath. These things happen in the sport we love.

Now on to some specific points.

Brian Foster allowed just one goal on Saturday night. A goal scored on a partial screen from close in and on the backhand which anyone who keeps up with the greatest sport on earth knows is the most difficult to track and predict for a goaltender. All this in a first full season as starting goaltender in almost three years and in which he has dealt with injury. Has he had tough games? Every goaltender does. Take Ty Conklin for example. The goaltender voted best in UNH History. He let in four goals in just the first ten and a half minutes of a game a couple weeks ago.

James van Riemsdyk, the team's best player - arguably the best in college hockey - turned over the puck on an errant, forced pass that led directly to the lone BC goal. He also managed only one single bid in the game on goaltender John Muse which came from way out on the left wing and Muse had little trouble with it.

This is not to say they are or are not at fault. Hockey is a team sport. No one shoulders the blame alone. Not even a couple someones. You win as a team, you lose as a team.

For BC's part they did exactly what they needed to. They trapped like there was no tomorrow - and literally there was no tomorrow for their season if they lost. There's still no tomorrow for their season if they can't knock off BU as the Hockey East Tournament continues. And if they play the way they did Saturday night they certainly have a chance.

I understand the disappointment but these are the facts.

And not to harp on the team but there are some other tough facts. Leagues' worst powerplay. Third to worst penaltykill. Second to worst goals against per game. The highest scoring senior was Kevin Kapstad - I needlessly remind you that he is a defenseman. There is only one player on the team that scored more than a point per game. The senior class accounted for just 30% of team scoring but amounted to almost 40% of the team. These are highly unusual statistics for any team that someone might actually expect to win games in college hockey.

But this is hockey. And this is college hockey nonetheless. Passions run high. There are surprise teams. Upsets. Rebuilding years. Ups and downs and highs and lows. Yet amazingly the University of New Hampshire Men's Hockey Team has found a way to win at least 20 games in each season for the last 12 years. A feat which they are just one victory shy of this year. They've made the NCAA Tournament each of the last eight seasons including this one and so they will have that opportunity to continue the streak of 20 win seasons. They've made the Tournament twelve out of the last thirteen seasons. Fourteen of the last sixteen and fifteen of the nineteen seasons with Head Coach Dick Umile at the helm. As to the lack of a National Championship from their four Frozen Four appearances in which they've had two Championship games? I've already addressed how this is hockey, college hockey no-less, and I would add that there is a reason the NHL plays at least four games to determine their champion aside from the additional revenue.

This is hockey. You've got to love it.

That's all I've got this Monday, March 16th, 2009.

Your 2008-2009 Wildcats will have the opportunity gain a thirteenth consecutive 20-win season when they participate in the 2009 NCAA Division I College Hockey Tournament Northeast Regional in less than two week's time.

I appreciate all of the comments received thus far and I hope that we all continue to share our passion for the University of New Hampshire Men's Hockey Team.

Go 'Cats!


Blogger UNHBulls said...

I would first like to say that I was very dissapionted with the University for making students leave the dorms at 5:30 on Friday for spring break. Obviously this made it very difficult to students to go to the games. Pretty much it was limited to those who have apartments, live in a frat or live nearby with transportation.

I was able to catch both games on the radio(cough WMUR I have a good idea cough) and I was very dissapointed with the 'Cats play. Hopefully this series will give them some aggression heading into the NCAA's, who knows, maybe they will even check someone. I write this as I remember reading a quote by the late captain Joe Charlabios saying the last years Notre Dame loss would propel them into a great season. Skip a head a few months and the captain is gone and UNH faces their first sub 20 win season in a while.

I still have faith in this team, and like I have said before throughout the season they have shown they obtain a good offense, defense and goaltending. They have just had trouble putting it all together at the right time. Let's not forget we still have the best player in college hockey who has the potential to carry the team to a victory (like he almost did Friday night.)

I have always been a supporter of Umile and I love what he has done with the program... you know where I'm going... hopefully we can pull off a few victories in the NCAA's so I don't have to finish that thought...

It's time to Wildcat up!

Mar 16, 2009, 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger bobble said...

I heard way too many people complain about Coach Umile on the way out of the game on Saturday. They are all idiots. Do you know how many programs around the country would kill for the success UNH has had during his tenure. They have been the second most successful program in Hockey East the last 10 years, only behind BC.

Mar 16, 2009, 3:13:00 PM  
Blogger Stavro99 said...

The only huge complaint I had about the team and the coaching was on that delayed penalty (one of the precious few that went out way), foster had been pulled, and the attackers dumped it in to play dump and chase, which resulted in the immediate whistle as opposed to us getting a 6 on 5.

Mar 17, 2009, 9:42:00 AM  
Blogger UNHBulls said...

Playoff hockey time! I figured that UNH would get the three seed. Hopefully they can take advantage of North Dakota having to travel far!

Mar 22, 2009, 12:16:00 PM  

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