Saturday, October 01, 2011

UNH Handily Defeats New Brunswick 3-0

The 2011-12 version of the UNH Wildcats took to the fog shrouded ice at the Whittemore Center for the first time this season and came away with a 3-0 victory over the University of New Brunswick. Check out for a game summary including videos of the UNH goals.

For an exhibition game, the New Brunswick "Varsity Reds" were a worthy opponent. The team is full of veterans of Canadian Major Junior hockey along with three former professionals - two from the American Hockey League and one from the ECHL. The youngest player is 21-years-old and the oldest is 26. Last season, New Brunswick won the championship of Canadian college hockey - the University Cup. The Varsity Reds are poised for another strong season with seventeen upperclassmen.

UNH enters the new season with (at least) three major questions:
  • (1) Can a top line emerge to replace the high-scoring line of Paul Thompson, Phil DeSimone and Mike Sislo?

  • The answer might be Stevie Moses-Mike Borisenok-Kevin Goumas. Tonight, the "Go-Mo-Bo" line picked up where they left off in the NCAA Tournament last March. Less than a half-minute into the game, Borisenok streaked through center ice, fed a flying Moses on the right wing, who broke in for a clean breakaway goal. For the night, the line generated 11 shots on goal. Moses had 6 SOG's of his own and was, once again, the fastest player on the ice. On several occasions, Moses carried the puck strong to the net resulting in scoring opportunities. Borisenok had a characteristically strong two-way game. Goumas may be one of the best at anticipating the movement of the puck and being in the right place at the right time.

  • (2) Will Matt DiGirolamo equal or surpass last season's performance in which he was runnerup to John Muse as the Hockey East Goaltending Champion?

  • A 22-save, shutout is a good start. DiGirolamo is so quick at moving side-to-side across the crease and tonight, he was largely successful at controlling rebounds. An injury-free DiGirolamo will be essential to UNH's success this season. The three backup goalies - Scott, Wyer, and freshman Casey DeSmith are untested. During one sequence tonight, Captain Damon Kipp fell on top of DiGi and he got up very slowly as many in the crowd (and behind the UNH bench) held their breath. He played fine after that.

  • (3) Will an offensive defenseman emerge to replace the scoring output provided by Blake Kessel (who turned professional after his junior year at UNH)?

  • Two new defensemen - sophomore Justin Agosta (who didn't play in any games last season) and freshman Trevor van Riemsdyk - are solid candidates. As anticipated, TvR showed remarkable poise in his first college game. He skated a regular shift, paired with either Brett Kostolansky or Eric Knodel, and got significant powerplay time. Like Kessel, TvR will jump into the play through center ice and into the offensive zone. During one UNH powerplay in the third period, TvR was the only player back on a 2-on-1 rush by New Brunswick. He steered the puck-carrier off to the side of DiGi, gathered in the puck, rushed through center ice and made a pretty pass to Nick Sorkin from the top of the faceoff circle. He may end up with more assists than Kessel because he is an outstanding passer.
    Justin Agosta was a pleasant surprise on offense tonight with 3 shots on goal, 1 goal and 1 assist. His assist on UNH's third goal was particularly effective. From just inside the blueline, he took a half-slapshot which he appeared to deliberately aim just to the right of the New Brunswick goalie - right where Silengo and Block were positioned.

    First Look at the Freshmen
    Of all the freshman forwards, Grayson Downing looks to be the most ready to make the jump from junior hockey to the college game. Downing skated a regular shift on the left wing of the 4th line. He appeared to keep up with the fast pace and was rarely out of position. He also made a couple of nice plays entering the offensive zone. The all freshman line of Casey Thrush, Matt Willows, and Jay Camper were fun to watch. Thrush had a couple shots on goal with Willows and Camper getting one apiece. Willows is a small but fast center who plays with a physical edge. He made a couple of below-average passes but that's to be expected. Thrush and Camper are strong skaters. Defensemen Ryan Randall and Eric Chevrier and goalie Casey DeSmith participated in the warmups but were not on the bench.

    UNH opens the Hockey East schedule next Saturday night at Boston University. The home opener is on October 15th against Boston College. Two teams ranked in the top 10 nationally on consecutive weekends.


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