Monday, November 26, 2012

UNH Recruits Update: Nov-26-2012

Player of the Week - Adam Clark

In his second season in the BCHL, 6'5", 210 lbs goalie Adam Clark has become the go to goalie for the Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Last weekend, the 2014 UNH recruit rejected 69 out of 71 shots on goal over 2 games and won both of them. The SilverBacks' 4-0 victory over the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday marked Adam Clark's first shutout in the British Columbia Hockey League. For his efforts, Clark earned the #2 Star of the Game.

The following day, both teams made the 5-hour trek from Trail to Salmon Arm, BC for the second game of the weekend. Once again, Adam Clark came up big with 41 saves as Salmon Arm defeated the Smoke Eaters 5-2. Clark was even credited with an assist on the SilverBacks first goal. Scott Campbell, radio voice of the SilverBacks and blogmaster for Welcome to the Jungle described Clark's performance:
"Adam Clark was outstanding with 41 saves, keeping his team in the contest early - before the offense found its stride in the latter parts of the game...Despite the final score of the game, the 1st period favoured Trail as they had the better scoring chances but couldn't beat Clark, who looked great coming off his first BCHL shutout on Friday."
With the two weekend victories, Adam Clark's goals against average improved to 2.31. That's the 5th best average in the BCHL. Likewise, his save percentage improved to .931. Clark now has the 3rd best save percentage among all BCHL goalies. Clark has strung together 3 wins in a row and the SilverBacks have won 4 in a row. Salmon Arm is now 4 points behind the second place Merritt Centennials in the Interior Division of the BCHL.

Adam Clark is also beginning to receive recognition from the NHL Central Scouting Service. In the recently released "Players to Watch List", Clark was identified as a goalie with the potential to be drafted in Round 4 thru 6 in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Latest Statistics

NOTE: The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH.  For example, the "2013 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2013 to begin playing for UNH.

2013 Recruits
Matias Cleland  (D)WaterlooUSHL30227
Omaha LancersUSHL1646108
Tyler Kelleher  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL53366
USA U18 TeamNCAA94370
Dylan Maller  (D)Tri-City StormUSHL1800024
Jordan Masters  (F)Jersey HitmenEJHL722419
Andrew Poturalski (F)Cedar RapidsUSHL1246104
2013 or '14 Recruit
Michael McNicholas  (F)Nanaimo ClippersBCHL25915244
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter  (D)Merritt CentsBCHL24661213
Adam Clark  (G)Salmon ArmBCHL147W5L2.31.931
Shane Eiserman  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL420221
USA U18 TeamNCAA93034
Cam Marks  (D)Coquitlam ExpressBCHL192354
2015 Recruits
Charlie Kelleher  (F)Junior Bruins U18USEHL38910198
Jason Kalinowski  (F)Salisbury Prep NEPSHC0 00 00
Joseph Masonius  (D)Jersey HitmenEmpJHL10291114
2015 or '16 Recruit
Liam Darcy  (D)Berwick Academy NEPSHC0 00 00
Patrick Grasso (F)Des MoinesUSHL100110
Omaha Lancers U16NAPHL849132
Brendan van Riemsdyk (F)Jersey Devils U16AYHL161192028
Christian BrothersJersey00000

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ Defenseman Dylan Chanter continued to bolster his offensive numbers last week posting a goal and an assist in two games. Chanter is now the leading scorer among the Merritt Centennials' defensemen.

~ 2014 recruit Cam Marks will be out of the Coquitlam Express lineup for the next 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his foot. Mark's injury occurred about a month ago when the defenseman blocked a shot with his skate. Initial examinations did not reveal any broken bones so Marks continued to play through the pain. A subsequent CT scan revealed the fractured bone.

Team USA:

~ 2013 recruit Tyler Kelleher announced on Twitter that he has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for UNH next season. Yesterday, Kelleher, Shane Eiserman, and the U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 team played against St. Mary's University, a Division III NCAA team. Team USA won 10-4 and Kelleher scored a goal and 3 assists.

~ Next weekend, the U-18 team begins a stretch of 4 NCAA games in two weekends. They will play 2 games against the University of Alabama - Huntsville on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The following weekend, Team USA comes to New England for games against Merrimack on Saturday, Dec. 8th and the UNH Wildcats on Sunday, Dec. 9th.

United States Hockey League:

~ On Saturday, 2013 recruit Matias Cleland scored two goals, including a power play goal, as the Omaha Lancers defeated the Sioux City Musketeers 5-4 in a shootout. Cleland earned the #3 Star of the Game.

~ 2015 or 16 recruit Patrick Grasso posted his first assist in the USHL in a 1-5 loss against the Tri-City Storm. Grasso also fired 6 shots on goal. The 16-year-old has centered the Des Moines Buccaneers' 4th line over the last 3 games.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

UNH Recruits Update: Nov-19-2012

Player of the Week - Michael McNicholas

Last summer, forward Michael McNicholas made the decision to leave the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL and head up to the BCHL to join the Nanaimo Clippers. In an article on The UNH Men's Hockey Blog, McNicholas explained his decision:
"I was looking to play for a team where I would have the opportunity to play in a role as a reliable, point-producing center who could be counted on to help win a championship for the team and to develop as a player for college hockey. After discussions between (Clippers) Coach Mike Vandekamp, my parents and UNH Coach Scott Borek, and after consulting with many other people close to the game, including my Victory Honda Coach Brian Burke, I have concluded that Nanaimo is the best place to accomplish my goals.  Coach Vandekamp’s extensive junior hockey coaching record of winning, the rich hockey history of Nanaimo, and Nanaimo’s hosting the Western Canada Cup were all factors in my decision."
The move has turned out to be a boon for both McNicholas (#8) and the Clippers.

Over two games last week, McNicholas added 2 goals and 3 assists to his scoring totals. In the game against the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday night, McNicholas scored 2 goals and an assist and was named the #2 Star of the Game. So far this season, McNicholas has posted 8 goals and 13 assists in 23 games. He is tied for 9th in scoring in the British Columbia Hockey League and is the 3rd leading scorer on the Clippers. This production contrasts with the limited role he was given by the Lumberjacks at this time last season. By mid-November, 2011, McNicholas had only played in 5 games for Muskegon (i.e., one-third of their games) and had not scored any points. The Nanaimo hockey club - currently in second place in the Island Division of the BCHL with the third most points of any team in the league - has given McNicholas an opportunity to contribute and he has answered the call.

Latest Statistics

NOTE: The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH.  For example, the "2013 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2013 to begin playing for UNH.

2013 Recruits
Matias Cleland  (D)WaterlooUSHL30227
Omaha LancersUSHL132686
Tyler Kelleher  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL53366
USA U18 TeamNCAA83030
Dylan Maller  (D)Tri-City StormUSHL1700022
Jordan Masters  (F)Jersey HitmenEJHL722419
Andrew Poturalski (F)Cedar RapidsUSHL103582
2013 or '14 Recruit
Michael McNicholas  (F)Nanaimo ClippersBCHL23813214
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter  (D)Merritt CentsBCHL22551013
Adam Clark  (G)Salmon ArmBCHL125W5L2.52.924
Shane Eiserman  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL420221
USA U18 TeamNCAA83034
Cam Marks  (D)Coquitlam ExpressBCHL192354
2015 Recruits
Charlie Kelleher  (F)Junior Bruins U18USEHL2275126
Jason Kalinowski  (F)Salisbury Prep NEPSHC0 00 00
Joseph Masonius  (D)Jersey HitmenEmpJHL10291114
2015 or '16 Recruit
Liam Darcy  (D)Berwick Academy NEPSHC0 00 00
Patrick Grasso (F)Des MoinesUSHL70000
Omaha Lancers U16NAPHL849132
Brendan van Riemsdyk (F)Jersey DevilsAYHL1511920-
Christian BrothersJersey00000

News & Notes

Eastern Junior Hockey League:

~ After a long layoff from competitive hockey, 2013 recruit Jordan Masters regained his scoring touch last week with the Jersey Hitmen. On Wednesday in a 8-0 win over the Philadelphia Revolution, Masters scored his first goal in the EJHL. A few nights later, Masters scored the game winning goal and added an assist as the Hitmen defeated the South Shore Kings 8-2.

New England Prep School Hockey Conference:

~ 2015 recruit Jason Kalinowski and the Salisbury School begin the regular New England Prep season on December 1st against the Williston-Northampton School.

~ 2015 or 16 recruit Liam Darcy and Berwick Academy begin their regular season on November 28th against Belmont Hill.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Little More Payback: UNH Beats BU 3-1 At Agganis - UPDATED

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - UNH came into Agganis Arena for the first time since their double overtime loss to BU in last years' Hockey East Quarterfinals. The Wildcats' determination was evident in their dominant play in the first period. UNH (Overall: 8-1-1; Hockey East: 6-1-1), ranked #5 in the nation, came away with the win over the #11th-ranked Boston University Terriers (Overall: 6-4-0; Hockey East: 5-3-0). UNH has now won both contests this season against BU.

Between The Lines

The Forward Lines & Defensive Pairings
~ Starting Lineup: Dalton Speelman (LW)- Grayson Downing (C) - Austin Block (RW); Trevor van Riemsdyk (LD)- Connor Hardowa (RD).
~ Forward Lines: Goumas-Sorkin-Henrion; Thrush-Silengo-Willows; MacDonald-Pavelski-Gaudreault; Defensive Pairings: Kostolansky-Agosta; Knodel-Pesce.
~ With starting center Greg Burke (left shoulder) and sophomore Jay Camper (concussion precautions) out of the lineup, Coach Umile successfully reassembled the forward lines.
~ Downing stepped up to center and Block moved up to right wing on the first line.
~ Sorkin moved from the 3rd line center to the 2nd line and Henrion dropped down from the 1st line.
~ Silengo moved from right wing to center on the 3rd line and sophomore Matt Willows was added at right wing.
~ Finally, freshmen Maxim Gaudreault and Collin MacDonald were added to right and left wing, respectively, on the 4th line with Pavelski centering.

Game Summary

First Period:
UNH dominated much of the territorial play in the first period with tenacious forechecking. There were stretches when BU was unable to break out or clear the puck out of their own zone.
In an effort to overcome UNH's forechecking, BU tended to attempt long passes out of their zone. It wasn't working well for them.
On their first shift of the night, Nick Sorkin and his linemates Goumas and Henrion effectively cycled the puck in the BU corner.
Sorkin appeared to be playing with a little extra jump in his stride. By the midway point of the 1st period, Sorkin had thrown 3 body checks.
On freshman Maxim Gaudreault's first shift of the game, he stole the puck in the neutral zone, raced past a BU defender, and fired a shot on goal. Gaudreault had 2 SOG in the game.
About 6 minutes into the game, Casey DeSmith was tested. He made an initial save on his knees and stopped the rebound shot in his chest. Shots on goal at that point were 6-5 in favor of UNH.
With less than 9 minutes left in the 1st period, Kevin Goumas (2nd goal of season) manufactured a play similar to his steal and goal at the Frozen Fenway. Goumas stole the puck just inside the BU blueline, flew in between the faceoff circles, and buried a wrister past BU goalie Matt O'Connor. Start to finish, it was a flashy, unassisted effort. In order to fire a forehanded shot, the left-shot Goumas had to reach across his body while skating to his right.
A few minutes later, freshman Maxim Gaudreault, playing in only his 4th NCAA game, scored his first college goal. The play began with second-year defenseman Justin Agosta snapping a shot from the top of the circle to the left of O'Connor. He made the initial save but left the rebound in the crease. Gaudreault, positioned to O'Connor's right just outside the crease, pounced on the puck and fired it home. Official time of the goal was 14:10.
With 16 seconds left in the period, Kevin Goumas committed the first of a few UNH penalties which may not have been necessary. In this instance, a BU defenseman was carrying the puck out of his zone, Goumas reached around him and was called for hooking. It was a judgement call by the referee but probably the correct decision.
UNH outshot BU 20-12 in the first period - an accurate reflection of UNH's territorial edge.

Second Period:
BU began the period with a man advantage for a minute and 44 seconds. UNH effectively killed the penalty without allowing a shot on goal.
Last season, BU had the most potent power play in Hockey East play, scoring on 26% of PP opportunities. So far this season, BU is in the middle of the pack and UNH is the best penalty kill team. UNH has only given up 1 short-handed goal in league play.
Over the first 10 minutes of the second period, UNH was penalized three times resulting in 3 BU power plays.
From my vantage point, the validity of those three penalty calls looked like this:
17:37: Matt Willows for boarding - appeared to be a solid hit which did not cause the BU player to hit his head against the boards or crumple to the ice.
13:23: Nick Sorkin for tripping - a close call.
12:02: Austin Block for hooking - a legitimate call but Block may not have needed to do it since the action was along the half-boards.
UNH did a remarkable job killing off this series of three BU powerplays. They did not allow a SOG when Willows was in the penalty box.
With Sorkin in the penalty box, BU did not have a SOG. When Block was penalized, BU had a 5-on-3 advantage for 40 seconds. They only managed 1 SOG.
UNH killed off the remaining minute and 20 seconds of the BU powerplay only allowing one more SOG. Sophomore Casey Thrush was effective in harassing the BU puck carrier. With BU swarming around the slot in front of DeSmith, Thrush made a diving poke check to clear the puck out to the blueline.
In between their power plays, BU was able to crank up their offense. They were more effective in counteracting UNH's forechecking by skating the puck out of their zone.
With 15:20 remaining in the second period, Casey DeSmith's historic run of 3 consecutive shutouts came to an end. DeSmith made an initial save on a shot from the faceoff circle to his left but the rebound fluttered to his right. DeSmith tried to recover by sliding across the crease but Danny O'Regan was there to poke home the rebound.
Prior to BU's only goal of the night, DeSmith had not allowed a goal for just over 200 minutes of competition.
With a little less than 4 minutes remaining in the second period, Nick Sorkin was penalized again, this time for for slashing.
UNH had gotten into a pattern of hacking away at BU puck carriers in the second period. Often times it was effective but eventually, aggressive stick-to-stick contact is going to lead to penalties.
UNH killed off the final BU power play of the second period without allowing a shot on goal. Speelman, Goumas, and Block did a stellar job. Over the final minute of the BU power play, UNH effectively kept the puck away from them.
By the end of the second period, BU had caught and surpassed UNH in shots on goal. BU: 29 SOG, UNH: 24 SOG.

Third Period:
The initial portion of the 3rd period involved attacks and counter attacks. Seconds after the puck was dropped, DeSmith made a blocker save which floated the puck up in the air.
About 2 minutes into the period, freshman defenseman Brett Pesce made a nifty end-to-end rush, deking around a couple of BU players.
At the 3:12 mark, UNH was penalized yet again - the 6th UNH penalty of the night. This time, Gaudreault was called for tripping. It was a marginal call at best.
20 seconds into the power play, a BU forward attempted a pass to an open player to the left of Casey DeSmith. Captain Connor Hardowa made a nice play deflecting the pass up into the netting.
Seconds later, DeSmith made a stellar save flashing his skate out to redirect the shot.
With 33 seconds remaining on the initial penalty, Austin Block was called for holding. It was another borderline call but BU found itself with a 5-on-3 advantage. UNH killed off the 2-man advantage.
BU wasted most of the 5-on-4 advantage with a slashing penalty of its own. It was the first BU penalty of the game.
With the teams playing 4-on-4, BU had a 2-on-1 rush into the UNH zone but Dalton Speelman broke up the play with a poke check. Shortly after, Hardowa disrupted another BU rush by creaming the puck carrier into the half boards.
About 10 minutes into the final period, Kevin Goumas was skating behind the play in the BU end and a BU player appeared to hook him up under his arm pit/shoulder. No penalty was called, probably because the puck was already up ice. Goumas was clearly in a lot of pain and slowly left the ice. However, he went back out on his next shift.
With 7 minutes remaining, BU was penalized for the second time giving UNH a full, 2-minute power play. Although the UNH power play unit moved the puck smartly, they were not able to get a clear shot on goal.
With 5 minutes left, Goumas executed a quick spin move between the faceoff circles and got off a quick slap shot. At that juncture, BU held a 42-31 SOG advantage.
With BU pressing with 2 minutes left, the puck got loose behind DeSmith's net but Jeff Silengo effectively back-checked and gained control of the puck.
With a minute to go, BU pulled their goalie. A BU player shot from the top of the slot but Grayson Downing swatted the puck away with his glove.
Seconds later, DeSmith made perhaps his biggest save of the game. Yasin Cisse was just to the left of DeSmith, below the faceoff circle, and fired a high shot. DeSmith jumped up slightly and made the save with his shoulder.
With the final seconds ticking away, Kevin Goumas (3rd goal of season) gathered the puck in the UNH zone, skated it end-to-end, and deposited it into the empty net.
In the final period Casey DeSmith made a total of 17 saves - some of the remarkable variety.
Final Shots on Goal: UNH 35, BU 46.

UNH Stars of the Game

#1 Star - Kevin Goumas
~ Goumas finished the game with 2 goals and a +/- rating of +2. His ability to steal pucks and swiftly skate the puck around opposing players makes him one of the most exciting players in Hockey East.

#2 Star - Casey DeSmith
~ In two games against BU so far this season, DeSmith has given up only 2 goals. Over these 2 games, DeSmith has faced a total of 71 shots and has made a save on 69 of them.
~ DeSmith's goals against average in Hockey East games is a ridiculously low 0.86.

#3 Star - Maxim Gaudreault (pronounced go-DRO’)
~ With two veteran forwards out of the lineup, freshman Gaudreault stepped up. He scored his first NCAA goal and played a physical, tight-checking game.

Points of Interest

~ In the first period, UNH effectively shut down the talented BU squad. As a result of a lop-sided number of penalties called on UNH, BU was allowed to get back into the game. It will be interesting to see if UNH can successfully play it's aggressive team defense against other high-skill teams without drawing so many penalties.
~ Coach Umile has to be pleased with how his forwards were able to compensate for the loss of Greg Burke and Jay Camper. This may be one of the deepest UNH teams in recent memory.
~ Video Highlights

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The van Riemsdyk Trifecta: 16-year-old Brendan Commits to UNH

Brendan van Riemsdyk (DOB: 1-28-1996), the youngest son of Frans and Allison van Riemsdyk of Middletown, New Jersey, has decided to follow in the footsteps of his brothers James (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Trevor (UNH Wildcats). The 6'3", 189 lb. forward has committed to play hockey for the University of New Hampshire.

Brendan's dad Frans van Riemsdyk regularly attends UNH games both home and away. With oldest son James not playing games due to the NHL lock out, Frans has been able to see most of Trevor's games this season. Following the UNH game at UMass Lowell on Friday night, I had an opportunity to talk with Mr. van Riemsdyk about Brendan's decision to commit to UNH:

"We're very excited for him. There's a deep comradery among the three brothers. Now there won't be any dramatic conversations around the dinner table. We've been very pleased with James and Trevor's experience at UNH. Why mess with success? We didn't push Brendan toward one school or another. We did help him control the overall pool of schools to consider but left it up to him to make the final choice."
Brendan, who will turn 17 in January, is currently a junior at Christian Brothers Academy (CBA), a four-year private preparatory school in Lincroft, NJ. The CBA campus is about 6 miles from the van Riemsdyk's home. James attended CBA through his sophomore year while Trevor graduated from CBA in the spring of 2009. CBA has one of the premier high school hockey programs in New Jersey. When James was a sophomore at CBA in 2005, he scored an overtime goal in the New Jersey State Championship game against rival Delbarton. In Trevor's senior year, CBA lost to Delbarton in the Championship game.

Last season, in his sophomore year at CBA, Brendan van Riemsdyk finished the season with 16 goals and 14 assists in 29 games. He is the noticeably tall #17 in the photo on the right. In the New Jersey Non-Public School Championship game, BvR scored the second goal for Christian Brothers against arch rival Delbarton. However, Delbarton came back to win the championship 3-2. CBA will begin its 2012-13 campaign on November 27th. As Mr. van Riemsdyk explained to me, all three of his boys loved playing before the big crowd of friends and fans at CBA high school hockey games. The championship game last season was held in front of close to 8,000 fans at the Prudential Center in Newark.

For several years, BvR has played his fall hockey for the New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Club based in West Orange, NJ. BvR and the Devils U-16 Midget Minor team just completed the fall season in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League. In 15 games, Brendan scored 11 goals and 9 assists.

In terms of physical development, Brendan is more like James than Trevor. BvR and JvR are tall, left-shot forwards. When JvR joined the U.S. National Team Development Program at age 16, he was listed at 6'3" and 187 lbs. - about the same as Brendan is now. As for development of hockey skills, reports on James when he was a youngster describe him as a natural. Even as a 10-year-old, JvR was a prolific scorer. By contrast, Brendan's hockey skills have been somewhat slower to develop. For example, a U.S. Hockey Report article from last May provided the following evaluation of BvR:
"Has yet to gain his coordination and lacks speed coming out of the gates. Because he has a hard time getting up and down the ice he does not get many touches on the puck, but he is smart player who is good around the net. In our opinion it is only a matter of time before he breaks out of his shell, but some critics are beginning to think it may never happen."
This appraisal was based in part on Brendan's performance at the Atlantic District tryouts for the USA Hockey Select Development Camps. It turned out that Brendan was not selected for the 2012 USA Select 16 camp. He had made the 2010 Select 14 and 2011 Select 15 Development Camps.

Mr. van Riemsdyk tells me that Brendan trained very hard, along with brother Trevor, throughout the summer. He also played for the Christian Brothers Academy summer team posting 7 goals and 4 assists in 8 games. There are recent indications that BvR has taken his hockey skills to a new level. In their review of the Beantown Fall Classic last month, U.S. Hockey Report described BvR's power play performance as "fantastic" and they concluded that his game has "really taken a step forward".

The Future

Mr. van Riemsdyk indicated that Brendan will definitely play this season for Christian Brothers Academy. Next year, there is a possibility that Brendan will play in the Eastern Junior Hockey League. Mr. van Riemsdyk was very pleased with Trevor's personal growth, both on and off the ice, when he played for Coach Sean Tremblay and the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the EJHL. Coach Tremblay is now with the EJHL's Islanders Hockey Club based in Tyngsboro, MA. Brendan's target for enrolling at UNH will be worked out in the coming months. Given that he is a 1996-born player, arrival in either the fall of 2015 or 2016 is likely.

Back in November, 2005, James was the first of the van Riemsdyk brothers to commit to the University of New Hampshire. At the time, JvR was the #2 pick in the NHL Entry Draft. I asked Mr. van Riemsdyk what attracted JvR to the UNH hockey program. He explained that there were three key factors. James, being from a town more than an hour from major cities, really liked the location of the UNH campus. Second, James liked the idea of maneuvering around the olympic-sized rink at the Whittemore Center. Finally, JvR wanted to play the UNH style of hockey which emphasizes skating, passing, and transitions. UNH was a good fit for JvR and TvR is obviously thriving in Durham. Brendan won't be far behind.

Casey DeSmith's Historic Shutout: UNH Downs Lowell 3-0

LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS - On the strength of 23 saves, both routine and flashy, sophomore Casey DeSmith has become the first UNH goalie in 84 years to post three consecutive shutouts. Edward Hunt, the goalie on the 1928-29 UNH team, shut out Bates College, Amherst College, and UMass-Amherst over the span of five days in late January and early February, 1929. All the games were on the road or, more likely, on the train tracks.

Since the roaring 20's, several outstanding goaltenders, including All-Americans Rod Blackburn, Cap Raeder, Jeff Levy, Ty Conklin, Mike Ayers, Kevin Regan, and Brian Foster, were not able to equal the milestone set by DeSmith tonight. The last UNH goalie to blank the opposition in two consecutive games was Kevin Regan in March, 2007 against Providence College. In his final two seasons at UNH, Mike Ayers tallied a remarkable 12 shutouts. Casey DeSmith now has 5 shutouts in 29 games. He's the youngest UNH goalie to reach that mark.

The UNH (Overall: 7-1-1; Hockey East: 5-1-1) team defense came up big again tonight - blocking shots, poke checking, clearing pucks away from the net, smothering Lowell's forwards in the defensive zone, winning battles along the boards. Sophomore defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (4th goal of season) scored what turned out to be the winning goal with about 4 minutes left in the second period. He faked a move to the right at the top of the faceoff circle to the left of UML goalie Doug Carr, drew the puck inside the UML defender and walked into the slot. His wrister beat Carr to his right side, about midway up into the netting. Sophomore Grayson Downing (2nd goal of season) added another goal midway through the third period on an outstanding individual rush into the UML (Overall: 2-5-1; Hockey East: 1-4-1) zone and a backhand shot. Austin Block (8th goal of season) banged home an insurance goal with just 20 seconds left in the game. But the main story was Casey DeSmith and a tenacious UNH defense.

Between The Lines

The Forward Lines & Defensive Pairings
~ Starting Lineup: Dalton Speelman (LW)- Greg Burke (C)- John Henrion (RW); Trevor van Riemsdyk (LD)- Connor Hardowa (RD).
~ Forward Lines: Goumas-Downing-Block; Thrush-Sorkin-Silengo; Correale-Pavelski-Camper; Defensive Pairings: Kostolansky-Agosta; Knodel-Pesce.
~ These four forward lines were all balanced in that the left winger was a left-shot and the right winger a right-shot.

Game Summary

First Period:
UNH dominated the territorial play in Period 1. They outshot UML 11-5.
Starting with the drop of the puck, UNH's forechecking was effective as the UML defensemen had considerable difficulty breaking the puck out of their own end. Occasionally, UML would advance the puck just over their blue line and a UNH forward would intercept the breakout.
Over the first half of the period, UNH had a couple quality scoring chances. About 4 minutes into the period, Senior Greg Burke dug the puck out from behind the UML net and fed fellow Senior John Henrion in front of goalie Doug Carr for a point blank shot.
At the 6:30 mark, Grayson Downing, skating through the faceoff circle to the right of Carr, fed a rushing Connor Hardowa in the slot for another unimpeded shot on goal.
UML was not able to generate a shot on goal until nearly 10 minutes into the first period.
Sophomore forward Jay Camper generated a couple, quality shots on goal in the first period. With 8 minutes left, Camper stole the puck just inside the UML blueline, streaked in between the faceoff circles, and snapped off a quick wrister. Before being forced to leave the game in the second period (see below), Camper generated 3 shots on goal.
Whenever a UML puck-carrier created a little space, it seemed a UNH player was quickly on him.
On two occasions, a UNH player quickly recovered when a UML puck-carrier gained the advantage. At the 15:00 mark, Dan Correale lost the puck along the boards between the red and blue line. He caught up with the UML player in a few strides and froze him along the half-boards. With about a minute and a half left in the period, a UML forward got around a backchecking Eric Knodel at the top of the circle to the right of Casey DeSmith. Knodel calmly reached around the UML player and poked the puck away.
At some point late in the first period, Alternate Captain Greg Burke injured his shoulder and left the game. I did not see the incident but later on, Burke was in the stands with a sling on. UNH fans will recall that Burke has had several injuries since coming to UNH, including shoulder injuries, which have kept him out of the lineup for extended periods of time.

Second Period:
In the 2nd period, UML attempted to overcome UNH's dominance by throwing body checks all over the ice. They also tried to improve their puck movement by spreading their players out more and attempting longer passes.
Over the first 10 minutes of play, DeSmith was forced to make a few saves on shots coming from around the faceoff circles. One of these saves was his patented, quick glove save.
UNH nearly broke the scoreless tie twice in the first half of the period. 5 minutes into the period, Eric Knodel blasted a slap shot from the point, Kevin Goumas gathered the rebound on his backhand and lifted a shot which just missed a wide open net.
With 10 minutes remaining, Grayson Downing was wide open in the slot in front of Carr but missed the net on his shot.
At the 11:30 mark, sophomore Jay Camper, who has been hampered with recurring concussion symptoms over the last few years, was creamed into the half-boards on a cheap hit from behind. No penalty was called. Camper got up under his own power, banged his stick on the ice out of frustration, and skated to the UNH bench. He was evaluated by the UNH trainer and did not return to the game. Hopefully, this was a precautionary measure and not the beginning of a stint on the injured reserve list.
Shortly after Camper left the game, UNH swarmed around the UML zone and Kevin Goumas hit the post with one of his 4 shots on goal.
With just over 5 minutes remaining in the 2nd period, UNH kept the puck in the UML zone in a prolonged sequence which would lead to its first goal of the night. Trevor van Riemsdyk blasted a shot from the left point that was blocked by UML captain Riley Wetmore. Wetmore went down on the ice and did not get back on his skates for several seconds. This allowed UNH to move the puck smartly and buzz around the UML net. TvR eventually regained control of the puck at the top of the circle to the left of Carr. He made a move as if he was going to skate wide of the defender then suddenly shifted to the inside, leaving the UML flat-footed and out of position. TvR then snapped off a wrister from the faceoff dot and beat Carr on the stick side. UNH 1, UML 0.
With 3 minutes left, defenseman Brett Kostolansky made a long, cross ice pass to Dalton Speelman sending him in alone on Carr. Speelman fired a shot on goal - one of his 4 SOG on the night - and Carr made a gut save.
Shortly after, TvR shot the puck along the ice and hit the post.
UNH outshot UML 14-7 in the second period and went into the dressing room with an overall shot advantage of 25-12.

Third Period:
The stakes were high for both teams entering the third period. UNH knew that one more scoreless period and DeSmith would keep his shutout streak alive. Meanwhile, UML desparately needed to generate some offense.
Early on, UML became more aggressive and effective on the forecheck.
Just over a minute into the period, Casey DeSmith made perhaps his most impressive save of the night. Junior Joseph Pendenza - the second leading scorer for UML - was open in the faceoff circle to the right of DeSmith. He received a pass and shot a one-timer low on the ice. DeSmith was forced to quickly slide from his left to his right, flash his right pad, and smother the puck.
Although UML managed to generate more shots on goal, UNH continued their tight defensive play. In one sequence, Brett Kostolansky effectively froze a UML player along the boards. Later, Justin Agosta stopped a shot, headed for DeSmith, with his stick.
At the 7 minute mark, a UML forward gained a step on Eric Knodel but Brett Pesce converged on the play and poked the puck away.
A couple minutes later, Pesce nearly added a goal when he hit the crossbar.
With 9 minutes left in the game, Sophomore Grayson Downing would add the all important 2nd goal on a highlight reel rush into the UML zone. Downing carried the puck through the neutral zone and entered the UML zone to the left of Carr on a 2-on-1 break. Downing shifted the puck back and forth on his stick, then lifted a backhand wrist shot past Carr. UNH 2, UML 0.
At the 11:40 mark, DeSmith made another sharp save which also displayed his ability to direct the puck into a safe area where a teammate can gather the puck. DeSmith flashed his left pad on a point blank shot from the slot and directed the puck into the open corner.
With 6 minutes left in the game, Downing was called for high sticking. UNH killed off the penalty without allowing a single shot on goal.
With 2 minutes left, UML was penalized for tripping. UNH kept the puck in the UML end for most of the power play. With time running out, Nick Sorkin made a slick spin move in the faceoff circle to the left of Carr and fired a wrister. Austin Block, parked at the top of the crease, cleaned up the rebound beating Carr.
Final Shots on Goal: UNH 33, UML 23.

UNH Stars of the Game

#1 Star - Casey DeSmith
~ When any athlete is in the midst of an individual streak, the pressure is on. I don't know whether DeSmith was aware of how long it had been since a UNH goalie had 3 consecutive shutouts, but he knew he was working on a shutout streak. Under the circumstances, his 23 saves is deserving of the #1 Star.

#2 Star - Trevor van Riemsdyk
~ TvR's game-winning goal late in the second period demonstrated how adept he is maneuvering the puck into prime scoring areas.
~ The sophomore defenseman is now the second leading scorer on UNH and, more importantly, tied for the lead in scoring among Hockey East defensemen.

#3 Star - Grayson Downing
~ Downing's pretty goal in the third period was his second in as many games.
~ For a center who is effective controlling the puck in tight spaces, he is also impressive carrying the puck in open ice.

Points of Interest

~ Hopefully, Greg Burke (shoulder) and Jay Camper (concussion precautions) will return to the lineup quickly. However, the fact that freshmen forwards Collin MacDonald, Dan Correale, and Maxim Gaudreault have already played key minutes early in the season will give Coach Umile options if either Burke or Camper need to be replaced.
~ Following the injuries, Jeff Selingo saw increased minutes playing both center and right wing on different lines.
~ There was an impressive showing of UNH fans, both young and old, at the Tsongas Arena.
~ Next Stop - the Agganis Arena, Sunday at 1 PM.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

UNH Recruits Update: Nov-12-2012

Player of the Week - Tyler Kelleher

2013 UNH recruit Tyler Kelleher is the leading scorer on the U.S. National Team Development Program U18 team. Over the first 19 games of Team USA's season - which has included games against USHL and NCAA teams plus international competition - Kelleher has posted a team leading 10 goals and 16 points. The last UNH recruit to excel with the US NTDP was James van Riemsdyk. As a member of the U18 Team in the 2006-07 season, JvR posted 38 goals and 40 assists in 51 games.

Last week, Tyler Kelleher and Team USA clinched the 2012 Four Nations Tournament title. Teams from Finland, Switzerland and Sweden travelled to The Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the NTDP. In the first game of the tournament against Finland, Kelleher scored a goal as Team USA won 3-1. Next up was a hard-fought battle against Switzerland. During regulation play, Kelleher posted 2 assists as the teams tied 4-4. Following a scoreless overtime period, the teams proceeded to a shootout. Both goalies stopped the first three shots then a Swiss player beat Team USA goalie Hunter Miska. Kelleher kept his team in the hunt by scoring on the next shootout attempt. He was then selected to take the next shot for the victory but was denied by the Swiss goalie. The Swiss team eventually won the shootout 2-1 on the 7th attempt.

The following day, the U.S. faced the team from Sweden. Kelleher lead Team USA to a 5-3 victory scoring a power play goal and assisting on the 3rd goal. The Championship Game was a rematch between Sweden and the U.S. Team USA won 3-1 and Kelleher assisted on the 1st goal which was on a power play. Overall, Kelleher posted 2 goals and 4 assists and was the leading scorer in the tournament. UNH fans will have an opportunity to see Kelleher, 2014 recruit Shane Eiserman, and the rest of the NTDP U18 team when they faceoff against the UNH Wildcats at the Whittemore Center on Sunday, December 9 at 4:00 PM.

Latest Statistics

NOTE: The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH.  For example, the "2013 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2013 to begin playing for UNH.

2013 Recruits
Matias Cleland  (D)WaterlooUSHL30227
Omaha LancersUSHL112462
Tyler Kelleher  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL33140
USA U18 TeamNCAA83030
Dylan Maller  (D)Tri-City StormUSHL1300020
Jordan Masters  (F)Jersey HitmenEJHL400017
Andrew Poturalski (F)Cedar RapidsUSHL83362
2013 or '14 Recruit
Michael McNicholas  (F)Nanaimo ClippersBCHL20610164
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter  (D)Merritt CentsBCHL1954911
Adam Clark  (G)Salmon ArmBCHL104W4L2.42.930
Shane Eiserman  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL32026
USA U18 TeamNCAA83034
Cam Marks  (D)Coquitlam ExpressBCHL192354
2015 Recruits
Charlie Kelleher  (F)Junior Bruins U18USEHL2275126
Jason Kalinowski  (F)Salisbury Prep NEPSAC0 00 00
Joseph Masonius  (D)Jersey HitmenEmpJHL9291110
2015 or '16 Recruit
Liam Darcy  (D)Berwick Academy NEPSAC0 00 00
Patrick Grasso (F)Des MoinesUSHL70000
Omaha Lancers U16NAPHL855102

News & Notes

Team USA:

~ 2014 recruit Shane Eiserman also had a strong performance at the 2012 Four Nations Tournament. In the game against Switzerland, Eiserman scored a short-handed goal and added an assist. Overall, Eiserman generated 14 shots on goal in the 4 games which was the third highest on Team USA.

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ Goaltender Adam Clark, a 2014 recruit, continued his consistent play with Salmon Arm. Although the Silverbacks are in last place in the Interior Division of the BCHL, Clark is keeping them in most games. For example, on Saturday, Clark faced 44 shots on goal against the West Kelowna Warriors and made 42 saves. After double overtime, the game ended in a 2-2 tie. Clark's save percentage of .930 is the third best in the BCHL.

Eastern Junior Hockey League:

~ Over the weekend, 2013 recruit Jordan Masters returned to the Jersey Hitmen lineup for a pair of games against the Bay State Breakers.

Tier I AAA Midget Hockey:

~ 2015 recruit Jason Kalinowski and the Mid Fairfield (CT) Major Midget team won the New England District U18 Championship. Mid Fairfield was undefeated in 5 games against U18 teams from Rhode Island and two other teams from Connecticut. They earned a spot in the USA Hockey National Championships coming up in the spring.

~ Charlie Kelleher and the Boston Junior Bruins U18 team advanced to the semifinals of the Massachusetts District U18 Tournament but lost to the Neponset Valley River Rats, who went on to win the Championship Game.

~ 2015 or 16 recruit Patrick Grasso splits his time between the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL and the Omaha AAA Lancers U16 team. While he has yet to score in the USHL, Grasso is excelling on his Midget Minor team. In 8 games against opponents from the North American Prospects Hockey League, Grasso has scored 5 goals and 5 assists. He is tied for 4th place in the NAPHL in goals scored. Over the first weekend in November, Grasso and the Junior Lancers participated in the Bauer World Invite Tournament in Chicago. In their comprehensive coverage of the tournament, the U.S Hockey Report described Grasso's play in one of the games as "absolutely fantastic".

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

UNH Recruits Update: Nov-5-2012

Player of the Week - Matias Cleland

After only 3 games into the USHL season, the Waterloo Black Hawks traded 2013 UNH recruit Matias Cleland to the Omaha Lancers. Since then, the offensive side of the 18-year-old defenseman's game has blossomed. In 9 games with the Lancers, Cleland has generated 32 shots on goal and has scored 2 goals. He has also posted 3 assists. Cleland is currently tied for the lead in scoring on the Lancers' club. These totals stand in stark contrast to Cleland's production in his first season with the Waterloo Black Hawks. In 41 games during the 2011-12 season, Cleland had 1 goal, 9 assists, and 22 SOG.

Cleland's performance in a 3-4 loss to Cedar Rapids last Saturday night is representative of his new flare. Trailing by 2 goals, Cleland brought the Lancers to within one goal by scoring with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game. In addition to the goal, Cleland added an assist and had 3 SOG. He was awarded the #3 Star of the game. I asked longtime Cedar Rapids season ticket holder Scott Herbst (@herbst20) for his impressions of Cleland. This is what he had to say:
"Cleland started last night and saw power play time as the left point guy.....wouldn't say (he was) the quarterback but shows good poise and low hard shot. Very gritty for his size."

Latest Statistics

NOTE: The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH.  For example, the "2013 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2013 to begin playing for UNH.

2013 Recruits
Matias Cleland  (D)WaterlooUSHL30227
Omaha LancersUSHL92352
Tyler Kelleher  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL33140
USA U18 TeamNCAA83030
Dylan Maller  (D)Tri-City StormUSHL1200020
Jordan Masters  (F)Jersey HitmenEJHL20000
Andrew Poturalski (F)Cedar RapidsUSHL63362
2013 or '14 Recruit
Michael McNicholas  (F)Nanaimo ClippersBCHL1869154
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter  (D)Merritt CentsBCHL1754911
Adam Clark  (G)Salmon ArmBCHL84W3L2.34.925
Shane Eiserman  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL32026
USA U18 TeamNCAA83034
Cam Marks  (D)Coquitlam ExpressBCHL172244
2015 Recruits
Charlie Kelleher  (F)Junior Bruins U18USEHL2275126
Jason Kalinowski  (F)Salisbury Prep NEPSAC0 00 00
Joseph Masonius  (D)Jersey HitmenEmpJHL9291110
2015 or '16 Recruit
Liam Darcy  (D)Berwick Academy NEPSAC0 00 00
Patrick Grasso (F)Des MoinesUSHL60000
Omaha Lancers U16NAPHL44372

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2013 or 14 recruit Mike McNicholas added 3 assists to his season totals by posting an assist in each of the Nanaimo Clippers' games last week. McNicholas is tied for 3rd in scoring on the Clippers.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

UNH Shuts Out Maine 4-0

ORONO, MAINE - It's always a challenge to play in the hostile environment that is the Alfond Arena, but UNH made it look relatively easy. On the strength of smothering defensive play, UNH (Overall: 5-1-1; Hockey East: 3-1-1) earned their first road victory of the season by shutting out the University of Maine Black Bears (Overall: 1-7-0; Hockey East: 0-3-0). After UNH's loss on Friday night to UMass Amherst, Coach Umile decided to juggle the offensive lines and the new combinations clicked. In a somewhat uncharacteristic move, three freshman forwards - Collin MacDonald, Maxim Gaudreault, and Dan Correale - were in the lineup. The new line which really clicked was Kevin Goumas at left wing, Grayson Downing at center, and Austin Block at right wing. Together, they generated 14 shots on goal and Austin Block scored two goals, including the game winner, and one set up by Goumas. Casey DeSmith turned in another solid performance stopping all 42 shots he faced. As the team filed off the ice and down the runway, their victorious "whoops" cut through the relative silence of the Alfond Arena. A win to savor.

Between The Lines

The Forward Lines & Defensive Pairings
~ Starting Lineup: Dalton Speelman (LW)- Greg Burke (C)- John Henrion (RW); Trevor van Riemsdyk (LD)- Connor Hardowa (RD).
~ Forward Lines: Goumas-Downing-Block; Thrush-MacDonald-Gaudreault; Correale-Pavelski-Willows; Defensive Pairings: Knodel-Pesce; Kostolansky-Agosta.
~ Absent from tonight's lineup was Nick Sorkin, who had been playing left wing on the first line and Jeff Silengo who had been centering the third line.
~ One potential advantage of the new first line was putting Dalton Speelman at left wing. The left shot forward had been playing right wing which sometimes requires him to catch passes on his backhand and shifting it to his forehand rather than receiving the puck while in full stride. Together, the Speelman-Burke-Henrion line produced 12 shots on goal and scored UNH's fourth goal.
~ The biggest surprise of the night was the third line. Freshmen Maxim Gaudreault at right wing and Collin MacDonald at center, plus sophomore Casey Thrush at left wing. They were an effective checking line in the neutral zone and Maine's zone and generated 5 shots on goal. Interestingly, I'm pretty sure that Gaudreault and Thrush played on the same line for one season when they played junior hockey for Team Maryland.

Game Summary

First Period:
The tone of the game was established just prior to the drop of the puck. Senior Greg Burke and Maine captain Joey Diamond went out of their way to get in each other's face and exchange unpleasantries. Seconds later, the puck went down into Maine's end and Dalton Speelman then John Henrion threw solid body checks in rapid succession. UNH was sending a message that they were not going to be intimidated.
Early in the period, Maine got into penalty trouble with a boarding infraction followed a minute later by a tripping call. Maine killed off the 5-on-3 disadvantage but shortly after, Austin Block (4th goal of the season) scored a 5-on-4 power play goal - the eventual game-winning goal. The scoring play was set up smartly by Connor Hardowa at the right point. He appeared to be setting up for a shot but quickly fed a cross ice pass to Block who was parked just to the right of Maine goalie Dan Sullivan. Block snapped the one timer home.
In the game against UMass on Friday night, UNH often had difficulty breaking the puck out of their own zone.. Tonight, they utilized the area in the middle of their zone, between the tops of the faceoff circles, to move the puck out.
With about 10 minutes left in the first period, the Block-Downing-Goumas line surrounded the Maine net and banged away at the loose puck - a pattern which would be repeated several times.
At the 11:04 mark, Collin MacDonald fired a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle to the right of Sullivan. The puck hugged the ice and was labelled for the post on Sullivan's left. He was forced to flash his left leg pad to deflect the puck. It was one of MacDonald's three shots on goal.
Casey DeSmith made a couple of big pad saves - one with his left leg and one with his right - about a minute apart around the 16 minute mark.
At 16:37, Eric Knodel was called for roughing. This turned out to be key turning point in the game. Kevin Goumas killed off a significant chunk of the penalty clock on his own as he skated the puck through the Maine zone and then into center ice. Goumas then made a cross ice pass and received the return pass, and then returned to the Maine end. Seconds later, Knodel jumped out of the penalty box and was fed by Casey Thrush leading to a breakaway. Eric Knodel (2nd goal of the season) skated over the blueline to the top of faceoff circle and unleashed a blast that beat Sullivan to his left side. Rather than Maine tying the game up with a power play goal, UNH was ahead 2-0.
UNH finished the period with a lopsided 17-9 advantage in shots on goal.

Second Period:
Both teams opened the period playing more cautiously with less wide open skating and passing.
About 4 minutes into the second period, DeSmith made a sprawling stop during a scrum in the crease and Trevor van Reimsdyk cleared the puck behind the net. The whistle blew as DeSmith's mask came off. He showed the referee that a strap had come loose, possibly off. The referee penalized DeSmith for dislodging his helmet and delaying the game. Here was another opportunity for Maine to get back into the game. However, the highlight of the 2-minute penalty was an end-to-end rush by TvR capped off by a shot that rang off the post. Maine failed to register a shot on goal during the power play.
The tenure of the game during the middle portion of the second period was marked by a quiet crowd and UNH effectively beating Maine to the puck. In their own end, the UNH defensemen and center were efficient at blocking passes and gaining control of the puck.
Freshman Dan Correale made an impressive move into the Maine zone about 8 minutes into the period. Correale skated the puck across the blueline and around the outside of the faceoff circle. He then shifted the puck from his backhand to his forehand and zipped a wrister at Sullivan. It was UNH's 20th SOG.
At 13:14, Maine was penalized for slashing. Seconds after the UNH power play ended, Connor Hardowa launched a slap shot from the top of the circle. Sullivan made the initial save but Austin Block, parked on the edge of the crease, banged home the puck for a 3-0 UNH lead.
Brett Pesce was called for holding near the end of the period, but the UNH penalty kill - lead by Eric Knodel who blocked a centering pass with his stick then blocked a shot from the top of the slot - prevented any shots on goal.
Shots on Goal: UNH 32, Maine 27.

Third Period:
The final period was riddled with penalties. Perhaps out of frustration, Maine got a little chippy and was called for 6 penalties. UNH had 4 penalties.
UNH tallied its 4th and final goal of the game on a great individual effort by Greg Burke (3rd goal of the season). Burke fired a wrist shot from the faceoff circle to the left of Sullivan. The shot was blocked but Burke gathered the loose puck and snapped another wrister past Sullivan.
Final Shots on Goal: UNH 45, Maine 42.

UNH Stars of the Game

#1 Star - Austin Block
~ Block generated 4 shots on goal and scored twice.
~ Last season as a junior, Block scored 5 goals the entire season. In just 7 games so far this season, he has already matched that total. A large part of UNH's success early this season has been the play of the seniors.

#2 Star - Eric Knodel
~ Second year defenseman Eric Knodel was a huge presence (no pun intended) in UNH's zone. Playing with his usual poise, he blocked passes and shots and generally squelched Maine's attempts at making plays.
~ With his time on the power play and at even strength, Knodel blasted 6 shots on goal. None was more impressive than the one that beat Sullivan on a break away. The sight of the 6'6" Knodel bearing down on you must be an imposing sight for a goaltender.

#3 Star - Casey DeSmith
~ I was a little surprised to see that DeSmith made 42 saves. Many of Maine's shots were relatively harmless. However, DeSmith characteristically made some big saves in the second and third periods.
~ The vocal Maine students hanging over the ice in the upper deck are notoriously unwelcoming to opposing goalies. DeSmith rose to the occasion.

Points of Interest

~ Playing center on the third line in just his third NCAA game was a big challenge and opportunity for Collin MacDonald. He played like he belonged out there. He finished with 3 SOG and a +/- rating of 0.
~ Barring injury, Nick Sorkin and Jeff Silengo will, no doubt, get back into the lineup. The solid play of the three freshman forwards is creating a healthy competition for playing time and giving the UNH coaches many options. Just as important, Coach Umile is utilizing all four forward lines deep into the third period.
~ The Alfond Arena is a great barn for college hockey. The fans being so close to the action creates a claustrophobic atmosphere for the visiting team. Opened in 1977, Alfond is getting a little long in the tooth. However, it's hard to envision Maine playing anywhere else.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

UMass Defeats UNH 2-1 in OT

AMHERST, MA - Despite sophomore goalie Casey DeSmith's best effort - and it was an amazing effort - UNH lost to a tenacious UMass-Amherst squad in overtime. The 2-1 victory is the first for UMass this season in Hockey East action (Overall: 2-3-0; Hockey East: 1-3-0). It was UNH's first loss of the season (Overall: 4-1-1; Hockey East: 2-1-1). UNH's quest for its first road victory of the season continues.

Between The Lines

The Forward Lines & Defensive Pairings
~ Starting Lineup: Nick Sorkin (LW)- Grayson Downing (C)- Dalton Speelman (RW); Trevor van Riemsdyk (LD)- Connor Hardowa (RD).
~ Forward Lines: Goumas-Burke-Block; Thrush-Silengo-Henrion; Correale-Pavelski-Willows; Defensive Pairings: Knodel-Pesce; Kostolansky-Agosta.

Game Summary

First Period:
Determined not to give up a goal early in the first period, UNH came out strong and did not allow a shot on goal over the first 5 minutes. The first several shots at Casey DeSmith were relatively harmless.
Over the first half of the period, UNH got the better of the play utilizing short, accurate passes to advance the puck into the UMass zone.
However, midway through the period, UMass became markedly more tenacious on the forecheck. Their strategy included body checks along the boards deep in the UNH end and intercepting UNH's attempts to clear the puck out of the zone along the half-boards. It was a pattern UMass continued in the last two periods.
Overall, the shots on goal in the first period were 8-8 but Greg Burke (2nd goal of the season) banged home a rebound with less than a minute left in the period. Kevin Goumas started the play with a quick shot from the faceoff circle to the right of UMass goalie Kevin Boyle. Boyle made the initial save, but Burke snapped a wrister into the net.

Second Period:
UMass continued there tenacious forechecking early in the second period.
About 5 minutes into the period, Matt Willows was called for tripping in the UMass zone. On the ensuing power play, UMass moved the puck effectively and rattled off 3 shots on goal.
Midway into the second period, UMass had built up a shots on goal advantage of 16-9.
One bright spot offensively for UNH was a nifty move by Grayson Downing with about 8 minutes left in the period. From behind the UMass net, Downing skated the puck almost vertically out in front of Boyle and fired a wrister from point blank range.
UMass's persistence paid off with about 8 minutes left in the period. Junior forward Conor Sheary slipped past a UNH defender at the blue line and broke in on DeSmith. Now facing a 2-on-1, DeSmith was unable to stop the wrister by Sheary which flew into the top corner. Game tied 1-1.
UNH's difficulty gaining control of the puck in their own end was exemplified by a tripping penalty with a minute and 1/2 left. Eric Knodel tripped up the elusive Mike Pereira (3 SOG in the game). On the ensuing power play, UMass continued to effectively move the puck throughout the UNH zone. Senior Brett Kostolansky saved a goal by blocking a shot from the top of the slot.

Third Period:
At the outset of Period 3, UNH killed off the remaining 27 seconds of the UMass power play without allowing another shot on goal.
UNH's best opportunity to take the lead came about 7 minutes into the period. Dalton Speelman flew into the UMass zone on a 2-on-1 break. The left-handed Speelman was on the right wing to the left of goalie Boyle. Speelman tried to beat Boyle to the far side with a wrist shot along the ice but just barely missed the post.
For the remainder of the third period, it was The Casey DeSmith Show. He made several incredible saves to keep UNH in the game.
At the 8:14 mark, DeSmith flashed his pad to stop a quick shot off a faceoff then pounced on the puck to stop play.
10:39 - Sheary fires a point blank shot and DeSmith makes a glove save while jumping.
13:25 - DeSmith flashes a skate save.
15:42 - DeSmith stops a point blank shot with his knee pad.
16:39 - DeSmith hops up vertically and stops the puck with his shoulder.
UNH escaped the third period tied despite UMass outshooting them 13-8.

Both teams began the overtime period playing cautiously. Short passes; avoid mistakes.
An unwritten rule in hockey is that a penalty is not called during overtime unless it is a flagrant violation and clearly interferes with a scoring opportunity. A persuasive argument could be made that the tripping penalty on Kevin Goumas with just under 3 minutes left in overtime did not meet that standard. The "trip" of the UMass player appeared to occur well away from the play while the puck was down in the corner to the left of Casey DeSmith.
Early in the overtime power play, DeSmith made two gut saves to stop play.
On the winning goal with under a minute left on the power play, DeSmith had little chance of making the save though he came close. Greg Burke, who wins crucial faceoffs on a regular basis, was unable to do so this time. The puck moved into the corner to the right of DeSmith. Shane Walsh made a cross ice pass to Darren Rowe who was wide open on the back door. DeSmith quickly slid across the crease with his pads spread on the ice but the shot beat him upstairs.
A tough way to lose the game but UMass worked harder at it, outshooting UNH 36-26.

UNH Stars of the Game

#1 Star - Casey DeSmith
~ See above. As Coach Umile has repeatedly said, sophomore Casey DeSmith always gives UNH a chance to win the game by making timely saves.

#2 Star - Kevin Goumas
~ On a number of occasions, Goumas carried the puck on his own into and around the UMass zone, eluding players as he went.
~ He snapped off 4 shots on goal, including the one Boyle was unable to handle and left for Greg Burke to clean up.

#3 Star - Matt Willows and Dan Correale
~ The fourth line, centered by Scott Pavelski, played very well together. On a number of occasions, sophomore Willows and freshman Correale advanced the puck up ice with nice passing.
~ Willows had 4 shots on goal while Correale added another.
~ Midway through the first period, when UMass began their effective forechecking, Correale effectively disrupted their puck movement on two occasions.

Points of Interest

~ The crowd of close to 5,000 fans was one of the largest ones I've seen at the Mullins Center.
~ The long bus ride from UNH to UMass did not appear to have any ill effect on the team. Arriving the day before was obviously a good plan.
~ Not winning a road game over the first month of the season is not as serious as failing to win one until January (see last season). However, the team obviously would like to get that monkey off their back up in Orono on Sunday.

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