Monday, December 31, 2012

#10 Dartmouth Outplays #2 UNH - Wins 4-1

Opening Round of Ledyard Bank Classic - UNH vs Dartmouth (Photo: Mike Lowry)

HANOVER, NH - It's difficult to predict how a college hockey team will handle the three-week layoff in December. Some teams return to competition with renewed motivation and energy. Others experience vacation lag. In the case of the UNH Wildcats (Overall: 11-3-2; Hockey East: 8-2-1), an unsettling pattern has developed over the last four years. Their loss to the Big Green of Dartmouth College (Overall: 8-2-2; ECAC: 4-1-1) in the opening round of the Ledyard Bank Classic marks the fourth season in a row that UNH has lost its first game after the December break. Last season, Brown University defeated UNH 5-2 at the Whittemore Center on December 30th. In the 2010-11 season, St. Lawrence came to Durham on January 2nd an won 2-1. The result in the 2009-10 wasn't any better as Cornell thumped UNH 5-2 on January 3rd.

For long stretches of the game, UNH was a half-step or more behind a quick and determined Dartmouth squad. At the risk of over-simplification, UNH did not play like a Top 10 team while 10th-ranked Dartmouth did.

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); Casey DeSmith (Goalie)
~ Forward Lines: Thrush-Goumas-Gaudreault; Sorkin-Burke-Henrion; MacDonald-Pavelski-Silengo; Defensive Pairings: Kostolansky-Agosta; Knodel-Pesce.
~ Alternate Captain Greg Burke returned to the lineup after missing the last 7 games. Burke had injured his left shoulder on November 16th in a game against UMass Lowell. In that game, Burke centered the top line with Dalton Speelman on left wing and John Henrion on right wing.

Game Summary

First Period:
From the outset, Dartmouth implemented a very effective fore-checking scheme. Two of their forwards pressured the UNH defenders deep in the UNH zone, often behind the goal line in back of goalie Casey DeSmith. As a result, Dartmouth maintained a territorial advantage and generated several quality shots on goal.

Just over 3 minutes into the period, Casey DeSmith made a big save but a Dartmouth player controlled the rebound and fired a shot which hit the post to the right of DeSmith.

With 14 minutes left on the clock, Freshmen Nick Blighe and Jack Barre rushed into the UNH zone. A shot was fired from between the faceoff circles and DeSmith waved his stick in vane. The shot appeared to be deflected past DeSmith. Blighe got credit for the goal - his first of his college career.

With 10 minutes remaining, UNH had its best opportunities to get on the board. Austin Block fired a shot wide of the net, just missing a big opening. Block gathered the puck in the low slot and tried to poke it past junior goalie Cab Morris. Morris smothered the puck.

With 9 minutes left in the period, Captain Connor Hardowa broke his stick in the UNH zone. Dartmouth moved the puck to the top of the circle and freshman Ryan Bullock blasted a slap shot. Hardowa, without his stick, attempted to block the shot but ended up screening Casey DeSmith. At that point, Dartmouth lead 2-0 and had outshot UNH 10-5.

At various points in the first period, UNH's defensive play in the end zone behind Casey DeSmith was not as sharp as it had been during their winning streak. One or another Dartmouth forward was able to carry the puck behind the goal line and evade the checking efforts of the UNH defenders and centerman. As a result, the Dartmouth center and forwards were able to make plays close to DeSmith.

In one such sequence, late in the period, Dartmouth maintained the puck in the UNH end for an extended period. Both Connor Hardowa and Trevor van Riemsdyk were forced to stay on the ice for an overextended shift. Out of desparation, Scott Pavelski hooked a Dartmouth player, who was moving the puck behind the UNH net, leading to a power play over the final 2 minutes of the period.

During the power play, DeSmith made two outstanding left pad saves on close in shots.

Shots on Goal: UNH 8, Dartmouth 15. 

Second Period:
Right out of the runway, UNH looked like it might get back into the game. Senior Austin Block worked a pretty give-and-go play with Grayson Downing. Block passed to Downing positioned in the faceoff circle to the right of goalie Cab Morris. Block skated down the throat of the slot and received a return pass from Downing. Block tapped it home for his 10th goal of the season. He leads the team in goals. Dartmouth 2, UNH 1.

One of the few bright spots for UNH was the play of the newly configured line of veterans Nick Sorkin, Greg Burke, and John Henrion. Early in the second period, they forechecked with energy and speed and controlled the puck in the Dartmouth end for most of their shift.

With 9 minutes left in the period, the Sorkin-Burke-Henrion line flew into the Dartmouth zone on a 3-on-2 break. Sorkin ripped off a shot forcing a big save by Morris.

A couple of ill-advised penalties dampened UNH's momentum. One was an elbowing penalty by Jeff Silengo which occurred a fair distance behind the play. Another was called on Nick Sorkin during a scrum after the whistle had blown. Sorkin attempted to pull a Dartmouth player away from the pack and ended up grabbing his helmet. He was called for roughing.

Dartmouth jumped at the opportunity with a power play goal by Tyler Sikura. The play began with Sikura all alone behind the UNH net. He passed the puck around the boards and out to the right point. Defenseman Andy Simpson fired a rising, wrist shot from the blue line and Casey DeSmith was forced to make a save while falling backwards. The rebound lay in the slot for Sikura to poke home. Dartmouth 3, UNH 1.

SOG at end of 2nd period: Dartmouth 26, UNH 17.

Third Period:
In the final period, UNH began to look more like a top-10 hockey team.

Less than a minute into the period, Austin Block fired an initial shot at Morris requiring a big pad save. Block then gathered the rebound in the low slot and wristed a point-blank shot into Morris' chest. These were 2 of Block's 8 shots on goal for the evening.

Once again, the Sorkin-Burke-Henrion line put together a couple of dominant shifts. In one sequence, the three of them crossed the blueline into the Dartmouth zone with speed - an intimidating sight. In all, the three veterans generated 2, 3, and 2 shots on goal.

With about 7 minutes remaining in the game, UNH had turned a 17 to 26 SOG disadvantage into a 29-28 advantage. Dartmouth goalie Morris made a number of outstanding saves to maintain the 2-goal lead.

With 1:25 minutes left, Coach Umile pulled Casey DeSmith for an extra attacker. Brandon McNally scored an empty net goal by just barely evading a back-checking Kevin Goumas.

Final Score: Dartmouth 4, UNH 1. SOG: Dartmouth 31, UNH 32.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

UNH Returns to Dartmouth for Holiday Tourney

Thompson Arena - Photo by Mike Lowry

This Sunday, the UNH Wildcats (#2 in National Polls) and the Big Green of Dartmouth (#10 Rank) will renew a holiday tournament tradition that began with the Blue-Green Invitational in 1974. That was the first time either UNH or Dartmouth sponsored a tournament during the Christmas-New Years break. This time around, the UNH-Dartmouth matchup at 7:00 PM is the much anticipated, featured event of the 2012 Ledyard Classic at the Thompson Arena in Hanover, NH. In the opening game at 4 PM, the UMass Minutemen (Hockey East) will play the Bemidji State Beavers (Western Collegiate Hockey Association).

Holiday Tournament History
The two premier, college hockey programs from the Granite State first played each other in a Christmas holiday tournament on December 19, 1970. It was in the consolation game of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Association (ECAC) Christmas Tournament at the old Boston Garden. UNH, who played in the ECAC back then, defeated Dartmouth 11-2. Long-time fans may remember that Dartmouth teams were still called the "Indians" - an offensive term, but an awesome logo. The two teams faced each other again in the 1972 ECAC Christmas Tourney with Dartmouth beating UNH 5-4 in the opening round.

In the 1974-75 season, Dartmouth and UNH combined forces to co-sponsor the inaugural Blue-Green Invitational at the old Snively Arena in Durham. In the original format, the two teams did not play each other in the opening round. On December 29, 1974, UNH lost to Pennsylvania - the Ivy League varsity program that ended in 1978 - while Dartmouth defeated St. Mary's. Dartmouth lost to Pennsylvania in the Championship Game.

The following season, the Blue-Green Invitational was a celebration of the opening of the Rupert Thompson Arena on the outskirts of the Dartmouth campus. The Thompson arena, which plays host to this weekend's games, is an architectural wonder with vaulted ceilings made of massive, triangular concrete panels. The festivities were capped by a Dartmouth-UNH matchup in the Championship Game on January 3, 1976. UNH won the tournament by defeating Dartmouth 6-3. There would be two more editions of the Blue-Green Invitational in the 76-77 and 77-78 seasons. UNH won the 1977 crown at Snively Arena but did not face Dartmouth. In the tournament's swan song, Dartmouth defeated UNH in a thrilling overtime victory at Thompson Arena. The holiday competition between the schools went on hiatus for a few years until the Auld Lang Syne Tournament in the 1980-81 season.

Dartmouth launched the Auld Lang Syne Tournament during Christmas break of the 1978-79 season. The tournament was designed, in part, to showcase the Thompson Arena. Dartmouth won the inaugural event beating Clarkson University. UNH began its participation in the Auld Lang Syne in December, 1980. That year, UNH lost in the opening round and did not play Dartmouth. In the 1981 tournament, the two teams faced each other in the opening round with UNH losing to Dartmouth 4-5. In the five year stretch from 1980 to 1984, UNH faced Dartmouth in the Championship Game twice with UNH winning both times in '82 and '84. During this time, the Auld Lang Syne tourney was occasionally called the "North Country Beanpot Tournament" because it included UNH, Vermont, Maine, and Dartmouth.

In the '84-'85 season, UNH helped launch the newly-formed Hockey East. UNH did not play in the Auld Lang Syne from 1985 through 1987. However, for the 1988-89 season, UNH combined with Dartmouth and the University of Vermont to launch a new format for the Auld Lang Syne. From 1988 through 1993, Dartmouth, UNH, and UVM took turns hosting the holiday tournament. During this 6-year stretch, UNH and Dartmouth always played against each other in the opening round (like they will this year). UNH won in '89, '90, '91, and '93 while Dartmouth won in '88 and '92. In 1993, the final year of this format, UNH won the Championship defeating Boston University 3-2.

From the 1994-95 season through the '98-'99 season, UNH did not play Dartmouth, either in a holiday tournament or regular season game. In November, 1995, the Whittemore Center opened on the campus of UNH. Dartmouth has only played one time at the Whitt, losing to UNH 2-3 in overtime in January, 2000. The following season, UNH returned to the Auld Lang Syne Tournament at Dartmouth. The Big Green defeated UNH 6-3 in the opening round on December 29, 2000.

In the 2001-2002 season, Dartmouth and UNH began playing a yearly, regular season game on neutral ice at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH. The winner has been awarded the RiverStone Cup representing the bragging rights as the top Division I hockey program in New Hampshire. In the 11-year history of the RiverStone Cup, UNH holds a 7-3-1 advantage.

And now, UNH and Dartmouth have come full circle as they prepare to compete at the 2012 Ledyard Classic. In 1998, the Ledyard National Bank became the corporate sponsore of the Auld Lang Syne Tournament. Since 2002, the holiday tournament has been known as the Ledyard Bank Classic. When the tournament organizers began planning for this year's tourney, they could not have known that it would feature two teams ranked in the top ten of college hockey. For those lucky enough to have tickets - the games are reportedly sold out - it surely is a fortunate event.

Scouting Report
A scouting report on UNH, Dartmouth, UMass, and Bemidji State is available on

Monday, December 24, 2012

UNH Recruits Update: Dec-24-2012

Player of the Week - Brendan van Riemsdyk

The youngest son of the van Riemsdyk family is making his own mark at the Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, New Jersey. Like his brothers James and Trevor before him, 17-year-old Brendan van Riemsdyk has posted some impressive numbers for the CBA Colts. Over the first 9 games of the 2012-13 season, the 6'3", 189 lbs. forward has scored 3 goals and 12 assists. In their quest to return to the New Jersey Non-Public School Hockey Championship game, the Colts are currently in second place with a record of 7 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie. So far in his junior year at CBA, BvR is the team's third leading scorer and has the most assists, along with senior Glenn Florczak (who also plays for the Jersey Hitmen U-18 team).

In addition to playing a full slate of games for CBA, Brendan van Riemsdyk continues to play travel club hockey with the New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Under-16 team. In 20 games, BvR has maintained a point-a-game clip with 12 goals and 10 assists. His 50 penalty minutes suggest that he plays with an edge. BvR is on target to enroll at UNH in either the fall of 2015 or 2016.

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 LancersUSHL244131718
Tyler Kelleher (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL1477148
USA U18 TeamNCAA1364102
Dylan Maller (D)Tri-City StormUSHL2600024
Jordan Masters (F)Jersey HitmenEJHL822423
Andrew Poturalski (F)Cedar RapidsUSHL18461015
2013 or '14 Recruit
Michael McNicholas (F)Nanaimo ClippersBCHL311021316
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter (D)Merritt CentsBCHL29671317
Adam Clark (G)Salmon ArmBCHL2211W9L2.42.928
Shane Eiserman (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL1243723
USA U18 TeamNCAA133036
Cam Marks (D)Coquitlam ExpressBCHL192354
2014 or '15 Recruit
Jason Kalinowski (F)Salisbury Prep NEPSHC6 38 11-
2015 Recruits
Charlie Kelleher (F)Junior Bruins U18USEHL38910198
Joseph Masonius (D)Jersey HitmenEmpJHL12291118
2015 or '16 Recruit
Liam Darcy (D)Berwick Academy NEPSHC7 04 4-
Patrick Grasso (F)Des MoinesUSHL100110
Omaha Lancers U16NAPHL13713204
Brendan van Riemsdyk (F)Jersey Devils U16AYHL2012102250
Christian BrothersJersey Prep931215-

News & Notes

United States Hockey League:

~ 2013 recruit Matias Cleland has posted 3 assists in his last 4 games. He is now the second leading scorer among all USHL defensemen and has the second-most assists (18 in 27 games).

~ Tyler Kelleher, who will be playing for UNH next season, has scored 2 goals and added 3 assists in his last 5 USHL games. Kelleher continues to be the leading scorer and goal scorer on the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 team. He also has a +/- rating of +7 which is the second best on Team USA.

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ Adam Clark, UNH's goalie of the future, lead the Salmon Arm SilverBacks to two victories against the West Kelowna Warriors last week. Clark faced 70 shots on goal and made 67 saves. Clark's save percentage of .928 places him in a tie for 3rd among all BCHL goalies.

Eastern Junior Hockey League:

~ Early in December, Jordan Masters aggravated an upper body injury and has missed several games. The Jersey Hitmen forward is ready to return to the lineup when the season resumes in early January.

Empire Junior Hockey League:

~ 2015 recruit Joe Masonius has been named to the Empire Junior Hockey League All-Star Team. The All-Star game will be played over the weekend of January 21 and 22 at the Tri-Town Ice Arena in Hooksett, NH. In his rookie season in the EmpJHL, the 15-year-old defenseman has scored 2 goals and added 9 assists in 12 games.

Friday, December 21, 2012

JvR "Loses" to Hartnell: Sandy Relief Wins

James van Riemsdyk would like to thank UNH fans for supporting his charity competition with Scott Hartnell. Together, they raised over $40,000 for Hurricane Sandy Relief.

Unfortunately, James lost his "bet" with Hartnell and here's a video clip of JvR paying off his debt.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Support JvR and Hurricane Sandy Relief

James van Riemsdyk and Scott Hartnell may not be competing on the ice this season but they are doing "battle" for a worthy cause. In the Power of 2 campaign, JvR and Hartnell are raising money for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

From his hometown of Middletown, NJ, van Riemsdyk is encouraging hockey fans to contribute to The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. Here's what the NJ fund is all about:
"Hurricane Sandy has brought unthinkable devastation to parts of the Garden State, destroying homes, businesses and some of New Jersey’s most identifiable icons. We are strong and resilient. We are proud New Jerseyans. We urge you to support our friends, neighbors and communities impacted by the storm. They need our help and need it quickly. Thank you for your generosity."
To assist JvR, UNH fans can click this link.

Not to be outdone, Hartnell is hoping fans will contribute to The Empire State Relief Fund:
"The Empire State Relief Fund was started in 2012 and is dedicated to providing resources to help recover from Hurricane Sandy and rebuild and restore homes.The fund is dedicated to bridging the gap between the amount covered by FEMA and insurance companies, and the amount that our fellow New Yorkers truly need to restore their civility and their livelihood."
If you're inclined to give Hartnell the edge and contribute to the New York fund, click this link.

Whoever you choose, please hurry - there's only 3 days left in the fundraiser.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

UNH Recruits Update: Dec-10-2012

Player of the Week - Matias Cleland

For the second time this season, Omaha Lancers' defenseman Matias Cleland gets the nod as Player of the Week among all UNH recruits. Cleland has become a key point producer for the Lancers, particularly on the power play. In victories last week against the USA Under-17 Team and the Lincoln Stars, Cleland posted 2 assists in each game. Three of the assists came on the power play.

In his second season in the United States Hockey League, the 18-year-old Cleland has accumulated 4 goals and 12 assists in 23 games. That makes Cleland the second leading scorer on the Lancers. He is also near the top in scoring among all USHL defensemen. Cleland is tied for 2nd in scoring and tied for 3rd in assists. Cleland has already exceeded his point total for last season (i.e., 14). Cleland is on target to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2013.

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 LancersUSHL204101410
Tyler Kelleher (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL95496
USA U18 TeamNCAA1364100
Dylan Maller (D)Tri-City StormUSHL2200024
Jordan Masters (F)Jersey HitmenEJHL822423
Andrew Poturalski (F)Cedar RapidsUSHL1646108
2013 or '14 Recruit
Michael McNicholas (F)Nanaimo ClippersBCHL281020306
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter (D)Merritt CentsBCHL27661217
Adam Clark (G)Salmon ArmBCHL178W7L2.53.924
Shane Eiserman (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL833621
USA U18 TeamNCAA133034
Cam Marks (D)Coquitlam ExpressBCHL192354
2015 Recruits
Charlie Kelleher (F)Junior Bruins U18USEHL38910198
Jason Kalinowski (F)Salisbury Prep NEPSHC2 35 8-
Joseph Masonius (D)Jersey HitmenEmpJHL10291114
2015 or '16 Recruit
Liam Darcy (D)Berwick Academy NEPSHC4 01 1-
Patrick Grasso (F)Des MoinesUSHL100110
Omaha Lancers U16NAPHL13712194
Brendan van Riemsdyk (F)Jersey Devils U16AYHL181192048
Christian BrothersJersey4268-

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2013 or 14 recruit Mike McNicholas, the center on the Nanaimo Clippers' top line, is producing at a rate of 1 point per game. In a 5-2 win over the Surrey Eagles, McNicholas scored a goal and an assist, and earned the #1 Star of the Game. With 10 goals, 20 assists and 30 points, McNicholas is now tied for 6th in assists in the BCHL and tied for 8th in scoring.

Prep School Hockey:

~ In a rematch between the teams who competed in the New Jersey State Non-Public High School Championship last season, Brendan van Riemsdyk and Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) tied arch rival Delbarton 3-3. BvR assisted on CBA's second goal on a power play. In two other wins last week, BvR added a goal and 5 assists. CBA now has a record of 3-0-1.

Team USA:

~ Spirited Under-18 National Team Ties UNH 2-2.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Spirited Under-18 National Team Ties UNH 2-2

DURHAM, NH - The Sunday matinee between the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) U-18 team and the top-ranked UNH Wildcats was billed as an "exhibition" game. What emerged was an entertaining, competitive battle with UNH controlling large portions of the first two periods and Team USA gaining confidence in the third period and in overtime.

Bolstered by a 3-1 victory over Merrimack College on Saturday afternoon, the top 17-year-old, American-born players were pumped for the opportunity to play the #1 college team. Though overmatched in the early stages, the NTDP U-18 players were skating full speed and initiating the majority of hits. With outstanding goaltending from Thatcher Demko and two quick goals midway through the third period by Anthony Louis and Tyler Motte, Team USA earned a 2-2 tie. Getting up for big games against top-ranked NCAA teams has become a habit. In mid-October, the U.S. Nationals played perennial powerhouse Minnesota. At the time, Minnesota had just moved down a notch from #1 to #2 in the national rankings. Team USA tied the Gophers 2-2 in that game as well.

Between The Lines

The Forward Lines & Defensive Pairings
~ Starting Lineup: Maxim Gaudreault (LW) - Kevin Goumas (C) - John Henrion (RW); Eric Knodel (LD)- Connor Hardowa (RD); Jeff Wyer (Goalie)
~ Forward Lines: Speelman-Downing-Block; Thrush-Sorkin-Correale; MacDonald-Pavelski-Smith; Defensive Pairings: Quast-van Riemsdyk; Kostolansky-Pesce.
~ Coach Umile tried some new combinations. New top line centered by junior Goumas, freshman Gaudreault at left wing and senior Henrion at right wing.
~ Only forward line kept in tact was Speelman-Downing-Block, but dropped to 2nd line.
~ Freshman forward Kyle Smith played in his first UNH game. Fellow freshman Harry Quast (D) played in his second game of the season.
~ Junior forward Jeff Silengo and second-year defenseman Justin Agosta were out of the lineup.
~ Junior Jeff Wyer got his first start in goal. In his last outing, Wyer replaced Casey DeSmith in the Denver game and earned the win.

The UNH Recruits

As noted in the preview for Sunday's game, two UNH recruits got the rare opportunity to play against their future college team. 2013 recruit Tyler Kelleher and 2014 recruit Shane Eiserman eagerly anticipated playing against UNH at the Whittemore Center.

Tyler Kelleher:
Kelleher (DOB: 1/2/1995), a 5'6", 164 lbs, right-shot center, entered the game as the leading goal scorer and point-getter for the U-18 NTDP. In 25 games, Kelleher had scored 13 goals and added 12 assists. In the 3-1 victory over Merrimack on Saturday, Kelleher scored the first goal of the game and assisted on the second, which turned out to be the game-winner.

Kelleher centered Team USA's second line which lead to an interesting matchup with Grayson Downing, a highly-skilled center whose line typically starts for UNH. On the first shift of the afternoon, Downing delivered a stout body check to Kelleher into the boards behind UNH goalie Jeff Wyer. With about 5 minutes left in the first period, Kelleher wheeled with the puck out of the corner to the right of his goalie gaining a step on Downing. In a few strides, Downing caught up and bumped Kelleher off the puck. On his first shift of the second period, Kelleher gathered the puck just outside his blueline, carried it through the neutral zone, rushed deep into the UNH end, and fired a wrist shot forcing Jeff Wyer to make a nice save.

Though faceoff statistics are not available, Kelleher won several more faceoffs than he lost throughout the game. On most of the U.S. National's five power play opportunities, USA coach Don Granato sent Kelleher out on their first unit. Early in the second period with Nick Sorkin in the penalty box, Kelleher won a faceoff and subsequently made a nifty spin move in traffic between the faceoff circles but was checked off the puck. In the waning minutes of the period, Austin Block was penalized for cross-checking. Again, Kelleher won the faceoff at the start of the power play. He then almost created Team USA's only opportunity for a shot on goal by making a nice centering pass but his teammate could not catch up with it. Just over a minute into the final period, Brett Pesce was called for interference. Kelleher won the initial faceoff on the power play against Downing.

Overall, Tyler Kelleher was one of the best passers and play-makers on the U-18 NTDP squad. He was fast and quick, created room with the puck in tight spaces, and dished out some accurate passes. UNH fans won't have to wait too long to see Kelleher in a UNH uniform. A few weeks ago, he signed a National Letter of Intent to enroll at UNH next fall.

Shane Eiserman:
At 6'2" and 190 lbs., Shane Eiserman (DOB: 10/10/1995) - a left-shot, left winger - is a prototypical power forward. As the third-youngest player on the team, Eiserman has posted some impressive numbers. In 23 games, he has scored 7 goals and added 4 assists. In his very first regular season game with Team USA, an 8-1 victory over the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL), Eiserman scored 2 goals, including the game winner, and added an assist. So far this season, 2 of his goals have been short-handed.

In the UNH game, Eiserman played left wing on the fourth line with Dawson Cook at center and Kevin Labanc on right wing. Though their line saw somewhat limited minutes, they generated 3 shots on goal. Eiserman is a strong skater who is difficult to bump off the puck. In the offensive zone, Eiserman firmly establishes his position in prime scoring zones.

Unlike most of his teammates who are seniors in high school, Shane Eiserman is a junior. Eiserman is on target to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2014. He has committed to play at UNH once he finishes high school. Eiserman plans to play in the United States Hockey League next season during his senior year. He will be eligible for the NHL Entry Draft in June, 2014. There is already buzz in the scouting community about the possibility of Eiserman being drafted in one of the top rounds.

Game Summary

First Period:
With 9 players at 6 feet, 185 lbs. or more, Team USA established their physical game early on. Overall, they threw substantially more body checks throughout the game. With a few notable exceptions, UNH seemed content to skate and pass rather than mix it up in the corners and along the boards.

UNH's speed and skill allowed them to maintain territorial advantage for most of the first period. Midway in the period, junior Nick Sorkin carried the puck around the top of the faceoff circle to the right of USA goalie Thatcher Demko and through the slot. Sorkin fired a close in shot which Demko saved but left as a rebound. Sophomore Casey Thrush was parked just to the right of Demko and banged the rebound home. UNH 1, Team USA 0.

So far this season in Hockey East action, UNH has only allowed one goal in 39 penalty kill situations - the best in the conference. Their dominance on the penalty kill was evident throughout the game. After freshman Dan Correale was called for interference just two minutes into the game, UNH killed the penalty without allowing a shot on goal.

Shots on Goal: UNH 13, U.S. NTDP 8.

Second Period:
The Under-18 Nationals maintained their aggressive play and it started to get under UNH's skin. About 5 minutes into the period, Nick Sorkin made a nice rush toward the net but was knocked off the puck with a heavy hit. Soon after, Sorkin retaliated with a hooking penalty. Each team posted a shot on goal during the power play.

Midway through the second period, defenseman Trevor Hamilton and senior Austin Block bumped and hit at each other before and after the whistle. Block was aggravated and energized by this exchange and became much more aggressive.

At the 11:10 mark, defenseman Gage Ausmus and John Henrion got into a physical altercation and both were penalized for high-sticking. This set up a 4-on-4 situation. After UNH swept UMass-Lowell two weekends ago, junior Kevin Goumas commented on how effective he and Grayson Downing had become when they are on the ice together. The 4-on-4 gave them another opportunity to create a scoring opportunity. From the top of the faceoff circle to the right of Demko, Downing zipped a pass to Goumas just to the left of Demko. Goumas was in too tight for a shot so he skated away from the crease and lifted a backhand shot high into the net. At that juncture, UNH was in total command of the game leading 2-0 and outshooting Team USA 21-12.

Team USA responded by stepping up the pace and the physicality. 6'4", 210 lbs. freshman defenseman Harry Quast was creamed along the half-wall. With 2 minutes remaining, Austin Block channeled his frustration with the physical play of Team USA by cross-checking one of their players. Once again, UNH's penalty kill unit shut Team USA down. For nearly a minute, Downing and Goumas skated the puck, passed to one another, and kept the puck away from Team USA. UNH did not allow an SOG.

Third Period:
Over the first two periods, the U-18 team was unable to generate many grade A scoring chances. This was due, in part, to the tendency of individuals attempting to single-handedly create offense on their own. In the third period, Team USA became more effective at passing the puck.

Even so, UNH had control of the game over the first half of the final period. At 1:31, Brett Pesce was called for interference. During the penalty kill, Connor Hardowa blocked a shot headed for Wyer and cleared the puck. With 25 seconds left in the Team USA power play, Michael McCarron was called for roughing. This lead to a 4-on-4 situation. Each team registered two shots on goal. UNH had a brief 5-on-4 advantage but did not generate any shots.

Seconds after the power play ended, UNH had a golden opportunity to put the game out of reach but goalie Thatcher Demko came up big. Grayson Downing and Austin Block broke into the Team USA zone on a 2-on-1 and Downing fed Block just to the side of the crease. Demko made a stellar pad save.

At the 6:20 mark, Team USA left the door wide open for UNH by drawing a two-minute penalty for tripping. First, Connor Hardowa blasted a shot from the point. Demko saved. Next, Trevor van Riemsdyk fired a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle that was labeled for an opening just over Demko's blocker. Demko save. Score remained 2-0.

With just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, the Under-18's were buzzing around the UNH net. Anthony Lewis was allowed to race behind the net and sneak a wrap-around shot to Wyer's left. After a brief video review, the goal stood. UNH 2, Team USA 1.

The last thing UNH wanted to do was allow a team of 17-year-olds to get a big burst of adrenaline but that's what happened. Just 36 seconds after their first goal, the Team USA forwards were again buzzing around the net and Tyler Motte poked home a shot from in close. Game tied 2-2 and the Nationals were celebrating.

About a minute and 1/2 later, it looked like the UNH wheels might fall off. Nick Sorkin was called for tripping. Instead, Trevor van Riemsdyk nearly created a short-handed goal by snaking the puck from his own end through the neutral zone, and into the U-18 end. He then fed Austin Block for a one-timer but Demko made another huge save.

Next, it was Jeff Wyer's turn to make some big saves. At the 14:32 mark, Tyler Motte fired a wrister from the top of the face off circle. Wyer gloved it. With the final seconds ticking away, Team USA crashed the UNH zone on a 3-on-2 break but Wyer made another save. Shots on Goal: UNH 34, Team USA 27. Headed to overtime.

Early in overtime, Team USA turned up the forechecking pressure in the UNH zone and gained a couple shots on goal.

With just over a minute left, Thatcher Demko made another game-saving stop. From the faceoff circle to the right of Demko, Kevin Goumas threaded a pass to John Henrion who was wide open in the low slot. Demko made the save on Henrion's point blank shot.

Both teams posted 3 SOG in overtime but the game ended in a 2-2 tie.

Points of Interest

~ The promenade of the Whittemore Center was loaded with NHL scouts. With at least 10 players on the NTDP U-18 team projected to get drafted in the June 2013 NHL Entry Draft, there was plenty for the scouts to watch. In addition, UNH has a number of talented players, not drafted in June 2012, who are, no doubt, attracting attention. Players such as Trevor van Riemsdyk, Casey DeSmith, and Grayson Downing.

~ Numerous family members and friends of Team USA players were also in attendance. That's where the cheering for the U-18 team came from. Among them were UNH recruit Charlie Kelleher, his father and his cousin - all there to support Tyler in the big game.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

UNH Recruits Update: Dec-3-2012

Player of the Week - Jason Kalinowski

Last season, the Salisbury School (in Northwestern Connecticut) was one of, if not the, top team in New England Prep Hockey. They finished the regular season ranked #1 and received the #1 seed in the Elite Eight Tournament. The Crimson Knights were lead by seniors Philip Zielonka (Harvard commit), Zack Pryzbek (Brown), John Stevens (son of LA Kings' assistant coach; Northeastern commit) and captain Marc Biega (Harvard hopeful). In the midst of the fanfare surrounding Salisbury and their top players, junior forward and UNH recruit Jason Kalinowski (DOB: 7/2/1995) quietly compiled an impressive record. Kalinowski finished the regular season with 12 goals and 15 assists in 25 games. That made Kalinowski the 2nd leading goal scorer on the Salisbury squad and the 3rd leading point getter.

In the opening round of the Elite Eight tourney, Kalinowski exploded with 2 goals and an assist in a 6-0 victory over Cushing Academy. However, Salisbury's season ended in disappointment as they lost in the semifinals to Lawrence Academy; who went on to win the NE Prep Championship. Salisbury fans were left wondering whether their team could overcome the loss of so many key seniors and make another run at the championship this season. And, who would emerge as top players? If the first two games of the 2012-13 season are any indication of what's to come, then an answer to this later question is Jason Kalinowski.

In the first game of the season, the Salisbury School blew out Williston-Northampton 7-0. Kalinowski scored a power play goal and assisted on 4 other goals. Two days later, Kalinowski lead the Crimson Knights to a 3-1 victory over Millbrook Academy. Kalinowski assisted on Salisbury's first goal, scored the game winning goal on a power play, and finished the game off with Salisbury's third goal. So far in this very young season, Jason Kalinowski has the second highest points per game (4.0) in New England Prep School hockey.

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 LancersUSHL18461010
Tyler Kelleher  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL95496
USA U18 TeamNCAA115380
Dylan Maller  (D)Tri-City StormUSHL2000024
Jordan Masters  (F)Jersey HitmenEJHL822423
Andrew Poturalski (F)Cedar RapidsUSHL1446106
2013 or '14 Recruit
Michael McNicholas  (F)Nanaimo ClippersBCHL27919286
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter  (D)Merritt CentsBCHL25661213
Adam Clark  (G)Salmon ArmBCHL167W7L2.54.923
Shane Eiserman  (F)USA U18 TeamUSHL833621
USA U18 TeamNCAA113034
Cam Marks  (D)Coquitlam ExpressBCHL192354
2015 Recruits
Charlie Kelleher  (F)Junior Bruins U18USEHL38910198
Jason Kalinowski  (F)Salisbury Prep NEPSHC2 35 8-
Joseph Masonius  (D)Jersey HitmenEmpJHL10291114
2015 or '16 Recruit
Liam Darcy  (D)Berwick Academy NEPSHC3 01 1-
Patrick Grasso (F)Des MoinesUSHL100110
Omaha Lancers U16NAPHL13712194
Brendan van Riemsdyk (F)Jersey Devils U16AYHL181192048
Christian BrothersJersey1112-

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2013 or 14 recruit Mike McNicholas continued to rack up assists with the Nanaimo Clippers. In two games last week, McNicholas posted 4 assists. His 19 assists places him in a tie for 6th in the BCHL.

Prep School Hockey:

~ UNH's newest recruit, Brendan van Riemsdyk and his Christian Brothers Academy team opened their season with a 7-1 win over Marlboro. BvR scored the game winning goal and added an assist.

Midget Minor Hockey

~ 2015 or 16 recruit Patrick Grasso splits his playing time between the Omaha Lancers U16 team (NAPHL) and the Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL). Last week, Grasso played 4 games with Omaha and scored 3 goals and 3 assists. He currently has the 3rd highest assists in the North American Prospects Hockey League and is the 6th leading scorer.

Team USA

~ Don't forget, Tyler Kelleher, Shane Eiserman, and the U.S. NTDP U-18 team are coming to New England. This Saturday, Dec. 8th at 4:00 PM, Team USA plays at Merrimack College.
On Sunday, Dec. 9th at 4:00 PM, Team USA plays UNH at the Whittemore Center.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Kelleher, Eiserman and Team USA Coming to UNH


On the afternoon of Sunday, December 9th, the top 17-year-old, American hockey players will faceoff against the UNH Wildcats at the Whittemore Center in Durham, NH. Although the U.S. National Under-18 Team is made up of juniors and seniors in high school, they already have extensive experience competing against teams from the NCAA, the United States Hockey League, and top European Junior Hockey leagues. These elite players have been honing their skills in USA Hockey's National Team Development Program (NTDP) based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

So far this season, the NTDP U-18 team has played exhibition games against NCAA Division I power houses Wisconsin, Notre Dame, North Dakota, Cornell, and Minnesota plus Bemidji State and Alabama-Huntsville. Against the big 5, the U-18 team tied Notre Dame (1-1) and Minnesota (2-2) but lost to Wisconsin (0-5), North Dakota (4-6) and Cornell (2-6). In the other Division I matchups, Team USA beat Alabama-Huntsville 6-2 in Game 1 and tied them 1-1 in Game 2, and were defeated by Bemidji State 3-4. Against Division III schools Oswego State, St. Thomas University and St. Mary's University, Team USA has dominated winning all three games.

It's always a treat when Team USA comes to town. The last time they played UNH was back in October, 2006. In the 6-1 victory, UNH defeated a U-18 team which featured future Wildcat James van Riemsdyk.

The upcoming matchup between UNH and NTDP U-18 will be particularly special for two players - Tyler Kelleher and Shane Eiserman. Kelleher, a 5'6", 164 lbs. center for Team USA, is committed to play for UNH next season. Eiserman, a 6'2", 196 lbs. left winger, is on target to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2014.

Tyler Kelleher - #19

Tyler Kelleher (DOB: 1/2/1995), the right-shot center on the top line for the NTDP U-18 team, is the team's leading scorer and goal scorer. In 23 games (10 NCAA, 9 USHL, and 4 International games), Kelleher has scored 12 goals, including 4 power play goals, and added 11 assists. In mid-November, Kelleher and Team USA won the Under-18 Four Nations Tournament facing teams from Switzerland, Finland, and Sweden. Kelleher was the leading scorer in the tournament posting 2 goals and 4 assists in 4 games.

Tyler Kelleher was selected by USA Hockey and the NHL Central Scouting Service to participate in the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in late September. The game featured 40 of the top American-born prospects eligible for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Kelleher assisted on one of the two goals scored by his team.

In December, 2010, Kelleher verbally accepted a scholarship offer to play for the University of New Hampshire. At the time, he was a freshman at Deerfield Academy and their second-leading scorer. The previous season, Kelleher had lead Longmeadow High School to the Massachusetts Division III Championship. In March, 2010, Kelleher was one of 40 top American-born players, born in 1995, to be invited to try out for the prestigious U.S. NTDP. Kelleher was selected to join the NTDP Under-17 team and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to advance his hockey career and attend high school. In the 2011-12 season, Kelleher was the leading scorer (26 goals, 22 assists) on the Under-17 team and the second leading goal scorer.

A couple weeks ago, Tyler Kelleher signed the National Letter of Intent to attend UNH next fall. I recently had an opportunity to interview Tyler about his experiences with Team USA and his commitment to UNH:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Growing up in Western Massachusetts (Longmeadow), how familiar were you with UNH hockey? What factors lead you to commit to UNH?
Tyler Kelleher: Growing up in Longmeadow, I didn't attend any UNH games. I went to many UMass Amherst games and I always dreamed of playing in Hockey East. I thought college hockey was the coolest thing to watch. When I got the opportunity to play for a Hockey East team like UNH, it was a no-brainer. I really love the coaching staff and the atmosphere.

Mike Lowry: Have you ever played a game at the Whittemore Center? What's it like to play on olympic-sized rinks (as opposed to the smaller NHL ice surfaces)?
Tyler Kelleher: I've played in one game at UNH two summers ago in a tournament. I loved the rink and I really liked how big the ice surface was. I think it is definitely an advantage for me as a smaller player with more space.

Lowry: Last season, as a member of the U.S. NTDP U-17 team, you played against teams in the United States Hockey League as well as international competition. This season, you've added games against NCAA teams such as North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame. Has the competition in the college games been different for you and if so, what adjustments have you made in your game?
Kelleher: So far this year, it has been extremely cool to play against some of the best colleges in the country. It feels like yesterday I was idolizing these kids. I've been a big fan of Danny Kristo of North Dakota and when we played them, I was going to line up against him on the opening faceoff. During our pregame preparation, our coach wrote on the board in the locker room "Kelleher, get your autograph after the game". So that was pretty funny.
As for my game, there is definitely an adjustment. Strength is the biggest difference. You have to make quicker decisions. Also there is less time and space. It has been a dream come true to have this opportunity.

Shane Eiserman - #28

Shane Eiserman (DOB: 10/10/1995), is a left-shot, left winger from West Newbury, Massachusetts. Last summer, Eiserman made the big jump from prep school hockey directly to the NTDP U-18 team (i.e., he did not play on the Under-17 team). As the third-youngest player on the team, Eiserman has posted some impressive numbers. In 20 games, he has scored 7 goals and added 4 assists. In his very first regular season game with Team USA, an 8-1 victory over the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL), Eiserman scored 2 goals, including the game winner, and added an assist. The prototypical strong forward is also a key player on Team USA's penalty kill. So far, he has potted 2 short-handed goals. In the 2012 Under-18 Four Nations Tournament Eiserman made a strong contribution to the Team USA victory. In 4 games, he scored a short-handed goal and an assist, and finished with a +/- rating of +1.

Shane Eiserman just turned 17 years old in October and is a junior in high school. He will be eligible for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft to be held in June, 2014. Eiserman is on target to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2014. He has committed to play at UNH once he finishes high school. Eiserman will play in the United States Hockey League next season during his senior year.

Eiserman made his verbal commitment to UNH in August 2011. He had just completed a season playing for St. John's Prep School (Danvers, MA). St. John's advanced to the championship game of the Massachusetts Super 8 tournament but lost 3-4 in overtime to Malden Catholic. Overall (regular season plus playoffs), Eiserman scored 24 goals and 28 assists for a total of 52 points and was named by ESPN Boston to the Massachusetts All-Rookie Team.

Last season, as a sophomore at Cushing Academy (Ashburnham, MA), Eiserman scored 18 goals and 26 assists in 29 games and was the leading goal scorer on the team. His impressive performance last summer at the USA Hockey Select 17 Development Camp helped earn him an invitation to join the NTDP U-18 team.

I also had an opportunity to interview Shane about Team USA and UNH:

  Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): I've read that you wanted to go to UNH since you were a little kid. Would you share some memories you have of watching UNH hockey when you were a youngster?
Shane Eiserman: Yes, I have wanted to go to UNH since I was a little kid. Growing up, I would always love pretending to play for UNH, during street hockey with my brothers and friends. Christmas after Christmas when I was younger, my God Mother Christie would always get me tickets for the hockey games and some sort of UNH apparel to go with them. The jerseys and the UNH atmosphere really stood out to me.

  Mike Lowry: Have you ever played a game at the Whittemore Center? What's it like to play on olympic-sized rinks (as opposed to the smaller NHL ice surfaces)?
Shane Eiserman: Yes, I have played there before in a couple of summer tournaments. I really like the olympic sized rink because your speed is a huge advantage and you are able to make more things happen with more time.

Lowry: You just turned 17 and you've already played several games against NCAA teams such as North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame. Last season, you were playing prep school hockey for Cushing Academy. What adjustments have you made in your game in order to compete at this advanced level?
Eiserman: The adjustment I am continuing to make is just to simplify my game. Everything is at a much faster pace so there is really no time with the puck. At this level, when you try and make things look too pretty, they will end up in the back of your net. I will continue to not look for the prettiest play, but the right one.

In addition to Tyler Kelleher and Shane Eiserman, Team USA features a number of 17- year-old players projected to be drafted in the 2013 NHL Draft next June. The following 10 members of the NTDP U-18 team were included on the NHL Central Scouting Service's Players to Watch list in September:
Forwards - J.T. Compher, Hudson Fasching, Mike McCarron, Tyler Motte, Evan Allen, and Dawson Cook.
Defensemen - Will Butcher, Steve Santini, Keaton Thompson, and Trevor Hamilton.
Compher and Fasching were identified as having the potential to be drafted in the 1st Round.
The exhibition game on Sunday at the Whittemore Center has all the ingredients for an entertaining and competitive matchup.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

#2 UNH Sweeps Season Series with UMass-Lowell

LOWELL, MA - The team with the best winning percentage in college hockey has a target on its back. Opponents will try anything to bring the top dog down. Last night, UMass-Lowell took its last shot at UNH in their season series finale and missed. UNH (Overall: 11-1-2; Hockey East: 8-1-1) fended off UMass-Lowell's (Overall: 4-7-1; Hockey East: 2-6-1) final assault 5-2 at the Tsongas Arena.

As anticipated, the River Hawks attempted to intimidate the Wildcats by knocking them around - sometimes during play, sometimes after the whistle. It didn't work. UNH absorbed the hits, adapted, and eventually gained control of the game. So far this season, UNH has proven it can beat any team no matter what style of hockey the opponent executes.

There are a few Division I teams who have only lost 2 games this season - Denver (WCHA), Miami (CCHA), BC (Hockey East), Dartmouth and Yale (ECAC), and Niagara (ACHA). UNH stands atop the pack with only one loss. Dartmouth will get a crack at UNH at the Ledyard National Bank Classic in Hanover at the end of December. And, of course, there is the much anticipated series of games against BC - two in January, one in February. As of today, BC is ranked #1 and UNH #2.

Photo courtesy of Walter Rossini

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: Thrush-Goumas-Gaudreault; Sorkin-Silengo-Henrion; MacDonald-Pavelski-Camper; Defensive Pairings: Kostolansky-Agosta; Knodel-Pesce.
~ During warmups, freshman Dan Correale was in uniform as an extra forward. Grayson Downing, who injured his left leg Friday night, appeared to be favoring it in warmups but his mobility had improved. Correale may have warmed up as a possible backup. Downing was good to go and Correale was not in the lineup.
~ For now, freshman Maxim Gaudreault has earned a regular slot on the second line. Fellow freshmen Collin MacDonald and Dan Correale have been taking turns on the fourth line.

Game Summary

First Period:
UML came out banging from the start. Their prime tactic was to immediately hit whichever UNH player made the first pass to move the puck up ice. The UNH players were adept at making the pass and ducking out of the way in the same motion. However, UML was somewhat effective at disrupting the flow of UNH's puck movement.

Kevin Goumas was a prime target for UML's assault. On his second shift, two UML players simultaneously stood him up with body checks. Goumas grabbed his right shoulder and his right arm was hanging a bit as he skated up ice into the UNH zone. Goumas then blocked a close-in UML shot at Casey DeSmith.

Goumas came right back out on the next shift and showed no signs of injury. For good measure, he hacked at a UML defender after the puck moved out of the UML zone. One of the referees was a few feet away but overlooked the obvious slashing. Perhaps a makeup, non-call.

Over the first 7 minutes of play, UNH held a 4-1 advantage in SOG. UML generated little offense and iced the puck a couple of times.

With a little over 9 minutes left in the period, UML's Steven Buco scored his first goal of the game. Casey DeSmith was on his knees and the puck was just sitting near the crease. Buco slid the puck under DeSmith's pads.

With 8 minutes left, a UML player skated down the left wing on a partial breakaway and hit the post. Scott Pavelski was penalized for interference as he attempted to disrupt the play.

On the subsequent power play, UML generated 3 SOG but did not score.

Matching penalties at 15:01 lead to 4-on-4 play. That's when UNH stepped up the offensive pressure. Senior Captain Connor Hardowa blasted a slap shot from the right point that goalie Doug Carr juggled. In fact, Carr fumbled a number of shots in the first period.

A UML penalty gave UNH a 4-on-3 advantage. Second-year defenseman Eric Knodel unloaded a slapper from the top of the faceoff circle and hit the post. After the power play, UNH took over the momentum and territorial play.

With the final seconds ticking away and UNH forcing the offense, John Henrion fired on Carr and the rebound went out to Knodel. He was positioned in nearly the identical spot at the top of faceoff circle. This time, Eric Knodel (4th goal of season) zipped a wrist shot into the high corner of the net.

Shots on Goal: UNH 13, UML 8.

Second Period:
UNH's momentum carried throughout the second period. Just over a minute into the period, Kevin Goumas fed second-year defenseman Justin Agosta (1st goal of season) at the top of the faceoff circle to the left of UML goalie Doug Carr. Agosta's wrist shot beat Carr low to his glove side. Carr appeared to be partially screened.

UNH's only hiccup in the period came less than a minute after the Agosta goal. Scott Wilson carried the puck across the front of the crease. Casey DeSmith appeared to try and anticipate a shot and waived his stick out in front of him. Though Wilson was unable to get the shot away, DeSmith ended up out of position to the right of the goal crease. Wilson centered a pass to Buco who poked it into the open net. Score tied 2-2.

A minute later, Trevor van Riemsdyk threaded a pass from just inside the UNH blueline to Austin Block who had just crossed the red line. Block went in on a breakaway and hit the post. In the process, Block was hooked by a UML player. I thought a penalty shot was warranted but a 2-minute penalty was called instead.

Less than a minute into the UNH power play, Kevin Goumas was pushed and shoved along the half boards after the whistle had blown. Goumas had enough. He retaliated and was penalized for hitting after the whistle. UNH killed off the penalty only allowing 1 SOG.

In the middle portion of the stanza, UNH played a more wide-open style and generated 6 SOG to UML's 0.

At the 10:30 mark, sophomore Jay Camper, once again, was slammed head-first into the boards. The referees could have chosen between a boarding, hitting-from-behind, or attempt to injure penalty. However, they did not call any penalty. Camper, who has dealt with recurring concussion symptoms, left the ice under his own power and later rejoined the action.

With a 8 and 1/2 minutes left in the period, Alternate Captain Brett Kostolansky made a beautiful pass from the point across ice to junior Dalton Speelman, positioned next to the net to the left of goalie Carr. Speelman (3rd goal of season) took one whack at the puck, Carr made the save but left the rebound. Speelman whacked it a second time and it when in the net. This turned out to be the game winning goal.

With 4 minutes left, Kevin Goumas lead a 3-on-2 break into the UML zone, shot, and hit the post.

UNH outshot UML 11-4 in the second period and held an overall advantage of 24-12.

Third Period:
In the final period, Casey DeSmith looked sharper and made some big-time saves.

Just over a minute into the third period, Connor Hardowa was boarded into the half-wall. In the ensuing powerplay, UNH executed a few dump-and-chase maneuvers but was mostly unable to setup in the zone or effectively pass the puck around. They did generate 3 SOG.

With 15 minutes remaining, Casey DeSmith positioned himself perfectly and saved a point blank shot. Brett Kostolansky then effectively battled for the puck, came away with it, and made a nice breakout pass.

At the 13:42 mark, freshman Maxim Gaudreault was called for tripping. This was UML's big chance to tie the game but UNH shut them down. Trevor van Riemsdyk single-handedly killed off 20 seconds of the power play by carrying the puck end-to-end. Shortly after, with the puck back in the UNH zone, TvR swatted away a loose puck in the crease in front of DeSmith. UML managed only 1 SOG.

A half minute after the UML power play ended, DeSmith alertly saved a misdirected UNH pass that flew in front of the crease.

With 9 minutes left on the clock, freshman defenseman Brett Pesce scored his first NCAA goal. Jeff Silengo won a faceoff in the UML end and the puck got back to Pesce on the right point. Pesce threaded a wrist shot past Carr who was partially screened. UNH 4, UML 2.

Shortly after the Pesce goal, Casey DeSmith made his biggest series of saves of the game. A UML player, positioned in the low slot, shot once and DeSmith blocked it with his right pad. The UML player tried to knock the rebound home but DeSmith gloved it.

With 2 minutes remaining, a scrum for the puck erupted around DeSmith. After a couple seconds, DeSmith covered up the puck. The sequence was reviewed on video replay because there were so many players crowded in and around the crease. The referees ruled no goal.

With a minute left, UML pulled Carr from the net. Grayson Downing gathered the puck just over the UNH blueline and sent Dalton Speelman (4th goal of season) in alone for the empty net goal. UNH 5, UML 2.

Final Shots on Goal: UNH 35, UML 24. Video Highlights available on

UNH Stars of the Game

#1 Star - Eric Knodel
~ Knodel could have easily had 2 goals in the game. Just prior to his wrist shot goal, he fired a slap shot from a similar position and nearly beat Carr.
~ Knodel's defensive play was solid, once again, and he finished with a +/- rating of +1.

#2 Star - Dalton Speelman
~ Both of Speelman's goals, including the game winner, were the result of him being in the right place at the right time.
~ Speelman generated 3 shots on goal and finished with a +2 rating.

#3 Star - Brett Pesce
~ The 18-year-old Pesce has been a regular in every UNH game this season. He gets credit for scoring his first NCAA goal of his college hockey career.
~ In addition to Pesce's solid defensive play - his overall +/- rating is +2 - he typically carries the puck into the UNH zone a few times each game.

Points of Interest

~ Unless UMass-Lowell manages to make the Hockey East Playoffs and draws a first-round matchup with UNH, the Wildcats have seen the last of them for this season. That's good news. Lowell played a punishing, physical game in the last two games of the series.
~ A vocal and sizable contingent of UNH students, in addition to many other UNH fans, made the Tsongas Arena a more hospitable rink for the visiting Wildcats.
~ With Boston College losing to BU on Friday - their second loss of the season - it will be interesting to see the weekly national rankings on Monday. Last week, UNH received 1 first place vote and they are bound to pick up a few more this week.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

#2 UNH Downs Pesky UMass-Lowell 5-2

DURHAM, NH - Two Fridays ago, UNH went into the Tsongas Arena on the campus of UMass-Lowell and embarrassed the River Hawks 3-0. On that night, UML was outworked and outhustled in a lackluster performance. A noticeably more determined UML team took to the ice at the Whittemore Center this evening in front of a nearly packed house. The River Hawks took their skating, passing and hitting up a couple of notches but to no avail. The #2 Ranked UNH Wildcats (Overall: 10-1-2; Hockey East: 7-1-1) handed UML (Overall: 4-6-1; Hockey East: 2-5-1) a convincing 5-2 loss.

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: Thrush-Goumas-Gaudreault; Sorkin-Silengo-Henrion; Correale-Pavelski-Willows; Defensive Pairings: Kostolansky-Agosta; Knodel-Pesce.
~ This marks the second game in a row that freshman Maxim Gaudreault has played right wing on the second line.

Game Summary

As they had done last Friday at Colorado College, UNH built up a comfortable 4-0 lead on goals by Grayson Downing (6th and 7th goals of season), John Henrion (4th goal of season), and Kevin Goumas (7th goal of season). However, with less than a minute remaining in the 2nd period, an unfortunate series of events lead to UML's first goal of the night and the spark they needed.

It all began in the UML zone as the puck was transitioning into neutral ice. First line center Grayson Downing somehow hurt his left leg and could barely limp off the ice as the play continued. It was not obvious from my vantage point what caused the injury but Downing was in trouble. When he got to the UNH bench, he went down on all fours and was in obvious pain. It would take two UNH staff to help him limp down the runway and into the locker room.

In the time it took for Downing to hobble to the bench, UML rushed into the UNH zone. UML gained control of the puck below the goal line and Joe Pendenza made a blind, backhand centering pass into the slot. Shayne Thompson banged home a one-timer with 2 seconds left on the clock. It was the first goal UML had scored against Casey DeSmith in 5 periods.

As the teams awaited the puck drop to begin the 3rd Period, Downing managed to line up for the faceoff but he was clearly favoring his left leg. As the first shift progressed, Downing regained some of his normal mobility. Downing got to rest his leg a little more when matching penalties were called on he and a UML player. For the remainder of the game, Downing did not miss a shift.

UNH fans who watched the Colorado College game last week experienced a touch of deja vu with about 13 minutes left in the 3rd period. UML got to within 2 goals of UNH on a quick play around the UNH net. Casey DeSmith made the initial save on a turnaround shot from the faceoff circle to his left but the puck floated in the air in front of DeSmith. Michael Colantone batted the puck out of midair and past DeSmith. At the time, the shots on goal were even with 30 for each team.

From the 12:00 mark in the 3rd period until the 3:00 mark, Casey DeSmith made a series of clutch saves to maintain UNH's 2-goal lead. In a 15-second spurt with a little less than 10 minutes to play, UML fired three shots at close range and DeSmith saved them all. With 8 minutes remaining, a UML shot went wide of the goal but ricocheted off the back wall and bounced out toward DeSmith. It was eerily similar to the Denver goal which went off the backboards, off DeSmith's skate, and into the net. This time, however, DeSmith covered up the puck with his glove.

UNH's leading goal scorer, senior Austin Block (9th goal of season), drove the final nail into the UML coffin on a borderline brilliant-borderline desperate turnaround shot from the right faceoff circle. Jeff Silengo fed Block high in the slot, Block skated between a couple UML players to the faceoff circle, wheeled and fired. UNH 5, UML 2.

Video highlights of all the goals are available on

UNH Stars of the Game

#1 Star - Grayson Downing
~ Downing's first goal of the game was a thing of beauty. UNH was killing off a penalty when Kevin Goumas sent Downing in alone. Watch the replay and notice how Downing fakes the UML goalie Doug Carr by shifting his weight and beats him with a backhand shot.
~ Downing's second goal of the night came as he was parked all alone at the top of the crease and one-timed a centering pass from Austin Block.
~ Downing showed he was a gamer by playing the third period on a bum left leg.

#2 Star - Casey DeSmith
~ Casey DeSmith made 34 saves and looked sharp doing it. It was a critical bounce back performance after his short night against Denver last Saturday.

#3 Star - Austin Block
~ In just 13 games, Senior Austin Block has already scored 9 goals. In his first 3 seasons at UNH, he scored 10 goals combined.
~ Austin Block is the leading goal scorer in Hockey East competition. How many fans would have predicted that before the season began?

Points of Interest

~ There was an abundance of hitting, pushing and shoving after the whistle with UML appearing to be the instigator on most occasions. Look for a physical game Saturday night in Lowell.
~ In addition to the reliably packed student sections, most of the other seats at the Whitt were filled with appreciative fans.
~ There's a chance that Jay Camper will return to the lineup Saturday after missing three games following a hit to the head in the last game against Lowell.

Web Site Hit Counter

Firefox 2