UNH's New Energy Line: Correale-Camper-Willows
The line of Dan Correale (LW), Jay Camper (Ctr), and Matt Willows (RW) has been receiving accolades for helping spark UNH's 3-2 overtime defeat of Bemidji State in the consolation game of the Ledyard Bank Classic - and rightfully so. In the post-game press conference, Coach Umile complimented them:
"They played well all night. They definitely bring a lot of energy and they play hard and they're all quick, but they did more than that. They managed the puck well."Sophomore Grayson Downing, who got UNH on the scoreboard with a power play goal, said:
"I think they were in the O-zone more than any other line. That's huge when the so-called fourth line is doing that for our team. I think they did exactly what they needed to do. It was nice to see those guys get rewarded like that."In a feature article by Al Pike in this morning's Foster's Daily Democrat, Matt Willows reflected on what the effort meant to he and his linemates:
"We’re definitely an energy line. We just wanted to go out there and give everything we’ve got, and I think we did that. We didn’t play the night before, but once you get in there you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity you’re given and see what you can do."
|Opening Faceoff UNH vs Bemidji State (Photo: Mike Lowry)|
Following Dartmouth's 4-1 win over UNH in the opening round of the Ledyard Tournament, the Wildcats were not headed in the right direction. Over a three-game stretch, they had lost to Boston University, tied the U.S. National Under-18 team in an exhibition game, and lost to Dartmouth. They had only scored a total of 5 goals. The consolation game against Bemidji State on New Year's Eve had become an important test.
Coach Umile decided to juggle his forward lines. The first line of Speelman-Downing-Block was kept in tact. Right winger John Henrion was moved from the third to the second line, joining Kevin Goumas at center and Casey Thrush on left wing. Freshman Maxim Gaudreault moved down to the third line with Greg Burke at center and Nick Sorkin on right wing.
In a move that turned out to be key to a much-needed victory, Coach Umile put together an entirely new fourth line. Freshman Dan Correale, a left-shot forward who had played left and right wing in previous games but had not played since the BU game in early December, was posted on left wing. Sophomore Jay Camper, a versatile forward out of the lineup for a month, was at center. Finally, sophomore Matt Willows, a right-shot, lined up on right wing. Willows had not played since November 30th.
The game against Bemidji State was the first time Correale, Camper and Willows (C-C-W) had ever played together on the same line. Correale (left wing) and Willows (right wing) had played together (with Scott Pavelski at center) against BU, UMass, Maine and UMass-Lowell with the team winning 3 out of the 4 games. However, Jay Camper had never played center with either Correale or Willows on wing.
Starting on their first shift, all three were aggressive on the forecheck forcing Bemidji turnovers. One of Matt Willows' strengths is to aggressively attack the opposing puck-carrier along the boards. If he reaches the player before the puck is advanced, he uses his strength and body leverage to halt the play and occasionally steal the puck. If the opposing player advances the puck along the boards just before Willows can reach him, Matt almost always body checks him into the boards.
When they gained control of the puck in the offensive end, they were able to cycle the puck in the corner and along the sideboards. Correale, Camper and Willows are all quick and control the puck well in tight spaces - a must for effective cycling.
With about 6 minutes remaining in the first period and UNH trailing 0-1, Willows carried the puck from the corner to the left of Bemidji goalie Andrew Walsh and abruptly shifted toward the crease. This drew a hooking penalty which set the stage for UNH's second power play of the game and their first goal.
The power play unit included forward Kevin Goumas playing on the left point. Goumas started the scoring play by passing from the top of the faceoff circle diagonally to Trevor van Riemsdyk at the middle of the blueline. TvR then passed to Grayson Downing low in the opposite face off circle. Downing fired a low wrister which beat Walsh on the low side. Game tied 1-1.
With 2:56 left on the clock, Connor Hardowa blasted a slapper from the blueline. Jay Camper had fought his way to the front of the net and poked the rebound forcing Walsh to freeze the puck. It was one of Camper's three shots on goal in the game.
Second Period: With 16 minutes remaining in the second period, the Correale-Camper-Willows line controlled the puck in the Bemidji end. Jay Camper won a couple of faceoffs, the three made some nifty passes, and Correale and Camper fired a couple shots.
At the 12:20 mark, Willows ripped one of his patented shots. He raced into the zone and, while skating at full speed, quickly snapped off a 3/4 slap shot low to the ice. It just barely missed wide of the net.
Less than a minute later, defenseman Justin Agosta, positioned at the midpoint of the blueline, made a slap pass to Matt Willows who had established a position just to the right of goalie Walsh. Willows quickly passed to Jay Camper in the low slot and Camper fired the one-timer past Walsh. UNH 2, Bemidji State 1.
At 7:55, Willows had the puck in the neutral zone and ricocheted a soft pass off the boards to Justin Agosta who skated in alone and fired a slap shot from the top of the slot. At that point, UNH held a 18-7 advantage in shots on goal.
With about 6 minutes remaining in the period and again with 3 minutes left, the C-C-W line maintained the puck in the Bemidji end with effective forechecking and cycling.
Third Period: Shortly after Bemidji State tied the game at 2 apiece, the Beavers were moving the puck well in the UNH zone. Jay Camper stood his ground in front of Casey DeSmith and kept the play away from the crease.
With 4:40 left in regulation, Camper made a nice pass from the red line sending Willows into the Bemidji zone with speed. Willows fired another one of his 3/4 slappers from the faceoff circle to the left of the goalie. Walsh was forced to make his 30th save of the game.
Overtime: Despite outshooting Bemidji State 34-20 and generally outplaying them, UNH was facing the real possibility of going winless in their last 4 games. The pressure was on in overtime.
With just over 2 minutes left in overtime, the C-C-W line was on the ice for a faceoff to the left of goalie Walsh. Jay Camper won the faceoff, Matt Willows raced toward the faceoff dot, gathered the puck and passed to Trevor van Riemsdyk at the blue line. TvR fired a slap shot that initially hit Walsh's leg pad then flipped up and over into the net.
Jay Camper finished the game with a goal and a game-winning assist. He had 3 SOG and a +/- rating of +2.
Matt Willows posted 2 assists including the one that set up TvR's game-winning goal. He also had 3 SOG and a +2 rating.
Though Dan Correale had no shots on goal, he took several shots and was integral to the dominant play of the C-C-W line.
Note: Correale, Camper and Willows effectively took advantage of a playing opportunity after being out of the lineup for several games. This should spur more healthy competition for ice time among the forwards. Collin MacDonald, Scott Pavelski, and Jeff Silengo, who had played on the fourth line against Dartmouth, have all played strong games at various points in the first half of the season. The good news is that UNH has one of the best crop of forwards it has had in years.