Sunday, March 23, 2014

UNH Hockey Competes Until the End

Justin Agosta
Kevin Goumas
Eric Knodel
Jeff Silengo
Nick Sorkin
Dalton Speelman
Jeff Wyer

BOSTON, MA - After the seniors left the ice for the last time as UNH Wildcats, Head Coach Dick Umile conveyed what the UNH Hockey community knew to be true:
“I thought our team competed, and played hard. It just didn’t happen. The difficult part is it’s a team with great chemistry. We wanted to keep going. Not only were they winning and playing hard, but we were enjoying it and having fun doing it. It’s tough for the season to end.”
That chemistry and "never say die" compete level were instilled in the 2013-14 UNH team under the leadership of the its 7 seniors. Each raised their on-ice production in their final season to new levels:

Justin Agosta - 6 goals, 20 assists. (Previous Best: 14 points as a Junior)
Kevin Goumas - 19 goals, 33 assists. (Previous Best: 42 points as a Junior)
Eric Knodel - 7 goals, 22 assists. (21 points as a Junior)
Jeff Silengo - 8 goals, 7 assists. (10 pts as Junior)
Nick Sorkin - 20 goals, 20 assists. (35 pts as Sophomore)
Dalton Speelman - 7 goals, 11 assists. (16 pts as Sophomore)
Jeff Wyer - 7 games, 2.80 Goals Against Average, .887 Save%. (Previous Best: 4 games as a Junior)

The stories you may read about UMass-Lowell downing UNH 4-0 and winning their second consecutive Hockey East Championship will highlight the River Hawks' clamp-down defense and superb goal-tending by Connor Hellebuyck. And rightfully so. UNH generated some quality scoring opportunities but could not get one past Hellebuyck.

Here's a couple of UNH's best bids from the first period. The first shows one of Hockey East's top forward lines - Sorkin-Goumas-Willows - generating a couple chances. The second shows freshman Tyler Kelleher and senior Dalton Speelman breaking in on Hellebuyck ahead of the Lowell defenders. In each case, as in all other attempts, the River Hawks smothered the opportunity.

With UMass-Lowell ahead 4-0 after two periods, the energy level among the large pockets of UNH fans in the TD Garden was understandably subdued. To their credit, UNH competed hard in the final stanza, battling for pucks, backchecking, and entering the Lowell zone with speed. All of the seniors, including Jeff Wyer in goal in the final minutes, lead the way, logging major minutes.

In the waning minutes, the Nick Sorkin-Kevin Goumas-Matt Willows line would make one final attempt, but it was not to be.

The 7 UNH seniors, as players and people, will be missed. Replacing their production will be challenging for the 2014-15 team. But hope, at varying levels, springs eternal. Veterans will step up and a talented crop of freshmen will fill in. This season went by in a flash. So will the off-season.


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