Sunday, May 04, 2014

Justin Agosta Finishes UNH Career on Good Terms

Defenseman Agosta Headed to
Quinnipiac Next Season

Back in the Fall of 2010, two hockey defensemen of formidable stature enrolled at the University of New Hampshire. 6'6" Eric Knodel came to UNH following a year with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL. He had been selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 5th Round of the 2009 NHL Draft. 6'3" Justin Agosta had played in both the USHL and EJHL the previous season.

Agosta Compiled 45 Points at UNH
The 2010-11 UNH team had six returning veterans on the blueline - Seniors Matt Campanale and Mike Beck, Juniors Blake Kessel and Damon Kipp, and Sophomores Connor Hardowa and Brett Kostolansky. In a typical season, injuries to one or more of the top 6 defensemen provide opportunities for the 7th and 8th to get into the lineup. Not so that time around. The six blueliners played in all 34 regular season games plus 5 playoff games. UNH advanced to the Hockey East Semifinal Game and the 2011 NCAA Northeast Regional Championship Game.

Although neither Knodel or Agosta played in a single game as freshmen, they became mainstays on the blueline beginning in their sophomore year at UNH. In the recently completed season, Justin Agosta took his game to a whole new level. After posting 14 points as a junior, Agosta doubled his offensive numbers. He was UNH's 5th leading scorer with 26 points.

Agosta's goal production this season was particularly impressive. Two of his 6 goals were game winners. Only two other Hockey East defensemen scored more game-winning goals in the 2013-14 season. Here's Agosta first GWG in the 4-1 victory over UMass on November 8th:

All-American defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk suffered a season-ending, ankle injury in a game against Union on January 18th. From that point on, Agosta and his fellow veteran defensemen, Knodel and Brett Pesce, were called upon to boost their offensive output and to log many more minutes on the ice.

With only 4 games left in the regular season, UNH was clinging to a chance to earn home-ice in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East Playoffs. In two must-win games against Boston University, Justin Agosta assisted on four of UNH's seven goals. UNH went on to earn home-ice, defeated Northeastern in the quarterfinals, and advanced to the Hockey East Semifinals.

Of the 9 goals scored by Justin Agosta in his UNH career, none was more timely or important as his last. After a scoreless first period against Providence in the Hockey East semis, UNH took a 1-0 lead on a short-handed goal by leading scorer Kevin Goumas. Six and 1/2 minutes later, Agosta would score the eventual game-winner. Matt Willows dug the puck off the half-wall to the right of Providence goalie Jon Gillies and fed a cross-ice pass to Justin Agosta just inside the PC blue line. Agosta's wrist shot through a multi-player screen deflected off the heel of a PC defenders skate and into the net.

In the 2014 Hockey East Championship Game, Justin Agosta fired two shots on the UMass-Lowell goal and was not on the ice for any of the River Hawks' goals. Lowell won its second consecutive Hockey East Championship 4-0.

Last Saturday night at the Annual UNH Hockey Banquet, sponsored by the Friends of UNH Hockey, Justin Agosta was awarded the A. Barr “Whoop” Snively Citizenship and Service Award. The honor is presented to the player who has distinguished himself through his citizenship and service to the University and the community. Justin won the same award as a junior. In two weeks, Agosta will receive his UNH diploma. He is an accounting major.

Justin Agosta's Plan for Next Year

At the close of the 2013-14 NCAA season, both of the big defensemen who came to UNH as freshman in 2010 had unique opportunities available to them, and decisions to be made. Since neither Justin Agosta or Eric Knodel played in their freshman year, each had one year of NCAA eligibility remaining. As a draftee of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Knodel could have chosen to play next season at UNH or sign to play in the Maple Leafs' organization. He chose the later option and is on the roster of the Toronto Marlies who are playing in the AHL Playoffs.

According to a source familiar with the process, Justin Agosta was presented with a couple opportunities to sign with AHL organizations after the UNH season ended. Like Knodel, Justin also had the option to return to UNH next season for a fifth year in Durham. Justin and his family are from East Meadow (Long Island), New York. As his Dad and sister - who participated in Senior Night at the Whittemore Center in February - can verify, it's a very long way from Long Island to Durham, NH. The 300-mile trip takes five hours when the traffic is reasonable, which it often is not.

In the end, Justin decided he wanted to play one more year of college hockey if he could find an opportunity closer to his home, family and friends. His current plan is to play next season for Quinnipiac University in the ECAC Hockey Conference. Located in Hamden, Connecticut, QU is less than 200 miles away from Agosta's hometown. Justin developed many close friendships with his UNH teammates and he leaves the UNH hockey program on good terms.


Blogger HealthTchr said...

Thanks for a great overview on just how important Justin Agosta was to the UNH Wildcats! He was a formidable defenseman who contributed in many ways...we wish him the best at QU and look forward to hearing more about his hockey exploits next year...and beyond! Best Wishes Justin and congratulations on a great career at UNH! -The Andrews Family

May 4, 2014, 6:27:00 PM  
Blogger Carl De Lucia said...

I found this article very interesting for 2 reasons. 1) That UNH had 2 freshman of that caliber that didn't dress for an entire season. A 5th round NHL selection and didn't dress for a game ? That really speaks to their depth on the blueline. 2) Players can transfer to another school straight up if they are granted a 5th year of eligibility ?

Feel like there was maybe some shady recruiting by the Q-Pac coaching staff here. It's not like Hamden is in his backyard...

Jun 6, 2014, 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger C-H-C said...

A week after I posted this article, Justin Agosta reiterated his reasons to transfer to Quinnipiac in this Union Leader article: . He said "Quinnipiac is about 55 or 60 minutes from home, compared to about five hours. I haven’t lived at home in about eight or nine years and family can come see me play. I still have family that hasn’t seen me play. It’s going to be good. Some days I’ll get home for dinner." I believe Agosta approached QU about the possibility of transferring, not the other way around. In order to transfer to a Division 1 program relatively close to his home on Long Island, Agosta had very limited options.

Jun 6, 2014, 11:20:00 AM  

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