Some Pluses in UNH Loss to St. Francis Xavier
|UNH Freshman Goalie Adam Clark|
Ten freshmen, upperclassmen with limited game experience, and new line combinations. Is it any wonder the 2014-15 UNH Wildcats were not clicking on all cylinders in the opening exhibition game of the season? At times, the passing was less than crisp and accurate. Few odd-man rushes were generated. However, UNH managed 30 shots on goal and several prime scoring chances.
Give the St. Francis Xavier X-Men credit. They played the way one would expect a team of former Canadian Major Junior players in their mid-20's to play. 23-year-old goalie Drew Owsley, a veteran of the Western Hockey League, made the routine saves and a few beauties en route to a well-deserved shutout. 24-year-old Michael Kirkpatrick, who posted 31 goals and 51 assists in his final season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, scored the game-winner in the second period.
When asked if the upcoming season was a rebuilding year, Coach Dick Umile said he preferred to view it as a "reloading" year. After one week of a work in progress, there were a number of positive takeaways from UNH's first organized game of the season. The veteran line of Casey Thrush, Maxim Gaudreault, and Jay Camper maintained puck possession in the X-Men's zone on a number of shifts. Captain Matt Willows established the pace for his team with characteristic hustle, physicality, and 6 shots on goal. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the quality play of a number of freshmen.
Adam ClarkWhen the 6'5" goalie from Sherwood Park, Alberta arrived on campus last month, he was slated to be the backup goalie for senior Casey DeSmith. Now, the freshman appears to be on track to be the starting goalie when UNH faces last year's National Champion Union College next weekend. All things considered, Adam Clark played with poise and efficiency over the first two periods of last night's game.
Matt WillowsAs mentioned, Captain Willows lead the team with 6 shots on goal against St. Francis Xavier. Last season, Willows was the team's third leading goal scorer with 18 goals. He played right wing on the top line with center Kevin Goumas, who dished out 33 assists and added 19 goals of his own. With senior center Grayson Downing playing alongside Willows this season, the team is aiming for similar production.
Andrew PoturalskiLast season, Poturalski was the 6th leading scorer in the United States Hockey League. The last Wildcat to perform near that level in the USHL was Phil DeSimone who was the second leading scorer in the 2006-07 season. Last night, Poturalski centered a line with fellow freshman Warren Foegele on left wing and sophomore Tyler Kelleher on right wing.
Tyler KelleherDuring his freshman campaign, Tyler Kelleher posted a solid 5 goals and 11 assists. Early in the season, he played on UNH's first line. Last night, the gifted offensive player logged time on UNH's first power play unit, in addition to his regular shift.
Warren FoegeleWarren Foegele's break out season as a senior in high school resulted in him being drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2014 NHL Draft. Last night, Foegele showed some of the speed, agility and offensive flare that attracted the attention of NHL scouts.
Shane EisermanLike Foegele, Shane Eiserman was drafted in an early round of the 2014 NHL Draft. The Ottawa Senators made him the 100th overall pick. The power forward played left wing last night on the third line with Kyle Smith at center and Collin MacDonald at right wing.
Rich Boyd19-year-old defenseman Rich Boyd graduated from Cushing Academy last spring. He was the final addition to this season's roster coming after Justin Agosta's decision to not return to UNH. Last night, Boyd played with poise on the 4th defensive pairing with fellow freshman John Furgele.
Dylan Chanter6'3", 215 lbs. defenseman Dylan Chanter reminds me of another bruising blueliner from Western Canada - Connor Hardowa. Last night, the freshman played on the 3rd defensive pairing with senior Ryan Randall.
Next up for UNH, the defending National Champion Union College Dutchmen out in Schenectady, New York. A stout test, to say the least.