Tuesday, December 30, 2014

An Interview With UNH Goalie Adam Clark

UNH Freshman Goalie Adam Clark

Freshman goaltender Adam Clark has brought stability and durability to the UNH hockey program at a time of unprecedented challenges. Midway through the 2014-15 season, there are only 9 Division I goalies who have started every game for their team and Adam Clark is the only freshman in the group. As the following table shows, Clark has been in the UNH net for nearly every minute of every game. The 98.2% reflects the 6 minutes he did not play near the end of the UMass Lowell game at the Tsongas Center.

Player Class Team Conf Game Starts Team Games % Min
Steve Michalek SR Harvard ECAC 12 12 99.9
Jamie Phillips JR Mich Tech WCHA 18 18 99.7
Adam Wilcox JR Minn B1G 14 14 99.7
Matt Ginn SR Holy Cross Atlantic 16 16 99.5
Jake Hildebrand JR Mich State B1G 18 18 98.9
C.J. Motte SR Ferris St WCHA 19 19 98.3
Adam Clark FR UNH HockeyEast 16 16 98.2
Rob Nichols SO UConn HockeyEast 17 17 96.9
Chris Truel SO Air Force Atlantic 19 19 93.7

When Clark arrived at the Durham campus in late August, he was slated to be the backup goalie to senior Casey DeSmith. The suspension left UNH with two goalies - Clark and junior Jamie Regan. Clark earned the starting job and has been in net ever since. He has been joined by a relatively inexperienced defensive core owing to the departure of top defenders Trevor van Riemsdyk, Eric Knodel, and Justin Agosta at the end of last season. To make matters worse, UNH lost Brett Pesce, its best defenseman, for 5 games due to a leg injury.

All things considered, Adam Clark has performed admirably for UNH. Of the 12 Hockey East goalies who have played in at least half of their teams' games, Clark is ranked 9th in Goals Against Average (2.79) and 10th in Save Percentage (.900). The opposing teams have scored just 2 goals against Clark in 8 of the 16 games. He allowed only 1 goal in two other games. Of UNH's ten loses, they have lost by 1 goal in five of them.

I had an opportunity to interview Adam about the first half of his freshman season:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): 1) Congratulations on the gutsy win against Maine up in Portland. Would you describe the play in the second period in which you injured your finger?
Adam Clark: Thank you. I slid across the net and stretched my arm out and turned my hand over and took a shot off of my finger and broke it. Unfortunately the ref didn't blow the whistle, I tried getting back to the net but they scored on the wrap around.

Mike Lowry: Did the injured finger hamper any aspect of your mechanics for the remainder of the game?
Adam Clark: For the rest of the game it was a little bit difficult holding my stick but we managed to pull out a great win for our team heading into the break.

Lowry: Do you think you'll be ready to play in the Nebraska-Omaha games at the end of the month?
Clark: Yes, coming back from break it feels great and doesn't bother me anymore on or off the ice. Im excited to get down there and get the second half of our season started against a good hockey team.

Lowry: How would you compare playing against BCHL vs NCAA competiton?
Clark: The competition is obviously a big step up from the BCHL. They take the best players from every league like the BCHL, and put them all on the ice together...makes for a lot more skill and speed. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to play in a league like the NCAA and hope to continue to make the most of it.

Lowry: What adjustments have you made in your goaltending mechanics and style, if any?
Clark: I think if anything I have been working on adjusting to the speed and skill of the players. Playing juniors I was able to get away with a few minor things, but players here take advantage of everything that you give them. So I believe for me it has been mostly attention to details and working with our coaches to help the team win.

Lowry: Are their aspects of your game that you are focusing on improving?
Clark: I would say something I am always working to improve is my speed and skating. It is one of the most important aspects of goaltending and it is important to continue to grow as a player in all aspects.

Lowry: How has the team defense improved since the beginning of the season and what are the goals for the second half?
Clark: Our defense‚Äč this year has had a really big impact on my transition to the NCAA. They have been very solid in front of me and its been great seeing some of the younger guys in my class getting opportunities and growing as players.

UNH returns to action this weekend with a pair of road games against 12th-ranked Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks are ranked 4th in the nation in the PairWise Rankings. As expected, goalie Danny Tirone has enrolled for the second semester and has been added to the UNH roster. He will wear #35.


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