Saturday, February 28, 2015

UNH Dominates Merrimack 4-1: Goal-by-Goal

Captain Matt Willows
Game-Winning Goal, 5 SOG
Senior Jay Camper
1 Goal, 3 SOG
Alt. Captain Casey Thrush
1 Goal, 4 SOG

DURHAM, NH - Just two weekends ago, UNH was hovering near the bottom of the Hockey East standings and facing Boston University, the #2 team in the nation and #1 team in Hockey East. Up until then, there had been some bright spots in the Wildcats season. Underclassmen like sophomore Tyler Kelleher and freshmen Andrew Poturalski, Warren Foegele, Shane Eiserman and goalie Danny Tirone had shown steady progress. But to become a competitive team heading into the Hockey East Playoffs, UNH needed its seniors to step up. And that's exactly what they have done.

Beginning with a 4-3 victory over the BU Terriers at the Whittemore Center, UNH has gone on a four-game winning streak. They have outscored their opponents - BU, UConn, and Merrimack - 17 to 6. The Wildcats have clawed their way up the Hockey East standings and now sit in sole possession of 8th place. UNH can earn the home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs with a win on Senior Night against Merrimack College.

Credit the four senior forwards for sparking UNH's late-season surge. Captain Matt Willows, who scored the game-winner Friday night, has scored 4 goals and 2 assists and earned a +3 rating during the four-game win streak. Jay Camper has scored 3 goals, including the game-winner against BU, added an assist and posted a +/- rating of +3. Casey Thrush has a goal, 2 assists, and a +4 rating. Grayson Downing, who suffered a severe ankle sprain at Vermont and missed the BU series, has contributed 4 assists and a +6 rating over the last three games.

Late Saturday afternoon will be a time to honor all the UNH seniors and their families. Durham native Ryan Randall, who helped stabilize a very young defensive core early in the season, will join Willows, Camper, Thrush, and Downing at center ice for one of the great college hockey traditions. UNH fans who will pack the Whittemore Center are hoping it won't be the last time they see the seniors skate on the Towse Rink. The prize is there for the taking. Just one more win and the Wildcats will be there next weekend.

Goal-by-Goal Breakdown


Andrew Poturalski-12 PP (Assisted by Matias Cleland-10 & Tyler Kelleher-21)
10:44 of 1st Period - UNH 1, Merrimack 0
~ On the first shot in this scoring sequence, Andrew Poturalski is wide open on the weak side and rifles a one-timer off a feed from Matias Cleland.
~ Then, Poturalski scrambles to keep the puck from leaving the zone and Cleland keeps it in at the blue line.
~ After a tap pass from Cleland, Poturalski turns on the afterburners, streaks down the slot, and blasts a slap shot past the right pad of Merrimack senior goalie Rasmus Tirronen.


Mathieu Tibbet (From Kolomatis & Henning)
5:28 of Period 2 - UNH 1, Merrimack 1

Matt Willows-18 (Assisted by Cameron Marks-9 & Dan Correale-11)
13:49 of 2nd Period - UNH 2, Merrimack 1
~ Just before the goal is scored, freshman defenseman Cameron Marks sends a wrister from the blue line that was blocked right in front of the goal.
~ Dan Correale gathers the puck on the half-wall and feeds Marks for another attempt from the blue line. This time, Matt Willows is parked on the doorstep of the crease and redirects the shot past Tirronen.

Jay Camper-3 (Assisted by Warren Foegele-10)
15:13 of 2nd Period - UNH 3, Merrimack 1
~ With an outstanding individual effort, freshman Warren Foegele steals the puck at the top of the slot, accelerates toward the goal and flips a backhand shot at Tirronen.
~ Camper races down the slot and bangs the rebound over Tirronen's glove.


Casey Thrush-6 ENG (Assisted by Shane Eiserman-9 & Grayson Downing-14)
19:48 of 3rd Period - UNH 4, Merrimack 1
~ Senior Grayson Downing, coming off a severe ankle sprain, shows great mobility in the UNH zone. He steals the puck, wheels and sends a backhand pass off the half-wall. Junior Dan Correale sends Thrush off on a breakaway with a pass off the sideboards.
~ Thrush hauls butt down the ice and is hauled down by a Merrimack player. If the Merrimack goalie had been in net, Thrush would have been awarded a penalty shot. With the net empty, Thrush was credited with the goal.

With the victory, UNH improved its Hockey East record to 9-11-1. They are in 8th place in Hockey East one point ahead of Maine and Connecticut . Overall, UNH is 14-17-2. Merrimack's record in Hockey East is now 5-13-3 and they are in next to last place, two points ahead of UMass. Their overall record is 14-15-4.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

UNH Sweeps UConn: Goal-by-Goal Video Highlights

Captain Matt Willows
2 Goals, 1 Assist
Alt. Captain Grayson Downing
3 Assists
Alt. Captain Casey Thrush
2 Assists

DURHAM, NH - It was entirely fitting that UNH's first weekend sweep of the 2014-15 season would be lead by it's senior leaders. The first line of Captain Matt Willows at right wing, Alternate Captain Grayson Downing at center, and Alternate Captain Casey Thrush at left wing accounted for three of UNH's five goals in the 5-1 win over the University of Connecticut. Sophomore Tyler Kelleher potted the game-winning goal, his second goal of the weekend, midway through the second period. It was Kelleher's 34th point of the season and 50th point in his first two years - half way to the UNH Century Club.

UNH's dominant 5-1 victory over UConn on Saturday night and weekend sweep moved them ahead of the Huskies in the race for home-ice in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs. Before the weekend began, the Wildcats trailed UConn and Maine by 3 points for 8th place. Now, UNH is ahead of UConn by a point and trails Maine by only 1 point. Whoever finishes in 8th place will earn the final home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Next weekend UNH closes out the regular season with two home games against 11th-place Merrimack while Maine travels to Providence for a pair of games. To finish in 8th place, UNH will need to earn two more points than Maine.

As of the time of this posting, there were no video highlights of UNH's goals against UConn available online. Here are rink-side video clips of all 5 UNH goals:

Goal-by-Goal Breakdown


Jay Camper-2 (Assisted by Warren Foegele-9 & John Furgele-8)
6:18 of 1st Period - UNH 1, UConn 0


Tyler Kelleher-14 (Assisted by Dan Correale-8 & Matias Cleland-7)
9:12 of 2nd Period - UNH 2, UConn 0

Trevor Gerling (From Kirtland & Ojantakanen)
17:13 of Period 2 - UNH 2, UConn 1

Matias Cleland-6 (Assisted by Matt Willows-12 & Grayson Downing-11)
17:55 of 2nd Period - UNH 3, UConn 1


Matt Willows-16 (Assisted by Casey Thrush-16 & Grayson Downing-12)
4:58 of 3rd Period - UNH 4, UConn 1

Matt Willows-17 (Assisted by Grayson Downing-13 & Casey Thrush-17)
8:10 of 3rd Period - UNH 5, UConn 1

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Kelleher, Correale Lead UNH Over UCONN: Goal-by-Goal

Sophomore Tyler Kelleher
1 Goal, 1 Assist
Junior Dan Correale
1 Goal, 2 Assists
Junior Brett Pesce
Game-Winning Goal

The addition of UConn to Hockey East necessitated a change in the format for the 2015 Hockey East Playoffs. All 12 HE teams will qualify for the Playoffs. The opening round will be a best-of-three series involving the 5th to 12th-ranked teams. Teams 5-8 will have the home-ice advantage for the series. The winners of the opening round advance to a best-of-three quarterfinal series against the top 4 teams.

The big incentive for UNH over the final four regular season games is to earn home-ice by finishing in 8th place or better. Last night, UNH took the first step in achieving that goal. UConn entered the game with 16 points in a tie for 8th place with the Univeristy of Maine. UNH, with 13 points, trailed UConn and Maine by 3 points. With a convincing 4-1 victory in Hartford last night, UNH is now only 1 point behind UConn and Maine in the battle for 8th place. UNH has played one less game than UConn so far this season. The two teams match up again tonight at the Whittemore Center in Durham, NH.

In Friday's game, UNH's third line of Dan Correale-Andrew Poturalski-Tyler Kelleher game up big accounting for three of UNH's four goals. After a scoreless first period, the threesome scored twice on its first shift of the second period. Sophomore Tyler Kelleher got UNH on the scoreboard off a 3-on-2 rush into the UConn zone. A minute later, junior defenseman Brett Pesce scored the eventual game-winner with the primary assist going to fellow junior Dan Correale. After missing 4 games in December with a knee injury and 4 more games in January with a respiratory problem, Pesce has begun to heat up his offensive game. He has a goal and 4 assists over the last four games.

UConn broke up freshman goalie Danny Tirone's shutout on a power play goal late in the second period. Tirone, a native of Trumball, CT, was playing in his home state for the first time as a collegian. Midway through the final stanza, Correale picked up the insurance goal on a pretty feed from Kelleher. Senior Captain Matt Willows potted his second empty-net goal in the last two games to close out the 4-1 victory.

Points of Interest

~ Remarkably, Senior Alternate Captain Grayson Downing returned to the lineup after missing only two games. Downing suffered a severe ankle sprain two weeks ago at UVM. Though he looked to be skating slightly slower than usual, he skated his regular shift on the first line and played on UNH's first power play and penalty kill units.
~ Downing returned to center the first line between Casey Thrush and Mat Willows. The other three forward lines were the same as in last Saturday's victory over BU: Foegele-Camper-Eiserman, Correale-Poturalski-Kelleher, Salvaggio-McNicholas-Hill.
~ UNH had 9 freshmen in the lineup - 5 forwards, 3 defensemen and goalie Danny Tirone
~ It was a special evening for freshman Jason Salvaggio. A couple years ago, he played for the Selects Hockey Academy at the South Kent School in Connecticut. He originally had verbally committed to UConn but came to UNH instead after UConn changed coaches.

Goal-by-Goal Breakdown


Tyler Kelleher-13 (Assisted by Dan Correale-6 & Harry Quast-4)
1:44 of 2nd Period - UNH 1, UConn 0

Brett Pesce-2 (Assisted by Dan Correale-7 & Andrew Poturalski-10)
2:21 of 2nd Period - UNH 2, UConn 0

Cody Sharib PP (From Gerling & Poe)
6:37 of Period 2 - UNH 2, UConn 1


Dan Correale-4 (Assisted by Tyler Kelleher-19 & Matias Cleland-6)
11:48 of 3rd Period - UNH 3, UConn 1

Matt Willows-14 ENG (Assisted by Richard Boyd-2)
19:55 of 3rd Period - UNH 4, UConn 1

Thursday, February 19, 2015

UNH Recruits Update: Feb-19-2015

Liam Blackburn
West Kelowna Warriors
Justin Fregona
St. Andrew's College
Joey Cipollone
Selects Academy U18

Player Spotlight - Liam Blackburn

In his second full season in the British Columbia Hockey league, 18-year-old Liam Blackburn has set the West Kelowna Warriors' single-season record for most assists. Blackburn's record-breaking assist, his 48th of the season, came with a minute left in regulation in a game against the Trail Smoke Eaters last Friday night. Blackburn's wrist shot was kicked out by the Trails' goalie but the rebound was banged home by Jason Cotton, a Northeastern University recruit. Here's a video of the goal - Blackburn is #26 in the black jersey:

Liam Blackburn's 48th assist of the season was his 113th point as a West Kelowna Warrior. He is now #9 on the Warriors' all-time scoring list. Current UNH senior Grayson Downing is 5th on the list with 129 points. Downing played three seasons with the Warriors before coming to UNH. In his final season with West Kelowna, Downing scored 34 goals and 36 assists in 52 regular season games. So far this season, Blackburn has 22 goals and 48 assists in 54 games. The Warriors have 4 games remaining in the regular season.

In November, Liam Blackburn signed a National Letter of Intent to attend UNH and play for the Wildcats. He will enroll either next fall or in the fall of 2016.

Player Spotlight - Justin Fregona

Justin Fregona is a 17-year-old senior at St. Andrew's College - Warren Foegele's alma mater. For the third season in a row, St. Andrew's College finished in first place during the regular season of the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association. Fregona's 8 goals and 12 assists in 16 conference games made him the second-leading scorer in the CISAA. Last season, Foegele lead the league with 17 goals and 6 assists in 14 games.

St. Andrew's also played many nonconference games against some of the top prep schools in the United States. Justin Fregona scored 21 goals and 23 assists in 31 nonconference games. When all CISAA and nonconference games are considered, Fregona was St. Andrew's leading scorer with 29 goals and 35 assists in 47 games. Fregona is on track to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2016.

Player Spotlight - Joey Cipollone

The Selects Hockey Academy at the South Kent School Under-18 team is having a remarkable season. At present, they are the 6th-ranked Midget 18U team in the nation with an overall record of 48-8-6. 2016 UNH recruit Joey Cipollone is the captain of the Selects Academy 18U squad.

The Selects Academy's primary affiliation is with the United States Premiere Hockey League 18U Division. They just completed the regular season in first place in the USPHL 18U with a record of 26-2-0. Cipollone, the team's first line center, scored 18 goals and 33 assists in 24 games and was the second-leading scorer in the league. Five of his goals were game-winners. The Selects Academy 18U team begin the USPHL Playoffs on Saturday against the NH Junior Monarchs.

The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH. For example, the "2015 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2015 to begin playing for UNH.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2015 Recruits
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Bloomington Thunder USHL 30 0 7 7 40
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 18 5 5 10 14
USHL 11 0 4 4 33
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Int'l. 8 0 4 4 18
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 32 8 11 19 10
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 54 22 48 70 32
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 22 2 4 6 -
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Frankie Cefalu  (F) Walpole Express EHL 42 17 41 58 46
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 43 7 20 27 10
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 43 7 9 16 14
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 52 1 6 7 41
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 45 29 12 41 55
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 46 14 24 38 55
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 24 18 33 51 30
Non-League 30 7 20 27 -
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 15 8 12 20 6
Non-Conf 31 21 23 44 36
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 36 11 20 31 26
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 25 1 1 2 8
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 43 3 8 11 22
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 22 7W 13L/2T 3.00 .913
Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 23 15 14 29 -
CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 34 17 15 32 44
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 29 16 24 40 39
Non-League 9 4 2 6 -
2018 Recruits
Joel Farabee  (F) Selects Academy 16U USPHL 16U 28 8 25 33 16
Non-League 31 6 10 16 -

News & Notes

Team USA:

~ During the first week in February, Joseph Masonius and the US National Team Development Program U-18 team competed in the 2015 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic. Team USA defeated Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic but lost to Russia 4-5. Masonius had an assist in three out of the four games. Team USA won the silver medal. Masonius is on track to enroll at UNH next fall.

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2015 or '16 recruit Marcus Vela has scored 5 goals in his last 6 games and is tied for 3rd in scoring on the Langley Rivermen.

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ Brendan van Riemsdyk has scored 29 goals in 45 games and is tied for 3rd in goal-scoring in the USPHL Premiere Division.

~ Jason O'Neill (16G, 24A) of the Skipjacks Hockey Club finished the regular season of the USPHL U18 Division tied for 5th in scoring.

~ Joel Farabee (8G, 25A) was the 5th leading scorer on the Selects Hockey Academy U16 team during the regular season. They are currently the 14th-ranked Midget 16U team in the nation with an overall record of 47-13-4.

New England Prep School Hockey:

~ With just 3 games remaining in the regular season, Eric Esposito and the Loomis Chaffee School are ranked #2 in the US Hockey Report Prep School Poll. The sophomore has posted 15 goals and 14 assists in 23 games and is the 2nd-leading goal scorer on the Loomis Chaffee squad.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Former UNH Star Stevie Moses Breaks KHL Goal-Scoring Record

KHL Star Stevie Moses

In just his third year of professional hockey, former UNH Wildcat Stevie Moses has broken the single-season record for most goals in the Kontinental Hockey League. Less than one-half hour ago, Moses scored on a penalty shot in the first period of a game between his team Jokerit and the Atlant Moscow Oblast. It was Moses' 36th goal of the 2014-15 KHL season.

Here's the first available video of Moses' record-breaking goal.

High-Scoring Stevie Moses Weighs NHL and KHL Options

Stevie Moses
KHL's Top Goal Scorer

In the article " Former UNH Star Stevie Moses Ties KHL Goal-Scoring Record", posted last week on The UNH Men's Hockey Blog, Stevie Moses described what it took to become the top goal scorer in the Kontinental Hockey League - the second best professional hockey league in the world after the National Hockey League. So far in his first season in the KHL, Moses has added 21 assists to his league-leading 35 goals. With 56 points in 56 games, Stevie Moses is currently tied for 6th in KHL scoring. This video provides a small sample of Moses' passing and shooting skills from a Jokerit victory earlier this season:

With four games remaining in the regular season, Moses is focused on boosting Jokerit's position in the standings ahead of the playoffs and breaking the KHL single-season record for most goals. When the season is over, Moses will be in the enviable position of choosing where to play next year. His contract with Jokerit expires this season and he will become a free agent in the KHL. He is also a free agent in the National Hockey League.

Just days after Moses finished his senior season at UNH, he signed an amateur tryout contract with the Connecticut Whale (now known as the Hartford Wolf Pack), the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers. As an undrafted free agent, he scored 2 goals in the remaining 8 games in the Whale's regular season and 1 goal in 2 AHL playoff games. With a lockout looming in the 2011-12 NHL season, Moses decided to sign with Jokerit, then a member of Liiga, the top professional league in Finland. A number of established NHLers played for Liiga teams that season and Moses was the 4th-leading goal scorer in the league with 22 goals in 55 regular season games.

On January 30th, I had an opportunity to interview Stevie Moses via Facetime.** He had just completed a game against the KHL team from Bratislava, Slovakia in front of over 12,000 fans at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. Stevie had scored the 3rd goal in the Jokerit's 4-0 victory. It was his 33rd goal of the season - just two shy of the record.

Among the topics we discussed were the various signing options available to him at the end of this season. As you'll see, Stevie has been carefully weighing the pros and cons of signing with an NHL team or remaining in the KHL. What follows are some excerpts from the interview.

Mike Lowry:
"In retrospect, your decision to leave North America and pursue your professional career in Finland has been a smart move for a number of reason. As you pointed out in a December, 2012 interview with Hockey's Future, the NHL lockout in 2012 lead to very few openings on AHL squads. If you had stayed in the United States, you would likely have played in the lower-tier East Coast Hockey League. Ironically, by signing with Jokerit, you got to play against a number of NHL players who played in Europe during the lockout. Now, this year, Jokerit made the big leap into the Kontinental Hockey League which is widely regarded as the second best professional hockey league in the world. It goes without saying that folks who have followed your career are wondering if you will sign with an NHL team next season. Can you share your current thinking about that prospect?"

Stevie Moses:
"It’s a unique situation I’m in now. My agent has spoken with 12 to 15 teams in the NHL at this point. I will only go to the NHL on a one-way contract not a two-way contract like I was just coming out of college. For example, like Bob (Butler) or Paul (Thompson) or any of the UNH guys. When you sign a two-way contract coming out of college, there’s a certain amount of money you make for playing games in the NHL and a certain amount you make playing minors."

"I’m now 25, I’ll be 26 next season so I’m able to sign a one-way contract. Let’s say it’s worth 700,000 – I get $700,000 whether I’m in the minors or the NHL. My agent has told every team 'If you’re going to sign him or make any offers, then it’s going to be a one-way contract' – which is a nice situation to be in."

"It comes down to if I feel like an NHL team is going to give me a realistic chance to play in an offensive role and put me in a position to be successful, then I’ll take much less money coming back to North America than I could get from some of the big Russian clubs. They can pay pretty big salaries. With the season I’ve been able to have, I ought to be up for a good amount of money from a Russian team."

"It comes down to if I feel like I want to play in the NHL, I can find a team that will give me a real chance to play games in the NHL, on a top 2 line, on the power play and then I’ll make that decision. That will be something I’ll have to deal with probably over the next two months or so. I’ve been telling my agent that I’d like to finish this season and focus on Jokerit and what we’ve got going right now. When the season is over, we’re going to sit down and weigh both sides, whether it be staying and playing in Russia somewhere or trying to go back to the NHL. Obviously, it’s a really exciting time and I’ll have some big decisions over the next couple of months."

"Of course, people have asked me, especially in Finland, what my plans are. I’ve made it known throughout the season that my goal is to go back and play in the NHL. My agent has been very proactive and talking to NHL teams. I have no preference about where I would play in the NHL. It’s all about having the GM, coach and the management on board saying - 'Look, we have a guy coming in who took a different development path who needs to be given a realistic chance'. I would hate to sign somewhere in the NHL just for the sake of signing in the NHL and being able to say ‘I did it’ and then going and playing in the minors. I wouldn’t do that. At that point, I’d probably go back to Europe anyways."

Mike Lowry:
"So, the other very attractive option you have is to sign with one of the Russian teams for a lot more money?"

Stevie Moses:
"KHL teams are not paying Americans, Canadians, and Swedes like they pay the top Russian stars who get 4 or 5 million dollars a year. But something like 2 to 2 and a half million dollars would be very possible. This is a job where I can only play for 10-12 more years and you have to think about your life after and what you want to do after your playing career is over. As much as it’s about the dream of playing in the NHL, you want to be pretty comfortable financially when you’re done playing."

Mike Lowry:
"Do you ever pinch yourself and say - 'Holy crap, I’m playing for 100’s of thousands possibly millions of dollars. I never imagined this would happen'. - or did you always think you would be able to do it?"

Stevie Moses:
"I didn’t know. I never doubted myself, I think a lot of people did. My career in college was good, not great. In comparison to what other players have done coming out of UNH, maybe it wasn’t expected that I would have this much success. But I always knew I had the ability to play at a higher levels."

"It’s still something that I’m really grateful for and I don’t take anything for granted. It’s pretty special what I’ve been able to do and I’ve been very lucky. A lot of it comes down to luck and timing. Even if I had signed an NHL contract coming out of college, it’s so easy to get buried in the minors. Three or four years out of school and you only play games in the AHL and you’re hoping at that point that maybe you can sign a contract in Sweden or Finland and make a little bit more money."

"But, having gone to Finland when I did and playing in the KHL three years out of school and being global - obviously everything has worked out well for me and a lot of that had to do with timing."

Mike Lowry:
"Your senior year at UNH you were listed at 5'9" and 170 lbs. You are now at 5'9", 176 lbs. There are a number of NHL stars who have a stature similar to yours. Guys like Martin St. Louis (5'9", 180 lbs), Patrick Kane (5'11", 177 lbs) and Johnny Gaudreau (5'9", 150 lbs). At the start of this season, the average height and weight across all NHL players was 6'1" and 203 lbs. What kinds of skills and characteristics allow the relatively smaller players to succeed at the NHL level?"

Stevie Moses:
"Ya, actually I was just talking about this. I had a meeting just yesterday with an NHL GM who came to Finland to meet with me. We talked about this, that the average size in the league is big. Guys are big players and it’s tough to make it as a smaller guy. No management guy, GM or coach, wants to stick their necks out for somebody small because if it doesn’t work out, it’s pretty easy to say - ‘Why did you sign him, the guy’s too small and he was never going to make it anyway' ?"

"I look at the names of the smaller players you’ve mentioned – Marty St. Louis, Patrick Kane, and Johnny Gaudreau. There’s plenty of other smaller guys like Tyler Johnson who plays for Tampa Bay and Nathan Gerbe. Even as unbelievable as Gerbe was in college, he’s kind of like hanging on in the league hoping to get a job. He’s not a guy who knows he’s going to be in the league every year signing for big money so it’s really tough."

"When I look at these smaller players who have been successful in the NHL, all of them play differently and have their own unique skill set. The one thing they have in common is that all of them are incredibly competitive. That’s a huge part of their success because you have to be mentally stronger and hate losing more than anyone else on the ice. Every time you get into a battle you’re the underdog and you have to relish that role. The role of ‘people don’t expect you to be successful and I need to prove them wrong’."

"Even with a guy like Patrick Kane who was drafted first overall, still there were people who doubted him because of his size. Obviously, some of these guys have world-class skills - Kane is arguably the most skilled guy in the league. But all of those guys have smarts on the ice and are incredibly competitive. That’s what makes smaller guys successful at any level, especially the NHL where everything is so business oriented. If somebody sticks their neck out and signs you and it doesn’t work out, they are putting themselves at risk. Everybody is on edge when a lot of money is on the line and everybody is trying to win, especially the players. Any of the successful smaller guys you mentioned compete every night and they don’t make excuses like ‘It’s OK if I lose this battle because I’m smaller or weaker than the other guy’."

Mike Lowry:
"If at some point in the future you decide to return to the North America to play, what will you miss about living and playing in Europe?"

Stevie Moses:
"It’s been unique for me because I’ve just played in Helsinki with Jokerit for three years. I think what I’ll miss most is this organization from the fans to the management to the players. I’ve had some unbelievable teammates here and with some guys, I’ve become really good friends. The fans here are just amazing. I think we average 12,000 per game and we just sold out tonight. We sell out plenty of games."

"Hockey in Finland is the biggest sport by far. There’s no other sports team that comes close in terms of popularity. We’re in the biggest city and we’re the biggest team in the city so Jokerit is the biggest hockey club in Finland which is a huge hockey market. You have a celebrity status here where everybody recognizes you wherever you go. But Finns are also really quiet, respectful people so they never bother you for pictures or autographs at the grocery store, movie theater or other places. They’ll recognize you but know enough to let you live your life. You might see the same fan at a game waiting in line to get an autograph and they’ll be thrilled to get a picture, but they wait for the right time."

"I just can’t say enough about the fans here and they’ve really been awesome to me. I was lucky to have awesome fans at UNH and I left there to play here and the fans really took me in. That’s something that I’ll really miss if I leave Helsinki. Living in this city, as hard as it is being so far away from home, it’s an awesome city. The size is just right, similar size to Boston say 5 to 6 hundred thousand people. It’s become a second home for me and I’ll definitely miss the city and the Jokerit organization."

Stevie Moses and Jokerit have 4 games remaining in the KHL regular season. All of them are away games. Moses next opportunity to break the single-season goal-scoring record is today, Wednesday, in Moskow, against Atlant.

In the final installment of this series of articles, Stevie Moses reflects back on his four-year career at the University of New Hampshire.

** Special thanks to long-time UNH hockey fan Tina Thibodeau for helping to coordinate my interview with Stevie Moses.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jay Camper Sparks UNH Win Over #2 BU

Senior Jay Camper
Game-Winning Goal, 1 Assist
Freshman Warren Foegele
1 Goal, 2 Assists
Freshman Shane Eiserman
1 Goal

DURHAM, NH - Senior Jay Camper has persevered through repeated setbacks in his hockey career. On Saturday night, that determination paid off in his best performance as an NCAA hockey player. Camper, who hadn't played in the last three UNH games, replaced Kyle Smith as the center between high-flying freshmen Warren Foegele and Shane Eiserman. Camper and his linemates scored two key goals, including the game winner, against 2nd-ranked Boston University. Foegele added a third goal playing on UNH's #1 power play unit.

Jay Camper's Concussion Evaluation
February, 2011
For the first time in his college career, Jay Camper earned the #1 Star of the Game as UNH downed BU 4-3. To fully appreciate that accomplishment, consider what Camper has endured over the last several years. In February, 2011, Camper was featured in a CBS Chicago TV report on concussions in young athletes. In the picture on the right, Camper is being examined by Dr. Jeff Jjaanes, director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. According to the TV news feature:
"Nineteen-year old hockey player Jay Camper suffered his last concussion two months ago, but he’s still feeling the effects. 'Really foggy, headaches and just a lot of pressure in my head,' he says, describing his symptoms. He sustained the first of at least five concussions three years ago and kept on playing."
At the time of the report, Camper was playing junior hockey for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. It was his second season in the USHL and the year before he enrolled at UNH. As a result of the concussion, Camper missed the remaining 17 games of Chicago's 2010-11 season.

Since Camper's arrival at UNH for the 2011-12 season, there have been two more incidents involving a possible concussion. In November of his sophomore season in a game down at UMass-Lowell, Camper was creamed into the half-boards on a hit from behind. He got up under his own power, was evaluated by the UNH trainer but did not return to the game. He was kept out of the lineup for three games as a result of "concussion precautions". Earlier this season in a mid-October game out at the University of Michigan, Camper may have suffered another concussion. Once again, he was was not allowed to play for three games as a precautionary measure. In this era of increased awareness of concussions in sports and the potential for long-term disabilities, hockey players - especially those who have experienced a concussion - are aware of the risks they take whenever they compete on the ice. To excel in the face this challenge, as Jay Camper did Saturday night against Boston University, is a noteworthy accomplishment.

In the first game of the home-and-home series on Friday night, UNH mounted a second-period comeback against the offensive juggernaut that is the 2014-15 Boston University hockey team. BU entered the weekend ranked #2 by USA Today/USA Hockey and #3 by USCHO. They have the second best team offense in the nation (3.75 goals per game) and second best power play (25.46%). Freshman Jack Eichel and senior Evan Rodrigues are the #1 and #2 leading scorers in Division I hockey. Eichel is projected to be either the first or second player selected in the NHL draft next June. That will be the highest a college player has been drafted since former UNH star James van Riemsdyk was the second selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Trailing 3-1 early in the second period, UNH tied it up on goals by Warren Foegele and Matt Willows. Eichel assisted on the game-winning goal near the end of the period on a BU power play. They added two more, one an empty-netter, in the final period for a 6-3 win. BU has earned a reputation for being a third-period team since they have scored half of their total goals in the final stanza. To beat the Terriers, UNH would probably need to build a big lead prior to the third period - and that's what they did on Saturday night.

Camper, with Foegele on his left wing and Eiserman on his right, centered the third UNH line and on their first shift of the game, they scored. Near the end of the period, UNH's fourth line put the Wildcats ahead by two. The newly constituted line of freshmen Michael McNicholas at center and Jason Salvaggio on left wing plus junior Jamie Hill (playing in his second year of eligibility) on right wing have been bringing energy and shots on goal since they began playing together in the University of Vermont game last Saturday night. In the BU game at Agganis Arena on Friday, they generated 5 shots on goal and were not on the ice for any of BU's 6 goals. The goal they scored was very similar to the one they set up in the victory over Vermont the week before. McNicholas won the faceoff, Salvaggio passed the puck back to the blue line, this time to freshman defenseman Cameron Marks, he took a shot and Hill redirected it over BU goalie Matt O'Connor's blocker.

On Friday night, the UNH power play matched the output of the high-powered BU power play with both scoring on one out of four opportunities. On Saturday, UNH converted on it's third power play opportunity midway through the second period. Freshman Warren Foegele replaced the injured Grayson Downing on UNH's first power play unit and lined up with Casey Thrush and Matt Willows up front and Brett Pesce and Rich Boyd on the blue line. After Foegele banged home the rebound off a Matt Willows shot, O'Connor - BU's top goalie - was replaced by backup Connor LaCouvee. #1 Star of the Game Jay Camper scored the eventual game winner less than two minutes later.

As predicted, feared or hoped for, depending on your point of view, BU came storming back in the third period with two goals by Matt Grzelcyk (his third goal of the weekend). Freshman goalie Danny Tirone made some big saves to temporarily stem the tide but Evan Rodrigues pulled BU to within one goal on his 13th goal of the season. Over the final 7 minutes of the game, BU outshot UNH 6-2 but the Wildcats hung on and handed BU it's fifth loss of the season.

Points of Interest

~ The UNH penalty kill shut out the second best power play in the nation on Saturday. BU did not score on it's three power play attempts and UNH prevented any BU shots on goal during the first two.
~ In both games, junior Maxim Gaudreault was moved up to center UNH's first line in order to match him up against Jack Eichel. In the two-game series, Eichel scored a goal and added three assists. Gaudreault was on the ice when Eichel scored his lone goal but was not when Eichel dished out his three assists.
~ On Friday night, BU Head Coach David Quinn moved Eichel's line around so they were not matched up against UNH's top line of Thrush-Gaudreault-Willows on numerous shifts. On Saturday, the two top lines were up against each other most of the game. In that game, Gaudreault won 12 out of 19 faceoffs while Eichel won 12 out of 26.
~ Freshman Warren Foegele has scored 4 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games and Shane Eiserman has a goal and 3 assists in his last 5 games.
~ Freshman goalie Danny Tirone made 40 saves on Friday and 31 on Saturday.

Goal-by-Goal Breakdown


Shane Eiserman-4 (Assisted by Jay Camper-2 & Warren Foegele-6)
2:06 of 1st Period - UNH 1, BU 0
~ After freshman Shane Eiserman lead the UNH rush into the BU end, the Foegele-Camper-Eiserman line maintained puck possession and fired a couple shots.
~ The trio set up below the goal line behind BU goalie Matt O'Connor. Foegele sent the puck around the end boards to Eiserman who tapped it to Camper. Then Camper fed Eiserman who quickly brought it out front and buried a backhand shot.

Danny Tirone Saves
~ After Eiserman's goal, freshman goalie Danny Tirone made some big stops to maintain UNH's one-goal lead.

Jamie Hill-2 (Assisted by Cameron Marks-8 & Jason Salvaggio-2)
17:09 of 1st Period - UNH 2, BU 0
~ Jason Salvaggio-Michael McNicholas-Jamie Hill, the latest version of the UNH "energy line" put the Wildcats ahead by two goals.
~ McNicholas won the faceoff to the right of goalie O'Connor, Salvaggio tapped the puck back to freshman defenseman Cameron Marks who flipped a wrister toward the goal.
~ Jamie Hill, parked in front of O'Connor, redirected the puck over his blocker.


Warren Foegele-5 PP (Assisted by Matt Willows-11 & Brett Pesce-7)
9:32 of 2nd Period - UNH 3, BU 0
~ Pesce threaded a pass to Willows at the top of the faceoff circle to O'Connor's right. Willows sent a wrister along the ice and O'Connor kicked it out to his left.
~ A wide-open Warren Foegele banged home the rebound. O'Connor was replaced.

Jay Camper-2 (Assisted by Warren Foegele-7)
11:12 of 2nd Period - UNH 4, BU 0
~ Jay Camper broke up BU's attempt to clear the puck out of their own zone. Warren Foegele picked up the loose puck and showed a burst of acceleration toward the net.
~ At the last moment, Foegele sent a pass to Camper streaking down the slot. He lifted it over goalie LaCouvee's glove for the game-winner.

More Danny Tirone Saves
~ Over the final 6 minutes of the second period, BU picked up the offensive pace and Tirone kept them off the scoreboard with some big stops.


Matt Grzelcyk (From Eichel & Somerby)
5:27 of Period 3 - UNH 4, BU 1
~ Five minutes into the final stanza, offensive defenseman Grzelcyk fired a one-timer from just inside the blueline.
~ Danny O'Regan screened Tirone and knocked him over prompting a video review by the referees. The replay showed that the puck was redirected off Brett Pesce's stick into the net before Tirone was knocked over.

Matt Grzelcyk (From Rodriques & MacLeod)
5:41 of Period 3 - UNH 4, BU 2
~ On the shift following BU's first goal, Rodriques set up Grzelcyk in the mid-slot.
~ Matias Cleland was well-positioned to block the shot but Grzelcyk slid the puck under his stick and past Tirone.

Key Danny Tirone Saves
~ Immediately after their second goal, BU applied intense offensive pressure but Tirone responded with some key saves.

Evan Rodrigues (From MacLeod)
12:15 of Period 3 - UNH 4, BU 3
~ BU's top line worked the puck around the UNH zone. As the puck went out to MacLeod at the point, three UNH players covered Jack Eichel in the mid-slot leaving Rodrigues open to Tirone's right.
~ MacLeod sent a perfect pass to Rodrigues who popped it over Tirone's glove.

Tyler Kelleher Key Defensive Plays
~ Sophomore Tyler Kelleher, UNH's leading scorer, made two bold defensive plays over the final minutes of the game. In each case, he picked up the puck deep in the UNH end and skated it out through traffic.

With the victory, UNH improved its Hockey East record to 6-11-1. They are in 8th place in Hockey East three points behind Connecticut and Maine. Overall, UNH is 11-17-2. Boston University's record in Hockey East is now 13-3-2 and they are in 1st place, four points ahead of BC. Their overall record is 19-5-4. Next up for the Wildcats is a home-and-home series with UConn.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Buffalo Native Frankie Cefalu Commits to UNH

Frankie Cefalu
High-Scoring EHL Forward

Over the last decade, two high-scoring forwards from Buffalo, NY, who played prep school hockey at the Nichols School, committed to play at UNH and went on to enjoy success as a Wildcat. In January, 2006, Phil DeSimone, a native of East Amherst, NY, committed to play for UNH. After playing for Nichols in his freshman and sophomore years, DeSimone spent a highly successful, three-year tenure with the Sioux City Musketeers in the United States Hockey League. The year before he enrolled at UNH, DeSimone was the second-leading scorer in the USHL (26G, 47A) and was named the 2007 USHL Player of the Year. In his four years at UNH, DeSimone scored 107 points and earned membership in the Century Club.

Then, in February, 2011, Andrew Poturalski committed to UNH. At the time, the Williamsville, NY native was a junior at the Nichols School and their leading scorer. Poturalski finished his junior season with 21 goals and 10 assists in 18 games and lead the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association (CISAA) in scoring. After playing for the Buffalo Junior Sabres during his senior year in high school, he played two full seasons with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the USHL. Last season, Poturalski scored 29 goals and 38 assists in 64 RoughRider games and was the 6th leading scorer in the USHL. Poturalski is having an outstanding freshman season at UNH. So far, in 28 games, he has scored 11 goals and 11 assists and is tied for 4th in scoring among all Hockey East freshmen. Interestingly, DeSimone posted 3 goals and 10 assists in 38 games as a UNH freshman.

Two weeks ago, another high-scorer who hails from Buffalo announced his verbal commitment to UNH. 5'11", 170 lbs. right-shot forward Frankie Cefalu (Pronounced CHEF-alu) is in the midst of a successful second season with the Walpole Express of the Eastern Hockey League. In 40 games, Cefalu (DOB: 3/13/1995) has scored 17 goals, including 2 game-winners, and added 39 assists. He is currently tied for the lead in EHL scoring and has the most assists. With 4 games remaining in the regular season, Walpole has clinched the EHL North Division and has the 5th most points in the nineteen-team league.

Last season, as an 18-year-old rookie in the EHL, Frankie Cefalu registered 9 goals and 46 assists in 42 regular season games and was the 5th-leading scorer in the league. His 1 assist per game pace translated into the most assists in the EHL.

In the announcement of Cefalu's commitment to UNH, Walpole Express head coach Jonathan Lounsbury described what makes him a top player in the EHL:
"He makes plays and sees the ice better than anyone I’ve ever coached. He does things other players can’t do, it’s as simple as that. He’s so tough to play against, because you never know what he’s going to do. He’s a threat every time the puck’s on his stick.”
These video highlights from this season show what Coach Lounsbury is talking about. Cefalu is #13.

Like Phil DeSimone and Andrew Poturalski, Frankie Cefalu was a top player at the Nichols School in Buffalo. In his senior year at Nichols, Cefalu lead his team and the CISAA in scoring in both the regular season (10G, 12A, 15 Games) and playoffs (3G, 5A, 6 Games). Current UNH standout freshman Warren Foegele was a junior at St. Andrew's College in that 2012-13 season and he was the second-leading scorer in the CISAA. Here is a highlight reel of Frankie Cefalu's (#22) senior season at the Nichols School:

I had an opportunity to interview Frankie, via email, about his background, commitment to UNH, and future plans:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?
Frankie Cefalu: UNH is an outstanding school with one of the best hockey programs in the Nation. After speaking to the coaches and visiting the school, I felt like it was a perfect fit for me. I attended the UNH vs. Maine game and it was everything I had hoped it would be. The coaching staff is very well respected and I am honored to be a part of such a program and institution.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Frankie Cefalu: I have spoken to and visited several schools; however, once I knew UNH was interested, I looked no further. This is exactly where I want to be.

Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?
Cefalu: At this point we do not have an exact date. It could be Fall 2015 or 2016.

Lowry: In your second season with the Walpole Express, you are the leading scorer in the Eastern Hockey League with 17 goals and 39 assists in 40 games. At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?
Cefalu: I believe the strengths of my game are my hockey IQ, play making ability, and my compete level. I was a late bloomer, so I had to really develop my skills and sense for the game to be competitive. I feel fortunate that I had to overcome size at a young age as it gave me the tools necessary to compete at high level hockey today.
As far as areas I would like to improve...I would say I am always working to improve every part of my game. In order to continue to be successful, you have to keep improving. There is no end to that.

Lowry: You completed your junior and senior years at the Nichols School in your hometown of Buffalo, NY. UNH freshman Andrew Poturalski, a native of Williamsville just outside Buffalo, also graduated from Nichols the year before you arrived. Do you know Andrew and did you play with or against him when you were growing up?
Cefalu: I have known Andrew for most of my hockey life playing in Buffalo NY. Everyone knew Andrew, he was always one of the best players in the area. I didn't get a chance to play with him at Nichols. However, we played together on the same line for the past two years for a summer league in Buffalo. He is dynamic player and I feel we complement each other very well.
The Summer League is called Fattey Hockey League. Many college, international, and pro players from the area participate in the league. It's a great way to play competitive hockey and stay sharp for the Winter season. Players such as Patrick Kane, Zemgus Girgensons, Corey Conacher and Cole Schneider all participate, just to name a few. Last season, we had the pleasure of playing Pat Kane's team for the cup.

Lowry: In the 2012-13 season, as a senior at Nichols, you lead the Conference Of Independent Schools Athletic Association in scoring with 10 goals and 12 assists in 15 games. UNH fans will recognize the second leading scorer in the CISAA that season - current UNH freshman Warren Foegele. In fact, Foegele and the St. Andrew's College Saints defeated the Nichols School for the CISAA Championship and Foegele scored the overtime goal in the final game. What do you remember most about that season and playoff series?
Cefalu: That was my Senior year and all year we battled St. Andrews for the top spot. St. Andrews ended up #1, edging us out by 1 point. Only fitting that we both meet in the Championship round. The first game we lost in OT...The second we won...sending the final game back to St. Andrews.
It was one of the toughest, hard fought games I can remember. Both teams wanted the title and gave it their best. I remember the game being tied at 1 until late in the third period. I also remember the awesome feeling I felt when I was able to put Nichols in the lead with just a few minutes left in the game. The whole team was excited, but also knew we had to hold them off to be champs.
It came down to seconds left in the game and a face off in our end. The face off stayed neutral until a St. Andrews players jumped up on it and slapped it 5 hole to send it into OT. We both fought hard in the OT period, but eventually St. Andrews scored the winner....Warren Foegle! It was a hard fought battle and one I will always remember.

Lowry: When you signed with the Walpole Express in the summer of 2013, your coach Jonathan Lounsbury said you had a successful tryout with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League and would likely play for them after a year with Walpole. What factors lead you to play another season (i.e., this season) with Walpole instead of playing for Omaha?
Cefalu: My first year playing for Walpole was better than expected. The coaching I received and the level of play in the league was fantastic and helped me really hone my skills and team play. Our team was young, but very hard working. I was fortunate to finish 5th in the league in points that year and could see the following year was going to be even better for our team.
I believed in my coach and the league (EHL). The league is very well run and one I was proud to be part of it. In the end, Walpole made my decision easy to stay another year and I am glad I did as everything went as planned. Our team just clinched 1st place in our division and we're looking forward to a successful playoff run.

Lowry: After graduating from the Nichols School, have you continued to attend academic classes? What major do you plan to pursue at UNH?
Cefalu: After Nichols, I have taken a couple classes through a Community College near home to stay sharp. I plan to study business at UNH with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. I am interested in Real Estate and would like to acquire the necessary skills at UNH to help make me successful.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Former UNH Star Stevie Moses Ties KHL Goal-Scoring Record

KHL Star Stevie Moses

In the three years since he hung up the #22 UNH jersey, Stevie Moses has become a professional hockey star. This season, he and Jokerit, the top Finnish professional team based in Helsinki, moved up to the Kontinental Hockey League - the second best professional hockey league in the world after the National Hockey League. The KHL was formed in the 2008-09 season and includes 22 teams from Russian cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Sochi plus teams from Finland, Latvia, Belarus, Croatia, Slovakia, and Kazakhstan. Current NHL stars such as Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin formerly played in the KHL and former NHL stars such as Ilya Kovalchuk currently play in the KHL.

Stevie Moses signed with Jokerit (English translation: Jokers or Jesters) in the season after he left UNH and is in his third season with the Helsinki squad. Last Friday, Moses became only the fifth player in KHL history to score 35 goals in a single season. Jokerit flew 1800 miles to Omsk, Russia, located in southwestern Siberia, to play the Avangard team. Less than a minute into the third period, with Jokerit trailing by two goals, Moses scored his first goal of the game and the 34th goal of the season. As the video highlight shows, Jokerit held a two-man advantage and Moses (#12 in the white jersey) one-timed a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle to the right of the Avangard goalie. The puck sailed into the top corner of the net over the goalie's shoulder. With less than 4 minutes remaining in regulation and Avangard ahead 4-2, Moses sniped another one-timer from a similar spot on the ice. This time, the puck hit the underside of the crossbar and ricocheted in. Steve Moses had tied the KHL single-season record for most goals.

Prior to joining the Kontinental Hockey League, Jokerit was part of the top Finnish professional league known as Liiga. During the 2012-13 season, Moses' first as a professional, numerous NHL players played in Liiga due to the NHL lockout. As a rookie pro in Liiga, Moses posted 22 goals and 16 assists in 55 regular season games for Jokerit, lead the team in goal scoring, and tied for 4th in goal scoring in the league. Last season, Moses played in 13 fewer regular season games for Jokerit but still scored 12 goals and 11 assists. He was the team's third leading goal scorer.

Stevie Moses' improved goal scoring has been remarkable. Not only has he increased his best yearly output by 13 goals, he has done so playing against tougher competition. The difference between the KHL and Liiga is comparable to the NHL and AHL.

One week before Stevie tied the KHL goal-scoring record, I had an opportunity to interview him via Facetime.** He had just completed a game against the KHL team from Bratislava, Slovakia in front of over 12,000 fans at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. Stevie had scored the 3rd goal in the Jokerit's 4-0 victory. It was his 33rd goal of the season - just two shy of the record.

We discussed a range of topics including the differences between NCAA and professional hockey, his on-ice and off-ice experiences playing for Jokerit initially in the Finnish League and then the KHL, and his future plans. I was particularly interested in hearing Stevie's perspective on the improvement in his goal scoring as a professional hockey player. What follows are some excerpts from the interview.

Mike Lowry:
Congratulations on your outstanding season with Jokerit of Helsinki, Finland. In this historic, inaugural season in the Kontinental Hockey League, you are the league's leading goal scorer with 33 goals and 20 assists in 51 games. Your first two pro seasons with Jokerit, as members of the Finnish Liiga, you potted 24 and 13 (regular season plus playoffs). What factors have lead to your increased goal scoring in an arguably more challenging league?

Stevie Moses:
"First of all, I don't think there's any argument that the KHL is the second best league in the world. There are plenty of players in Russia who could go to the NHL and make 6, 7 or 800,000 dollars a year that are making 3 to 4 million in the KHL instead. The level of play in the KHL is really high. Of course, the parity is not the same as in the NHL because the money isn't the same throughout the league. The best teams in the KHL can get the best players."

"My team, Jokerit, came into the KHL this year with a substantially smaller budget than the established teams and I think they did an incredible job building the team. We have 12 players on our team that are regulars on the Finnish National Team that compete in the World Championships and the Olympics."

"Those guys choose to play for Jokerit for many different reasons but essentially a lot of them have made more money either in the NHL or in the KHL on some of the Russian teams and they feel they can take a little bit of a pay cut to come back and play and live in Helsinki, a beautiful city. They feel comfortable living here as opposed to making more money in a Russian market and feeling less comfortable."

"Jari Kurri, our General Manager - a legendary player in the NHL who played many years with Wayne Gretzky - did an awesome job building this team. I play with some really, really good players. Linus Omark has been my linemate all season. He played in the NHL for a couple of seasons with Edmonton and most recently Buffalo. He's a little bit of a small guy, one of the most skilled players I've ever seen with the puck - a really great passer."

"Like I've said all season, I have to give a lot of credit to my linemates. Linus and I play with Peter Koukal, a player from the Czech Republic who plays for their National Team in the World Championships. Those two guys that I play with are awesome players."

"On a personal level, I've matured. Playing over here the last few years has really helped me become a pro in the sense that it's not about being good one out of every 3 games. It's about being good every game. Even on the bad nights, it's playing at 75% of your max rather than 30%. I think I've improved mentally and being mentally prepared every game. I realize I have a big opportunity here and so it's important to perform as close to my max as possible every shift in every game."

Mike Lowry:
You were one of the most electrifying UNH Wildcats to ever play at the Whittemore Center and generated an extraordinary number of shots on goal. One of your trademarks was what could be called the "unassisted shot on goal". That's when you would either steal or gather the puck, carry it through the three zones, or within the offensive zone, and fire a shot on goal without an opponent, or another teammate, touching the puck. Is this still an important part of your arsenal? Has it been more difficult to single-handedly generate offense at the professional level?

NOTE TO READER: As this video highlight shows, Moses is still perfectly capable of generating offense on his own:

Stevie Moses:
"I think that was a strength, obviously, in college. I could skate and handle the puck higher than most guys at that level. I was able to do a lot of stuff on my own. Obviously, as you go up and play at higher levels like in the Finnish League, for example, I had to adapt a little bit at times, for sure. I think I've developed a lot, become a better hockey player and learning how to use my teammates better."

"For the fans and people watching the games it was fun to watch me try to do a lot of stuff on my own. It wasn't a selfish thing like I wanted to do it on my own but maybe I didn't see the guys as well as I do now."

"I was lucky enough, my first season here. When I came over here, it was during the NHL lockout and I was playing on the power play right away and my first power play was with Erik Karlsson (Currently the Captain of the Ottawa Senators). I was playing on the point with Karlsson as my partner. He's arguably the best offensive defenseman in the world. And we had Valtteri Filppula, one of the top Finnish players who played for the Detroit Red Wings (currently with the Tampa Bay Lightning) and his brother Ilari Filppula."

"I was lucky to play with some older guys and I really needed to move the puck with those guys because they were world class players. I think that helped me a lot to see that sometimes it's better to get open without the puck and try to find some open space without the puck. Sometimes when you have the puck, everyone's coming toward you and you learn how to move it."

"I think I've taken another step this season playing with some of the guys we have on the team now. We really try to move the puck as much as we can and try to create offense that way."

"The number of shots on goal is still an important part of my game. As I've been touring a lot this season, the media here is just crazy. It's like every game they ask 'how many more goals until you beat the record?'- the single season goal record. The record's 35, I have 33 so I'm getting close. What I always tell them is, as a goal scorer or a guy that's expected to score, I try to focus more on the chances that I get in a game and the opportunities I get. I focus on the number of shots on net to evaluate my performance as opposed to whether or not I scored."

"It's easy to get frustrated when you go 4 or 5 games without a goal if that's all you're focused on. But, I've been coaching myself to thinking - as long as I'm getting my chances and shots on net, the goals will come. The way you do it is to get the puck to the net whether it's shots, tips, getting chances. I still try to get 3, 4, 5, 6 shots a game. That's something I learned in college and Scotty Borek and Dick Umile really helped me with that. They helped me realize you don't always have to have the perfect shot, you just get the chances and eventually they'll go in."

Mike Lowry:
Do you have a go-to shot or a go-to area of the ice where you feel the most confident that you're going to score?

Stevie Moses:
"That's a good question. I don't think so. It goes through stretches like right now our power play seems to be working well. I've score 3 or 4 in the last few games on the power play on one-timers from really nice passes from Omark. That seems to be working right now but it will stop eventually. So we'll have to figure it out and adapt."

"Earlier in the season we were scoring a lot more on rushes whether it's 3-on-2's or 2-on-1's but now that's gotten a little bit tougher for us. Guys who score goals at this level have the kind of mindset where you've just got to figure out what's working at the time. When it doesn't, you have to adapt and try something different."

Stevie Moses and Jokerit have 5 games remaining in the KHL regular season. All of them are away games. Moses next opportunity to break the single-season goal-scoring record is this Sunday in St. Petersburg, Russia against SKA.

In the next installment of this series of articles on Stevie Moses, we'll cover his plans for next season. His current contract with Jokerit is over at the end of this season. Moses is weighing his options including signing with a NHL team or going to one of the premiere Russian teams in the KHL. He also discusses what it takes for a relatively smaller player to succeed in the NHL.

** Special thanks to long-time UNH hockey fan Tina Thibodeau for helping to coordinate my interview with Stevie Moses.

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