Tuesday, May 26, 2015

UNH Recruits Update: Final 2014-15 Stats

2015 UNH Recruit
Joseph Masonius

The long 2014-15 season is over for all the young players committed to the University of New Hampshire. This final update of the season includes the statistics for each of the 20 UNH recruits.

I have received confirmation from 6 recruits on their plan to enroll at the University of New Hampshire for the first semester of the 2015-16 academic year and to play for the Wildcats next season. Five forwards - Frankie Cefalu, Jason Kalinowski, Christopher Miller, Ara Nazarian, and Marcus Vela - plan to join the UNH Class of 2019. For a link to an article highlighting each recruit's accomplishments, click on the player's name.

The 6th recruit planning to arrive at UNH this fall is 18-year-old defenseman Joseph Masonius from Spring Lake, New Jersey. Masonius is the subject of the Player Spotlight.

Player Spotlight - Joseph Masonius

Masonius (DOB: 2-17-1997), a 6'0", 180 lbs. defenseman, has been a member of the United States National Team Development Program for the last two seasons. Just a few weeks ago in late April, Masonius and Team USA won the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 World Championships in Switzerland. Here are player statistics and background information for Joseph. It includes 2 informative links. Click on his name and a link to his statistics comes up on a separate screen. Click on the date next to "Commit to UNH:" for a link to an article which announced his verbal commitment to UNH.

Joseph Masonius
US National Under-18 Team
United States Hockey League
DOB: 2-17-1997 Hometown: Spring Lake, NJ
Defense, 6'0", 180 lbs. Shoots Left
Commit to UNH: 10-13-2012 at Age 15 years, 8 months.
"The first time I visited UNH I knew it was the place I wanted to be. It's a perfect fit. I am very excited to join Coach Umile and his staff in a few years, but for now I look forward to continuing my development."

Player Year Team League GP Goals Asst Pts +/- PIM
Joseph Masonius  (D) 2014/2015 USA U18 Team USHL 24 0 10 10 +10 45
NCAA 18 5 5 10 14
NAHL 2 0 1 1 0
Int'l. 17 0 5 5 22
2013/2014 USA U18 Team USHL 22 0 2 2 -2 32
Int'l. 15 0 5 5 20

Scouting Reports

Joseph Masonius #2
In the NHL Central Scouting Service's 2015 Midterm Rankings, Joseph Masonius was listed as the #201 North American skater. He was not included in the 2015 Final Rankings.

From Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News, November, 2014:
"It was a glorious weekend of Michigan hockey for me, as I took a road trip to Ann Arbor to take in games featuring the National Team Development Program (NTDP)...The NTDP got two wins over United States League opponents...All (the) games gave me a great look at some top prospects and here are a few of them below, plus more kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL some day:
By the end of the weekend, anytime I sensed a big hit coming, I just assumed it was Masonius – and I was usually right. The University of New Hampshire commit can rock opponents with his physicality and he also has a pretty decent point shot. Draft eligible in 2015.”
Here are some highlights from those games. Masonius is #2 in the white jersey:

In January, Masonius played in the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. The game was played in Dubuque before a packed house which included over 100 NHL scouts. Joseph Masonius was a top performer for Team West scoring the first of their four goals, firing 3 shots on goal, and finishing with a +2 rating.
Mike Morreale from NHL.com wrote:
"Masonius, who is not rated by NHL Central Scouting and is committed to the University of New Hampshire in 2015-16, did his best to get the attention of scouts. The 6-foot, 180-pound left-hand shot exhibited plenty of poise and feistiness throughout. His goal in the second came off a shot from the top of the left circle at 15:47.”
Here's Masonius' goal scored off a faceoff late in the second period:

The statistics for the recruits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2016 Recruits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2016. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ The year the recruit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ The date the recruit signed the National Letter of Intent.
~ How old the recruit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The recruit's performance in the current season as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2015 Recruits
Frankie Cefalu  (F) Walpole Express EHL 44 17 46 63 48
Playoffs 4 4 3 7 2
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Bloomington Thunder USHL 42 2 9 11 60
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 18 5 5 10 14
USHL 24 0 10 10 45
NAHL 2 0 1 1 0
Int'l. 17 0 5 5 22
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 33 8 12 20 10
Playoffs 3 1 2 3 0
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 60 12 16 28 16
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 50 20 26 46 57
Playoffs 3 0 1 1 4
2016 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 55 22 51 73 34
Playoffs 4 1 2 3 0
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 60 9 25 34 12
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 56 1 6 7 41
Playoffs 4 0 1 1 4
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 47 29 12 41 54
Playoffs 4 2 1 3 14
2016 or '17 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 24 18 33 51 30
Playoffs 4 4 3 7 2
Non-League 30 7 20 27 -
Natl. Champ. 4 3 0 3 4
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 26 2 6 8 -
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 19 10 13 23 18
Playoffs 4 2 1 3 2
Non-Conf 33 21 24 45 26
Natl. Champ. 5 3 6 9 0
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 37 11 21 32 26
Playoffs 3 2 1 3 0
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 41 1 1 2 12
Mike Robinson  (G) Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 25 7W 16L/2T 3.20 .902
Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 55 6 12 18 26
Playoffs 5 0 0 0 0
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 26 17 14 31 -
Playoffs 1 1 0 1 -
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
Playoffs 4 3 3 6 0
Non-League 9 4 2 6 -
2018 Recruits
Joel Farabee  (F) Selects Academy 16U USPHL 16U 28 8 25 33 16
Playoffs 3 0 2 2 0
Non-League 31 6 10 16 -
Natl. Champ. 4 0 3 3 0

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ As I reported earlier this month, Liam Blackburn has decided to play one more season with the West Kelowna Warriors, then enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2016.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Jumbo-Sized News for UNH Hockey

Jumbotron Ready for 2015-16 Season

The UNH Athletic Department has announced that a state-of-the-art, four-sided jumbotron will be hanging over center ice at the Whittemore Center this season. But that's not all! An HD video board will replace the beloved "stick-figure men" board at the west end of the arena and electronic ribbon boards with LED functionality will be installed on the skybox level.

Coach Dick Umile hit the nail squarely on the head:
“This is an incredible game-changer for our program and our fans. The new videoboard will improve the already tremendous atmosphere inside the Whittemore Center and help us continue to recruit top-notch student-athletes in our ultimate quest to win the national championship.”
Way back in December, 2011, I posted "All I Want for Christmas is a Jumbotron". It's been a long time coming but UNH hockey fans can now celebrate a special Christmas in May. Here's a re-post of the article I wrote on December 23, 2011:

Ever since instant replays became commonplace on TV coverage of the NFL in the 1960's (it's true, you can look it up), the brains of sports fans have been trained to look for them. Exciting plays, scores, near misses, controversial calls - we want to see them again, the sooner the better. With the proliferation of Jumbotrons and other video scoreboards in hockey arenas all over the country, fans and players alike gaze upwards to see what just happened. But not at the Whittemore Center, home of the UNH Wildcats.

Travelling to away games this season, I've noticed how integral the video scoreboard has become to the college hockey experience at many schools. The type of scoreboard and the way the video display is used often reflects the character of the school. The Agganis Arena at Boston University, opened in 2005, has all the bells, whistles, and glitz you'd expect at a venue in the entertainment hub of New England. The robust, 4-sided Jumbotron suspended over center ice is shaped like the one at the old Boston Garden. When the game is in progress, the video displays on each side are used like an IMAX theater. The fans can either follow the actual players on the ice or watch the live video of the play around the puck. To maximize its entertainment value, the video scoreboard at Agganis is also used for other purposes such as player interviews and the between-periods dance contest.

In contrast, Harvard University utilizes its video scoreboard in a much more understated way. The Bright Hockey Center, originally built in 1956 and renovated/expanded in 1978, also has a four-sided video scoreboard suspended over center ice but it is smaller and tucked up into the rafters. In between periods, fans are shown a minidocumentary on the history of Harvard Hockey.

When the Whittemore Center in Durham, NH was opened in 1995, it was a state-of-the-art hockey facility. For the fans it offers great site lines, a spacious promenade where you can still see the ice, clean and ample restrooms, many seats with arms and backs, and good quality concession stands. Upgrades have included seamless glass on the boards. Players are attracted by the spacious locker rooms and amenities, the olympic-sized rink, and the fan enthusiasm.

The only element missing from the hockey experience at the Whittemore Center is a video scoreboard. Much of the infrastructure is in place. The wiring was reportedly installed years ago and TV cameras are provided through UNHWildcats.TV. Their coverage now includes instant replays.

Of course, budgets at New Hampshire's flagship university are tight and getting tighter every year. New Hampshire taxpayers are known for their thriftiness (some would say stinginess). However, a new video scoreboard does not need to be an extravagant Jumbotron. It would be more fitting to purchase a single-sided scoreboard to replace the one at the north end of the arena. Would you rather watch the two, beloved stick-figure fans in stilted "animation" or full-color, instant replays of the hockey action?

Perhaps the best solution would be a video scoreboard similar to the one some fans saw at St. Cloud State University earlier this season. Take advantage of New Hampshire's entrepreneurial spirit, round up several prominent businesses based in New Hampshire, and surround the video screen with their logos. Doesn't matter much whether the logo square footage far exceeds the size of the video display as long as fans can see the replays. Or maybe some former UNH players who have lucrative careers in the sport could guarantee contributions to a fund drive specifically for a video scoreboard for The Whitt.

It's best not to underestimate the value a video scoreboard has in recruiting talented players to UNH. Watch any NHL or NCAA hockey game and notice what the players on the bench automatically do following an important play in a game. Whether they want to see themselves in action, review a controversial call, or see a pretty goal-scoring play, the players are looking up at the video screen. It's as much a part of the modern hockey game as composite hockey sticks.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Liam Blackburn Plans Fall 2016 Arrival at UNH

2016 UNH Recruit
Liam Blackburn

UNH recruit Liam Blackburn has decided to play one more season in the British Columbia Hockey League and become a UNH Wildcat in the Fall of 2016.

The 18-year-old Blackburn (DOB: 6-8-1996), a 5'10", 167 lbs. center from Prince George, British Columbia, signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) with the University of New Hampshire during the early signing period last November. The NLI is a written agreement in which the player agrees to attend the school for at least his freshman year and the school agrees to provide an athletic scholarship for at least the freshman year. In most situations, the prospective scholar-athlete who signs an NLI attends the school the following year. However, he has the option to delay enrollment for one year.

Blackburn had a breakout year in his second season in the BCHL. As a 17-year-old rookie with the West Kelowna Warriors, he scored 19 goals and 28 points in 53 games. This season he increased his goal scoring to 23 and nearly doubled his assists up to 53. During the regular season, he tied for 6th in BCHL scoring and posted the third most assists. On February 15th, Blackburn broke the Warriors' single-season record for most assists. Here's a video of his record-setting assists (he is #26 in the black jersey):

Blackburn verbally committed to UNH on October 7, 2014. When I interviewed him shortly after he committed, he explained his decision:
Warriors' Forward Liam Blackburn
(Photo Credit:  Greystoke Photography)
"Some of the main reasons I chose UNH included the campus, which I thought was gorgeous. I also like that the team plays in Hockey East, the travel is simple and allows less absences from class. I also feel the style of play will fit me best and the olympic ice size will benefit me. I had considered a few other schools such as Nebraska Omaha, Merrimack, and Penn State. I visited a couple schools but after my visit to UNH there were no schools in competition."
Around the same time, in an interview with Kyle Anderson, the Director of Media and Play-by-Play Voice of the West Kelowna Warriors, Liam laid out his thoughts about coming to UNH next season or in the Fall of 2016:
"I'm just trying to make myself the best player possible and whether that's making myself ready for college next year or the year after, I mean, that's a choice I'm probably going to make later in the year. Either way, I don't think there's a wrong choice. An extra year of juniors would be nice to develop physically but mentally, I think I'm prepared to go."
Blackburn's decision to play a third season of junior hockey before coming to UNH is reminiscent of the path chosen by graduating senior Grayson Downing and freshman Andrew Poturalski. Downing, who also played for the Warriors in the BCHL, posted 36 goals and 43 assists in his third season. As a freshman at UNH, he had an immediate impact scoring 10 goals and 13 assists. Poturalski scored 29 goals and 38 assists in his third season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the United States Hockey League. In his inaugural campaign with UNH this season, he was the Wildcats' 4th-leading scorer with 14 goals and 15 assists. No doubt, Liam hopes to replicate this development path over the next two seasons.

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