Friday, December 30, 2016

Midseason Review with Mike Souza, UNH Associate Head Coach

UNH Associate Head Coach
Mike Souza

Last summer, I had an opportunity to sit down with Mike Souza, associate head coach of the UNH men's hockey team, to review last season and talk about the team's prospects for this season. Now that the team is exactly halfway through the 34-game, 2016-17 schedule, it's time for a followup interview with coach Souza.

After 17 games last season, UNH's overall record was 7-6-4. The current team has a similar overall record of 8-7-2. However, the 2016-17 Wildcats have compiled a better record in Hockey East competition. While last year's team had only 2 Hockey East wins (2-1-4), this team is 5-1-1 and tied for 3rd place with Notre Dame and Vermont in the Hockey East standings. Boston College (8-1-1) is in first and UMass-Lowell (6-3-1) is in second.

In Hockey East competition, UNH has the #1 offense (4.43 goals per game) and #1 power play (37.2 power play %). Individual standouts include Tyler Kelleher who leads Hockey East in scoring (2.57 points per game), assists (1.71 per game), power play points (1.57 PPG) and goals (0.57 GPG). Among Hockey East defensemen, Matias Cleland is the leading scorer (1.57 points per game) and #1 in assists (1.43 per game). Patrick Grasso is the leading scorer (1.57 points per game), goal scorer (0.71 per game), and power play scorer (1.14 points per game) among all Hockey East freshmen.

Here's the interview I conducted yesterday with UNH associate head coach Mike Souza:

Qualifying for the NCAA Tournament

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): When I interviewed you last July, I asked how close the 2016-17 team was to qualifying for the 2017 NCAA Tournament. You said "I really believe that we can make the NCAA tournament this year. I hope I'm telling you that in January too." This year, UNH hosts the Northeast Regionals in Manchester so if the team earns a spot in the NCAA tournament, you will have a "home team advantage". In order to qualify, UNH either has to win the Hockey East Tournament or be ranked among the top 12-15 teams in Division I when the HE Tournament ends. Now that we're half-way through the season, how do you feel about UNH's chances of making the NCAA tournament?

Coach Mike Souza: I feel great about it. I think that ... obviously as we talked about this summer, there's always uncertainty with the new team, I mean that's the same for everyone in the country. When you have a turnover, when you lose seniors and have new players arriving. We've already surpassed our win total from last year within our conference but that was the toughest conference to win in college hockey. Last year I believe from our conference there were six, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe there were six teams from our conference that made the tournament.

What that tells me is that if you're able to finish near the top of the conference, which is where we are right now, you're going to not only rise in the national rankings but also give yourself the best possible chance to get into the NCAA tournament. Now I know we've had some hiccups with the non-league games, which hopefully at the end of the year don't cost us in getting in - hopefully that's not why we don't get in. But I feel great about our team. I know you mentioned not having beat any of the top teams yet, the so-called "top teams", but the reality is you gotta win the games you play. Last year, we weren't able to do that consistently and so far this year we have and I think that bodes well for our overall team attitude as we go into the second half of the season.

So I feel confident that we have just as good a chance as anyone of getting in there. I know our kids do and I know there's a great energy with our group since they've come back from break. We're real excited about our game tomorrow and moving on to obviously, back into league play next Friday.

Mike Lowry: In terms of who you've played so far this year, BC is the only one that's been ranked in the top 15 and that turned out to be a pretty close game as I recall. You fell behind pretty early but then scored three goals to tie it up and then lost late in the game. It's only one game and it's only Boston College, but did you get a sense from that game of how your team will stack up with the top teams, or the so-called top teams in hockey?

Coach Souza: I know that game was early in the year, but I think that was a good measuring stick for our group. We showed some great character in coming back in that game and basically being there right at the end of the game and having the chance to, at the very least, come out of there with a point. We failed to do that but I think for those who may not know our team that well, that game right there was an indication of where we are as a group. I think that when we get to those top teams, we'll be right there.

What's the point of doing this if you're not going to compete against the best teams in the conference? Last year we didn't have a great season, but we were able to knock off Lowell and Providence. We've got guys that have played in some big games and won those games. I like where we are and I like our leadership. Matias (Cleland) and the senior class do a tremendous job and they're hungry to win too, Mike. They're very hungry to win which is great.

Lowry: I think another thing we talked about last summer was that in the grand scheme of things, what does it take to win a national championship? You had mentioned two key factors - you've got to have hot goal-tending at the end of the year and the team needs to be peaking at the right time as you go into the tournament season. If you think about peaking at the right time, can you think of areas where the team has the potential to get better over the second half and be firing on all cylinders so to speak?

Souza: I guess the general, the "Belichick-ian" answer would be we can get better in all areas. That's coach-speak, but I actually believe that. There's always room to improve in all areas of our game, especially with young players and young kids. I do think that we can always get better defensively as a group. Teams that play tenacious, tough checking defense, generally do well in the tournament. You know the old saying in college hockey - "it's the race to three".

When I say defense, I mean team defense and just overall group defense and that's an area that I think we made a lot of strides in. I know that our entire team is committed to getting better in that area. I think that's so important and I'm sure every coach in the country would probably echo similar sentiments about wanting to tighten it up defensively all the time and not to have any situations where you're beating yourself.

Lowry: I've seen every game this year and it seems to me that there have been two improvements in terms of team defense. One is getting back to prevent the odd man rushes, not only just the two defensive guys getting back, but also the, usually the center, getting back to cover the guys as the opposition enters your zone. I think there's been improvement also in covering guys out in front of the net since the beginning of the season. Do you see those improvements as well and are those a couple of key areas that you'll hopefully be doing, playing at your very best come tournament time?

Souza: I think that the makeup of our group has allowed us to be more consistent defensively. I think Anthony Wyse's size and quickness for a big guy has really helped our play in our own end. I think that our top guys have made a commitment to play in our own end and I think we've gotten contributions defensively from the freshman line, it's been solid. Guys like Hill and Eiserman have done what I've always asked them which has really, really helped us make an overall commitment to team defense.

I think we've talked about this before or we've mentioned this before Mike. We always have this reputation of being a better offensive team than defensive team, but I always took pride in the fact that we've had some pretty darn good defensive teams up here at UNH over the years. I'm talking about back when I was here and long after I left. It's always been a staple of the way Dick (Umile) coaches. Put it this way, we talk about our play without the puck more than we talk about our play with the puck. Our guys have done a good job with it this year and I think we continue to get better with it. And Danny Tirone has played well for us too.

The Power Play

Lowry: One of the things the team is doing very well this year is scoring on the power play. Last year, the UNH power play scored on 23.9% of the opportunities which ranked #1 in Hockey East and #6 in the nation. A couple of things that made the power play click last year was Andrew Poturalski and Dan Correale. This year though, you haven't fallen off hardly at all so far. You're scoring on 22.1% of your opportunities and the power play is ranked #1 in Hockey East and #12 in the nation.

I think fans will have noticed that you made a couple of major changes in the first power play unit this year as compared to last year. Last year, the first power play unit had Matias and Cam Marks playing at the points and then you had your first line of Correale, Poturalski, and Tyler Kelleher up front. This year, right from the very beginning, you moved Tyler back onto the blue line with Matias and you have your first line out there, or two-thirds of the first line, with Jason Salvaggio and Michael McNicholas and then you added freshman Patrick Grasso to play right wing on the forward line. So a very different style of power play. What was the rationale for that? I think it's worked out quite well, but how do you think it's worked out?

Souza: Well, first of all, I think that last year, four of the five guys were consistently on it, but that fifth guy, you know, at times, you remember it was Max Gaudreault, at times it was Ara Nazarian, at times it was Cam Marks. This year we've stayed pretty consistent with the group and I think that only helps. Naturally, we have some talented players on there. Tyler is as talented as player as there is in the country and the power play sort of runs through him. Michael McNicholas actually is another guy that was on and off (the power play unit) last year. He's been on it all year, so without a doubt, tremendous chemistry with that group on the power play this year. Above all, they're five very talented kids that work well together. We talk concepts, more so than set plays, but we have some things that we go over and work on. It ultimately comes down to execution and those guys, from the start of the year, have gelled together nicely.

Now, like you said, we have a whole second half to go and hopefully we can continue that consistency on the power play. As you know, there's an uptick in penalties in college hockey so that puts a premium on performing on the power play. Our guys are aware of that and we practice it a lot, but there's been a complete buy-in from the group as to what we want and they go out and ultimately execute it. It has very little to do with the coaching staff in terms of what happens once those guys are out there and they make plays.

We've been fortunate over the last couple of years, at least since I've been back here, to have guys that have enough skill to kind of get out of trouble, keep plays alive, making little area plays or little skilled plays that keeps the power play in the zone, doesn't force a turnover. Those are the sort of things, that's what makes Tyler a special player, he has the ability to do that. Michael McNicholas has the ability to do that, Grasso's covering around the net, they all compliment each other well. Matias is good up top and Jason Sal's got the best, probably the best shot on the team. They all compliment each other well and I think that's, if you look at any power play unit anywhere, those are some of the things that need to happen. The guys need to compliment each other well and fortunately to this point in the year we've been able to have some success, but like you said, we've got a long way to go.

Tyler Kelleher

Lowry: You mentioned Tyler Kelleher. Obviously he's a special player. He's pretty much matching or exceeding his scoring from last year. Right now he's the fourth leading scorer in NCAA hockey, he's got 12 goals, 19 assists and he's tied for second in assists. Would you agree that he deserves serious consideration for the Hobey Baker Award as the second half of the season moves on?

Souza: Yeah, I think that he clearly will be in that conversation and it also puts more of a premium on how we do as a group. As you know from being around a long time, the guys who are in it for that award generally are on teams that are near the top towards the end of the year. So our hopes I'm sure, and his hope I know, is that we're there, we're one of the teams in the discussion for the tournament come the end of the year. As we tell the guys all the time, when the logo on the front of the jersey is taken care of, usually there's accolades for the Kellehers and the like. Without a doubt Mike, he's as talented a player as there is in the country, he's fun to watch, he's got a great stick, he's got great creativity, he sees the ice incredibly well and he has an elusiveness to him that's uncanny when he's on the ice and in the offensive zone. Obviously he's having a great senior season and hopefully will continue that. I don't see any reason why he won't.

Lowry: Long time UNH fans will remember that you played on a line with Jason Krog and Darren Haydar. Krog won the Hobey Baker Award in the 1998-99 season and then Haydar made the Hobey Hat Trick in the 2001-02 season. Could you compare Tyler's skill set to Krog's and to Haydar's since you played with both of them? Is Tyler different in important ways from those two players?

Souza: That's a very tough comparison to make. Jason was a centerman who was really good at face offs and he played down low a lot. Jason was just a special player - he obviously helped catapult our team that year to the national finals. He played in a couple hundred NHL games and played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Darren is similar in stature but a little bigger than Tyler. He had uncanny knack to score goals in and around the net and he continued that in pro hockey. I marvel at his pro hockey statistics (AHL All-Time leader in playoff goals, assists, and points). They're absolutely unbelievable in the American Hockey League.

I think that Tyler has some similar traits, but you are talking about two incredibly unique players that have come through Durham. And two guys that I am obviously bias towards for obvious reasons. I speak very highly of them whenever I have the opportunity. But I'll tell you what, Tyler is a special player, and in today's game, its hard to score goals in college hockey and its hard to get points. He's found a way to do that throughout his career at UNH and hopefully he continues it and becomes an All American. We'll see how the rest of his history is written at UNH over the next couple of months. When people think of this generation of players, he'll be one of the first players that comes to mind, without a doubt.

The Freshman Class

Lowry: Another thing we talked about last July was your sense of the Freshman class. You said you liked our Freshman coming in and you thought that the Freshman "have a nice balance of speed, skill and size and grit and all those things that can help make us a formidable team this year in our league". So halfway through the season, what's your assessment of the freshmen and how they've performed so far

Souza: We've been nothing but happy with the entire freshman group to be honest with you. You have seen all of our games, I think there's no question that they've been regular contributors in all areas, whether it's on the power play, the penalty kill, and our defense. We couldn't be happier with them to be honest with you. And I made that comment to you over the summer - when you bring players in there is always the uncertainty. But I think these guys to date have lived up to what we thought they would do. They've even exceeded what we expected. We have been more than pleased with the freshman.

Lowry: Would you be comfortable singling any of them out in terms of those who have exceeded your expectations, or have done particularly well?

Souza: There's no doubt that we expected Patrick Grasso to be a contributor for us. I don't know if we expected him to have as hot a first half as he's had. He has set the bar pretty high for himself here! But honestly Mike, all joking aside, we couldn't be happier with that group. We really couldn't. I think they've all contributed in their own way and they have done everything we have asked of them. So, I think the future bodes well for our group here at UNH and especially for that class.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Yuletide Spirit 2016

In the spirit of this snowy day with the second half of the season about to begin, here's Super Wildcat Fan, Julie Andrews' song for the season:

"WildCat Christmas"

(Sung to the tune of White Christmas )

We’re... dreaming of a WildCat Christmas!
With every TyK goal we see!
Where a kid named Grasso
Makes goalies cry so...
And onto the ice!

We’re....dreaming of a WildCat Christmas!
Just like the one’s we’ve come to know....
Where our Captain Cleland....
Knows where to be man....
Blocking shots, and scoring as he goes!

We’re....dreaming of a WildCat Christmas!
Just like the one’s we’ve come to know....
With our goalie Danny...
Who’s play is uncanny....
As he flies...all around the crease!

Yes..we’re...dreaming of a WildCat Christmas!
With every lineup Coach U writes....
May your days be merry...and briiigghhttttt!
And may all our Christmas’ be WHITE!!

Happy Holidays from all of us at The UNH Men's Hockey Blog!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

UNH Commits Update: December-22-2016

2019 Commit Marek Wazny
4 Goals in 3 Games
2020 Commit Drew Commesso
.986 Save%

Player Spotlight - Marek Wazny

Since Marek Wazny committed to UNH on December 1st, he has played in 9 games for the North Jersey Avalanche 16U team and scored 10 goals. The Avalanche compete in one of the premiere midget minor leagues in the United States - the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League. T1EHL features 24 top 16U teams from California to Massachusetts and Michigan to Alabama.

Last weekend, Wazny and the North Jersey Avalanche travelled to Troy, Michigan for the Troy Showcase. The Avalanche entered the 4-game tournament as the only undefeated 16U team in T1EHL and they were ranked #6 in the nation. In the opening round, the Dallas Stars Elite (#8 Ranked) handed North Jersey their first loss of the T1EHL season and Marek was kept off the scoresheet.

In Game 2 of the weekend showcase, the Avalanche bounced back with a 4-2 win over the Iowa Wild and Wazny scored the game-winning goal. Marek tallied 2 more goals in the 6-0 victory over the Colorado Rampage and buried his 4th goal of the weekend as the Avalanche beat the Colorado Thunderbirds 4-2. Marek Wazny has compiled 18 goals in 24 T1EHL games and is tied for the lead in goal-scoring. As this highlight video of Marek's 4 goals shows, he can score off end-to-end rushes and in-zone passing plays:

The North Jersey Avalanche 16U team also competes in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League located along the I-95 Northeast corridor. They are 13-0-0 in that league and Marek Wazny has scored 6 goals and 7 assists in those games. The Avalanche return to Tier 1 EHL action on January 14th at the Boston Advantage Showcase in Hingham, Massachusetts.

Player Spotlight - Drew Commesso

2020 UNH Commit Drew Commesso is the youngest active goalie in New England Prep School hockey. The 14-year-old freshman at St. Sebastian's School in Needham, Massachusetts has started one game for the Arrows, replaced senior Alex Zafonte in two other games and split one game with junior Tim Kiley. In Commesso's first game, he entered the game against Milton at the beginning of the second period with St. Sebastian's trailing 3-0. He turned aside all 20 shots on goal and earned the come-from-behind 5-3 win.

Last Wednesday, Commesso got the first start of his prep school career. Drew faced 26 shots on goal and saved all of them as St. Seb's downed the Brooks School 6-0. He could savor a true rarity for a goalie - a perfect record of 2 shutout wins, a Goals Against Average of 0.00 and a Save Percentage of 1.000.

Next up was the annual St. Sebastian's Holiday Hockey Tournament. Commesso played in one of St. Seb's three games. With one minute remaining in the first period against Albany Academy, Drew replaced senior goalie Zafonte with the Arrows trailing 2-0. Over the remainder of the game, Commesso faced 17 shots on goal and allowed the first goal of his season. Albany Academy won 4-1 and Commesso did not figure in the decision.

Finally, Drew Commesso got a chance to play in the 22nd Annual Mutch Memorial Hockey Game last night. The contest against Catholic Memorial honors former St. Sebastian's player and coach Kevin Mutch. Junior goalie Tim Kiley played the first half of the game and left with St. Seb's leading 2-1. Drew Commesso tended goal in the second half and made 9 of 9 saves. St. Sebastian's defeated Catholic Memorial 5-1 and Kiley was credited with the win.

It is still early in the New England Prep School season and freshman Drew Commesso has only started in one game for St. Sebastian's. However, his .986 Save Percentage is the best in the league and he has surrendered just one goal in 147 minutes of action. It will be interesting to see if he earns more playing time as the season progresses. St. Sebastian's current record in NE Prep School play is 5-3-0 and Commesso is credited with 2 of their wins. The Arrows return to action on December 30th at the New Year's Showcase played at St. Sebastian's and Noble & Greenough School.

2016-17 Statistics

The statistics for the commits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2017 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2017. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH. ~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons 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
2017 Commits
Joseph Cipollone  (F) Tri-City Storm USHL 16 2 0 2 4
Junior Bruins USPHL 6 2 3 5 0
Liam Darcy  (D) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 28 2 9 11 10
Charlie Kelleher*  (F) Tri-City Storm USHL 25 7 13 20 6
Eric MacAdams*  (F) Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 24 9 8 17 62
James Miller*  (D) Penticton Vees BCHL 23 3 9 12 26
Mike Robinson*  (G) Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 1 1W 0L 4.20 .854
Springfield Jr Blues NAHL 7 4W 3L 3.11 .917
2017 or '18 Commits
Eric Esposito*  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 21 3 1 4 80
2018 Commits
Angus Crookshank*  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 8 2 6 8 2
Corson Green  (D) Chicago Steel USHL 21 4 4 8 12
2018 or '19 Commits
Lucas Bahn  (D) Skipjacks 18U USPHL 14 6 10 16 2
Ryan Verrier  (D) Salisbury School NE Prep 10 3 5 8 -
2019 Commits
Marek Wazny  (F) NJ Avalanche 16U Tier 1 Elite 25 18 7 25 8
AYHL 13 6 7 13 2
2020 Commits
Drew Commesso  (G) St. Sebastian's NE Prep 3 2W 0L 0.37 .986
* = Signed National Letter of Intent

News & Notes

United States Hockey League:

~ 2017 UNH Commits Charlie Kelleher and Eric MacAdams continue to be among the top scorers in the USHL. Kelleher has 7 goals and 13 assists in 25 games, is tied for 7th in USHL scoring, and tied for 6th in assists. MacAdams has 9 goals and 8 assists in 24 games and is tied for 7th in USHL goal-scoring.

~ 2018 UNH Commit Corson Green has scored in 6 of his last 8 games with the Chicago Steel. Green is the second leading scorer (8 points) among USHL rookie defensemen and is tied for 8th in scoring among all rookies.

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2018 UNH commit Angus Crookshank broke his collar bone in the first period of the first game of the Langley Rivermen's season and missed 28 games. Since his return to the lineup on December 2nd, Crookshank has scored in 6 of his last 7 games. He has tallied 2 goals and 5 assists in that time.

~ 2017 UNH commit James Miller was all set to travel to the Canada West tryout camp for the World Junior A Challenge. Unfortunately, the Penticton Vees defensemen sustained an upper body injury the night before in a game against the Powell River Kings. Miller will reportedly be out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks.

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ On November 30th, Joseph Cipollone was transferred from the Tri-City Storm of the USHL to the Junior Bruins of the USPHL. So far, Cipollone has scored 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 Junior Bruins games.

New England Prep Hockey League:

~ 2018 or '19 commit Ryan Verrier has tallied 3 goals and 5 assists in 10 games with the Salisbury School. The senior is tied for 9th is scoring among all New England Prep defensemen.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Meet Marek Wazny: 16-Year-Old UNH Commit

2019 UNH Commit
Forward Marek Wazny
"Marek is a smooth skater with soft hands and natural offensive instincts." Neutral Zone
"Decent size forward, slippery skills, good reads, vision, offensive instincts." Russ Bitely,
"Sum of his parts allows him to be a constant force on the ice." U.S. Hockey Report
These are just a few of the accolades hockey scouts have recently bestowed on Marek Wazny, UNH's new commit. The 16-year-old Wazny (DOB: 2-1-2000) has verbally accepted an athletic scholarship offer from the UNH hockey program and is projected to enroll in the Fall of 2019.

Currently listed as a 6'1", 161 lbs., left-shot forward with the North Jersey Avalanche 16U team, Wazny began to turn heads in July, 2015 at the USA Hockey Select 15 Player Development Camp. In a field including notables such as Jake Wise (NTDP U17, BU commit), Oliver Wahlstrom (NTDP U17, Harvard commit) and Joel Farabee (NTDP U17, former UNH commit, current BU commit), Marek Wazny tied for 2nd in scoring with 4 goals and 6 assists in 5 games. The scouts at U.S. Hockey Report ranked Wazny in the "A" Group of forwards (along with Wahlstrom & Farabee) and wrote:
"Dallas, Texas native competes hard for loose pucks which, in turn, affords him opportunities to create chances offensively. Doesn’t have one skill that trumps the rest, but the sum of his parts allows him to be a constant force on the ice."
As Marek tells us in the interview at the end of this article, he and his family moved in 2014 from Texas to Mississauga, Ontario, where his parents were born and raised. During the 2015-16 season, Wazny posted 8 goals and 4 assists for the Toronto Junior Canadians Minor Midget team.

Last summer, Wazny earned an invitation to the 2016 USA Hockey Select 16 Player Development Camp through the Rocky Mountain District. He scored 2 goals and added an assist in 5 games and was selected to Select 16 All-Star game. The scouting report from Neutral Zone** ranked Wazny as a "B" forward and provided this assessment:

"Wazny entered the camp after a strong season with one of Ontario’s top programs in the Jr. Canadiens. He was one of the leading scorers at the Select 15’s and in the first game looked like an “A” range player, but as the week went on he became less and less noticeable. He’s a much better player than he played. Marek is a smooth skater with soft hands and natural offensive instincts. He carries the puck effortlessly with his head up and can either pass, stickhandle or speed passed defenseman on the rush and used all three effectively here. He finished his checks, hunted down opponents on the backcheck and broke up several plays in his end. He is a complete player who was just missing that dynamic offensive element that we saw from him during the year. Wazny was drafted in the sixth round of the USHL Draft by Chicago."
Rating - 3 3/4 out 5 Stars.

** Reprinted by permission of Brendan Collins, Director of Scouting at Neutral Zone.

The Chicago Steel selected Marek Wazny in the 6th round (86th overall) of the 2016 Futures Draft last May. He participated in their tryout camp in June and was featured in this video interview:

Marek Wazny
North Jersey Avalanche
Marek was assigned to the Chicago Steel's affiliate list. He decided to play this season for the North Jersey Avalanche 16U. In Tier 1 Elite Hockey League competition against the top midget minor teams in the nation, Wazny has scored 12 goals and 7 assists in 20 games. He is tied for 4th in goal-scoring. The Avalanche is the only team in the 24-team league with an undefeated record (20-0-0).

At the Tier 1 Elite U16 Showcase in New Jersey last month, Wazny tallied 2 goals and an assist in 4 games. The Neutral Zone scouts provided this progress report:
"Marek had a pretty good weekend and put some points up. He is always an honest player with decent hands who plays both ends. If he could score more consistently he can reach another level. He looked to be figuring his offensive game out some and the upside is evident."
Marek Wazny's hockey journey began with youth hockey teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area near his hometown of Frisco, Texas. His Dad, Mark Wazny, originally from Mississauga, Ontario, coached him on a couple teams in the former North Texas Hockey League. The Dallas Stars were instrumental in starting the NTXHL. A growing number of college players took up the game in warm weather climates thanks to the NHL's expansion into the south and southwest. Current UNH Wildcat Dylan Maller started playing hockey very young at a facility affiliated with the Florida Panthers near his hometown of Parkland.


I had an opportunity to interview Marek Wazny, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

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?

Marek Wazny: There were a lot of reasons why I chose UNH but I'd say the main reasons would be the great coaching staff and the amazing hockey and school atmosphere. Hockey East is also one of the best leagues to be apart of.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

Marek Wazny: There were a few other college programs that I was looking at and deciding on. I visited a good amount of schools on the east coast and in the Big 10 but I knew UNH was the one for me.

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?

Wazny: The coaches and I have talked about coming in as a freshman in the 2019-20 season, however it is possible for it to change.

Lowry: At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?

Wazny: In my hockey development I believe the best parts of my game would be my 200-foot game and decision making. Currently, I'm working on improving my play away from the puck and my shot.

Lowry: You grew up playing youth hockey in the North Texas Hockey League near your hometown of Frisco, Texas. How did you get interested in playing ice hockey in an area of the country that rarely sees ice on the ground?

Wazny: Growing up in Texas, I started playing hockey at a really early age. My father played hockey throughout his life and coached where we lived in Texas. He was the one who influenced me to pursue hockey as a hobby and possibly a career.

Lowry: In 2014, you moved to Mississauga, Ontario to play bantam and minor midget hockey. What factors lead you to pursue your hockey career north of the border?

Wazny: Well, one reason was both of my parents were born and raised in Canada so they always wanted to move back to where their roots were. Also, we agreed that the hockey in Canada would be more convenient as far as travel and level of play.

Lowry: Over the last two summers, you've had success at the USA Hockey Player Development Camps. You tied for second in scoring at the 2015 Select 15 Camp and were selected to the All-Star Team at the 2016 Select 16 Camp. How do you think your skills and development compare with the other top US forwards born in 2000?

Wazny: The 2000 age group, in my opinion, is a very skilled age group for forwards which was displayed at the USA Hockey National Camps. Comparing myself to the best forwards in the US for my age is hard to do but I'm always trying to improve my skills and development.

Lowry: In May, the Chicago Steel drafted you in the 6th round of the USHL Phase I Draft. You participated in the Steel's Tryout Camp in June and were included in their Affiliate List. Chicago has only one 2000-born player on their active roster. Do you anticipate playing for the Steel in the 2017-18 season?

Wazny: Playing in USHL next year for the Chicago Steel would be an awesome opportunity that is achievable if I keep developing my game.

Lowry: So far this season, you've scored 16 goals and 14 assists in 32 games with the North Jersey Avalanche 16U team. Why did you choose to come back to the states to play for North Jersey?

Wazny: Being drafted by Chicago Steel, it would be easier playing in New Jersey rather than Canada. That way the team can see me more and I can have a better chance of playing in the coming years.

Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests? When do you anticipate graduating from high school?

Wazny: Academically, I would consider myself a good student who enjoys math and science. I plan to graduate from high school in the 2017-18 year.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

14-Year-Old Goalie Drew Commesso Commits to UNH

2020 UNH Commit
Drew Commesso

Well-worn sports sayings are often true. For example, "You can't win the blank championship without blank." Fill in the blanks - World Series/premiere starting pitchers, NFL/an elite quarterback, Stanley Cup/an all-star goalie, etc.

In the history of the UNH hockey program, premiere goaltending has been a key ingredient in many championship seasons. All-American Ty Conklin backstopped the 1999 Hockey East title winner and NCAA runnerup. All-American Mike Ayers was in net for the 2002 and 2003 Hockey East Champions, 2002 Frozen Four team, and 2003 NCAA runnerup. All-American Kevin Regan lead the 2007-08 Wildcats to a 25-10-3 record and the Hockey East title. All-American Brian Foster tended goal on consecutive trips to the 2009 and 2010 NCAA Regional Finals.

No wonder the UNH coaching staff are always on the lookout for the next elite goalie. They hope Mike Robinson, who was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 2015 and plans to enroll next fall, will be that goaltender for the rest of this decade. And on Sunday, UNH gained a verbal commitment from a top prospect who may very well develop into an elite NCAA goaltender early in the 2020's. 14-year-old Drew Commesso (DOB: 7-19-2002) from Norwell, Massachusetts has verbally accepted an athletic scholarship offer from UNH with an eye to enrolling in the Fall of 2020.

The last three weeks have been extraordinarily eventful for Drew Commesso (pronounced CO-MESS-O). Over the second weekend in November, the 6'0", 140 lbs., left-catch goalie and the South Shore Kings U14 team won the 2016-17 Massachusetts Hockey State Championship. The Kings defeated three other bantam teams and Commesso earned a shutout in all three games. The team will travel to Scottsdale, Arizona in April for the 2017 USA Hockey National Championship.

Drew Commesso
St. Sebastian's Goalie
Last Friday, Commesso earned his first New England Prep School, varsity victory as the St. Sebastian's School Arrows defeated Milton Academy 5-3. In the first period, Milton scored 3 goals against St. Seb's senior goalie Alex Zafonte. With the Arrows trailing 3-0, Drew, who is a freshman, replaced him at the beginning of the second period and proceeded to stop all 20 shots he faced. St. Seb's scored 5 unanswered goals for their first win of the 2016-17 season.

The third big event came two days later when Drew Commesso announced his commitment to enroll at the University of New Hamphire and play for the UNH Wildcats. For the remainder of the New England Prep season, which extends into early March, Drew will play exclusively for St. Sebastian's. An interesting sidenote - former UNH All-American goalie Kevin Regan played for St. Sebastian's from 1999 to 2003. They won the 2001 and 2002 New England Prep School Championship.


As Drew tells us in the interview at the end of this article, he has played goalie full-time since he was 8 years old. Along the way, he has played in some of the top invitational youth events in North America. A couple weeks before his 10th birthday, Commesso played in the 2012 Brick Invitational Tournament in Edmonton, Alberta. Beginning in 1990, The Brick has brought together the top 10-year-old skaters from the U.S. and Canada. Commesso played in 3 games for the Boston Junior Bruins and posted a 2-1-0 record with a 1.68 Goals Against Average and .886 Save Percentage.

In the 2014-15 season, Drew Commesso played for the Bay State Breakers 02 Pee-Wee Elite team based in Rockland, Massachusetts. His Dad, John Commesso, was the team's assistant coach. The Breakers compete in the Eastern Hockey Federation. Because the Breakers Pee-Wee team was in first place in the EHF in December, 2014, they received an invitation to the 2015 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, considered the Little League World Series of hockey. At the "Q" in February, 2015, they competed against teams from Quebec, Los Angeles, New York, and Arizona. The Breakers compiled a 3-2-0 record and finished in 4th place. Drew was in goal for every game and posted a 1.375 Goals Against Average. A month later, the Breakers won the EHF 2002 Elite Championship.

This year, Drew Commesso has been recognized nationally for his individual skills. Last summer, he was invited to the STX 68 Hockey Combine in Chicago. The STX 68 invites the top 68 14-year-old players from the United States to a five-day camp of coaching from NHL affiliated players, coaches, and scouts, seminars, skills and conditioning testing, and games. It is a joint venture between STX hockey equipment company and 200 x 85 LLC. Commesso was one of only eight, 2002-born goalies to participate in the camp. Highlights from the STX 68 camp can be seen on a professionally produced series of videos. In many ways, the STX 68 Combine is similar to the Select 14 Camp that USA Hockey stopped running in 2011. Commesso will be eligible for the 2017 USA Hockey Select 15 Player Development Camp next summer.


I had an opportunity to interview Drew Commesso, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

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?

Drew Commesso: Thank you. I am very excited about having the opportunity to play at UNH and in Hockey East. I really connected with the coaches and love how driven they are on bringing a national championship to UNH. The campus was great and the hockey facilities are incredible. I wanted to play at a place where hockey is a big part of the school and community and at a place that gets a ton of fan support at the games. UNH was the perfect fit for me.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

Drew Commesso: I visited several area Hockey East schools and had other offers but I felt that UNH was the best fit for me. After visiting a few schools I figured out that I did not want to go to a school with an urban campus so that narrowed my search, and after visiting UNH I knew it was for me. I loved the campus and the coaching staff here was a huge reason I made the decision to come here. I wanted to go to a school that would contend for a national championship and still stay close enough to home that my family can come watch me play.

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?

Commesso: I am still a few years away from getting on campus but I am going to work hard to be on campus for the 2020-2021 season as a freshman. That’s my goal.

Lowry: Did you always play goalie or did you start at a different position and convert to goalie? Why did you decide to be a goaltender?

Commesso: My parents had me skate out until I was about 8 but I still played goalie part time as much as I could. I went to goalie full time at age 8 after I had all the basic skating skills and then I started taking goalie lessons. I became a goalie because the gear intrigued me.

Lowry: When did you start working with former professional goalie Brian Eklund ( What skill areas has he helped you the most in? What areas are you trying to improve?

Commesso: I started with Coach Eklund when I was about 7 when he just started teaching goalies. He has trained me since day one and taught me everything I know about the position. He is an awesome coach who pushes me to be my best. I am always trying to improve my quickness and I am still learning to use my size to my advantage. I have grown a lot over the last year and adjusting to use my size to cut down angles and take up more of the net so I can better control rebounds has been my focus. There is always something I can improve on and that’s why I love being a goalie.

Lowry: Last month, you helped backstop the South Shore Kings U14 team to the Tier 1 Massachusetts State Championship. What was that experience like for you and what do you think the National Championship Tournament will be like next April?

Commesso: That was a lot of fun. We have a great team and the coaches make it fun to play for them. I think the Nationals will be a great event and I look forward to playing against the best teams in the country.

Lowry: Former UNH All-American Kevin Regan was a star goalie at St. Sebastian's School in Needham, MA, 15 years ago. What are the main reasons you decided to go to St. Seb's this year and join the hockey team as a freshman?

Commesso: I actually started St. Seb’s as a 7th grader so this is my third year at the school. St. Seb’s is a great school and I love everything about it. It was always my goal to make the varsity team as a freshman since I entered the school in 7th grade. St. Seb’s has a great hockey tradition and that’s something I hope our team can build on.

Lowry: In your very first New England Prep School game last week, you entered the game in the second period with St. Seb's trailing 3-0. You turned aside all 20 shots on goal and earned your first win. What was that like?

Commesso: That was a lot of fun. I was surprised to get the call to start the second period but once I got on the ice I just stayed focused and did my best to stop pucks and just play like I normally do. The team really played great in front of me and the defense helped out a ton. It was a great team win for us coming back from a 3-0 deficit. It will be a game I will always remember that’s for sure!

Lowry: Do you plan to play for both the South Shore Kings U14 and St. Seb's for the rest of this season?

Commesso: No. I will be playing strictly for St. Sebs until the season is over then I will be rejoining the Kings so we can prepare for the Nationals.

Lowry: It's still early in your hockey career, but do you anticipate playing junior hockey (e.g., USHL, BCHL, etc.) before you enroll in college?

Commesso: I hope to come to UNH as a true freshman but that will depend on how my development goes and what the coaches have planned for me. I will be working hard everyday so that I can wear the UNH jersey as soon as possible.

Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests? When do you anticipate graduating from high school?

Commesso: I would say my strengths are math, english, and writing. I plan on graduating in 2020.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

UNH Captain's Corner: Sweeping Maine

UNH Captain Matias Cleland

For seniors Matias Cleland, Tyler Kelleher, Dylan Maller, and Jamie Hill, last weekend was the last opportunity to sweep neighboring Maine in the annual home-and-home series. The tradition routinely attracts sellout crowds at "White Out the Whitt" night and the rematch at the University of Maine's Alfond Arena. As juniors last season, the group almost earned a sweep but settled for a 5-2 win in Durham and a 3-3 tie in Orono. This year, they did it.

As WUNH-FM play-by-play announcer Ben Nawn described in his latest article for the blog, the Wildcats ran away with a 5-1 victory before a raucous crowd at the Whittemore Center on Friday night and gutted out a 4-3 win the following evening up at Maine. The wins were true team efforts - 11 players tallied one or more points. The UNH power play, currently ranked #10 in the nation (22.55% conversion rate) and #1 in Hockey East (37.21%), generated 2 goals in Friday's win and another 3 on Saturday.

If I was awarding the "stars of the game" for combined achievements over both games, I'd go with 4 Stars. The #1 Star would go to the player who earned the NCAA #1 Star of the Week earlier today - Tyler Kelleher. The senior scored 4 goals, including both game-winning goals, and distributed 2 assists. The game-winner late in the second period on Friday was so extraordinary, the NCAA named it the #4 Play of the Week. Here is Kelleher's unassisted goal:

To date, Tyler Kelleher has scored 12 goals and 18 assists in 16 games. He is the 2nd leading scorer in NCAA Division I. He is also tied for 3rd in goals and T-2 in assists. In 7 Hockey East games, he has scored 6 goals and 12 assists. He is the leading scorer in Hockey East, 1st in assists, and T-1 in goals. Midway through the 2016-17 season, Tyler Kelleher is a serious contender for the Hobey Baker Award.

The #2 Star goes to junior goalie Danny Tirone. On Friday night, only one puck got past Tirone as he handled 23 of the 24 shots on goal. On Sunday at the packed Alfond Arena, Tirone played perhaps his best game of the season. In all, he made 38 saves - the most of the season - and surrendered 3 goals. Here are some of Tirone's acrobatic saves:

Tirone got off to a subpar start over his first three games of the season. He had a 3.74 Goals Against Average and a Save Percentage of .876. Over the last 11 games, Tirone's GAA has improved to 2.28 and his Save% is up to .921. Among all Division I NCAA goalies, he is 18th in GAA and 13th in Save%. When compared to Hockey East goalies, Tirone ranks 5th in GAA and 4th in Save%. His record is 8-4-2 overall and 5-1-1 in Hockey East competition.

Senior Captain Matias Cleland gets the #3 Star. On White Out the Whitt night, Matias dished out 2 assists, fired 5 shots on goal, and blocked 5 shots. At Maine, he had 1 assist, 3 SOG, and another 5 blocked shots. In 16 games, Cleland has tallied a goal and 18 assists. He has the most assists of any Division I defenseman. In 7 Hockey East games, Matias has 1 goal and 10 assists. He is tied for 3rd in Hockey East scoring and has the second most assists.

On the strength of 2 goals and an assist over the weekend, freshman center Liam Blackburn gets the #4 Star. In the 4-3 win at Maine, Blackburn scored UNH's 2nd and 3rd goals - both on the power play. Overall, Blackburn has scored 6 goals and 5 assists in 15 games. He is tied for 12th in scoring among all NCAA freshmen and tied for 6th in goals. Blackburn has 4 goals and 3 assists in 6 Hockey East games. Among Hockey East freshmen, he is T-2 in scoring, 2nd in goals, and T-4 in assists.

Captain's Interview

I had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Matias Cleland about the weekend sweep of Maine and the Frozen Apple game against Cornell:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Before we get to the satisfying sweep of the Maine Black Bears, I want to ask you about the team's appearance at the Frozen Apple at Madison Square Garden. If I'm not mistaken, it was the first time UNH has played at an NHL arena, other than the TD Garden, since you came to UNH in 2013. What are some of the memories you will take away from playing at the "World's Most Famous Arena"?

Matias Cleland: I've now been fortunate enough to play in both of the "gardens". It was an experience I'll never forget. I've grown up and seen many sport events being played in Madison Square Garden. It was a very cool experience for myself and all the guys on the team. I know it was also the first time some of the guys had been to New York City, myself included. We were able to get out and see some of the sites the city had to offer which was awesome.

Mike Lowry: After Cornell went ahead 2-1 late in the second period, UNH had decent chances to tie the game, but the penalty shot with 7 minutes left in regulation pretty much sealed the deal for the Big Red. I've watched the replay of Marcus Vela's penalty a few times and noticed that you had the best view of the play. In your opinion, was the infraction that lead to the penalty shot a close call?

Matias Cleland: Yeah, I've watched that play plenty of times as well. I did not think that it was a penalty but this isn't the first time I've disagreed with a call. Although it was frustrating to have a call like that in a game, we had our chances to put the puck in the net prior to that. We had some power play opportunities we needed to capitalize on and we didn't.

Lowry: Your fourth, and final, appearance in "White Out The Whitt" last Friday was your personal best. You had 2 primary assists including the one on Tyler Kelleher's game-winning goal, 5 shots on goal, 5 blocked shots, and a +2 rating. From a player's perspective, what makes the White Out The Whitt games special?

Cleland: It was an awesome atmosphere last Friday night. That game is so special because you know that the fans, especially the students, are going to be the loudest you've ever heard. It definitely is sad knowing that was my last "White Out The Whitt" but it was the outcome we wanted. The crowd was unbelievable, and I want to thank everyone that came out to the game. It was an unforgettable experience.

Lowry: Traditionally, the White Out The Whitt game is part of a home-and-home, weekend series with Maine. This is the first time UNH has swept the series since you arrived at UNH for the 2013-14 season. As the video highlights (above) of the 4-3 win up in Orono show, Danny Tirone played one of his best games as a Wildcat. After a uneven start over his first 3 games this season, Tirone has steadily moved up the goalie rankings. When Tirone is on top of his game, what does he do particularly well?

Cleland: Tirone played a great game up in Maine on Saturday night. He was solid in net for us, and I thought he was our best player that night. He's extremely athletic and sees the puck exceptionally well. He was tracking the puck great and making saves. He made some saves that I was watching over and over again on the highlight reel. He'll continue to be solid for us down the road.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

UNH Sweeps Rival Maine Over Weekend

Senior Tyler Kelleher
4 Goals, 2 GWG, 2 Assists
Junior Danny Tirone
2 Wins, 51 Saves

Senior Matias Cleland
3 Assists
Freshman Liam Blackburn
2 Goals, 1 Assist

[Durham, NH] -- The University of New Hampshire Wildcats hockey team made a case as one of the better Hockey East teams so far this year with a clean sweep of their north-of-the-border rival Maine Black Bears this past weekend. The Wildcats upended the Black Bears on Friday by a score of 5-1 and then on Saturday 4-3.

On Friday, the Wildcats met with the Black Bears for the 126th time and yet another "White Out the Whitt" spectacle. Led by Tyler Kelleher's two goals, the Wildcats climbed back from a 1-0 deficit in the second period and skated past the Black Bears 5-1.

After a tug and war match at the start of the first period, the Black Bears struck first and hushed up the 6,501 at the Whittemore Center when Mitchell Fossier deflected one past Danny Tirone on the powerplay. On the far end of the ice, Patrick Holway guided a puck to Eric Shchurhamer who found Fossier who put it on the net and it went off the skate of the a fellow defensemen to make it 1-0.

Once the second period started, the Wildcats increased the forecheck and good things happened on the power play. At 6:23, Kelleher, the Longmeadow, Massachusetts native, found the back of the net for his 9th goal of the season and the Whittemore Center erupted in excitement. On the power play, Michael McNicholas fed one over to captain Matias Cleland who passed the puck tape-to-tape to Kelleher who wristed one past Maine goalie Rob Mcgovern from the top of the slot to make it 1-1.

Kelleher found the back of the net once again on the prettiest play of the season. At 14:52 of the second period, the senior controlled the puck and skated down the near side of the ice avoiding three pinching Black Bears. He then went backhand to forehand and carried the puck through the crease, past the poke check of McGovern, and tucked the puck into the net. It was an electrifying goal, to say the least, and it put the Wildcats up 2-1.
"I just tried to enjoy the experience, being my last White out the Whitt. It was instincts. I was taking it up the ice and saw the defenseman was pretty flat footed so I saw I could take him wide and right when I looked up I saw the goalie was trying to poke check me so I tried to get around him and slide it in. Lucky it went in," Kelleher said.
"He is playing great. You just don't teach that. I looked at Mike (Souza) and he looked at me and said you just don't teach that. He is a smart hockey player," head coach Dick Umile said.
Brendan van Riemsdyk added to the mix late in the second period when the freshman scored an instrumental goal at 2:42 to make it 3-1. It was his second of the season and now he can tell his older brothers he was also able to score against Maine. Freshman forward Liam Blackburn, on the stellar, all-freshman third line, was able to chip one over to junior defenseman Cam Marks who the took a shot on net that was deflected in by van Riemsdyk

The third period proved a test for the Wildcats who had to play hard defensively to keep the Black Bears at ease and Cleland, Dylan Maller, Matt Dawson, Richard Boyd and freshman Anthony Wyse stayed strong to keep the Black Bears out of the offensive end.

"Wyse played a monster game tonight," Umile said.

At 14:18 in the third stanza, Jason Salvaggio, who is playing on another planet as of late, notched his 8th goal of the season to make it 4-1. It was all Wildcats and the fans were letting the Black Bears know they aren't up in Orono quite yet. Frankie Cefalu fed a pass over to Kelleher who drove on the far side of the net. He made a quick dangle, temporarily lost control of the puck, then it to a crashing Salvaggio who wristed one top shelf past McGovern.

Marks then put a fork in it at 4:35 of the third period when he scored his first goal of the season to make it 5-1. The defensemen found the X marks the spot on the ice and did what he does best and put it on net and it elevated past Matt Morris. The crowd went wild and put the game to rest in favor of the home team.

After the game, Marks said: "The fans were great tonight and thankful that they did it. Great atmosphere to play in and it is just UNH-Maine."

Danny Tirone was spectacular in the game stopping 23 of 24 shots on net to improve his record between the pipes to 7-4-2. The Wildcats were attacking on all cylinders and it showed in the later stages of the second and third periods. They knew they had to repeat this performance on Saturday up at Alfond Arena.

"It was a good game. We came back pretty hard, kept scoring goals and capitalizing on our power play. It was a full 60 minutes game. We did well," Marks said.

Up in Orono on Saturday night, the Wildcats had a Maine team looking to even the score in front of their own fans and it was a battle from start to finish. Led by Kelleher and Blackburn's two goals, the Wildcats clawed their way to a 4-3 victory for the clean sweep of Maine.

At 13:22 of the first period, the Black Bears struck first once again after Rob Michael scored a power-play goal to make it 1-0. Junior forward Nolan Vesey found Michael at the point who buried it past Tirone.

Late in the first period, Kelleher scored his 11th goal of the season during a 5-on-3 man advantage after a pair of Black Bear penalties. Kelleher used the extra skating room to his advantage. Freshman Patrick Grasso slid a pass to McNicholas who was behind the net who then drove one to Kelleher in the slot who fired away top shelf past McGovern. It was 1-1.

With 55 seconds remaining in the first period, Blackburn chimed in with his fifth goal of the season. On the ensuing 5-on-4, sophomore Ara Nazarian, who had just returned to action Friday night, passed one to Marcus Vela behind the net who then found Blackburn sneaking in towards the crease and got it past McGovern's right leg.

At 16:29 of the second period, Blackburn scored once again, this time on the power play. Cleland fired a pass over to Kelleher who from the slot played a pass to Blackburn who fired one bar down to make it 3-1. The Wildcats had a comfy lead, but compared to Friday night Maine would battle back.

3:38 of the third period, Maine's senior captain Cam Brown scored to cut the lead to one in favor of UNH. Brendan Robbins was able to connect with Pittsburgh Penguin product Blaine Byron who then assisted the puck over to Brown who fired a shot past Tirone.

At 17:07 of the third period and the tension building, Kelleher once again found the back of the net for his team-leading 12th goal of the season. The Wildcats had a two-goal cushion once again and some of the Black Bear fans left Alfond Arena. Maine scored a late goal by Chase Pearson, but it was too late as the Wildcats finished off the Black Bears 4-3.

It was a weekend of good hockey for the Wildcats. They improved to 8-6-2 overall and 5-1-1 in Hockey East. A total of four points were collected and confidence skyrocketed with two big wins over the teams biggest rival.

The Wildcats will be in action this Saturday against interstate rival the Dartmouth College Big Green over in Hanover, New Hampshire at 7:00 pm.

Here are the highlights of the Wildcats victory on White Out the Whitt night courtesy of UNH Wildcat Productions:

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