Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Know Your Enemy: New Hampshire

As expected, UNH bounced back from a miserable 2011-12 season to return to the upper reaches of Hockey East and get themselves back to the NCAA tournament, where they're accustomed to spending late March. Unfortunately, an extremely promising early season run turned sour as the calendar turned to 2013, and despite a "home" win in the NCAAs over Denver, UNH failed to reach the Frozen Four for the tenth consecutive season after running into a determined UMass-Lowell squad, despite nine NCAA appearances since falling in the 2003 national championship game.

New Hampshire
Nickname: Wildcats
Location: Durham, NH
Founded: 1866
Conference: Hockey East
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2013
Last Frozen Four: 2003
Coach: Dick Umile (24th season)
2012-13 Record: 20-12-7 (13-8-6 Hockey East, 3rd place)
Series: UNH leads, 25-20-0
First Game: February 7, 1964 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: October 10, 2009 (Troy, NY)
Last UNH win: January 6, 2013 (Durham, NH)

2013-14 game: October 26, 2013 (Troy, NY)

Key players: D Justin Agosta, sr.; F Kevin Goumas, sr.; D Eric Knodel, sr.; F Dalton Speelman, sr.; G Casey DeSmith, jr.; F Grayson Downing, jr.; F Casey Thrush, jr.; D Trevor van Riemsdyk, jr.; D Brett Pesce, so.; D Matias Cleland, fr.; F Tyler Kelleher, fr.

Previous KYE installment:
This is a team strangely devoid of NHL draft picks - Knodel is the only one on the roster as of this capsule, but Pesce is certain to join him in that club after the draft at the end of the month. That's not to say that this is a weak team by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, this is a team that, while they were young last year - which may have contributed to the team's late-season slide - are back as a well-rounded, veteran side.

Defensively, the Wildcats are primed to build on a defense that was in the Top 10 nationally last season with a seasoned blueline corps and a goaltender in DeSmith who has now put together two very good seasons for UNH between the pipes. This is one of the more obvious strengths that the Wildcats will have, but their depth offensively should have them among their usual ranks of the national elite as well.

30 of UNH's 122 goals last year came from two seniors - John Henrion and Austin Block with 15 each. But between names like Goumas, who could be a legit Hobey Baker candidate, Downing, who tied Henrion and Block for the team lead in goals, and the offensive-minded Knodel and van Riemsdyk, the Wildcats have plenty of sources to get offense from all over the ice.

The bottom line? UNH is a team with few holes, just as they were last year in a game that RPI played relatively well but still ended up getting completely trucked. The Engineers last season managed to score a pair of goals (both from Curtis Leonard), which was more than the Wildcats were allowing in an average game at that point, but the UNH offense overwhelmed Scott Diebold.

This year's game will feature two teams that were a little young last year, which may have contributed to the less-than-satisfying finishes for both squads. The major change will likely be in RPI's net, with Jason Kasdorf the expected starter assuming that he's healthy - he'd been injured for the game in Durham last season - and the move down to NHL-sized ice.

This should be a fun game to watch. The slight edge that UNH may have in talent is countered with the Engineers' home ice advantage, and like most of the other non-conference games Seth Appert has set up for RPI, should represent a gut-check early season challenge for a team that seeks glory in March.

2 comments:

  1. Minor correction: Jordan Masters and Andrew Poturalski are scheduled to come in Fall 2014. Otherwise, an informative post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This has been a very tough year for trying to determine who's coming when, almost entirely across the spectrum. Thanks for the heads up.

    ReplyDelete