Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Season Preview Part II: Rounding Out The D

Defense. Defense. Defense.

Now, I'm not ruling the forwards out when it comes to defense, you're going to see a team effort there, but I'll get to them later. Let's look at our blueliners.

Senior, Kevin Kapstad. Hometown: Boxboro, Mass. A defense first defenseman, straight from Governor Dummer Prep, who has enough of an offensive upside that he actually played forward for a couple mid-season games last year. He scored all three of his goals in consecutive games upon his return to the blueline and five of his eight assists after that down the stretch. Look for Kevin to return as a solid senior blueliner who will pick up the team when necessary with a hard hit or even an end to end rush a la Garrett Stafford - expect about a dozen or so points, a plus/minus in the teens.

Senior, Jamie Fritsch. Hometown: Odenton, Maryland. Hailing from the D-1 talent producing hotbed that is the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, Fritsch has been a steady point producer over his first three seasons and he'll do anything but trail off in this, his final season. Most notably Jamie has increased his plus/minus rating year-over-year capping off last season with an impressive plus-seventeen. I think we'll see an increase in both categories to the tune of twenty points and a plus-twenty rating and look for Jamie to keep getting the job done in the steady, quiet manner that has marked his play in the Blue and White.

Junior, Nick Krates. Hometown: Palos Park, Illinois. One of our many hockey players from Illinois over the last decade or so, Krates is the lone junior defenseman - part of a class of just four including forwards Bobby Butler, Peter LeBlanc and goaltender Brian Foster. A former Omaha Lancer of the USHL Krates established himself as a regular on the blueline last year and showed steady improvement through the season - winning the team's Most Improved award - and despite recording just one assist he managed a commendable plus-five. With his first complete season under his belt look for Nick to be much more comfortable out there while dealing out punishing hits and locking out the opposition in his own zone. Five points and a plus-ten.

Sophomores, Matt Campanale and Mike Beck. Hometowns: Chester Springs, Pennsylvania and Long Beach, California. Representing the Green Mountain Glades (EJHL) and the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL). Both of these offensive defensemen saw at least one game's worth of action in their inaugural season, Campanale getting the larger share with 6 games which I would guess was due to Beck's recovery from an unfortunate knee injury that ended his USHL career and required surgery. Neither has recorded their first career point in a Wildcat sweater - expect that to end soon. These two are practically peas in a pod. They can really move and have a great ability to make things happen on the ice while still taking care of business in their own end. It's tough to tell their future in terms of points when you factor in the challenge presented by the newcomers (who I'll be getting to next) and line assignments but if they skate a fairly complete season I could easily see them putting up more than a dozen points apiece and certainly positive in the plus/minus column.

The Newcomers, Blake Kessel and Damon Kipp. Hometowns: Verona, Wisconsin and Salmon Arm, British Columbia. The Waterloo Blackhawks and the Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Size, strength, mobility and an offensive upside - these are two very good defensemen with the edge going to Kessel who was a sixth round pick of the New York Islanders, 166th overall, in the 2007 NHL draft. They are absolutely going to challenge for a spot from the get-go. With ice time and line assignments in their favor they could put up similar points to Campanale and Beck but making the game roster will depend on how quickly they adapt to Coach Umile's system.

Overall, there is going to be great competition for a spot on the Wildcat blueline and the guys are going to have to work hard in order to maintain it. If they don't take care of their own end first, they will not stay in the line-up - it's as simple as that. But don't think that this will preclude them from joining the rush and making things happen offensively. The heavy offensive talents of these defenders will certainly be put to use. Along with their quick feet and good size this corp will be a formidable force and I look forward to a first look on Saturday!

Tomorrow, Part III: The Last Line of Defense

Go 'Cats!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Season Preview Part I: It's Personnel and Personal

As I sit and ponder which direction to take my 2008-2009 UNH Men's Hockey Season Preview I've decided that the season comes down to personnel and this year it's personal.

After last year's fourth-consecutive, first-game exit from the NCAA Tournament many players took the bombastic bombardment from certain segments of the fan base personally. They have shouldered the responsibility for the less than desired result and have promised to deliver all that they've got this season - I wouldn't expect anything less.

The Leadership.

Seniors, Joe Charlebois and Greg Collins. Born just four days apart these two New York natives found their respective ways to the ranks of the Blue and White through the top Junior hockey system in the country, the United States Hockey League. Joe came to UNH through the Sioux City Musketeers, Greg through the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. As physically different as two hockey players get - Greg stands 5'9", 170 pounds whereas Joe is 6'1", 219 - but where they do not differ is in their commitment to defense. Charlebois, the Chicago Blackhawks' 2005 6th round pick, was Hockey East's Best Defensive Defenseman with his incredible +26 rating last season. Collins became Coach Umile's go-to forward in crucial defensive situations winning the Warren Brown Award as UNH’s best defensive forward award for the second straight season and earning the Robert Kullen Award as the unsung hero of our 'Cats in the process.

So, what can we expect from these two this year? Leadership by defense. Neither of our 2008-2009 Captains are prolific scorers. In 2007-2008 Charlebois and Collins produced 9 and 11 points respectively. But this is precisely why they were chosen for the role - this year's team is clearly going to be defense first. Both of them could easily be seen wearing a hardhat on the ice with their commitment to team and dedicated work ethic through each and every shift. Leading by example, look for the team's persona to carry their outlook throughout - it's too bad that we won't get see our men playing on NHPTV this year.

Seniors, Greg Collins and Joe Charlebois, your 2008-2009 UNH Men's Hockey Captains.

Coming up tomorrow, Part II: Rounding Out the D.

In the meantime, pump yourselves up for the upcoming season with the newest song added to my 2008-2009 UNH Men's Hockey Playlist - Pillar's, 'Throwdown' from their album, For The Love Of The Game!

Go 'Cats!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fornataro To Worcester

Thanks to the greatest fans in the nation I've had another heads up from a member of Wildcat Nation in order to note that Matt Fornataro had signed with the AHL's Worcester Sharks - great location for nearby members of the Nation that want to see him play!

Work hard, Matt!

Go 'Cats!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Regan In Demand

By popular demand, more on Regan, this time from the Bruins' preseason opener where the star Wildcat alum got some time late in the game in an 8-3 rout of the Montreal Canadians. This is Bish capturing Coach Julien:
Coach Julien was impressed with Regan after his work in the rookie game last week and last night: “I thought he was very good last night. He came into the third period and made some good saves…I saw him in Development Camp this summer, and I see him now, and I’ve already seen a (positive) chance in him.”

The Bish also mentioned that Kevin was the only player to dress for both games. And though he was on the bench for the entire second game, former Wildcat teammate, Trevor Smith netted the overtime game winner for the Islanders with what must now be a patented wrister to the top shelf after getting around the D.

Way to work guys!

Go 'Cats!

I've Been Looking For One Of These

Alright, so I haven't looked all that hard - the faithful are free to point me to any others - but I stumbled across a UNH Football blog today.

It looks like they're just getting started, but it is a good start and I look forward to seeing more.

Whoever you are keep up the good work!

I'll put a link up for those that follow both sports and you can follow the title-link of this post as well!

Go 'Cats!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dearly Departed... Again

Danny Rossman has gone south of the border... yup - Massachusetts.

The Minute Men have benefited from the 'Cats' excess and I'm sure that Danny will come back to bite us before he is done wearing the maroon and silver/or gray or whatever it is they're sporting these days - I just hope they don't bring back those horrid shorts! That was painful to watch.

You always hate to see such a hard worker go.

Good luck, Danny! Best to you!

The move does still leave us with two Dannies though!

Thanks to the avid fans that caught my lapse - I can use all the help I can get!

Go 'Cats!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Bish on Regan

It appears John Bishop, or Bish as he is lovingly known in B's circles, can't say enough about Wildcat Alum, Kevin Regan.

After another day of training camp Bish had this to say of the record setting 'Cat:
And some of the kids really made an impact on the game despite the Islanders taking control in the second. Brad Marchand and Mikko Lehtonen and Kevin Regan showed high potential, and the steady play of Zach Hamill and Andrew Bodnarchuk showed a growing maturity.

If Regan ends up with Tuukka Rask in Providence, I'll bet both men will have their best seasons yet thanks purely to competition.

Now that would be something to see!

Go 'Cats!

Switzer Slips Into Caps' Rookie Camp

It appears that Craig Switzer has received an invite, though unsigned, to join the Washington Capitals' organization where he is currently attending Rookie Camp and, from what I can tell, is the lone attendee straight from the college ranks last season.

Looking at the team's camp roster - returning almost all of last year's NHL team - he would most likely end up with their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, should he earn a contract. But with hard work, you never know!

Work hard, Craig!

Go 'Cats!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Regan, Smith Square Off in Rookie Game

Wildcat Alum, Trevor Smith and the New York Islanders' rookie squad would get the best of the B's rookies but not of fellow alum, Kevin Regan.

Regan earned the start - opposite fellow college standout, Denver's Peter Mannino - and each held the game to two goals apiece through the halfway mark. It was downhill from there for the Bruins' newbies.

Read the rundown on the title-linked (by the title of this post) B's site!

Keep at it Kevin! (who stacked up 15 solid saves according to the article)

And nice job Trevor!(who had a goal and an assist)

Go 'Cats!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Meet Future 'Cat Jeff Silengo

Another grab from the New England Prep School ranks - and more specifically South Kent School from which incoming freshman goaltender Tyler Scott hails - brings Jeff Silengo into the Blue and White fold.

While it is unclear whether this 18 year old Future 'Cat will matriculate in the fall of '10 or '11, as noted by the truly magnificent and beneficent Chris Heisenberg a la his recruiting list, this 6'1", 175 pound forward is taking no time off from hockey lately. Jeff was recently named a Tournament MVP during the 34th Annual Hockey Night In Boston Summer Showcase.

His play was also noted as "outstanding" by the New England Hockey Journal back at the end of January by which time he had accumulated 16 goals and 22 assists (38 points for the mathematically challenged) in 16 games by my count.

The Scouting News seems to have a tantalizing article concerning South Kent and Silengo for the upcoming season. Sadly, I've not drummed up enough financial support through this blog to purchase a subscription (those things aren't cheap!). If anyone would like to donate (the button is down below the list of recruits and my 'Words to live by' section) or if you are interested in advertising through this blog, now is a great time to do so!

Welcome Jeff!

Go 'Cats!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TUMHBG's Notes

It is always interesting to note who will be coming back to the team almost a new guy and while their physical stats don't tell the whole story they do tell some interesting tales of the tape.

Look for this year's team to come back with quite an edge after having been betrayed by certain segments of the fan base calling for Coach Umile's ouster after a stellar season but a tough first round playoff loss for the fourth consecutive year. As well, the team itself is going to face a lot of internal competition for playing time with a roster that is flush-full and brimming with talent from goal on out.

Some are reported shorter than they were, many taller. Some bulked up a bit more lost a few. Here's what I noticed.

Joe Charlebois. Senior. Defenseman. Defensive defenseman extraordinaire. This Co-Captain will look to lead the team six pounds lighter than last year but don't expect his hits to come any less hard because of it.

Brian Foster. Junior. Goaltender. The cool, calm and collected netminder almost makes Kevin Regan look downright jittery between the pipe. With the addition of five pounds I'm guessing that he spent his summer preparing to be at the top of his game for what is expected to be his first season as starting goaltender. Look for him to display a strong presence in the paint and have sharpened his quickness and lateral movement for those post to post plays - expect another workhorse. Now, can he match Regan's numbers - not only can he in his final two seasons but, within reason, he could exceed some of them.

Nick Krates. Junior. Defenseman. This rangy defenseman is staring down his fellow blueliners daring them to try to take his spot. With the addition of nine pounds look for Krates to punish the opposition even more and to build on his late season successes that left him with a reasonable +5 which I'm sure he'll want to add to as well as his lone assist in 36 games last season.

Paul Thompson. Sophomore. Forward. Vision and a nose for the net. Comes back for the 2008-2009 season listed as fifteen pounds lighter plus an inch compared to the beginning of last season. Look for a lean, mean, fighting machine who is going to be much more dynamic on the ice this season.

James van Riemsdyk. Sophomore. Forward. All the skills and limitless potential. Returns to the Blue and White, amid some speculation that he wouldn't, having added one inch and fifteen pounds - I highly doubt any of that is anything less than lean muscle on this future NHL power forward.

Phil DeSimone. Sophomore. Forward. Great playmaking and shooting ability - very responsible in both ends of the ice. Lost eleven pounds from last year's roster to this year's. That ought to give him the extra step to return to the high levels of production he enjoyed in the USHL where he once outpaced his teammates including Sam Gagner who put up 49 points for the Edmonton Oilers this past season and the following year led the league in scoring as fellow sophomore Paul Thompson did in his last season in the EJHL.

Matt Campanale. Sophomore. Defenseman. Whose quick feet will be that much quicker after having dropped five pounds himself. Look for him to compete for time on the blueline.

Danny Dries. Sophomore. Forward. Seemingly coming out of nowhere last season, due to injuries in previous seasons, to taking the team's fifth highest point total as a freshman with 28 look for him to really take control of the play on the ice. Always making things happen look for even more with the addition of two inches in height.

I'm sure there's much more going on with the team and I'm looking forward to hearing more about them as we close in on the two-weeks mark when we'll get to see our 2008-2009 Wildcats in action for the first time in the exhibition game versus St. Francis Xavier.

Go 'Cats!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Micflikier With AHL's Americans

Jacob Micflikier has signed an agreement with the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

The deal is a two-way arrangement, AHL/ECHL, and it will remain to be seen where he will spend the majority of his time but he did prove able playing for the AHL's Springfield Falcons last season before his injury.

Work hard and stay healthy Jacob!

Go 'Cats!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Regan Rocks Ristuccia

The title-linked B's.com piece centered on Regan gives some nice insight into the now Wildcat Alum and another article (Ward Tries a New Technique) mentions that
Tim Thomas, Manny Fernandez and Kevin Regan looked very comfortable in goal, with Manny and Tim matching the youngster’s recent fine performances with some nice saves in the informal scrimmage

I just hope I get enough notification of when Regan will see his first game in a B's sweater in time to get tickets! And I'm not even going to tell you to work hard, Kevin, because I know you are!

Go 'Cats!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Heming Ways in Alaska

In about the only news you're likely to see out of Alaska these days that doesn't involve the state's embattled, scandalous governess - the Hemingway brothers have reunited to play for the ECHL's Alaska Aces.

Brett, an ECHL All-Star in his rookie campaign, landed there through a mid-season trade and Colin comes from across the Atlantic fresh off of a dominating season in the UK's Elite Ice Hockey League.

The two just missed playing together at UNH, with Brett not playing his freshman year, but leading to seven straight seasons with a Hemingway on the ice for our 'Cats and many, many points - including Colin's absolute head-shaker, highlight reel goal - you really can't watch this one enough!

Work hard bros!

Go 'Cats!

Murray Joins The Pack

Chris Murray has signed with AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack as detailed by the title-linked press-release from the team's website.

Coincidentally, Murray will play his first game for the Pack, their home-opener, with fellow Wildcat Alum Derek Bekar across the ice with the Springfield Falcons.

Keep up the hard work, Chris!

Go 'Cats!
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