Thursday, February 27, 2014

Meet Justin Fregona: UNH's Newest Recruit

2016 UNH Recruit Justin Fregona

When UNH Hockey became a national powerhouse in the 1970's, several top scorers hailed from the province of Ontario, Canada. Players like Guy Smith (Ottawa; 153 points in 88 games), Bob Gould (Petrolia; 192 pts/135 GP), Dave Lumley (Toronto; 169 pts/126 GP), and All-Americans Jamie Hislop (Sarnia; 209 pts/119 GP) and Cliff Cox (Don Mills; 175 pts/108 GP), regularly lit the lamp at the old Snively Arena.

Next fall, Warren Foegele, a high-scoring NHL prospect from Markham, Ontario and St. Andrew's College, is coming to UNH. If all goes according to plan, another offensively-talented player from Ontario will follow Foegele to the Durham campus in the Fall of 2016. 16-year-old Justin Fregona (DOB: 5-29-1997), a 5'8", 150 lbs. right-winger and teammate of Foegele's, has committed to play for the UNH Wildcats.

Fregona (pronounced fre-go-na), from Mississauga, Ontario, is a junior at St. Andrew's College, a university preparatory school outside of Toronto. The Saints are finishing up another championship season having won the Midwest Prep Hockey League Championship last weekend and facing Upper Canada College for the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association Championship this weekend. In 41 regular season games, Fregona posted 24 goals and 29 assists and was the Saints' third-leading scorer. Foegele was the leading scorer with 42 goals and 37 assists. Fregona tied for 7th in scoring in the CISAA and tied for 3rd in MPHL competition.

These video highlights of Justin Fregona (#7 in Red Jersey) are from a MPHL game between St. Andrew's and Ridley College on January 24th. Justin assisted on the Saints' first goal by Adam Sinclair, who is committed to Harvard. After Ridley tied the score, Fregona gathered a headmanned pass from Matthew Graham just over the Ridley blueline, deked a defender in the mid-slot, and fired a wrister into the back of the net. It was the game-winning goal in St. Andrew's 2-1 victory.

In the 2012-'13 season, Fregona was a top-scorer on the high-powered Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget team in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He scored 37 goals and 46 assists in 56 games.

In the 2013 semifinals of the prestigious OHL Cup - an invitational tournament for the top midget minor teams from Ontario and selected teams from the United States - Fregona scored the Marlboros' third goal in a 4-3 victory over the TPH Thunder (Nashville, TN). Interestingly, 2015 or '16 UNH recruit Aaron O'Neill assisted on all three Thunder goals. The Oakville Rangers defeated the Marlboros 5-1 in the Championship Game.

Last April, Justin Fregona was drafted by the Soo Greyhounds in the 13th Round of the Ontario Hockey League's 2013 Priority Draft. He was the 251st overall pick.

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

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?
Justin Fregona: UNH could not have been a better fit for my family and I. They expressed interest in me early, and gave me the impression that they really care about their players.
UNH offers a wide variety of strong academic programs, and most importantly a very appealing business program. As a student that is interested in business this was another fitting piece to the puzzle. I visited the campus of UNH the weekend of Feb. 14th-15th and this is where UNH really left its mark. The campus was beautiful, and an ideal size. The idea that UNH hockey is a large part of not only the school, but the state of New Hampshire was also very appealing.
Another large part in my decision to choose UNH was the coaching staff. Assistant Coaches Tortorella and Borek, and Head Coach Umile were supportive of me throughout the year, and showed a great sense of friendliness, and care along with their vast hockey knowledge. Choosing UNH seemed as if it was a no brainer, as it has many great aspects, and is a top-notch Division 1 hockey program with a winning tradition.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Justin Fregona: There were a couple other programs showing interest. I feel as if it would be inappropriate to name them.

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?
Fregona: Yes, the UNH coaches and I have discussed a target date, which would be the fall of 2016.

Lowry: Your first season at St. Andrew's College has been very successful. At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?
Fregona: I feel that the strengths of my game would be my speed and offensive ability. I like to handle the puck at top speed, and use my speed to open up lanes to make plays. I play my best with the puck on my stick, looking to make plays.
I am trying to improve my defensive zone board play, along with my defensive zone decisions without the puck.

Lowry: Do you plan on returning to St. Andrews to play in your senior year?
Fregona: Yes, I plan on returning to St. Andrews. Which I am greatly looking forward to, as the program continues to get stronger.

Lowry: Do you anticipate playing junior hockey before coming to UNH? If so, what leagues would you consider playing in?
Fregona: Yes, I do anticipate playing junior hockey before coming to UNH. I would like to go out west to the BCHL, where I have spoken to a couple of teams.

Lowry: The Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League selected you in the 13th round of the 2013 Priority Draft. Do you have any interest in foregoing the NCAA route and playing major junior hockey in Canada?
Fregona: No, I have no interest in foregoing the NCAA route. My family and I have made that decision once getting to St. Andrew’s and we still believe that the NCAA is the best path, for not only hockey, but to provide me with the foundations to a strong future.

Lowry: As you finish up your junior year at St. Andrews, what are your academic strengths?
Fregona: My academic strengths are business related. I am a strong student with a 86% academic average, and I am currently strong in economics, and law. Courses like these will help better my understanding of overall Business so that I am ready for UNH’s prestigious program.

I would like to add that I am a big fan of UNH’s rink, both for the Olympic sized ice and the overall look and feel of the rink. I am very excited to play at the Whittemore Center.

Monday, February 24, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Feb-24-2014

Charlie Kelleher Ready
for USPHL Playoffs

Player of the Week - Charlie Kelleher

2013-14 has been the inaugural season for the 18U and 16U Divisions of the United States Premiere Hockey League. Over the February 16th weekend, the Boston Junior Bruins 18U team won four games and clinched the regular season title in the USPHL Northern Division. 2015 UNH Recruit Charlie Kelleher - a USPHL 18U All-Star - posted a goal and 4 assists including 2 game-winning assists. The Junior Bruins earned a bye in the opening round of the 18U Playoffs held this past weekend at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, MA.

In the quarterfinal game on Sunday, the Junior Bruins and Bay State Breakers were tied 2-2 entering the third period. Kelleher had assisted on the Jr. B's first goal. A little over 12 minutes into the final stanza, Kelleher assisted on the game winning goal by Brett Strawn. Kelleher and the Jr. Bruins will play in one of the semifinal games next Saturday at Merrimack College's Lawler Arena. The USPHL 18U Championship Game will be played on Sunday at 1:00.

The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH. For example, the "2014 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2014 to begin playing for UNH.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter  (D) Vernon Vipers BCHL 17 0 0 0 14
Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 14 1 1 2 21
Adam Clark  (G) Salmon Arm SilverBacks BCHL 30 14W 14L 2.87 .911
Shane Eiserman  (F) Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 37 10 16 26 65
Warren Foegele  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 14 17 6 23 15
Playoffs CISAA 1 1 3 4 0
St. Andrews College MPHL 13 12 17 29 14
Playoffs MPHL 3 6 5 11 2
John Furgele  (D) Jersey Hitmen USPHL 43 7 28 35 16
Cameron Marks  (D) Coquitlam Express BCHL 55 4 22 26 12
Michael McNicholas  (F) Vernon Vipers BCHL 54 22 45 67 18
Andrew Poturalski  (F) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 45 13 27 40 16
Jason Salvaggio  (F) Indiana Ice USHL 40 13 9 22 25
2015 Recruits
Rich Boyd  (D) Cushing Academy NEPSHC 31 10 30 40 -
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 42 5 20 25 56
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins 18U USPHL 18U 22 4 11 15 2
Playoffs USPHL 18U 1 0 2 2 0
Junior Bruins Premiere USPHL Premiere 2 2 2 4 0
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U17 Team USHL 18 0 0 0 26
Chris Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 31 5 10 15 10
Danny Tirone  (G) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 29 19W 8L 2.47 .920
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 52 11 10 21 37
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 19 6 17 23 -
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 44 8 8 16 9
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 26 0 1 1 4
Ara Nazarian  (F) Malden Catholic Mass HS 20 20 27 47 -
Nick Nonis  (D) Governor's Academy NEPSHC 26 6 1 7 -
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Jersey Hitmen 18U USPHL 18U 8 5 8 13 2
Christian Brothers Jersey Prep 12 17 13 30 -

News & Notes

United States Hockey League:

~ Two UNH recruits - Danny Tirone and Andrew Poturalski - were named to the midseason USHL All-Star Teams. 2015 recruit Danny Tirone was selected as the goalie for the First Team in the Eastern Conference. So far in his rookie season, Tirone has the 3rd best Save Percentage in the entire league (.920) and the 5th best Goals Against Average (2.47). He is currently on a 5-game winning streak for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

~ 2014 recruit Andrew Poturalski was named to the Second All-Star Team in the USHL Eastern Conference. He is currently tied for 9th in assists (27 in 45 games) in the USHL.

Prep School Hockey:

~ Over the weekend, 2014 UNH recruit Warren Foegele and St. Andrew's College won the Midwest Prep Hockey League Championship. The Saints defeated St. Francis High School 18-0 in the quarterfinals, and Stanstead College 5-2 in the semifinals.

In the Championship Game yesterday, St. Andrews defeated Ridley College 3-1. Foegele (#3 in Red Jersey) buried the Saints' third goal of the game on a beautiful feed from Matthew Kennedy:

Foegele was the leading scorer in the MPHL Playoffs with 6 goals and 5 assists in 3 games.

~ 2015 Recruit Rich Boyd finished the New England Prep School regular season strong posting 6 assists in the final three games. Boyd was the 2nd leading scorer among all New England Prep defensemen during the regular season. His 10 goals was the 2nd highest among the league's defensemen. He was just named to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council's All-New England Team. The team is selected by the league's coaches.

Rich Boyd and his Cushing Academy teammates earned the 8th seed in the Elite 8 Division of the upcoming New England Prep Hockey Playoffs. The Penguins will face #1 Seed Salisbury School this Wednesday at 3:30 in Salisbury, CT.

High School Hockey:

~ 2015 or '16 recruit Ara Nazarian and the Malden Catholic Lancers were award the #2 Seed in the upcoming Massachusetts High School Super 8 Tournament. Nazarian was Malden Catholic's leading scorer in the regular season with 20 goals and 27 assists in 20 games.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

UNH Completes Sweep of Boston University

Matt Willows' Second Hat Trick
Of Season Leads UNH

BOSTON, MA - Despite Boston University's unusually dismal record (8-18-4), it's never easy playing them at Agganis Arena. Yes, UNH defeated the Terriers 4-3 at the Whittemore Center on Friday night, but BU came on strong over the final two periods outshooting them 27-16.

UNH may have caught a break when Saturday's game was postponed due to a snow storm. Originally, a celebration of legendary BU coach Jack Parker's career was to take place at the UNH game but was rescheduled for next Friday. It would, no doubt, have been an emotional, high energy experience for the BU players who came to the Commonwealth Avenue campus to play for Coach Parker. Instead, a sparse crowd with many families and young children showed up for the holiday matinee.

After the 3-1 victory, UNH Head Coach Dick Umile said:
"(On Friday) we only played one period but tonight we played a 60-minute game and I thought we were solid from start to finish. We wanted to come out and we were talking about playing as a team. Well, tonight we did it and we hadn't done it for 4 or 5 games."
UNH played some of its best team defense of the season. Whenever BU attempted a transition into the UNH zone, two Wildcat defensemen and one or two forwards hustled back to keep the attackers in front of them. The net result was that goalie Casey DeSmith faced only 18 shots on goal and only one got past him.

One intriguing wrinkle to UNH's strategy was the flip-flopping of the first and second forward lines. The Dan Correale-Nick Sorkin-Jeff Silengo line was moved up to the starting lineup and the Dalton Speelman-Kevin Goumas-Matt Willows line was moved down to the second line. Sorkin, Silengo, and Correale rose to the occasion compiling a total of 10 shots of goal. On several occasions, Silengo set up Sorkin for prime scoring bids requiring extraordinary saves by BU goalie Sean Maguire.

Maguire was not as fortunate against UNH's leading goal scorer Matt Willows. Willows showed pure goal-scoring touch beating Maguire twice and finding the empty net for his second hat trick of the season. Senior Kevin Goumas set up two of Willows' goals and added to his team-leading total of 27 assists.

1st Period

12:20 - BU Takes Early Lead - UNH 0, BU 1
~ UNH goalie Casey DeSmith often plays his best when he's facing a consistent flow of shots on goal. During the first 7 minutes of the opening period, DeSmith faced only one shot and made a routine save.
~ Then, BU freshman Brendan Collier pounced on a loose puck at the half-wall to DeSmith's left and flipped an innocent-looking shot toward the goal. DeSmith seemed to be protecting the left side of the net but was down on his knees. The puck squirted under his glove-side armpit.

7:23 - Matt Willows Ties It Up - UNH 1, BU 1
~ Before coming to UNH, Matt Willows was a prolific goal scorer for his Clarkstown North (NY) high school team and then the Jersey Hitmen (EJHL). He didn't light the lamp in his freshman season at UNH. As a sophomore, Willows began to show his scoring potential at the NCAA level posting 5 regular season goals and adding 3 more in the Hockey East Quarterfinals against Providence.
~ This season, Matt Willows has arrived. He's tied for 3rd in goal-scoring in Hockey East both in league play (10 goals) and overall play (18 goals in 34 games).
~ 5 minutes after BU got on the board, Willows charged the net and received a nice backhand pass from Goumas. Willows froze BU goalie Maguire, drew the puck to his backhand, and snapped it into the open net.

4:04 - Seniors Jeff Silengo and Nick Sorkin Click - UNH 1, BU 1
~ When Silengo and Sorkin - both tall, rangy forwards - enter the opponent's zone with heads of steam, they can gain the advantage on defenders and generate quality bids on goal. This happened at least a half dozen times against BU on Monday.
~ On the two sequences shown here, Silengo is positioned to the goalie's right and sets up a charging Sorkin near the left post. Maguire kept the score from getting out of hand.

2nd Period

8:11 - Matt Willows' Shorthanded, Game-Winning Goal - UNH 2, BU 1
~ At the 10-minute mark of Period 2, freshman defenseman Dylan Maller may have saved a goal by holding a BU forward charging toward the UNH crease. DeSmith made the save but Maller was sent to the penalty box.
~ A minute into the penalty kill, Willows intercepted a pass headed back to the BU point, outraced two BU defenders, and sniped one over Maguire's glove.

3rd Period

7:34 - Matt Willows' Penalty Shot - UNH 2, BU 1
~ Midway through the final period, UNH maintained the offensive pressure and Kevin Goumas hit the pipe on a scoring bid. Shortly after, Matt Willows went in on a breakaway and was slashed by freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby, setting up a rare penalty shot.
~ Willows attacked Maguire straight on and attempted to snap a wrister into the five-hole. This time, Maguire was up to the challenge.

1:17 - Willows' Empty Net Goal - UNH 3, BU 1
~ With Maguire on the bench for an extra BU skater, Goumas stole the puck just inside the blueline and head-manned the puck to Willows. Willows chipped it in from just outside the BU blueline.

A Look Ahead

With the home-and-home sweep of BU, UNH improved its Hockey East record to 10-8-0 (Overall 18-15-1). UNH currently has 20 points and is tied for 3rd place with Maine. UNH has two games remaining in the regular season, both at Merrimack the weekend after next. To earn home-ice advantage in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, they must finish in 4th place or better.

Since BC has clinched 1st place, five teams are in the battle for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place - Lowell (22 pts, 4 games left), Maine (20 pts, 4 games left), UNH (20 pts, 2 games left), Northeastern (19 pts, 4 games left), Providence (16 pts, 4 games left) and Vermont (14 pts, 4 games left).

If UNH wins both games against Merrimack and gets to 24 points, only Vermont would be eliminated from the race for home-ice. If Providence wins out and also gets to 24 points, they would finish ahead of UNH. If Lowell and Maine win their remaining 4 games, they would finish 2nd and 3rd, respectively. The implications of any other permutation of wins and loses by the contenders for home-ice are beyond my current capacity to figure out.

Monday, February 10, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Feb-10-2014

2014 UNH Recruit Andrew Poturalski

Player of the Week - Andrew Poturalski

At the end of this season, UNH will lose four seniors who have played at least a few games at center. Kevin Goumas (13 goals-24 assists-37 points) has anchored UNH's top line for most of this season. Nick Sorkin (16-16-32) and Jeff Silengo (8-5-13) have split their time between center and wing and even Dalton Speelman (5-9-14) played center last weekend against Vermont.

Two recruits slated to come to UNH next fall are top centermen for their junior teams. One is Michael McNicholas, a left-shot center for the Vernon Vipers who currently has 21 goals and 42 assists in 50 games and is the 6th leading scorer in the BCHL. The other is right-shot center Andrew Poturalski, the leading scorer on the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

On the strength of 6 wins in its last 7 games, Cedar Rapids has climbed into 3rd place in the Eastern Conference of the USHL and has built up momentum as the playoff season approaches. Last week, Poturalski was a key contributor to two of the RoughRiders' victories. On Saturday, they were tied 1-1 with the Green Bay Gamblers after regulation and overtime. On the team's third shootout attempt, Poturalski made a deke-filled move on the Gamblers' goalie and buried the puck for the shootout win.

Yesterday, Poturalski set up the game-winning goal on a Cedar Rapids' power play midway through the third period of a game against the Chicago Steel. Poturalski (#13 in white jersey) moves the puck from the corner to the right of Chicago's goalie, out to the faceoff circle and feeds a perfect pass to defenseman Ivan Provorov skating through the slot. Provorov one-times a shot into the back of the net.

The assist on the game-winning goal was Poturalski's 26th helper of the season. He currently is tied for 5th in assists in the USHL. He also has scored 12 goals including 3 game-winners. His 38 points in 41 games places him in a tie for 9th in USHL scoring.

The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH. For example, the "2014 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2014 to begin playing for UNH.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter  (D) Vernon Vipers BCHL 12 0 0 0 8
Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 14 1 1 2 21
Adam Clark  (G) Salmon Arm SilverBacks BCHL 30 14W 14L 2.87 .911
Shane Eiserman  (F) Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 32 10 14 24 61
Warren Foegele  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 13 16 6 22 13
St. Andrews College MPHL 13 12 17 29 14
John Furgele  (D) Jersey Hitmen USPHL 37 6 26 32 16
Cameron Marks  (D) Coquitlam Express BCHL 52 4 20 24 12
Michael McNicholas  (F) Vernon Vipers BCHL 50 21 42 63 14
Andrew Poturalski  (F) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 41 12 26 38 12
Jason Salvaggio  (F) Indiana Ice USHL 36 12 9 21 25
2015 Recruits
Rich Boyd  (D) Cushing Academy NEPSHC 26 10 23 33 -
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 38 5 19 24 56
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins 18U USPHL 18U 17 3 6 9 2
Junior Bruins Premiere USPHL Premiere 2 2 2 4 0
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U17 Team USHL 17 0 0 0 26
Chris Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 26 5 7 12 10
Danny Tirone  (G) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 26 17W 8L 2.46 .919
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 49 10 10 20 35
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 20 6 17 23 -
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 39 7 7 14 9
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 23 0 1 1 0
Ara Nazarian  (F) Malden Catholic Mass HS 15 17 19 36 -
Nick Nonis  (D) Governor's Academy NEPSHC 22 6 1 7 -
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Jersey Hitmen 18U USPHL 18U 8 5 8 13 2
Christian Brothers Jersey Prep 10 16 12 26 -

News & Notes

United States Hockey League:

~ Two UNH recruits were stars in the Cedar Rapids' shootout victory over Green Bay on Saturday. In addition to Andrew Poturalski scoring the shootout winner, 2015 recruit Danny Tirone made the game-winning save in the shootout. Tirone moves laterally to shadow the deke of Gamblers' 2nd-leading scorer Matthew Weis (an Ohio State commit) then smothers the shot with his glove. The victory improved Tirone's record to 17 wins and 8 loses.

~ 2015 or '16 recruit Patrick Grasso earned the 3rd star in the Des Moines Buccaneers' 7-0 win over the Fargo Force on Saturday. Grasso scored a goal and 2 assists including the helper on the game-winning goal. He also registered 5 shots on goal for the third time this season.

Team USA:

~ The United States National Under-17 Team won the 2014 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament by defeating Team Sweden 4-1. Defenseman Joseph Masonius, a 2015 UNH recruit, finished the game with a +2 rating.

Prep School Hockey:

~ 2014 UNH recruit Warren Foegele and St. Andrew's College won the CISAA Regular Season Title with 4 wins over the weekend. Foegele scored 5 goals and 4 assists making him the leading scorer and goal-scorer in the league.

High School Hockey:

~ Malden Catholic center Ara Nazarian lead the Lancers to a 3-1 victory over #1 ranked BC High School on Saturday. Nazarian scored 2 goals including the game-winner. The Boston Herald described his performance:
"Nazarian scored the game-winner by going end-to-end, dangling through the entire BC High defense and beating Eagles goalie Brandon Payzant (20 saves) on a nifty backhand move. He followed that up by putting the game out of reach on a wrist shot late in the third period."
So far this season, Nazarian, a 2015 or '16 UNH recruit, has 17 goals and 19 assists in 15 games. In the latest Mass High School Hockey poll, Malden Catholic has returned to the #1 spot.

~ Brendan, the youngest van Riemsdyk brother, continued his torrid scoring streak last week. In the Christian Brothers Academy 10-0 win over Manalapan and 11-0 win over Marlboro, BvR scored back-to-back hat tricks. He now has 16 goals and 12 assists in 10 CBA games.

Brendan was drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers in the 2013 USHL Draft last spring. He was the 51st overall pick. His current plan is to try out for the Sioux City squad at their training camp at the end of this upcoming summer. He hopes to play in the USHL for either one or two seasons and enroll at UNH in either the Fall of 2015 or 2016.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

#19 Vermont Sweeps #20 UNH

Matt Willows' Multiple Bids
Stymied by UVM's Santaguida

On paper, the Twin State rivals entered the weekend series at the Whittemore Center evenly matched. Vermont was ranked 19th in the country and UNH was 20th. New Hampshire was 2 games over .500 in Hockey East and UVM was 2 games under .500. Vermont held the edge in overall records.

The Wildcats were drubbed on Friday night as the Catamounts dominated all facets of the game in their 5-2 victory. Tonight, UNH was more competitive but could not solve freshman goalie Mike Santaguida who stopped 28 out of 29 shots on goal. Santaguida is ranked 5th among Hockey East goalies in both save percentage (.926) and goals against average (2.02).

1st Period

10:14 - Casey DeSmith Stops Point-Blank Shot - UNH 0, Vermont 0
~ After giving up the 5th goal midway through the third period on Friday night, junior goalie Casey DeSmith was replaced by senior Jeff Wyer. DeSmith looked sharper tonight and stopped all 12 shots he faced in the first period.
~ Here DeSmith makes a save on freshman UVM winger Brady Shaw who made a strong move from behind the net:

8:08 - Matt Willows Robbed by Santaguida in 1st Period - UNH 0, Vermont 0
~ Junior Matt Willows - the second leading UNH goal scorer; tied with Kevin Goumas with 13 goals - was a persistent offensive threat in the 2-1 loss to UVM.
~ Willows fired 6 shots on goal forcing Santaguida to make spectacular saves like this one. He keeps the puck in the UVM zone with a diving swipe and ends up ripping a shot that's gloved by Santaguida:

2nd Period

16:15 - UVM Strikes First - UNH 0, Vermont 1
~ Overall, UNH did a better job protecting the front of the net tonight but on UVM's initial score, senior Pete Massar was left open in front of DeSmith. Masser screened DeSmith as Yvan Pattyn launched a shot from the right point. Masser tipped it past DeSmith.

13:33 - UVM Builds 2-Goal Lead - UNH 0, Vermont 2
~ On Friday, UVM put the game out of reach by scoring twice in 18 seconds. On Saturday, UVM scored the game-winner soon after their first goal.
~ Once again, UNH had difficulty protecting the slot in front of DeSmith as Brendan Bradley fed a wide-open Mario Puskarich. The freshman is UVM's second leading scorer with 13 goals and 13 assists.

8:20 - Nick Sorkin Sparks a Rally with Power Play Goal - UNH 1, Vermont 2
~ Senior Nick Sorkin got UNH back in the hunt with a power play goal in the 2nd period. Sorkin gathered a soft, backhand pass from Kevin Goumas and went strong to the net. He then ripped a wrist shot from the top of the slot.
~ Sorkin leads UNH with 16 goals.

3rd Period

10:46 - DeSmith Keeps Game in Reach - UNH 1, Vermont 2
~ UNH held UVM to only 6 shots in the final stanza. DeSmith made the necessary stops like this one:

9:10 - Willows Nearly Ties it Up - UNH 1, Vermont 2
~ Matt Willows tested Santaguida once again- this time on a short-handed bid. Goumas set him up and Willows lifted a backhander that almost tied the game:

The top four teams in Hockey East will earn home-ice in the Quarterfinal Playoff Series. With the back-to-back loses to Vermont, UNH's record in Hockey East dropped to 8-8-0. They are now in a log jamb with Northeastern, Maine, Providence, and Vermont in the battle for 3rd and 4th place. Maine has played one less game than UNH and the other 3 teams have 2 games in hand. UNH has 2 games remaining with Boston University and Merrimack College so they can not directly impact their four competitors. To gain home-ice, UNH will probably need to win their remaining games and hope a couple of the other competing teams lose multiple games.

UNH's chances of earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament have become more remote. With the two loses to UVM, their Pair-Wise Ranking will decline. The only obvious route to the NCAA Playoffs would be to win the Hockey East Tournament - a tall order.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Feb-4-2014

Danny Tirone Named USHL
Goaltender of the Week

Player of the Week - Danny Tirone

Last year, in his senior season at Loomis Chaffee School, Danny Tirone was named Prep School Player of the Year by U.S. Hockey Report. In 24 games, Tirone allowed only 1 goal in 9 games and 2 or fewer goals in 12 and finished the season with an impressive .933 save percentage.

When Tirone committed to UNH last March, he told The UNH Men's Hockey Blog that he planned to play two years of junior hockey and come to UNH in the Fall of 2015. In May, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders selected Tirone with the 34th overall pick in the USHL Draft and he earned a spot on their 2013-14 roster.

As this USHL season began, it was not a foregone conclusion that Tirone would succeed in his rookie year. Excelling at the New England Prep School level does not always translate into success in the top junior league in the United States. In addition, the RoughRiders already had an established goalie in the person of Chris Birdsall, a Boston College recruit.

By any measure, Tirone has excelled in his rookie season in the USHL. Last week, he was named the USHL Reebok Goaltender of the Week. On Wednesday night, Tirone made 18 saves as the RoughRiders shut out the Des Moines Buccaneers 1-0. On Saturday, he posted 32 saves enroute to his second consecutive shutout as Cedar Rapids downed the Green Bay Gamblers 5-0.

So far, Danny Tirone's record is 16 wins and 8 loses. He currently has the 5th-best save percentage - .919 - in the USHL. His 2.53 goals against average is 7th in the league. Birdsall has been in the RoughRider net for 15 games and has a .895 save percentage and 3.15 GAA.

Since the summer of 2010, Tirone has trained with Mike Buckley and Goalie Development Services (GDS) . Buckley, the former goalie coach for UNH, is now the goaltending development coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins. UNH's current goalie coach, Dan Lupi, is the Head Instructor at GDS.

The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH. For example, the "2014 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2014 to begin playing for UNH.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2014 Recruits
Dylan Chanter  (D) Vernon Vipers BCHL 10 0 0 0 6
Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 14 1 1 2 21
Adam Clark  (G) Salmon Arm SilverBacks BCHL 30 14W 14L 2.87 .911
Shane Eiserman  (F) Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 30 9 14 23 61
Warren Foegele  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 9 11 2 13 13
St. Andrews College MPHL 13 12 17 29 14
John Furgele  (D) Jersey Hitmen USPHL 35 6 25 31 12
Cameron Marks  (D) Coquitlam Express BCHL 49 4 19 23 12
Michael McNicholas  (F) Vernon Vipers BCHL 48 21 40 61 14
Andrew Poturalski  (F) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 38 12 25 37 12
Jason Salvaggio  (F) Indiana Ice USHL 33 12 8 20 18
2015 Recruits
Rich Boyd  (D) Cushing Academy NEPSHC 24 9 22 31 -
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 36 5 18 23 50
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins 18U USPHL 18U 15 3 6 9 2
Junior Bruins Premiere USPHL Premiere 2 2 2 4 0
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U17 Team USHL 17 0 0 0 26
Chris Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 24 5 7 12 8
Danny Tirone  (G) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 25 16W 8L 2.53 .919
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 47 9 10 19 35
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 19 6 17 23 -
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 37 6 5 11 4
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 21 0 1 1 0
Ara Nazarian  (F) Malden Catholic Mass HS 14 15 19 34 -
Nick Nonis  (D) Governor's Academy NEPSHC 19 5 0 5 -
2016 or '17 Recruits
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Jersey Hitmen 18U USPHL 18U 8 5 8 13 2
Christian Brothers Jersey Prep 8 10 11 21 -

News & Notes

Prep School Hockey:

~ Over the weekend, Warren Foegele and St. Andrew's College hosted the 31st Annual MacPherson Tournament in Aurora, Ontario. The Saints qualified for the Championship Game with wins over St. Francis High School (Athol Springs, NY), Cegep de Sainte-Foy (Quebec City, QC), Upper Canada College (Toronto, ON), and Northwood School (Lake Placid, NY). St. Andrew's won the Championship with a 5-3 victory over Cegep de Sainte-Foy. Foegele scored the game-winning goal and earned The Robin Fraser Plaque for Leadership and Sportsmanship. In the 5 games, Foegele scored a goal and 4 assists.

United States Premier Hockey League:

~ 2015 Recruit Charlie Kelleher was moved up the Junior Bruins' Premiere team for a pair of games. On Saturday, Kelleher lead the Jr. Bruins to a 8-1 win over the Portland Jr. Pirates. Charlie scored 2 goals, including an unassisted one, and 2 assists.

Monday, February 03, 2014

UNH Standouts in Weekend Sweep of Notre Dame

Casey DeSmith's 70 Saves
Anchor Sweep of Fighting Irish

Much was at stake and the obstacles were daunting. The UNH Wildcats were battling to keep their chances of earning home-ice in the quarterfinal round of the upcoming Hockey East Tournament, and qualifying for the 2014 NCAA Tournament, alive. 14th-ranked Notre Dame was coming to town for back-to-back games at the Whittemore Center. The hometown team would be without the services of All-American defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (broken left ankle), 2nd-line center Grayson Downing (sprained shoulder), and 3rd-line center Kyle Smith (concussion).

The outcome could not have been better. UNH overcame a slow start on Friday night to defeat Notre Dame 4-2 and convincingly beat them 5-2 on Saturday night. The entire team rose to the occasion.
"All weekend, the guys worked their butts off, blocking every shot, winning every battle in the corner. Every line, every D-pair, everyone who was out there. If your number got called, they were going to work their butts off for the team. If was a great effort for us."
Captain Eric Knodel
When every player steps up to achieve victory, it's awkward to single out individual player performances. Nonetheless, in each game, individual UNH players made outstanding plays at key junctures. These are the performances I believe merit a second look.

Friday, Jan. 31st: UNH 4, Notre Dame 2

Junior Goalie Casey DeSmith

During the broadcast on Saturday, former BU star and current NESN color commentator Colby Cohen described Casey DeSmith as an averaged-height goalie who plays big in the net. In the first game of the weekend series, with Notre Dame badly outshooting UNH 34-22, DeSmith kept UNH in the hunt with routine and spectacular saves. His glove work, in particular, frustrated the Fighting Irish. Here's a sampling:

Sophomore Defenseman Brett Pesce

As a freshman last season, the play of 6'3", 175 lbs. Pesce garnered the attention of NHL scouts and he was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round of the NHL Draft last June. He's been described as a "stay-at-home" and "shutdown" defenseman. His ability to stop the offensive efforts of opponents, particularly with his stickwork, is remarkable. However, his offensive upside has been somewhat overshadowed by the play of Hobey Baker Candidate Trevor van Riemsdyk. In TvR's absence, Pesce's abilities to rush the puck up ice, distribute it in the offensive zone, and fire shots on net have become more obvious.

In these highlights, Pesce plays the umbrella position on the UNH power play and scores a PP goal, disrupts the Notre Dame power play, and almost single-handedly stymies ND in the UNH zone:

Senior Forward Kevin Goumas

By the end of the weekend games against Notre Dame, Goumas was UNH's leading scorer with 12 goals, 23 assists, and 35 points. He is the 5th leading scorer in Hockey East. In the first period of the Notre Dame game, UNH only registered 2 shots on goal and Goumas fired one of them. These highlights show this sequence as well as Goumas scoring the game-winner in the third period, and feeding Jeff Silengo for the empty net goal.

Saturday, Feb. 1st: UNH 5, Notre Dame 2

Junior Forward Matt Willows

To say that Willows is having a breakout season as a junior would be an understatement. To date, he has scored 13 goals and 12 assists. Remarkably, 4 of his goals have been game-winners including the one in Saturday's game against Notre Dame. He is now tied for 7th in Hockey East scoring. Among the following highlights is the short-handed goal Willows scored late in the 2nd period. It epitomizes a highlight reel goal.

Senior Defenseman Eric Knodel

With TvR out of the lineup, Captain Knodel has stepped his game up a notch both offensively and defensively. His 23 points make him the top-scoring defenseman on the Wildcat roster. The first clip in these highlights shows Knodel carrying the puck end-to-end and making an accurate centering pass to the front of the Notre Dame net. The rest of the clips show Knodel at his defensive best.

Freshman Forward Tyler Kelleher

With Downing and Smith injured, Coach Umile juggled his forward lines and as the weekend progressed, they started to gel. A hallmark of UNH hockey is the transition game where they stop an opponent's progress in their own end and quickly advance the puck up ice for odd-man rushes. Tyler Kelleher showcased his ability to play transition hockey in the following highlights - including his pretty setup of Maxim Gaudreault's goal midway through the first period. There is also a clip of Kelleher effectively back-checking to stop a Notre Dame play.

Junior Goalie Casey DeSmith

It is only fitting that I bookend this post with highlights of DeSmith's outstanding goaltending on Saturday night. His agility and positioning held Notre Dame to just 2 goals in both games.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

2014 UNH Recruits At A Glance: Feb 2014 Update

UPDATE: With forward Warren Foegele accelerating his admission to UNH to the Fall of 2014, there are now 9 recruits on track to come to Durham next fall. The incoming freshman class includes 5 forwards - Shane Eiserman, Foegele, Michael McNicholas, Andrew Poturalski, and Jason Salvaggio, 3 defensemen - Dylan Chanter, Cameron Marks, and John Furgele, and goalie Adam Clark.

Current UNH players who will definitely not return next season are forwards Kevin Goumas, Jeff Silengo, Dalton Speelman, and Nick Sorkin and goalie Jeff Wyer. Senior defensemen Eric Knodel and Justin Agosta would technically be eligible to play next season for the Wildcats since neither suited up during their freshman year. All indications are that Knodel, a 5th round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, will turn professional. Agosta has talked about the possibility of returning to UNH next season but no decision has been made.

None of the current UNH underclassmen have announced that they will leave school early in order to turn professional. Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and forward Grayson Downing have participated in the summer development camps of NHL teams in the past. Both are undrafted, free agents. Sophomore defenseman Brett Pesce is a 3rd round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Here's the updated 2014 UNH Recruits At A Glance list. In addition to basic demographic information, the At A Glance includes 2 informative links for each recruit. Click on the player's 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 the player's commitment to UNH.

2014 Recruits

Dylan Chanter
Vernon Vipers
British Columbia Hockey League
DOB: 9-17-1995 Hometown: Armstrong, BC
Defense, 6'3", 203 lbs. Shoots Right
Commit to UNH: 2-22-2012
Adam Clark
Salmon Arm SilverBacks
British Columbia Hockey League
DOB: 3-23-1993 Hometown: Sherwood Park, Alberta
Goalie, 6'5", 210 lbs. Catches Left
Commit to UNH: 9-28-2012
Shane Eiserman
Dubuque Fighting Saints
United States Hockey League
DOB: 10-10-1995 Hometown: West Newbury, MA
Forward, 6'1", 180 lbs. Shoots Left
Commit to UNH: 8-27-2011
Warren Foegele
St Andrew's College
DOB: 4-1-1996 Hometown: Markham, ON
Forward, 6'1", 182 lbs. Shoots Left
Commit to UNH: 2-20-2013
John Furgele
Jersey Hitmen
United States Premiere Hockey League
DOB: 1-15-1993 Hometown: Glen Mills, PA
Defense, 5'9", 181 lbs. Shoots Right
Commit to UNH: 9-11-2013
Cameron Marks
Coquitlam Express
British Columbia Hockey League
DOB: 4-9-1995 Hometown: North Vancouver, BC
Defense, 6'0", 175 lbs. Shoots Right
Commit to UNH: 4-11-2012
Michael McNicholas
Vernon Vipers
British Columbia Hockey League
DOB: 3-23-1994 Hometown: Manhattan Beach, CA
Forward, 5'10", 175 lbs. Shoots Left
Commit to UNH: 2-13-2011
Andrew Poturalski
Cedar Rapids Rough Riders
United States Hockey League
DOB: 1-14-1994 Hometown: Williamsville, NY
Forward, 5'10", 176 lbs. Shoots Right
Commit to UNH: 10-5-2011
Jason Salvaggio
Indiana Ice
United States Hockey League
DOB: 10-1-1994 Hometown: Hanson, MA
Forward, 6'1", 190 lbs. Shoots Left
Commit to UNH: 6-12-2013

Saturday, February 01, 2014

DeSmith & Pesce Keep Fighting Irish at Bay, UNH Wins 4-2

Casey DeSmith - 38 Saves
Brett Pesce Smothering Defense

DURHAM, NH - In their first Hockey East game at the Whittemore Center, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame played as if they owned the place. The Notre Dame offense kept coming at UNH wave-after-wave and fired a ton of rubber at the net. Thanks in large part to numerous stellar saves by junior goaltender Casey DeSmith and shutdown defense by sophomore defenseman Brett Pesce, the puck only crossed the goal-line twice. UNH managed just enough offense and came away with a critical win.

With second line center Grayson Downing out of the lineup with a shoulder injury and third line center Kyle Smith out with a possible concussion, Coach Umile broke up the first line of Sorkin-Goumas-Willows with the goal of achieving a more balanced offensive attack. As a result, all 4 forward lines were out of sync at times, particularly in the first period. The UNH goals didn't come on pretty passing plays or odd-man rushes. It was outstanding individual efforts by Kevin Goumas (1 goal, 1 assist), Jeff Silengo (2 goals) and Brett Pesce (1 goal, 3 assists) that got the job down.

1st Period

12:31 - UNH 4th Line of MacDonald-Camper-Bourque Apply Early Pressure - UNH 0, Notre Dame 0
~ Freshman Collin Bourque (#20) fired one of only two UNH shots on goal during the first period.

5:50 - Brett Pesce Shines on UNH Penalty Kill - UNH 0, Notre Dame 0
~ With Matias Cleland in the penalty box for hitting from behind, UNH was effective on the penalty kill only allowing 1 shot on goal.
~ In this sequence, #22 Pesce first stops a play behind the net then eventually clears the puck.

2:49 - Casey DeSmith Makes First of Several Glove Saves - UNH 0, Notre Dame 0
~ DeSmith's glove work was outstanding all night long and this was his first big glove save:

2nd Period

17:39 - Notre Dame Strikes First - UNH 0, Notre Dame 1
~ Sophomore Mario Lucia redirected an Eric Johnson slap shot past DeSmith.

14:42 - Brett Pesce Answers with Power Play Goal - UNH 1, Notre Dame 1
~ With Trevor van Riemsdyk out of the lineup with a broken ankle, Pesce has taken his place on UNH's first power play unit. Here, he launches two slap shots from the top of the umbrella with the second beating ND goalie Steven Summerhays.

10:32 - Pesce Shines Again on Penalty Kill - UNH 1, ND 1
~ Captain Eric Knodel was called for interference giving ND it's second power play of the game. Once again, Pesce put a stop to the ND attack.

7:57 - Jeff Silengo Redirects Eric Knodel Shot - UNH 2, ND 1
~ More than half-way through the second period, UNH had only registered 9 shots on goal. Silengo made one of them count by tipping in a wrist shot from Eric Knodel.

4:44 - Casey DeSmith Stymies ND with His Glove - UNH 2, ND 1
~ With the Fighting Irish on their third power play of the game, DeSmith flashes his glove again:

4:08 - Moments Later, Pesce Shuts Down Hinostroza - UNH 2, ND 1
~ Pesce takes on high-scoring freshman Vince Hinostroza (6 goals, 16 assists) 1-on-1 and comes away with the puck:

00:02 - DeSmith Gloves Another with 2 Seconds Left - UNH 2, ND 1
~ Another faceoff in the UNH end, another shot on DeSmith, and another glove save

3rd Period

15:12 - Pesce Dominates in Defensive End - UNH 2, ND 1
~ Early in the third period and Notre Dame is outshooting UNH 24-15. Here they keep the puck in the UNH zone but Pesce frustrates them again

12:51 - DeSmith's Glove Still There in Third Period - UNH 2, ND 1
~ DeSmith thwarts another Fighting Irish play with his glove.

10:56 - DeSmith Again - UNH 2, ND 1

5:31 - DeSmith Robs Mike Voran - UNH 2, ND 1

4:34 - Notre Dame Sneaks One Past DeSmith - UNH 2, ND 2
~ Bryan Rust scores a short-handed goal as the puck trickles over the goal line.

4:03 - Kevin Goumas Scores Game-Winner - UNH 3, Notre Dame 2
~ Stephen Johns commits an untimely interference infraction and UNH capitalizes on the power play.
~ Goumas is becoming known for his sharp-angle shots from along the goal line. This one went in off Summerhays' stick.

2:44 - Pesce Puts on a Clinic - UNH 3, ND 2
~ Less than 3 minutes left in regulation and ND is pressing. Pesce rises to the occasion with a remarkable display of shutdown defense.

1:21 - Pesce Frustrates ND Again; Silengo Score ENG - UNH 4, ND 2
~ A truly fitting ending to the game - Brett Pesce controls the puck in the corner and launches the play which leads to Silengo's empty net goal.

With the victory, UNH improves its Hockey East record to 7-6-0. 14th-ranked Notre Dame falls to 4-7-1. The two faceoff again Saturday afternoon at 4:00 at the Whittemore Center.

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