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Thread: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

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    Arrow UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    At long last, it's time to bring the excitement and anticipation built up over these last three seasons to a rousing finish, and with the previous season thread all but spent, I've set things up here for the stretch run. Two more losses this past weekend to UConn have extended the 'Cats' unthinkable winless run to 11 straight games, over a two month stretch. When the 'Cats beat Providence on the back end of a home and home, and followed that up with a convincing road win at RPI, The Quest had been confidently upgraded to The March to the NRN. Talk loomed of first round byes in the HE playoffs, or a home seeding in the MBPBEGAM round of the *playoffs* at worst, and UNH's PWR and rankings were both close to the Top 10, so a final trip to not only the TD Garden, but also to the D-1 tourney were possibilities bordering arguably on probabilities ... if only the winnable games facing them turned into W's, and if UNH continued to eke out a fair share of W's against the Lowells and Providences, here and there.

    But since then, we've seen the unfolding of an epic Shakespearian tragedy in the making, with the departing tragic hero unfortunately stuck in neutral, as the 2017/2018 UNH Men's Hockey season lurches into the stretch drive, and the NRN is fading into the distance over the horizon, as if it's the mysterious stranger in the closing scene of High Plains Drifter having wreaked its havoc, and settled all scores. Eight regular season games and at least two MBPBEGAM "playoff" games remain, and desperate times have settled upon and around our protagonist, as WIS presents its latest prognostications in this thread-launching "Grand Finale" edition of "Umile's Last Stand - The _____ for 600".

    "Umile's Last Stand - The Quest for 600"

    Coach Umile's current career wins total: 595
    Wins Remaining to NRN (Next Round Number): 5
    Games Remaining (plus 2 min. MBPBEGAM games): 10
    Win Pct. Required to Hit Target: 50.0%
    WIS Estimated Likelihood of Success: 35%
    2017/2018 Cupcake Conversion Ratio (CCR): 5/14 (35.7%)

    Back-to-back losses to *mighty* UConn (the latest cupcake program upon which UNH has gacked) were bad enough, but Friday's loss may prove to be the proverbial nail in the coffin for Coach's Quest, as a late one-goal lead not only disappeared in the closing minutes, but was followed by two more goals to turn a 2-1 win into a devastating 4-2 loss, and extended the winless streak to double digits. And even though Saturday's matinee down at The Mall was a close contest, was there really ever any doubt that UNH would conspire to find a way to lose again? Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Coach ditched his goalie binky for the back-up, who apparently played just well enough to allow teammates to find another L in them thar hills. So the Quest goes two more games without a W, and suddenly another poor weekend's worth of results ahead could turn the Quest into an all-out Chase.

    Looking at the big picture ... with five (5) wins still needed in the final 10 games (minimum) left in the season, the win percentage needed for UNH to get Coach to the NRN stands at roughly 50% (depending on whether you figure there are games after the MBPBEGAM round, or if that round takes 3 games instead of 2 to put the 'Cats out of our misery). So it's still officially a Quest for now, but the WIS panel has dropped its forecast for a successful ending to this NRN stuff to an all-time low of 35%. Again, by no means is the NRN unreachable, but games are running out, and ties are now the enemy for a team that can't buy a win. At this time last week, the "steadying of the ship" process with the Orono Tie Festival seemed to be a positive sign, but with Luce and his boys laying waste to his former lead assistant's stumbling program, there's nothing being "steadied", and the ship is teetering amidst the floating glaciers across the seas of Hockey East so badly that even "Peaches'" creative scheduling can't help the 'Cats now. With that, the WIS panel takes a deep breath, and releases its predictions for this coming weekend:

    Predictions:

    Friday: @ Northeastern 5 UNH 0
    Saturday: @ UNH 4 @ UMass 0

    NEXT CUPCAKE ON THE SHELF: 2/9/18 & 2/10/18 v. UVM

    COMING ATTRACTIONS - THE GRASSO REDSHIRT NUMBER (GRSN)

    Once we're done with the regular season, we'll turn our attention to the MBPBEGAM round of the HE "playoffs", and the GRSN - not to be confused with the NRN. This was brought to the fore by Dan regarding the prospects of Patrick Grasso's potentially lost season, and the chances he'll be allowed a "medical redshirt". A minimum of six (6) post-season games will be necessary for Grasso's 2017/2018 season not to become a total loss. So the Grasso Red Shirt Number sits at a 40 game UNH slate. The WIS panel has now downgraded Grasso's chances of following in the career path of the great Tommy Nolan to be Slim to None, and Slim Looks Like He's Packing to Leave Town. Of course, we'll revisit this assessment periodically as things progress.

    FOXHOLE CHALLENGE - US AGAINST THE WORLD (in honor of Felger's dopey penguin)

    Us 0
    The World 7


    To seek the man whose pointing hand
    The giant step unfolds
    With guidance from the curving path
    That churns up into stone

    If one bell should ring
    In celebration for a king
    So fast the heart should beat
    As proud the head with heavy feet
    Last edited by Chuck Murray; 01-28-2018 at 06:54 PM.
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by HockeyRef View Post
    Of course it's not the same animal. Dan I would need concrete examples (besides the 15/16 season i.e. Senior checking line) of how he (Umile) has done so. If it's creating a positive family atmosphere like "we treat your kids like they are our own" personally I don't have any truck with that.
    Seriously? It is happening this season with Fregona and Robinson (who should be taking roles/ice from C. Miller (as well as other underclassmen) and Tirone, respectively) and was happening with James Miller (Chanter/Boyd). It happened to McNicholas his first two years in Durham. It happened to a FR Tyler Kelleher. This exact issue has been discussed as a Umile flaw for YEARS, dating back to even the programs' more successful seasons. This specific practice has been cited many times by people embedded in the recruiting world as reasons they have advised, or seen, prospects not consider UNH in the first place. This was not a new complaint as of the 15-16 season you mention. This issue hindered UNH recruiting when recruiting was still going well. It is something you can get away with when you're 'burying' a freshmen Mike Souza behind Krog, Mowers, Bogey, Nickulas, Nolan and Bekar, but in a number of cases before and since then it has raised a lot of eyebrows in the prospect/advisor world...

    Since the opening of the Whittemore Center, true freshmen have only played first-line/pair/PP roles at UNH on a handful of occasions. Often, when that ability was impossible to deny (Haydar/Collins/JVR) or the team had no other choice (Gildon, Tirone/Clark). Just off the top of my head...

    * Jason Krog played on the third line most of his FR season, so that Mike Sullivan could center the first line.
    * Matt Dzieduszyki and Ryan Cordeiro left UNH when they were buried behind Matt Swain and Corey-Joe Ficek, among others, on the depth chart.
    * Steve Saviano played a handful of games as a FR, while Johnny Rogers and Jeff Haydar played nightly.
    * Mike Ayers had to split time with Matt Carney (who was not good).
    * Kevin Regan had to split time with Jeff Pietrasiak for two years (who was fine, but not Kevin Regan).
    * Casey DeSmith only played as a FR after Digi imploded for half a season.
    * Eric Knodel and Justin Agosta sat out their entire FR seasons, while Mike Beck and Matt Campanale played nightly.
    * Tyler Kelleher played predominantly on the fourth line as a FR - behind guys like Speelman and Silengo.
    * Warren Foegele
    * McNicholas/Salvaggio
    * In the line-up every night upperclass D Harry Quast
    * Fregona/Robinson

    And that doesn't take into account the NUMEROUS occasions that less deserving seniors were given first-crack/long-leashes at top-six/top-pair/PP/#1Goalie roles to start the year or over the full course of the year - while talented FR and SO had to wait. Again, this complaint has followed Umile around for a LONG time. Its why so many were so excited when Souza was quoted as saying that playing time at UNH would be earned through merit and not seniority. We'll see if he lives up to that. Umile, meanwhile, has favored upperclassmen his entire career. Often to the program's detriment on the ice and in recruiting...

    It is not a family issue - its an "I don't trust younger players" issue. Its an "Id rather get a known mediocre than an unknown great" issue...
    Last edited by Dan; 01-31-2018 at 05:54 PM.
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by JB View Post
    My guess is it has!

    Old 599, particularly the longer he has been in Durham, has favored the seniors more and more. Even when Haydar was a freshman scoring 60 points it was "shocking" he was on the first line at all. I have been told stories the he doesn't really interact much (or speak) with the freshman (who are scared of him) and by the time they are seniors he is there coach/friend/confidant. 599 finally lost me when it became obvious that he would rather put a player on the ice that was consistently sucky rather than somebody who would flash greatness and then do something sucky.

    High end talent wants to be in a meritocracy, in all walks of life.

    It is another advantage with tinkering with lines during early season games. It give people a chance to show what hey can do.

    Another example look at the Bruins this year vs under Claude. Claude would never be play all those "kids"... can't trust them.
    Last post in the last thread - but, as a longtime fan/poster, JB nails it.
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    Seriously? It is happening this season with Fregona and Robinson (who should be taking roles/ice from C. Miller (as well as other underclassmen) and Tirone, respectively) and was happening with James Miller (Chanter/Boyd). It happened to McNicholas his first two years in Durham. It happened to a FR Tyler Kelleher. This exact issue has been discussed as a Umile flaw for YEARS, dating back to even the programs' more successful seasons. This specific practice has been cited many times by people embedded in the recruiting world as reasons they have advised, or seen, prospects not consider UNH in the first place. This was not a new complaint as of the 15-16 season you mention. This issue hindered UNH recruiting when recruiting was still going well. It is something you can get away with when you're 'burying' a freshmen Mike Souza behind Krog, Mowers, Bogey, Nickulas, Nolan and Bekar, but in a number of cases before and since then it has raised a lot of eyebrows in the prospect/advisor world...

    Since the opening of the Whittemore Center, true freshmen have only played first-line/pair/PP roles at UNH on a handful of occasions. Often, when that ability was impossible to deny (Haydar/Collins/JVR) or the team had no other choice (Gildon, Tirone/Clark). Just off the top of my head...

    * Jason Krog played on the third line most of his FR season, so that Mike Sullivan could center the first line.
    * Matt Dzieduszyki and Ryan Cordeiro left UNH when they were buried behind Matt Swain and Corey-Joe Ficek, among others, on the depth chart.
    * Steve Saviano played a handful of games as a FR, while Johnny Rogers and Jeff Haydar played nightly.
    * Mike Ayers had to split time with Matt Carney (who was not good).
    * Kevin Regan had to split time with Jeff Pietrasiak for two years (who was fine, but not Kevin Regan).
    * Casey DeSmith only played as a FR after Digi imploded for half a season.
    * Eric Knodel and Justin Agosta sat out their entire FR seasons, while Mike Beck and Matt Campanale played nightly.
    * Tyler Kelleher played predominantly on the fourth line as a FR - behind guys like Speelman and Silengo.
    * Warren Foegele
    * McNicholas/Salvaggio
    * In the line-up every night upperclass D Harry Quast
    * Fregona/Robinson

    And that doesn't take into account the NUMEROUS occasions that less deserving seniors were given first-crack/long-leashes at top-six/top-pair/PP/#1Goalie roles to start the year or over the full course of the year - while talented FR and SO had to wait. Again, this complaint has followed Umile around for a LONG time. Its why so many were so excited when Souza was quoted as saying that playing time at UNH would be earned through merit and not seniority. We'll see if he lives up to that. Umile, meanwhile, has favored upperclassmen his entire career. Often to the program's detriment on the ice and in recruiting...

    It is not a family issue - its an "I don't trust younger players" issue. Its an "Id rather get a known mediocre than an unknown great" issue...
    Dan, even I know it's not a good thing to play lower skilled players ahead of higher skilled players! I am glad you had a good list (the concrete example). I was taking a different look at your post but whatever. I hope it's something that will change when Souza takes over. Hopefully he wants to win and continue to foster what has seemed to me to be a good environment for the players. Wonder if Robinson gets another start this weekend? If he does I'd say we are making progress...
    Last edited by HockeyRef; 01-31-2018 at 07:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HockeyRef View Post
    Dan, even I know it's not a good thing to play lower skilled players ahead of higher skilled players! I am glad you had a good list (the concrete example). I was taking a different look at your post but whatever. I hope it's something that will change when Souza takes over. Hopefully he wants to win and continue to foster what has seemed to me to be a good environment for the players. Wonder if Robinson gets another start this weekend? If he does I'd say we are making progress...
    I saw your original post here - and I get where you were coming from. I have also had to tell upperclassmen that they've lost their job to a freshmen. It stinks. But you do what's best for the team. Umile has always seemed to think that what's best for the team/program is to defer to upperclassmen. He has not always been right...

    I was SHOKED that Robinson started the other day. I am always very surprised when it isn't Tirone. Umile has often been completely consumed with absolutely needing to win 'today'. It's been more apparent in the last couple years. I don't think it's necessarily a march to 600 - I think he is desperate to finish his career on a high note. They think Tirone is the best and that's why Umile runs him out here again and again. I'd guess the other two getting starts is Souza chirping in his ear and expressing that he needs to see these guys now in case he needs to recruit another goalie...

    I think it's the same thing with Umile and SRs/FRs - he knows what he has and is desperate to win 'today'. It may be a reason why UNH historically gets off to fast starts. They're desperate to win immediately, while other programs want to win but are willing to give young players experience and opportunities, tinker with line-ups, rotate goalies, etc, in an effort to get better and win when it counts...

    By the end of the season, UNH is the same team they've always been and other teams are better and deeper. A wise coach - who I can't remember, lol - once said you can't expect depth or to develop players if you don't commit to building depth and development. When you bury talent in roles or the cheap seats you're not getting better as a team. How much better would McNicholas and Salvaggio be THIS year if they'd gotten the ice time and roles they deserved as underclasmen? His lack of trust in both and his loyalty to that 15/16 group has hurt the team then, now and in the future...

    It was harder to complain when UNH rosters were loaded. Theyre not loaded anymore. Get the best players into the game - it's the only way the program improves. Robinson seems better than Tirone now. He'll certainly make more of an impact over the next few years than DT.

    Umile cares about today. I dont. I care about whether or not tomorrow will be any different. That's what Souza should care about too. And the first thing he needs to do is completely demolish the perception in recruiting circles that UNH is not a meritocracy...

    Gildon and Maass are a good start (they really had no choice) - now apply the same objective evaluation to every position and every single player. So recruits can see the meritocracy and not just hear about a hypothetical one.
    Last edited by Dan; 01-31-2018 at 07:53 PM.

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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    The Ultimate Meritocracy

    https://www.yahoo.com/amphtml/sports...mpression=true

    This article could not be more timely or apt...

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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Marcus Vela on the how the team is handling the 'skid'...

    https://www.pscp.tv/w/1LyxBRXZnybxN
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    Seriously? It is happening this season with Fregona and Robinson (who should be taking roles/ice from C. Miller (as well as other underclassmen) and Tirone, respectively) and was happening with James Miller (Chanter/Boyd). It happened to McNicholas his first two years in Durham. It happened to a FR Tyler Kelleher. This exact issue has been discussed as a Umile flaw for YEARS, dating back to even the programs' more successful seasons. This specific practice has been cited many times by people embedded in the recruiting world as reasons they have advised, or seen, prospects not consider UNH in the first place. This was not a new complaint as of the 15-16 season you mention. This issue hindered UNH recruiting when recruiting was still going well. It is something you can get away with when you're 'burying' a freshmen Mike Souza behind Krog, Mowers, Bogey, Nickulas, Nolan and Bekar, but in a number of cases before and since then it has raised a lot of eyebrows in the prospect/advisor world...

    Since the opening of the Whittemore Center, true freshmen have only played first-line/pair/PP roles at UNH on a handful of occasions. Often, when that ability was impossible to deny (Haydar/Collins/JVR) or the team had no other choice (Gildon, Tirone/Clark). Just off the top of my head...

    * Jason Krog played on the third line most of his FR season, so that Mike Sullivan could center the first line.
    * Matt Dzieduszyki and Ryan Cordeiro left UNH when they were buried behind Matt Swain and Corey-Joe Ficek, among others, on the depth chart.
    * Steve Saviano played a handful of games as a FR, while Johnny Rogers and Jeff Haydar played nightly.
    * Mike Ayers had to split time with Matt Carney (who was not good).
    * Kevin Regan had to split time with Jeff Pietrasiak for two years (who was fine, but not Kevin Regan).
    * Casey DeSmith only played as a FR after Digi imploded for half a season.
    * Eric Knodel and Justin Agosta sat out their entire FR seasons, while Mike Beck and Matt Campanale played nightly.
    * Tyler Kelleher played predominantly on the fourth line as a FR - behind guys like Speelman and Silengo.
    * Warren Foegele
    * McNicholas/Salvaggio
    * In the line-up every night upperclass D Harry Quast
    * Fregona/Robinson

    And that doesn't take into account the NUMEROUS occasions that less deserving seniors were given first-crack/long-leashes at top-six/top-pair/PP/#1Goalie roles to start the year or over the full course of the year - while talented FR and SO had to wait. Again, this complaint has followed Umile around for a LONG time. Its why so many were so excited when Souza was quoted as saying that playing time at UNH would be earned through merit and not seniority. We'll see if he lives up to that. Umile, meanwhile, has favored upperclassmen his entire career. Often to the program's detriment on the ice and in recruiting...

    It is not a family issue - its an "I don't trust younger players" issue. Its an "Id rather get a known mediocre than an unknown great" issue...
    Bravo.
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    I think that moving forward Souza needs to save the players from themselves when choosing captains and associate captains, which has been disasterous the past few seasons.

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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Another time we we're all shocked... Conklin playing goalie his sophmore year ultimately over senior Matile... Can't remember the circumstances of Conklin getting a start

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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by Snively65 View Post
    I think that moving forward Souza needs to save the players from themselves when choosing captains and associate captains, which has been disasterous the past few seasons.
    IF Marcus Vela returns next season (which I have no reason to believe he won't, but, who knows?) ...he's the one. Give Wyse the A. Of course...it remains to be seen. Prob 2 months from now we'll know who's gonna lead the 'new era 'Cats'!
    Last edited by HockeyRef; 01-31-2018 at 10:25 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HockeyRef View Post
    IF Marcus Vela returns next season (which I have no reason to believe he won't, but, who knows?) ...he's the one. Give Wyse the A. Of course...it remains to be seen. Prob 2 months from now we'll know who's gonna lead the 'new era 'Cats'!
    Maybe the players will vote Fregona as captain? That way he might get more ice time.

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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by Snively65 View Post
    Maybe the players will vote Fregona as captain? That way he might get more ice time.
    Well that would make total sense; should've thought about that one!!!
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    On a more positive note, at least we have the Dick Umile Bobblehead Night to look forward too.
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Coulda also been named The Grand Illusion

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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by JB View Post
    Another time we we're all shocked... Conklin playing goalie his sophomore year ultimately over senior Matile... Can't remember the circumstances of Conklin getting a start
    Conklin had a red-shirt season at UNH and Umile was certainly aware of who he was and what he could do, when he was finally eligible as a RS Sophomore. That definitely worked in his favor. Additionally, he didn't have that fourth year of eligibility UNH could just burn for kicks. He had already spent a year at UAA and then was forced to red-shirted due to transferring. Under similar circumstances, Matile also took over the starting role immediately, despite SR Brian LaRochelle sparking UNH to a 13-2-1 first semester in 1996-97. But Matile also had the benefit of a red-shirt year at UNH and it was clear he was the superior goaltender. He also only had three years of eligibility, after spending some time at Maine and in MJ, and they needed to get him in the crease. Both Matile and Conklin were essentially third-year college kids and in their second seasons at UNH when they first played...

    If I remember correctly, Conklin quickly earned his way into a rotation during the 1998-99 season before taking over down the stretch. He would definitely fall into the 'too good to ignore' camp. While Matile was very good that season with a 2.47 goals-against average, Conklin was otherworldly - posting a 1.84 GAA and an 18-3-1 record...

    ----

    The 1998-99 team was the most successful in school history, winning 31 games and falling in OT of the National Championship game. They were built on the backs of their top line/pair and two goaltenders. They had without question one of the top lines in college hockey history in Krog (Hobey winner), Haydar (Hobey Runner-Up/Should have won) and Souza (176 career points), two great defensemen in Jayme Fillipowicz and Steve O'Brien and two great goaltenders in Sean Matile and Ty Conklin. Otherwise, they had a solid, but not spectacular roster.

    Was the 1997-98 team that lost to Michigan in the National Semi-Finals the better team? On the back end, they had Sean Matile in net (Conklin was red-shirting) and the exact same group of defense who would eventually play on the 98/99 team (Flip, O'Brien, Enders, Lind, Bragnalo, White and Austin were all on both teams). The real difference was up front, where the 97/98 group had Bekar, Nolan and Mowers instead of Darren Haydar. So, which team was better...???
    Last edited by Dan; 02-01-2018 at 11:38 AM.
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by d.gerry View Post
    On a more positive note, at least we have the Dick Umile Bobblehead Night to look forward too.
    And t-shirt night the evening before...
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by HockeyRef View Post
    IF Marcus Vela returns next season (which I have no reason to believe he won't, but, who knows?) ...he's the one. Give Wyse the A. Of course...it remains to be seen. Prob 2 months from now we'll know who's gonna lead the 'new era 'Cats'!
    Well, Vela's leadership qualities aren't exactly on fire if measured by his defensive *give a crap* during the course of the current wondergem slide... Below, the *negative* side of the +/- stats over the 11-games. Make of it what you like, but generally, I don't think there's a victim-of-circumstance explanation that holds water.

    Vela -18
    Nazarian -15
    Wyse -15
    Chanter -14
    Maass -13
    Marks -13
    Eiserman -12
    McNIcholas -11
    Gildon -11
    Boyd -10
    Blackburn -9
    van Riemsdyk -7
    Miller -6
    Kelleher -6
    Sato -6
    MacAdams -5
    Cefalu -5
    Salvaggio -4
    Dawson -1
    Fregona -1
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    Quote Originally Posted by bakchk20 View Post
    Well, Vela's leadership qualities aren't exactly on fire if measured by his defensive *give a crap* during the course of the current wondergem slide... Below, the *negative* side of the +/- stats over the 11-games. Make of it what you like, but generally, I don't think there's a victim-of-circumstance explanation that holds water.

    Vela -18
    Nazarian -15
    Wyse -15
    Chanter -14
    Maass -13
    Marks -13
    Eiserman -12
    McNIcholas -11
    Gildon -11
    Boyd -10
    Blackburn -9
    van Riemsdyk -7
    Miller -6
    Kelleher -6
    Sato -6
    MacAdams -5
    Cefalu -5
    Salvaggio -4
    Dawson -1
    Fregona -1
    Well, there you have it; Fregona should be captain and Dawson associate captain next year. I rest my case, your honor.
    Last edited by Snively65; 02-01-2018 at 01:46 PM.

  20. #20
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    Re: UNH Wildcats 2017/2018 - Umile's Last Stand - The Grand Finale

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    Conklin had a red-shirt season at UNH and Umile was certainly aware of who he was and what he could do, when he was finally eligible as a RS Sophomore. That definitely worked in his favor. Additionally, he didn't have that fourth year of eligibility UNH could just burn for kicks. He had already spent a year at UAA and then was forced to red-shirted due to transferring. Under similar circumstances, Matile also took over the starting role immediately, despite SR Brian LaRochelle sparking UNH to a 13-2-1 first semester in 1996-97. But Matile also had the benefit of a red-shirt year at UNH and it was clear he was the superior goaltender. He also only had three years of eligibility, after spending some time at Maine and in MJ, and they needed to get him in the crease. Both Matile and Conklin were essentially third-year college kids and in their second seasons at UNH when they first played...

    If I remember correctly, Conklin quickly earned his way into a rotation during the 1998-99 season before taking over down the stretch. He would definitely fall into the 'too good to ignore' camp. While Matile was very good that season with a 2.47 goals-against average, Conklin was otherworldly - posting a 1.84 GAA and an 18-3-1 record...

    ----

    The 1998-99 team was the most successful in school history, winning 31 games and falling in OT of the National Championship game. They were built on the backs of their top line/pair and two goaltenders. They had without question one of the top lines in college hockey history in Krog (Hobey winner), Haydar (Hobey Runner-Up/Should have won) and Souza (176 career points), two great defensemen in Jayme Fillipowicz and Steve O'Brien and two great goaltenders in Sean Matile and Ty Conklin. Otherwise, they had a solid, but not spectacular roster.

    Was the 1997-98 team that lost to Michigan in the National Semi-Finals the better team? On the back end, they had Sean Matile in net (Conklin was red-shirting) and the exact same group of defense who would eventually play on the 98/99 team (Flip, O'Brien, Enders, Lind, Bragnalo, White and Austin were all on both teams). The real difference was up front, where the 97/98 group had Bekar, Nolan and Mowers instead of Darren Haydar. So, which team was better...???
    That is a tough question. If Bekar doesnt get hurt in 98, that team would have won it all. Multiple scoring lines, good goalie, good defense. I know that they had their late season swoon, and limped into the playoffs, but they were so exciting to see. 99 certainly was better in goal, more D experience and had the superior top line. Just to dream if Bekar had stuck around for his senior season, OMG!

    The common denominator is the tight turtle neck behind the bench. We look at all of the would haves and could haves, but what could have happened if he did take the turtle neck to Amherst, and McCloskey took over?? How many licks to the center of Tootsie Roll Pop?

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