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Chuck Murray
09-27-2015, 12:11 PM
We're only a week away from dropping the puck on another UNH Hockey season, with the exhibition game next Sunday at The Whitt getting things underway. The 'Cats finished last season strongly - actually, surprisingly they've been at their best towards the end of both of their last two seasons - but on both occasions were left at home for the NCAA's due to their (uncharacteristic) slow starts to those seasons. Slow starts - like strong finishes - have historically been rare in the Umile era, and it's been painfully ironic that just as the 'Cats have seemingly discovered the recipe to strong late season performances ... their traditional quick starts have abandoned them, and ultimately killed their chances to advance into the only tournament that REALLY matters.

The offseason has featured two main themes that we'll carry into the upcoming season, and should impact what we'll be seeing from the program in the future. Theme One has been the much discussed and debated "changing of the guard" at the top of the program ... and while that hasn't actually officially been confirmed other than airings of guidelines and mile posts, the signals coming out of Durham are we're into the first of three chapters in the final act of Coach Umile's reign. The arrival of Mike Souza as the apparent "successor in waiting", and the public discussion of a three year "extension" to Coach Umile's lifetime contract at least on the surface seems to be setting out the mid-range future of the program, and as someone who has pleaded in the past for the injection of fresh new blood into the recruiting and leadership of the UNH program, overall I'm pleased to see the arrivals of Coaches Stewart and Souza to implement this new approach. Now the pieces are at least in place, and hopefully now we can see the positive effects on the improvement of the quality of the incoming recruits, as well as the positive on-campus development of these kids into productive D-1 players.

To me, although I still have questions about Coach Stewart's long-term commitment (i.e. how does he feel about being bypassed by Coach Souza? and secondly, does Coach Souza see Coach Stewart as his right-hand man if/when Souza does ascend to the top job?), and I still warily eye the whole "three year plan" concept IF UNH does begin to march back up the D-1 competitive pyramid, giving Coach Umile a professional "second wind" ... having some of those issues in place might shake some of the perceived complacency out of the top of the program, and force everyone to be at their best. Coach Umile certainly wants to end on a high note, and perhaps privately he still harbors hopes of continuing past Year Three ... Coach Souza needs to establish his credibility as the apparent successor, both behind the bench in the long run AND on the recruiting trails before then ... and Coach Stewart will want to at least match (if not exceed) Coach Souza's success with recruiting and teaching, if only to solidify his position, if not create a "dark horse" possibility that he'll instead take over. Perhaps there may be conflicting agendas to some degree there, but I think it forces everyone to be at their best, and for the mid-range future of the UNH Hockey program, I think that's a good thing.

The second theme goes to the strength of schedule (or lack thereof) that UNH has assembled for this coming season. In this space last season, I predicted a very difficult start to the season, resulting in a finish in the lower half of HE's regular season standings. Sadly, those turned out to be pretty accurate, and even when the strong finish many of us hoped for did indeed materialize ... it wasn't quite enough to get into the NCAA tourney. And seeing a PC team that limped into the national tourney (ironically like so many slow-finishing UNH teams of the past) catch fire and win it all was admittedly a little bit painful - not the least from the late largesse of their FF Finals opposition. "Why can't that ever happen for us?" has to be a thought that crossed many NH minds last April ... but you gotta get there first to give yourself that chance.

And so that brings us to that schedule thingie, and I'll say here and now that I expect UNH to win at least 10 games by the December break - and hopefully more. They should also have at least 9-10 points on the board after their first 7 HE regular season games. And that points outlook should have them postured for the top 4 - and REAL "home ice" for the HE quarterfinals, instead of "home ice" for the everyone-gets-a-medal round. And if the team can even come close to being able to approximate the strong late-season play of the last two seasons ... a return to the NCAA's SHOULD be attainable. But a fast start - like the good ol' days - is essential not only to set the foundation for a more challenging second-half league schedule, but also to build on the confidence the team developed down the stretch last season. "Champions of December" has been a taunt to the program in the past, but I'd welcome a return to that *title* in 90 days' time, so long as the team doesn't buy into any hype, and understands that even more will be required once they hit early 2016.

I'll leave it to others to discuss other issues within the team, including:

* Will Tirone continue as the everyday goalie? Will Clark get some starts, or is he en route to transferring out when Robinson arrives next season?
* Is Maller going to be able to return to form in the top two pairings? Which younger D-men will fill the other slots?
* Does the senior class of forwards have any shot at making an impact, and if not, what younger players step up?

That's it for now. But I'm optimistic about the outlook on the ice this season, and I'm even more compelled to see how the off-ice dynamics of Umile-Souza-Stewart work to the benefit (or detriment?) of the program. And I'm intentionally ignoring the "bells-and-whistles" additions to The Whitt, advanced analytics, etc. as a matter of personal policy, while I'm strongly rooting against BC (just because), UConn (Luce Canaan), and NICC (reasons too numerous to list here) to fall FAR short of expectations. :mad: :p :mad:

Drop the puck already. Go Cats!! :) :)

HockeyRef
09-28-2015, 01:26 PM
YES! Talking about the upcoming season...it does a person well!! I too am optimistic and believe that we can certainly top our first half wins of 5 last season at the Christmas break. I do believe we'll see DT as our top GK and think Clarky could see playing time as well. Over the summer AC got some great training and he's just as eager I'm sure to be in that mix. As per the D...that's the toss up but am curious to see who sits atop the first 2 Dpairs. Thinking Cleland/Maller Marks/Furgele I think a lot of sorting is going to happen before we see a top line emerge...I don't even dare to speculate...but I will say MVela is going to knock on that door. All I know is it's been too long and cannot wait! Yeah, drop the puck...Let's Go 'Cats!! Sunday..looking forward..6 days...

freak
09-28-2015, 01:39 PM
Reposting from the offseason thread. ..

So I know that the jumbotron has been discussed a lot, but I've been off the boards for most of the summer. I was reading old articles on the athletics site and came across this:

http://unhwildcats.com/news/2015/7/1...717155256.aspx


"Hockey has been such a part of my overall experience at UNH, while a student, local resident and Trustee of the Board," said Small. "UNH hockey games also provide a great opportunity for me to spend time with family and friends. I really am looking forward to this project being completed, so that I can see some of those goals that I sometimes miss while socializing with friends in Section 102."

Now I am really not trying to be the pessimistic guy, because we're finally getting that screen that UNH fans have wanted for so long.

That said, the quote above from the primary donor is a perfect example of what is wrong with the atmosphere at the Whitt. This is not to denigrate the guy, but when fans are more focused on socializing than the game, we shouldn't be surprised when the atmosphere is terrible.

Chuck Murray
09-28-2015, 01:47 PM
Reposting from the offseason thread. ..

So I know that the jumbotron has been discussed a lot, but I've been off the boards for most of the summer. I was reading old articles on the athletics site and came across this:

http://unhwildcats.com/news/2015/7/1...717155256.aspx

"Hockey has been such a part of my overall experience at UNH, while a student, local resident and Trustee of the Board," said Small. "UNH hockey games also provide a great opportunity for me to spend time with family and friends. I really am looking forward to this project being completed, so that I can see some of those goals that I sometimes miss while socializing with friends in Section 102."

Now I am really not trying to be the pessimistic guy, because we're finally getting that screen that UNH fans have wanted for so long.

That said, the quote above from the primary donor is a perfect example of what is wrong with the atmosphere at the Whitt. This is not to denigrate the guy, but when fans are more focused on socializing than the game, we shouldn't be surprised when the atmosphere is terrible.

Totally agree, freak. Tip of the iceberg, but yeah, I'm not surprised. I'm sure he's not the only one.

Chuck Murray
09-29-2015, 09:06 AM
Interestingly, Daniel Tirone didn't make USCHO's list of "10 Goalies to Watch" for the coming season. :(

http://www.uscho.com/2015/09/29/ten-to-watch-meet-some-of-college-hockeys-impact-goalies-for-2015-16/

Apparently DT (and his teammates, based on preseason polls) are still flying under the radar ...

Snively65
09-29-2015, 09:18 AM
Interestingly, Daniel Tirone didn't make USCHO's list of "10 Goalies to Watch" for the coming season. :(

http://www.uscho.com/2015/09/29/ten-to-watch-meet-some-of-college-hockeys-impact-goalies-for-2015-16/

Apparently DT (and his teammates, based on preseason polls) are still flying under the radar ...

As I have noted before, I think that we will be fine in net and our defensive zone, even without Pesce, but would be good to have Maller back at 100%. Need the five seniors to add balance to offense by putting the puck in the net besides grinding down their opponents from the third and fourth lines.

New Hampshire 'Cats Fan
09-29-2015, 10:36 AM
Interestingly, Daniel Tirone didn't make USCHO's list of "10 Goalies to Watch" for the coming season. :(

http://www.uscho.com/2015/09/29/ten-to-watch-meet-some-of-college-hockeys-impact-goalies-for-2015-16/

Apparently DT (and his teammates, based on preseason polls) are still flying under the radar ...

That preseason list isn't always the best for predicting goaltending success for the upcoming season.

See 2011-2012 List (http://www.uscho.com/2011/09/26/ten-to-watch-picking-college-hockeys-top-goalies-for-2011-12/)

e.cat
09-29-2015, 10:47 AM
UNH starts off with St. Francis Xavier and AIC. Meanwhile Maine has got Michigan St. and NODAK this weekend in the Ice Breaker Tournament in Portland. BTW, I keep hearing ads for the tournament on the radio and I'm hearing they are having trouble selling it out. Apparently Maine is going to put in a bid for a Regional and the Ice Breaker selling out would obviously help their bid. $57 on SticketMaster for a two day pass could be a negative for sales!

HockeyRef
09-29-2015, 01:27 PM
As I have noted before, I think that we will be fine in net and our defensive zone, even without Pesce, but would be good to have Maller back at 100%. Need the five seniors to add balance to offense by putting the puck in the net besides grinding down their opponents from the third and fourth lines.

Hey Snively it will be interesting where they play (these Seniors) and I agree...guess we'll get an inkling on Sunday! Still..where is the story about the team this year? Virtually zero press on the 'Cats but it's still early...? Did I miss something? Grateful for Mike's hockey blog...

Drew S.
09-29-2015, 01:57 PM
UNH starts off with St. Francis Xavier and AIC. Meanwhile Maine has got Michigan St. and NODAK this weekend in the Ice Breaker Tournament in Portland. BTW, I keep hearing ads for the tournament on the radio and I'm hearing they are having trouble selling it out. Apparently Maine is going to put in a bid for a Regional and the Ice Breaker selling out would obviously help their bid. $57 on SticketMaster for a two pass could be a negative for sales!

I noticed about a month ago I was seeing a lot of ads online even though I had already bought tickets. If you look at tickets for each individual game you can see what is available and only about half the tickets have been sold. For the Maine-UNH game in December there only about a third of the tickets have been sold. Hopefully this is the year both programs can start to turn it around.

e.cat
09-29-2015, 03:50 PM
I noticed about a month ago I was seeing a lot of ads online even though I had already bought tickets. If you look at tickets for each individual game you can see what is available and only about half the tickets have been sold. For the Maine-UNH game in December there only about a third of the tickets have been sold. Hopefully this is the year both programs can start to turn it around.

I agree Drew S. about both teams hopefully turning things around. It would be good for the league I think to see UNH and Maine in the top tier of Hockey East. Also I think it would be great if Portland could get a Regional.

Chuck Murray
09-29-2015, 08:35 PM
I agree Drew S. about both teams hopefully turning things around. It would be good for the league I think to see UNH and Maine in the top tier of Hockey East. Also I think it would be great if Portland could get a Regional.

I would love to see a Regional at Portland ... but perhaps a bigger problem there than with UNH at ManchVegas is that it's 2 hours from the Downeast hub of the UMaine fanbase. Heck - we're closer to Portland than they are! At least in Manch, you have about half of the HE member schools within an hour of the arena. Portland has one (1) school that close - and guess what, it's not UMaine. :)

But yeah, I'd like to see UMaine getting upwardly mobile nationally, but not before us. :D

e.cat
09-29-2015, 10:03 PM
I would love to see a Regional at Portland ... but perhaps a bigger problem there than with UNH at ManchVegas is that it's 2 hours from the Downeast hub of the UMaine fanbase. Heck - we're closer to Portland than they are! At least in Manch, you have about half of the HE member schools within an hour of the arena. Portland has one (1) school that close - and guess what, it's not UMaine. :)

But yeah, I'd like to see UMaine getting upwardly mobile nationally, but not before us. :D

True, true on all accounts! Portland would be better than getting sent to Grand Rapids though, right? ManchVegas is fine but Grand Rapids is like getting sent to Siberia!

Dan
09-29-2015, 10:24 PM
Hey Snively it will be interesting where they play (these Seniors) and I agree...guess we'll get an inkling on Sunday! Still..where is the story about the team this year? Virtually zero press on the 'Cats but it's still early...? Did I miss something? Grateful for Mike's hockey blog...

http://www.fosters.com/article/20150924/SPORTS/150929610/14338

You missed it. Maybe its just me, but I don't remember optimistic quotes like this one from DU...?? Calling his home ice shot...

Snively65
09-30-2015, 12:13 AM
http://www.fosters.com/article/20150924/SPORTS/150929610/14338

You missed it. Maybe its just me, but I don't remember optimistic quotes like this one from DU...?? Calling his home ice shot...

Obviously, they ALL are reading this thread, and its title.

HockeyRef
09-30-2015, 08:04 AM
http://www.fosters.com/article/20150924/SPORTS/150929610/14338

You missed it. Maybe its just me, but I don't remember optimistic quotes like this one from DU...?? Calling his home ice shot...

Thanks Dan..yep, I did. Funny and my daughter writes for Fosters she usually sends me stuff UNH hockey related!!!! Also could be I'm umpiring 5 games a week right now...sigh. What strikes me in this article is the definite need to get a good jump on the season; not make it up in the second half. If this team can get back to the NCAA's...without having to win the HE, that would be huge. That's a big goal...time will tell and the first 10 games of the season sets that tone.

ps What I'm also really looking for is the annual Coach U description of his incoming class, but that's ok coz I read all about them on the UNH Men's hockey blog...

HockeyRef
09-30-2015, 02:43 PM
Annnd it was announced that Ray Bourque will be dropping the puck at the exhibition game Sunday...along with NH Gov. Maggie Hassan....

NCAA watcher
09-30-2015, 03:12 PM
Annnd it was announced that Ray Bourque will be dropping the puck at the exhibition game Sunday...along with NH Gov. Maggie Hassan....

To commemorate Ryan's decision to bail on UNH in the last minute? Was Mr. Kolomatis not available?


4/25/09

Bourque Decommits

The University of New Hampshire has been dealt a major recruiting hit by the decision of U.S. Under-18 Team C/LW Ryan Bourque to forego his scholarship and turn major junior with the Québec Remparts (QMJHL) this coming fall.

Bourque, the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, has been one of the top players on the U.S. Under-18 Team this season. In 47 games Bourque has a 19-24-43 line with 42 pims.

A native of Boxford, Mass., Bourque, who is 5’8” and 165 lbs., was drafted by the Québec Remparts in the seventh round (#117 overall) of last June’s QMJHL draft. As you likely know, the GM/head coach of the Remparts is Patrick Roy, a teammate of Bourque’s father for a year and a half with the Colorado Avalanche.

Bourque, who had played at Cushing Academy in the 9th and 10th grades, committed to UNH as he was about to begin his first season of play in the NTDP in early September of 2007. Bourque chose the Wildcats over BU and Harvard.

That was over a year and a half ago. At the time (9/4/07), we wrote, “Given the fact that he’s on the small side – he’s 5’7”, 160 lbs. -- he could well be at UNH for the full four years à la Ryan Shannon at Boston College.”

Well, we were certainly wrong about that. Now, given the late date, UNH will be very hard-pressed to find another quality forward for the class entering this fall – all the top players have long since been committed. The Wildcats may have to bring in someone originally pegged for the fall of ’10 – or hope they get lucky between now and September. No matter what, they won’t be getting a player of Bourque’s level. This really amplifies what we were writing about a couple of days ago. To wit, schools are becoming increasingly wary of committing kids from the NTDP. As recent events have shown, there's a real downside. Colleges might luck out, but it's a calculated risk, for they might also be left holding the bag, watching from the sidelines while major junior continues to skim top players from the program.

A 1/3/91 birthdate, Bourque was ranked 61st among North American skaters in January’s Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings.

HockeyRef
09-30-2015, 04:55 PM
To commemorate Ryan's decision to bail on UNH in the last minute? Was Mr. Kolomatis not available?

Sorry I brought it up....but while we're going down this road, can we count you in on one of the many fans to see it? You lost me on the Kolomatis comment..but that's to be expected..;) Haha I don't care who drops the darn thing...as long as it's dropped! Go 'Cats!!!!!

Snively65
09-30-2015, 05:57 PM
Sorry I brought it up....but while we're going down this road, can we count you in on one of the many fans to see it? You lost me on the Kolomatis comment..but that's to be expected..;) Haha I don't care who drops the darn thing...as long as it's dropped! Go 'Cats!!!!!

Not I, as I am still annoyed at the old man for bailing on the Bs to play his last year with the Avs.