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Chuck Murray
03-17-2019, 12:24 PM
Just wanted to put a bow on this now-completed season, which was Coach Souza's first season fully in charge. We saw some good things, and some not-so-good things over the last 6 or so months. Just thinking things over a bit in the last few days, and before we turn our complete attention to what lies ahead next season and beyond, I think it's a fair and an appropriate time to ask a simple question … how much progress did UNH really make this past season?

:confused:

I think there's a lot of different ways we can look at this, so I'm going to try to just set the table and allow folks to assess the pros and cons in kind of a post-mortem of the last 12 months of UNH Hockey. Some of the major basic talking points pro … a move up to 8th in the league from 11th (last) the previous season … a lot less losses, and a better second half of the season … some signs of hope on the recruiting front with the emergence of some talented young players who probably made a bigger early impact on the program than they may have been allowed to a year earlier … and a seemingly renewed sense of optimism among the long-term UNH fanbase. And among the cons … a rough first half that nearly matched the second half of last season for futility, only two more W's added to the year-end total … the team still struggling to find consistent offense … and a "typical UNH" end to the post-season, featuring both a huge blown lead at the worst time AND a "Umile-ation" style blowout loss.

I turn the podium over to whomever wants to step up and say their piece on exactly what we've just seen over the last 30-something games since Coach Umile officially retired. Maybe a question to ask is, "Are you more convinced or less convinced Coach Souza was the right choice for the top job?" I have my opinions, but I'll keep them in check for now. Go for it … :)

Darius
03-17-2019, 12:57 PM
Just wanted to put a bow on this now-completed season, which was Coach Souza's first season fully in charge. We saw some good things, and some not-so-good things over the last 6 or so months. Just thinking things over a bit in the last few days, and before we turn our complete attention to what lies ahead next season and beyond, I think it's a fair and an appropriate time to ask a simple question how much progress did UNH really make this past season?

:confused:

I think there's a lot of different ways we can look at this, so I'm going to try to just set the table and allow folks to assess the pros and cons in kind of a post-mortem of the last 12 months of UNH Hockey. Some of the major basic talking points pro a move up to 8th in the league from 11th (last) the previous season a lot less losses, and a better second half of the season some signs of hope on the recruiting front with the emergence of some talented young players who probably made a bigger early impact on the program than they may have been allowed to a year earlier and a seemingly renewed sense of optimism among the long-term UNH fanbase. And among the cons a rough first half that nearly matched the second half of last season for futility, only two more W's added to the year-end total the team still struggling to find consistent offense and a "typical UNH" end to the post-season, featuring both a huge blown lead at the worst time AND a "Umile-ation" style blowout loss.

I turn the podium over to whomever wants to step up and say their piece on exactly what we've just seen over the last 30-something games since Coach Umile officially retired. Maybe a question to ask is, "Are you more convinced or less convinced Coach Souza was the right choice for the top job?" I have my opinions, but I'll keep them in check for now. Go for it :)As an eight seed losing to a one seed? Really?

Dan
03-17-2019, 01:31 PM
It depends entirely on how you look at it - most people who are high on this season or Souza are pleased due to intangible reasoning. How they look on the ice, regardless of the result. Fair enough, that matters, but I've always been more concerned with results and here is how that breaks down...

UNH vs Tournament Teams
17-18: 1-5-1
18-19: 0-8-1

UNH vs Top-20
17-18: 1-7-1
18-19: 1-8-3

UNH vs Top-30
17-18: 2-11-3
18-19: 2-12-6

UNH vs Bottom-30
17-18: 8-9-3
18-19: 10-3-3

Clearly, any tangible improvement for UNH came against the bottom tier of NCAA Hockey. I think it goes without saying that UNH still has a long way to go before they're a competitor for championships and tournament bids, but how do we interpret their success down the ladder...?

A) UNH improved its winning percentage against bottom-30 teams from .475 to .719! That shows a much more consistent effort and an improved mind-set/confidence. While UNH has not yet joined the ranks of the above-average they have distanced themselves from the bottom half of the sport. This is further backed up by their GF/GA splits...

UNH vs Tournament Teams
GF: 12 (1.33/GM)
GA: 40 (4.44/GM)

UNH vs The Rest
GF: 78 (2.89/GM)
GA: 63 (2.33/GM)

Outside of games against NCAA Tournament Teams UNH finished the season 12-7-8 and was a plus-15 in goal margin. That is a notable results improvement from last season...

B) Last years's second-half skews the results. The 17-18 team was far more talented than they showed late last season and something off the ice must have contributed greatly to their 1-15-4 finish. Not only did the team fare poorly down the stretch, but they went 1-8-2 against bottom-30 clubs in that span. A pedestrian 5-5-1 mark against those teams would have resulted in a 14-17-5 (.444) record that is right in line with this year's 12-15-9 (.458) and the 16-17 mark of 15-20-5 (.438). Indicating that UNH is the same slightly below .500 overall and below average HE team for the third year in a row...

Analysis) I would tend to take a little from column A and B - I do think the 17-18 finish was a fluke. No way was that team, with similar roster to this year's team, THAT bad. But, it did happen and give Souza and the team credit for not letting it happen again this season minus a bit of a slow start. All told, I give the new era of UNH Hockey a still (but less) skeptical incomplete...

The coming year is the key. UNH will likely have its best team, from a talent/depth combination, in years. They need to be an above .500 team, pushing towards a four-seed in the HE playoffs and a fringe Tournament contender. If they can meet those expectations that is two years in the right direction. If they fail to accomplish that it will he concerning considering the talent (upper class skill, two strong SO, return of Engaras, good bottom-six depth, goaltending, etc)...

And from the broken record department - recruiting remains the absolute key to any sustained improvement. Ask the UMaine fans how many mirages have popped up indicating a light at the end of the Gendron tunnel only for them to still be stuck in neutral some six years later...

One of two things need to happen (hopefully both) - the young forwards playing junior or prep hockey in the east need to move west to the BCHL/USHL and produce at notable to high levels and/or the rate and value of return on the recruiting trail needs to ratchet up to include more dominant young talent like Stutzle and Margel...

A good season, next year, on the ice and on the trail and I'll climb on board - until then there are still a lot of unanswered questions, regardless of how much more enjoyable this season was to watch than last...

Chuck Murray
03-17-2019, 02:07 PM
As an eight seed losing to a one seed? Really?

Game One: three (3) goal lead going into the last minute of the second period. Lose 5-4 in double OT
Game Two: down by four goals within the first 15 minutes (give or take)

It wasn't so much "against who", Darius … it was (to me, anyway) the "I've seen this before" thing - with the "blowout in the elimination game" scenario coming (I believe?) most recently against UML.

Maybe I'm wrong, but even in #1 vs. #8 QF match-ups - or any match-ups - postseason blowouts are seemingly rare. Which is probably why it's something that stuck to Umile in the past. I'll be first to admit I'm a little unsettled to see UNH lose a pair of QF games the way they did this weekend. Post-season folds (Game One) and no-shows (Game Two) were the last things I was hoping to see MR7 taking with him from the legacy of his retired mentor. But they BOTH happened, in the same series, too.

Hope that helps clarify my thoughts on that issue, and apologies if I was initially vague. See what happens when I try to edit my posts and be more succinct?? :o :( ;)

Darius
03-17-2019, 02:59 PM
A 6 - 2 NCAA loss to RIT, losing a 4 - 1 lead against BC in the HEA semi finals, losing to ME 7 - 2 in the NCAAs, I understand. This year I was happy not being blown out in the first period of the first game in Amherst. For a while on Friday I was considering asking you to pick Powerball numbers for me.

msprice
03-17-2019, 06:29 PM
Game One: three (3) goal lead going into the last minute of the second period. Lose 5-4 in double OT
Game Two: down by four goals within the first 15 minutes (give or take)

It wasn't so much "against who", Darius it was (to me, anyway) the "I've seen this before" thing - with the "blowout in the elimination game" scenario coming (I believe?) most recently against UML.

Maybe I'm wrong, but even in #1 vs. #8 QF match-ups - or any match-ups - postseason blowouts are seemingly rare. Which is probably why it's something that stuck to Umile in the past. I'll be first to admit I'm a little unsettled to see UNH lose a pair of QF games the way they did this weekend. Post-season folds (Game One) and no-shows (Game Two) were the last things I was hoping to see MR7 taking with him from the legacy of his retired mentor. But they BOTH happened, in the same series, too.

Hope that helps clarify my thoughts on that issue, and apologies if I was initially vague. See what happens when I try to edit my posts and be more succinct?? :o :( ;)

Not only was it #8 against #1 but PairWise it was #32 against #1.

Chuck Murray
03-17-2019, 07:05 PM
A 6 - 2 NCAA loss to RIT, losing a 4 - 1 lead against BC in the HEA semi finals, losing to ME 7 - 2 in the NCAAs, I understand. This year I was happy not being blown out in the first period of the first game in Amherst. For a while on Friday I was considering asking you to pick Powerball numbers for me.

Yeah, no kidding. :o I think chickod mentioned it elsewhere first, but I'm pretty certain that if UNH makes it to the second break still up 3-0 on Friday, we're at least playing a Game 3 on Sunday. Which of course doesn't rule out just delaying what happened in the first period on Saturday until the first period on Sunday. To me, that's the maddening part. Whether UNH is an underdog or a favorite (historically), these things seem to crop up with alarming regularity (and similarity). So much of what they did this season was at least a subtle switch from the way the Umile Era was handled at the helm. But the ending was way too familiar. It's a cycle someone has got to end, and soon.

As I write this, it's not lost on me that other HE road teams have advanced as #7 and #6 seeds ...

chickod
03-17-2019, 07:08 PM
As I write this, it's not lost on me that other HE road teams have advanced as #7 and #6 seeds ...

And now the 5th (BU), and the 7th (BC).

Chuck Murray
03-17-2019, 08:46 PM
And now the 5th (BU), and the 7th (BC).

My apologies, I'd forgotten BU was #5 and not #6 (UMaine).

This whole phenomenon of seeing the old "Big Four" as the current "Next Four" takes some adjusting to. :o

chickod
03-17-2019, 08:48 PM
My apologies, I'd forgotten BU was #5 and not #6 (UMaine).

This whole phenomenon of seeing the old "Big Four" as the current "Next Four" takes some adjusting to. :o

I hear you. And jump over to the Maine thread to read my comment regarding the discussion of the whole idea of conference tournaments anyway. :)

NCAA watcher
03-18-2019, 08:38 AM
So.Crookshank---So. Pierson ---Jr.Kelleher
Sr. BVR --------Sr.Blackburn ----Sr.Grasso
Fr.Stevenson---So.Engaras------Jr.MacAdams
So.Esposito----Fr._________----Sr.Fregona
Sr.Sacco-------So.Cipollone-----Jr.Sato

Jr.Gildon--------Sr.Wyse
Jr.Maass--------Fr.Ericksson
So.MacKinnon -So.Verrier
Sr.Dawson------So.Hickey

Jr.Robinson-----So.Taylor---Sr.Lazzaro

2020
Jr.Crookshank---Jr. Pierson ---Sr.Kelleher
Fr.Stutzle ------Jr.Engaras ----Sr.Grasso
So.Stevenson--Fr.Margel-----Sr.MacAdams
Jr.Esposito-----Fr.Sweeney----So.______
Fr.Wazny------Jr.Cipollone-----Sr.Sato


Sr.Maass-------So.Ericksson
Jr.MacKinnon --Jr.Verrier
Fr._______---Fr.________
Fr.McElhaney---Jr.Hickey

2021
Sr.Crookshank---Sr. Pierson ---So.Stutzle
Jr.Stevenson------Sr.Engaras----Jr.______
Sr.Esposito-----So.Margel-----Fr.Curran
Fr.Sweeney-----Fr.Jones---Fr.Cronin
Fr.Devlin---Sr.Cipollone---Fr.Sacco
So.Wazny-----

Sr.MacKinnon ---Jr.Ericksson
So._______----So.________
Fr.Ardanaz-------Sr.Verrier
So.McElhaney---Sr.Hickey

Fr.__________-----Sr.Taylor---So.________

Greg Ambrose
03-18-2019, 11:30 AM
Im taking the glass half full approach. Last years team was an abomination. They lost plenty of games to teams that they should have beaten. This year they won or tied the vast majority of those games. The talent level is not there to compete with top level teams like Northeastern and UMass. BTOH, they did not lose to Lowell this year and were more than competitive with Providence. In fact, Id venture to say that if UNH had somehow converted a couple of those ties into wins, edged into 7th, they would have taken PC to three games. Thats something you could not say about last year. The question is whether this year is an aberration or an indicator of things to come. I would expect that sometime this week Gildon will sign a pro deal. I am assuming he is the only one who will. That leaves a core group returning that should give the program something to build on. People say that the incoming class is just meh, so maybe there will be no big leap next season. But if they can continue to hold their own with the bottom half of the league and somehow convert a few of those ties into wins, that will be progress.

Dan
03-18-2019, 12:12 PM
So.Crookshank---So. Pierson ---Jr.Kelleher
Sr. BVR --------Sr.Blackburn ----Sr.Grasso
Fr.Stevenson---So.Engaras------Jr.MacAdams
So.Esposito----Fr._________----Sr.Fregona
Sr.Sacco-------So.Cipollone-----Jr.Sato

Jr.Gildon--------Sr.Wyse
Jr.Maass--------Fr.Ericksson
So.MacKinnon -So.Verrier
Sr.Dawson------So.Hickey

Jr.Robinson-----So.Taylor---Sr.Lazzaro


Will be shocked if Gildon is back (otherwise, this is essentially exactly what I'd expect - with updated D pairs below). However, if we're going to add a forward from outside the pipeline why settle for a role-playing FR when you can add a real difference maker...

• https://www.eliteprospects.com/player/337739/brendan-budy
• https://www.eliteprospects.com/player/375953/matias-maccelli

Crookshank - Pierson - Kelleher
[Budy/Maccelli] - Blackburn - Grasso
BVR - Engaras - Fregona
Stevenson - Sacco - MacAdams
Esposito/Cipollone

MacKinnon - Wyse
Eriksson - Maass
Dawson/McElhaney - Verrier

Robinson
Taylor

Chuck Murray
03-18-2019, 01:24 PM
I’m taking the glass half full approach. Last year’s team was an abomination. They lost plenty of games to teams that they should have beaten. This year they won or tied the vast majority of those games. The talent level is not there to compete with top level teams like Northeastern and UMass. BTOH, they did not lose to Lowell this year and were more than competitive with Providence. In fact, I’d venture to say that if UNH had somehow converted a couple of those ties into wins, edged into 7th, they would have taken PC to three games. That’s something you could not say about last year. The question is whether this year is an aberration or an indicator of things to come. I would expect that sometime this week Gildon will sign a pro deal. I am assuming he is the only one who will. That leaves a core group returning that should give the program something to build on. People say that the incoming class is just meh, so maybe there will be no big leap next season. But if they can continue to hold their own with the bottom half of the league and somehow convert a few of those ties into wins, that will be progress.

Great. So when Gildon leaves, how do we go about selling the "next Gildon"?

"Hey _____ come to UNH - we're all about slow, steady progress. We're beating the teams we should beat, and if it all goes to plan, we'll be 6th by your senior year, and might have home ice by the time you make The Show."

You're a few years older than I am, Greg. I admire your patience, but I'm losing mine. If this is going to be the "Red Gendron Lite" version of a rebuild, I'm not going to be a happy camper. We just … frittered away a decade on the "Bon Voyage Richie" wet kiss, and I think a lot of folks are anxious to see some results. If there was a thought that somehow Coach Souza was going to be a better instructor/teacher of the game and/or a better in-game strategist, those hopes took a few dents this past weekend.

OK ... part of that was "devil's advocate", and part of that was legit and raw after a sobering QF exit - not the exit itself, but the way it transpired. Way too much same-old, same-old vibe for my liking ...

e.cat
03-18-2019, 01:32 PM
Gildon might leave but he's far from ready IMHO!

It's also far too early to stir the pot on Souza. We had this conversation last year during golf season.

chickod
03-18-2019, 01:35 PM
Gildon might leave but he's far from ready IMHO!

It's also far too early to stir the pot on Souza. We had this conversation last year during golf season.

It's not golf season yet. The fairways are still quagmires... :D

Dan
03-18-2019, 02:10 PM
Gildon might leave but he's far from ready IMHO!

It's also far too early to stir the pot on Souza. We had this conversation last year during golf season.

Gildon HAS to go, IMHO, for the reasons you probably think he needs to stay. There is little benefit to him repeating this level again next year - outside of him dominating and us enjoying. He needs to be pushed. That is what is best for his development moving forward. Both in terms of further honing his superior skills and forcing him to be more judicial in his decision making, etc. If there is a primary factor in his mistakes at this level, its the fact that he is so talented he gets away with skating and handling too much or taking too much time. When he gets away with skating/handling too much, he thinks he can always skate and handle out of trouble. At this level next year, thats likely the case. At the next level he wont be able to do that and it will make him a better player, more aware of when to push the play and when to keep it simple.

Gildon's goal is a long term career in the NHL - not getting to the NHL right out of college. The best thing for his game, his career and getting to the NHL quickly, is to play a year in the AHL against stronger, more talented and more experienced opponents. There is only one reason for Gildon to return, in my opinion - and that would be because he truly wants to stay (which I would love)...

As to the second point, Ill quickly - and just once - reiterate that Souza has been recruiting for UNH for four-years now. This season's team was his. Next season's team is his. His evaluation started this season. I won't begrudge anyone - like Greg - who takes the year as a glass half full, but the reality is it IS his glass. The grace period for evaluating coaches has always been because of the need for a coach to recruit his or her players to a program following a coaching change. That doesn't apply. Souza has had the sole responsibility for determining who was on this year's roster and who is on next season's club...

e.cat
03-18-2019, 02:36 PM
It's not golf season yet. The fairways are still quagmires... :D
My son-in-law is a super in Mass. I'll be playing at his course by tax day which is the 17th BTW! :-)

e.cat
03-18-2019, 02:49 PM
Gildon HAS to go, IMHO, for the reasons you probably think he needs to stay. There is little benefit to him repeating this level again next year - outside of him dominating and us enjoying. He needs to be pushed. That is what is best for his development moving forward. Both in terms of further honing his superior skills and forcing him to be more judicial in his decision making, etc. If there is a primary factor in his mistakes at this level, its the fact that he is so talented he gets away with skating and handling too much or taking too much time. When he gets away with skating/handling too much, he thinks he can always skate and handle out of trouble. At this level next year, thats likely the case. At the next level he wont be able to do that and it will make him a better player, more aware of when to push the play and when to keep it simple.

Gildon's goal is a long term career in the NHL - not getting to the NHL right out of college. The best thing for his game, his career and getting to the NHL quickly, is to play a year in the AHL against stronger, more talented and more experienced opponents. There is only one reason for Gildon to return, in my opinion - and that would be because he truly wants to stay (which I would love)...

As to the second point, Ill quickly - and just once - reiterate that Souza has been recruiting for UNH for four-years now. This season's team was his. Next season's team is his. His evaluation started this season. I won't begrudge anyone - like Greg - who takes the year as a glass half full, but the reality is it IS his glass. The grace period for evaluating coaches has always been BECAUSE of the need for a coach to recruit his or her players to a program following a coaching change. That doesn't apply. Souza has had sole responsibility for determining who was on this year's team and who is on next season's club...
Regarding Gildon, I guess you're right. Would love it if he gave UNH one more year. Seen this movie before. All too often it seems like guys languish when they leave early and end up in the ECHL and/or Europe. Maybe not so much for defensemen. We'll see!

As far as Souza is concerned, I'm willing to give him two more years.

chickod
03-18-2019, 03:04 PM
My son-in-law is a super in Mass. I'll be playing at his course by tax day which is the 17th BTW! :-)

In Central Mass we have a little more snow. I'm hoping April 24. Fingers crossed!! :)