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
* In the line-up every night upperclass D Harry Quast
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...