September 13, 2012

2012-13 UNH Men's Hockey Season Outlook

DURHAM, N.H. -- The Wildcats avenged first half struggles and became the team no one wanted to play the second half of the season a year ago. Armed with that experience and hungry for redemption, the 2012-13 UNH men’s hockey team has its sights set on a return to Hockey East supremacy and a trip to the NCAA tournament. A balance of veteran leadership and emerging high-powered youth makes New Hampshire a team to contend with in Hockey East and beyond. The ‘Cats return seven of their top eight point scorers as well as an all-rookie goaltender and defenseman. UNH hopes that balance will lead to success in 2012-13.

Defense: The Wildcats have a veteran blueline corps with five returning starters from last year’s squad led by seniors Connor Hardowa (Edmonton, Alberta -- pictured left) and Brett Kostolansky (Denver, Colo.). Hardowa was voted as the team’s 109th captain. He played in 36 of the team’s 37 games last season and recorded 16 points on six goals and 10 assists. In a 3-2 overtime win at Providence College on Feb. 4, he scored the Wildcats’ first goal and then assisted on the game-winning goal. Kostolansky, named as an alternate captain, is among the top defenders for the ‘Cats for the past three seasons. He has 36 points in 104 games and was among UNH’s most sure-handed defenders. Juniors Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) and Justin Agosta (East Meadow, N.Y.) both played in all 37 games on defense for the Wildcats during their sophomore seasons. Knodel spent some time on the Wildcat power play and registered 12 points on three goals and nine assists. Agosta chipped in with five points on four assists and a goal. Sophomore Trevor van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) was one of UNH’s most reliable defenders upon arriving in Durham. He was slotted on to UNH’s top defensive pair and power play unit out of the gate and responded with a team-best 19 points from the blueline on four goals and 15 assists. A Hockey East All-Rookie selection, he was the only defenseman to rank in the top 10 in Hockey East freshman scoring. Sophomore Ryan Randall (Durham, N.H.) along with freshmen Harry Quast (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) and Brett Pesce (Tarrytown, N.Y.) round out the defensive core. Randall did not play as a freshman, but gained valuable experience as a reserve. Quast played 87 games over two seasons with the Bay State Breakers of the Eastern Junior Hockey League from 2010-12. He had a breakout year in 2011-12 collecting 32 points on eight goals and 24 assists in 45 games. Pesce, the highly-touted defender, spent two seasons with the North Jersey Avalanche from 2010-12. With the Avalanche, he played 52 games and earned 40 points. In 2011-12, he recorded 27 points on nine goals and 18 assists in 20 games. Pesce also played for the Jersey Hitmen in 2011-12 - registering six points (1g, 5a) in 17 games - as well as the U.S. National Development team over the holiday break.

Forwards: New Hampshire is also deep up front with eight upperclassmen that have seen significant minutes and a promising group of emerging offensive talent. Four seniors - Austin Block (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Greg Burke (Lee, N.H. -- pictured right), John Henrion (Holden, Mass.) and Scott Pavelski (Plover, Wis.) - will be asked to provide a lot of the Wildcat offense. Block registered 27 points in 97 career games including more than half of that productivity with 15 points last season. Burke, an alternate captain, battled through injuries but tallied 24 points in 84 games including a career-high six goals last season. Henrion comes into the year with a well-balanced 40 points with 20 goals and 20 assists in 103 games. Last season, he registered 17 points on five goals and 12 assists including nine points in league play. Pavelski worked himself into the lineup down the stretch for the Wildcats playing in 12 games during the second half of the season including the final five games. He notched goals in two of those contests including a late goal against Boston College that gave UNH the lead. After missing most of last season with injury, redshirt junior Dalton Speelman (San Jose, Calif.) leads a group of four juniors into this season. Speelman had six points in 11 games with three goals and three assists last season. He was on fire before his season ending injury as he had scored goals in three straight games with four points in that span. Overall, Speelman has 29 points in 82 games including 16 goals. He is joined by Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.), Jeff Silengo (Madison, Conn.) and Nick Sorkin (Rockville, Md.). Goumas, as a junior, is the active leader in career points with 52 points in 68 games. He was third on the team in scoring with 34 points on nine goals and 25 assists last season. He had nine multi-point efforts including a four-assist game against Alabama-Huntsville. Silengo has become a steady defensive-minded forward. He played in 29 games last season and 64 games in his career. He has 14 points on four goals and 10 assists. He tallied the game-winning goal Nov. 18 against UMass-Lowell. Sorkin emerged as one of UNH’s top offensive weapons last season. He finished tied with Stevie Moses for the team lead in points with 35 after having just five points his freshman season. He matched a Whittemore Center record with five assists in a game against Alabama-Huntsville and had an eight-game point streak from Oct. 15 through Nov. 12. Last season as freshmen, the quartet of Jay Camper (Rocky River, Ohio), Grayson Downing (Abbottsford, British Columbia), Casey Thrush (Easton, Md.) and Matt Willows (Congers, N.Y.) made a major impact of the Wildcat offense. This foursome will be asked to make an even larger contribution this season. Camper appeared in 13 games missing some time with injury last season. He registered a goal and an assist including a goal against rival Maine on Nov. 5. Downing emerged as UNH’s top freshman forward. He had 23 points in 34 games with none bigger than his double-overtime game-winner at Boston University in the Hockey East quarterfinals. Thrush registered 12 points in 31 games last season for the ‘Cats. He saved the best for last with a career high two-goal performance at Boston University in the quarterfinals. Willows fought his way into the lineup and appeared in 15 of the final 16 games and 20 games overall. The hard-nosed forward quickly developed a reputation for being a grinder on offense and defense. He posted a season high two assists in the final game of the season. Rounding out this deep group of forwards are five freshmen: Dan Correale (Prince George, British Columbia), Maxim Gaudreault (Annapolis, Md.), Jamie Hill (Glassboro, N.J.), Collin MacDonald (West Milford, N.J.) and Kyle Smith (Lumberton, N.J.). Correale appeared in 149 games between two teams in juniors. He played from 2009-11 with the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. During that span he appeared in 120 games and recorded 109 points on 35 goals and 74 assists. In 2011-12 Correale played with the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey League. He registered 24 points on nine goals and 15 assists in 29 games with the team and was named the squad’s most exciting player. Gaudreault played with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League. From 2010-12, he earned 44 points on 21 goals and 23 assists over 105 games. He also scored three shorthanded goals and added six game winners. In 2011-12, he helped return the team to the playoffs. Hill played three seasons with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League. He recorded 83 total points over his 165 regular season games with the team. He scored 33 goals and dished out 52 assists during the regular season in his time with Waterloo. MacDonald comes to UNH following a stellar season with the Jersey Hitmen of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. In 2011-12, MacDonald played 45 regular season games with the Hitmen, where he scored 27 goals and earned 18 assists. Smith played three seasons with the Junior Bruins of the Eastern Junior Hockey League from 2009-12. He appeared in 136 games with the Junior Bruins, recording 153 points on 53 goals and 100 assists.

Goaltenders: Sophomore netminder Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H. -- pictured left) emerged as UNH’s top netminder midway through the 2011-12 season. The freshman was thrust into action and responded by being one of the league’s top netminders down the stretch. DeSmith, a Hockey East All-Rookie selection, finished a stellar freshman campaign with a 2.33 goals against average and a.926 save percentage. He was 9-10-1 with eight of his 10 losses by just one goal including four in overtime. DeSmith was first in Hockey East in save percentage at .928, while his 2.29 GAA was fourth best in league play. He stopped 30-plus shots in 12 games including 50 saves in the season finale on March 11, 2012 and allowed two goals or fewer on 12 separate occasions. Junior Jeff Wyer (Reading, Mass.) will be fighting with DeSmith for the starting job in net. He appeared to be the heir-apparent to senior Matt Di Girolamo, but was sidelined for the season with a knee injury, which opened the door for DeSmith. Wyer appeared in three games before his injury, including his first collegiate start last season. He had a 2.50 GAA and .897 save percentage. Freshman Jamie Regan (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) could also fight for some time between the pipes for the ‘Cats. Regan played two seasons with the Philadelphia Revolution of the Eastern Junior Hockey League from 2010-12. He registered a .904 and .903 save percentage in his two years with the Revolution. An EJHL All-Star, he also appeared in two playoff games in his time with the Revolution earning a .924 save percentage.
 
Schedule: The Wildcats open the 2012-13 campaign at home with an exhibition game against St. Francis Xavier on Saturday, Oct. 6. New Hampshire will officially kick off the regular season with four home games starting with a two-game series against St. Cloud State on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13. The ‘Cats will play host to Hockey East rival Boston University to begin conference play Oct.20. UNH then plays a home and home series with Northeastern at the Whittemore Center (Oct. 26) and Oct. 27 at Northeastern. To open November, New Hampshire travels to UMass (Nov. 2) to play the Minutemen, and travels up to Maine that same weekend to play the Black Bears on Sunday (Nov. 4). UNH returns home for one game against Vermont (Nov. 10) before hitting the road again for four games. UNH plays at UMass-Lowell (Nov. 16) and at Boston U. (Nov. 18). The ‘Cats then travel to Colorado to participate in the Denver Cup playing Denver on Nov. 23 and Colorado College on Nov. 24. UNH plays its second game with UMass-Lowell on home ice Nov. 30 to round out the month. In the month of December, the Wildcats will complete their home-and-home series playing at Lowell (Dec. 1) and their series with Boston U. at home (Dec. 6). New Hampshire will entertain the USA Under-18 team (Dec. 9) before the holiday break. Closing out December, UNH is taking part in the Dartmouth Tournament on Dec. 30 and 31. The Wildcats will play in-state foe Dartmouth on the 30th and either Bemidji State or UMass on the 31st. On the non-conference side, UNH will take on ECAC opponent Rensselaer on Jan. 5. New Hampshire will travel to Manchester, N.H. to play Merrimack at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Jan. 26. In February, the Wildcats will play seven pivotal Hockey East contests including three at home and ending with a pair at Vermont. The Wildcats cap off the regular season with four straight home games in March including a season-ending two-game series against Maine for “White Out the Whitt” (March 8-9). For the fifth time in program history, UNH will host the NCAA Northeast Regionals at the Verizon Wireless Arena (March 29-30).

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