October 2, 2013

2013-14 Men's Hockey Season Preview

Media Day Photo
DURHAM, N.H. --
There were questions about the Wildcats entering the 2012-13 season, but the team answered those questions quickly with the best start in program history with an 11-1-2 mark over the first two months of the season. The Wildcats, who were unranked to start the season, ascended to number one in the nation for the first time since 2006 and spent the rest of the season in the top 10 nationally. This year expectations once again are high in Durham as the veteran corps adds just four newcomers to the roster. For the Wildcats, the goals are the same as always: capturing a Hockey East title, advancing to the NCAA tournament and bring home the University's first national championship.

Goaltenders
Without question, UNH's strength will be from the net out again. Veterans Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) and Jeff Wyer (Reading, Mass.) give the Wildcats experience in net. DeSmith established himself as UNH's go-to goaltender in 2012-13. A Hockey East Honorable Mention selection, DeSmith started 38 of New Hampshire's 39 games, defending the Wildcats' net for 2146:43 of a possible 2320:16. As a sophomore, he registered an 18-9-6 overall record with a 2.23 GAA and .924 save percentage. A four-time Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week and two-time Goaltender of the Month, DeSmith set the program record for longest shutout streak with a 203:32, three-plus game stretch. A senior and alternate captain, Wyer will also compete for time in net for the Wildcats. Last year, he made four game appearances and one start posting a 1-2-0 record with a 2.25 GAA and .919 save percentage in 159:01. Sophomore Jamie Regan (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) provides depth for the Wildcats between the pipes.

Defense
The Wildcats' strength in 2012-13 was their stingy defense. UNH finished the season in the top 10 nationally in defense and was ranked second in Hockey East allowing just 2.31 goals per game. New Hampshire returns four starters and five experienced players from last year's blue line. Senior captain Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) anchors the Wildcat defense. He posted a blue-line best +13 plus/minus rating and nearly doubled his offensive production with 21 points during his junior campaign. Knodel was often paired with classmate Justin Agosta (East Meadow, N.Y.). Agosta had 14 points as a junior including 12 assists, second most among defensemen. The final two returning starters are Trevor van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) and Brett Pesce (Tarrytown, N.Y.). van Riemsdyk was one of the top defenseman in the nation in 2012-13. A first-team All America selection, he finished with 33 points on eight goals and 25 assists including 11 multi-point efforts. Pesce, the highly-touted recruit, entered last season as one of the youngest players in the country and emerged as one of the team's most reliable defenders with six points and a +6 plus/minus rating. The freshman was drafted in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes this summer. Rounding out the returning defensive core are Harry Quast (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) and Ryan Randall (Durham, N.H.). Quast skated in three games for the 'Cats including the season-opening win over St. Cloud State and was the first off the bench for the defensive core. He is expected to compete for one of the two openings on the blue line. Randall along with freshmen Dylan Maller (Parkland, Fla.) and Matias Cleland (Longmont, Colo.) are in competition for the final spot on defense. Randall, the Durham native, has been with the program the last two seasons and was a standout for the N.H. Junior Monarchs before his arrival at UNH. Maller and Cleland are both products of the USHL. Maller played for Tri-City from 2011-13. In 2012-13, he had five points in 61 games. Cleland spent time with the Omaha Lancers and Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL in 2012-13. He recorded 39 points (9g, 30a) in 63 games for Omaha and was named a team captain. Cleland ranked fourth in the USHL in defenseman scoring in 2012-13.

Forwards
The Wildcats return 12 forwards with game experience including their top two offensive players. Senior Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.) and junior Grayson Downing (Abbotsford, British Columbia) combined for 25 goals and over 70 points a year ago. The pair centered the top two lines, respectively, and were a +31 combined. Goumas was a Hockey East Honorable Mention and led the team in assists with 32, while Downing was tied for the team lead in goals with 15 tallies a year ago. Couple that pair with a trio of seniors that has over 125 points over their first three years in Nick Sorkin (Rockville, Md.), Dalton Speelman (San Jose, Calif.) and Jeff Silengo (Madison, Conn.). Sorkin posted 17 points powered by 15 assists and a pair of goals and has 57 points in his career. Speelman is in his fifth year with the program after a medical redshirt. The senior had 15 points a year ago and his 25 career goals are tied for the most by all returners. Silengo is one of the team's top defensive forwards, but posted 10 points and a +3 rating last season as a junior. The Wildcat depth at forward continues with a trifecta of versatile juniors in Jay Camper (Rocky River, Ohio), Casey Thrush (Easton, Md.) and Matt Willows (Congers, N.Y.). Camper appeared in 24 games last season and handed out the game-winning assist in back-to-back games. Thrush played in all 39 games for the Wildcats and his 17 points tied for the third most among returning forwards. Willows, the team's most improved player, had eight goals including a hat trick in the Hockey East quarterfinals against Providence. In 2012-13, the Wildcats welcomed five newcomers to the forward core. Four of the five saw action last season with two of the players appearing in over 30 games. Dan Correale (Prince George, British Columbia) paced the freshman class with three goals and eight assists in 32 games. Maxim Gaudreault (Annapolis, Md.) appeared in 30 games with three goals and five assists. Collin MacDonald (West Milford, N.J.) played in 15 games with a goal and an assist to his credit, while Kyle Smith (Lumberton, N.J.) played in a pair of games for the 'Cats in 2012-13. Jamie Hill (Glassboro, N.J.) did not see game action, but was a reserve player for the 'Cats last season. While many of the upperclassmen have cemented their spot in the Wildcat lineup several of the sophomores will be battling with a pair of freshmen forwards for ice time this season. Tyler Kelleher (East Longmeadow, Mass.) and Collin Bourque (Goffstown, N.H.) round out the forwards. Kelleher comes to the 'Cats after playing for the USA National Development Program. In 2012-13, he played for the US Under-18 team and led the team in scoring with 29 goals and 30 assists for 59 points. Bourque, a local product from nearby Goffstown, played for the New England Wolves of the Academy East Hockey League (AEHL). In 2012-13, he was the leading scorer for the Wolves with 26 goals and 78 assists for 114 points in 55 games.

Schedule
The Wildcats open the 2013-14 campaign at home with an exhibition game against New Brunswick on Saturday, Oct. 5. New Hampshire will officially kick off the regular season at the University of Minnesota for the Ice Breaker Tournament at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. The 'Cats will face off against Clarkson on Friday, Oct. 11, and will play either Minnesota or Mercyhurst in the final day of the tournament Saturday, Oct. 12. The following weekend, the 'Cats have a two-game home series against Michigan (Oct. 18-19). UNH travels to Rensselaer to play against the Engineers on Saturday, Oct. 26. To kick off November, New Hampshire plays a home-and-home series with UMass Lowell at Tsongas Center (Nov. 1) and at the Whittemore Center (Nov 2). The Wildcats have another home-and-home series the next weekend against UMass on home ice (Nov. 8) and at the Mullins Center (Nov. 9). UNH returns home for one game against Brown (Nov. 12) then hits the road for another home-and-home series at Northeastern (Nov. 15) and back on home ice the next night (Nov. 16). UNH travels to Providence for an away series Nov. 22-23. The 'Cats then come home for a game against Harvard (Nov. 26) followed by an away series at Colorado College (Nov. 29-30).  In the month of December, the Wildcats have a home-and-home series playing at Boston College (Dec. 6) and heading back home (Dec. 7) to finish the weekend. Closing out the calendar year, UNH will take part in the Florida College Classic on Dec. 28-29 in Estero, Fla. The Wildcats skate against Cornell (Dec. 28) before squaring off against either Princeton or Maine on Dec. 29. On the non-conference side, UNH will play host to Nebraska-Omaha for a two-game set Jan. 3-4. New Hampshire will travel to Manchester, N.H., to play Dartmouth in the annual Battle for the RiverStone Cup at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Jan. 11. The 'Cats return home for a two-game series against Union College on Jan. 17-18. The following weekend, UNH hosts Hockey East rival Maine (Jan. 24) then heads to Orono to wrap up the series (Jan. 25). To close out January, UNH plays host to Hockey East's newest team, Notre Dame, for a two-game series Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The Wildcats head to Vermont for an away Hockey East series Feb. 7-8 before competing in a home-and-home series against Boston University at the Whittemore Center (Feb. 14) and at Agganis Arena (Feb. 15). The Wildcats conclude the regular season with an away two-game series against Merrimack on Feb. 28 and March 1.

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