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UNH Preview


#9 New Hampshire Wildcats 4-1-2 (2-0-1) T-4th Hockey East

vs

Massachusetts Minutemen 0-5-2 (0-2-2) T-9th Hockey East

The task to gain their first win likely could not be more daunting than what the Minutemen have in front of them this weekend.  UMass is heading in to play two games in a rink where they haven’t won in four years against the 9th best team in the country who hasn’t lost since the first weekend of the season and that is coming.  Oh, and did I mention that they’re facing a goaltender that was named player of the week by pretty much everyone who follows Hockey East and college hockey?

Since UNH dropped their first game of the season out at Miami they’ve been close to flawless, with some key wins over those same Redhawks, Cornell, and BC as well as ties to Michigan and Northeastern.  While the Wildcats have done well defensively, it has actually been their offense that has carried them through.  They’re averaging 3.57 goals a game, good for 2nd among Hockey East teams and 13th in the country.  Leading the charge offensively are a couple of sophomore forwards, Dalton Speelman and John Henrion.  Both have a team leading 7 points with four goals each.  They also are getting good production from their upperclassmen, namely Mike Sislo and Phil DeSimone.  While the team is scoring well, their power play hasn’t been dominant to date, but still dangerous at 17.9%.  Still, if UMass continues to take a lot of penalties as they have recently, it won’t matter what UNH’s conversion rate is, because it won’t take many to put the Minutemen away.

Defensively UNH has been led by guys like Matt Campanale and Connor Hardowa, who are both +6 for the season.  Of course another blueliner to keep an eye on is Blake Kessel, one of the better two way defensemen in all of college hockey.  In net for the Wildcats is Matt DiGirolamo.  Like Brian Foster, Kevin Regan, and other UNH goalies before him DiGirolamo has put in his time on the bench for a couple years and then come forward to play very solid goaltending in Durham.  After giving up only two goals total last weekend DiGirolamo was named Hockey East player of the week and national player of the week by INCH.  On the season he has a goals against average of 2.66 and save percentage of .921.

If there is a weakness for UNH so far it has been their penalty kill.  So far they’re preventing goals on just 75.9% of their opponent’s chances, second to last in Hockey East.  Last?  Unfortunately, UMass.  The UMass power play is going to have to be much improved to use it as a means to win.  Other than that I’m not too sure what UMass needs to do different.  Last weekend, they finished up their worst effort of the season against Army with a very good one against a talented Swedish National Team.  The fact that they were able to do so well and even overcome some mistakes in the exhibition win makes me wonder if the majority of their problems are mental.  Without the pressure of trying to go out there and have that first possible win hanging over their heads they were able to just that, handily.

Maybe that’s the trick.  Fair or not, those around Hockey East assume UMass is going to get destroyed by the Wildcats this weekend.  Certainly the UNH fans will be thinking that going in.  I think they’d be best just going out there, concentrating on what they’ve been stressing in practice, try to hit the open guys, and get back on defense.  Do that for 60 minutes then look up at the scoreboard and see what it says.  Maybe it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

Beer The Triangle
I will not be making the trip up to Durham this weekend for a couple reasons.  Namely, I will be attending Saturday’s big football game against Delaware and quite frankly I don’t enjoy watching games at Lake Whitt.  In fact, the main thing that was leading me to consider a trip north was a chance to head to Portsmouth Brewery.  Portsmouth Brewery is only about a 25 minute drive from the arena in, surprisingly, downtown Portsmouth.  Easily one of the best brewpubs in all of New England when it comes to quality beer.  Looking at their website they have the Winter Weizen on draft, which I recommend, and something called Dunkel Gose which looks intriguing.  If you try some, let me know how it is.  As for me I’ll be drinking some 21st Amendment Fireside Chat at what should be an epic last tailgate of the season.  Any beer that has FDR on the side can’t be bad.

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Coach Cahoon says he’s note sure who will be in net in this preview from the Collegian

Dick  Baker previews the weekend series as well.

Here’s a preview from the New Hampshire side of things.  As well as another.

USCHO has a feature on UNH goaltender Matt DiGirolamo.

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Greg Mauldin was recalled by the Avalanche yesterday. 

 

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