Preview: #4 New Hampshire Wildcats

Hockey East Preview: #4 New Hampshire Wildcats

2010-11 Storyline: UNH fails to reach Frozen Four despite home ice advantage in the tournament.

2011-12 Storyline: Despite losses, New Hampshire doesn’t rebuild.  They just reload.

Player To Watch: Matt Di Girolamo

Player Missed Most: Paul Thompson

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Grayson Downing

Random Fact: Those who watched UNH in the past few years would not necessarily associate the name “Van Riemsdyk” with defense, but that changes this year as James’ younger brother Trevor come to Durham as the top defenseman in the EJHL.

Usual Beer The Triangle Pre-game  Spot: Portsmouth Brewery

Let’s face it, UNH lost a lot in the offseason; Paul Thompson, Mike Sislo, Blake Kessel, Phil DeSimone just to name a few.  But they do still have a few things going for them.  The goaltender returning with the best stats from last year in Matt Di Girolamo is certainly a good place to start.  He certainly surprised most who follow Hockey East when he gave the Cats solid play right out of the gate.  But he established himself as the real deal by coming up big in net all season.

On offense things are probably actually better than they appear for a team that’s losing a 28 goal guy and a 15 goal guy in Thompson and Sislo.  Look for guys like John Henrion, Kevin Goumas, and Stevie Moses to step up their games.  Freshman Grayson Downing, coming to UNH from the Westside Warriors where he was teammates with Kevin Boyle, will likely contribute right away.   If the Cats do have an area of concern it could be on defense.  The younger players will have to make significant strides to try to replace the steady play of guys like Matt Campanale.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: The defense struggles and Di Girolamo is unable to compensate.

They’ll Finish Higher Because: The forwards who have been waiting in the wings explode on the scene now that they’re on the first line.

Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
1. ??
2. ??
3. ??
4. New Hampshire Wildcats
5. Maine Black Bears
6. Massachusetts Minutemen (preview 10/5)
7. Vermont Catamounts
8. Providence Friars
9. Northeastern Huskies
10. Lowell River Hawks

Looking around the rest of the college hockey world:

Denver was picked to win the WCHA.

Notre Dame is tops in the CCHA.

One of UMass’ non-conference opponents, Yale, got the nod in the ECAC.