Hockey East Preview – Providence College

By: Dan McLoone

Head CoacFriar_hockey_logoh: Nate Leaman; 6th season

Last Season: 27-7-4 (16-3-3 in HE, 2nd); Lost to Minnesota Duluth in NCAA Round of 16

Losses: F Brooks Behling, G Nick Ellis, D John Gilmour, F Mark Jankowski, F Steven McParland, F Trevor Mingoia, D Tom Parisi, F Kevin Rooney, F Nick Saracino, F Brandon Tanev

Newcomers: F Kasper Bjorkvist, G Kristofer Carlson, F Scott Conway, F Brandon Duhaime, F Shane Kavanagh, F Jordan Kawaguchi, F Vimal Sukumaran, D Spenser Young, F Chase Zieky

Head coach Nate Leaman’s squad has been the picture of consistency in Hockey East over the past few years, but after losing so many key pieces from last season’s squad, the Friars may be facing a down year by their lofty standards. The Friars graduated their top four scorers from last season in Mark Jankowski, Trevor Mingoia, Nick Saracino and Brandon Tanev, who combined to tally 55 goals and 82 assists in leading Providence to a 3.26 goals per game average.

With the loss of such dynamic scorers, junior defenseman Jake Walman slots in as the team’s leading returning scorer. The Hobey Baker nominee logged 13 goals and 15 assists in 27 games last year before undergoing season-ending surgery. Junior Brian Pinho and sophomore Erik Foley will have more offensive responsibility up top after tallying nine and seven goals respectively last season. Leaman brought in seven freshmen forwards in an effort to replace the outgoing talent, but 21-year-olds Shane Kavanagh and Scott Conway are the most likely to contribute immediately.

Walman remains the class act of a defensive unit that allowed just 1.87 goals per game, tops in Hockey East. Despite losing big pieces John Gilmour and Tom Parisi, the defense remains very experienced with seniors Anthony Florentino, Josh Monk and Kyle McKenzie. Speedy freshman Spenser Young will aim to contribute right away. The unit should remain strong after killing off 84.9 percent of power plays.

The big loss for the Friars, however, is longtime netminder Nick Ellis, who signed an entry level contract with the Edmonton Oilers. Ellis was one of the top goalies in the nation during his junior year, allowing just 1.80 goals per game while posting a .936 save percentage to top Hockey East. Sophomore Hayden Hawkey is the most likely to see starters minutes after performing admirably in five appearances last season. True freshman Kristofer Carlson should push Hawkey for playing time and could eventually snag the starting role.

Bottom Line: The Friars are undergoing a lot of turnover from last year’s squad. Leaman will have his hands full trying to replace the scoring punch that his graduated forwards provided, and neither Hawkey or Carlson will be expected to come close to the production that Ellis provided in goal. Getting Walman back on defense will provide some much needed continuity, and the Friars should go as their defensive unit goes. If they can find reliable scoring, Providence could push for the Hockey East title, but a down year by their standards could see them falling to fourth or fifth in the conference.

 

Hockey East Preview- Notre Dame Fighting Irish

By: Dan McLoone

Head Coach: Jenotre-dame-fighting-irish-34ff Jackson; 12th season

Last Season: 19-11-7 (15-5-2 in HE, 3rd); Lost in NCAA Round of 16 to Michigan

Losses: F Thomas DiPauli, F Steven Fogarty, F Sam Herr, F Mario Lucia, D Andy Ryan, G Nick Stasack

Newcomers: F Cal Burke, D Tory Dello, F Felix Holmberg, G Cale Morris, F Cam Morrison, F Luke Novak, F Mike O’Leary, D Andrew Peeke

After falling victim to the runaway train that was Northeastern in the Hockey East quarterfinals and falling to Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame will begin one final season in Hockey East before moving to the Big Ten in 2017. Head coach Jeff Jackson will have his work cut out for him as he looks to replicate the success that led to a first-round bye in the Hockey East tournament.

The loss of senior forwards Thomas DiPauli, Steven Fogarty, Sam Herr and Mario Lucia will certainly sting, as the group represented four of the top six goal scorers for the Irish, including a team-high 14 for DiPauli. If he wants to see the Irish improve on the 3.11 points per game that they produced last year, Jackson will rely heavily on the continued improvement of juniors Anders Bjork (35 points) and Jake Evans (33 points), the team’s top two point scorers as sophomores. Junior Connor Hurley and sophomores Dylan Malmquist and Andrew Oglevie will also be expected to carry a larger load in the scoring department with another year of experience under their belts.

Incoming freshmen Cal Burke and Cam Morrison are most likely to contribute right away. Morrison was named USHL Rookie of the Year after netting 34 goals and 32 assists for the Youngstown Phantoms last season.

Notre Dame returns their two most prolific pieces on the blue line in junior Jordan Gross and sophomore Bobby Nardella. The two defensemen combined to tally 13 goals and 42 assists last season, and Nardella was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team.

Freshman Andrew Peeke, who was named a USHL All-Rookie First Team selection last year, is the big new addition for the Irish, adding his 6-3 frame to a fast and physical Notre Dame defense that finished atop Hockey East with an 88 percent penalty kill success rate.

The Fighting Irish return junior standout Cal Petersen between the pipes after he posted a .927 save percentage and 2.20 goals against average to keep pace with the top netminders in Hockey East. Incoming freshman Cale Morris will provide depth following the graduation of Nick Stasack, but the job is Petersen’s to lose.

Bottom Line: Jackson’s squad should be stout defensively behind a strong returning defense and Cal Petersen in net. The Irish lost a lot of talent up top, and Anders Bjork will have a lot of pressure on him to produce once again. Notre Dame has the talent to finish in the top half of Hockey East, but if they are too focused on their eventual move to the Big Ten, this could be a lost season for the Irish.

 

Husky Sports Update: Week 3 (9/11-9/18)

NU's Kayla Cappuzzo was named the CAA Player of the Week after posting four points in two wins last week (Image Credit: GoNU.com)
NU’s Kayla Cappuzzo was named the CAA Player of the Week after posting four points in two wins last week (Image Credit: GoNU.com)

By: Kyle Williams

The Northeastern women’s soccer team lost a heartbreaker to BC last Sunday, conceding with seconds left in regulation before falling 1-2 in double overtime. Breeana Koemans scored from the spot to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead, before Andrea O’Brien got on the end of a cross and put the ball in the back of the net for the equalizer. BC goalkeeper Alexis Bryant made two saves to deny Kayla Cappuzzo in the first overtime period, before McKenzie Meehan scored the game-winning header for the Eagles early in the second overtime.

“We’re disappointed,” said coach Ashley Phillips, “but we’re not disappointed in the performance, more just in the result.”

Later in the week, the women defeated BU 2-0 and UNH 2-1, bringing their record to 5-4-1. Kayla Cappuzzo registered a goal and two assists across the two games, and now has eight points in her last four matches.

Men’s Soccer: The men’s soccer team lost 0-3 to BU on Tuesday after two red cards saw the Huskies go down to nine men 33 minutes into the game. They bounced back to beat Drexel 2-0 on Saturday. Christian McKenna and Ackim Mpofu scored for NU, who got a clean sheet from keeper Jonathan Thuresson.

Women’s Volleyball: Women’s volleyball swept the New England challenge by beating Harvard and BC, after defeating UMass-Lowell earlier in the week. They are 9-4 on the season, and are currently on a six game win streak.

Field Hockey: The NU field hockey team beat Harvard 4-3 on Friday before falling to #18 BC 1-8 yesterday. Freshman Alice Batt had two goals in the win; June Curry-Lindahl had the lone goal in defeat.

Cross Country: Both women’s and men’s cross country teams competed in the Battle in Beantown on Friday. They finished 9th and 14th, respectively.

Hockey East Preview- University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks

By: Kyle Williams

Coach: NorUMASS-2NDARY-LOGO-UMLRHm Bazin (6th year)

Last Season: 25-10-5 (12-6-4 in Hockey East, 4th) Lost in NCAA Tournament East Regional Final

Key Additions: G Garrett Metcalf, D Mattias Goransson, F Ryan Lohin, F Guillame Leclerc, F Kenneth Hausinger, F James Winkler, F Colin O’Neill, F Nick Marin

Key Losses: G Kevin Boyle, F A.J. White, F Michael Fallon, F Adam Chapie, F Ryan McGrath

Another year, another top four finish and NCAA tournament berth for Lowell. The River Hawks have been ridiculously consistent during Norm Bazin’s tenure, never finishing lower than fourth in the standings and making it to four straight Hockey East Championship games. Last year was more of the same, as they finished fourth and survived triple overtime against Providence to make it back to the championship game, where they fell to Northeastern (I know, I still don’t totally believe it either).

As per usual, any talk about Lowell starts in goal. Kevin Boyle was absolutely incredible last year, posting a 0.934 save percentage to go along with a 1.83 GAA. And in the aforementioned triple overtime game, he stopped 58 of 59 (!!!) shots and put that team on his back for the entire game. He gave up a goal six and a half minutes into the game and then turned into a brick wall. He’s gone now, leaving a giant pair of skates to fill. That unenviable task will likely fall to Ducks draft pick Garrett Metcalf, who was solid if unspectacular in the USHL. He is most likely a holdover until Rangers pick Tyler Wall (which, come on, that name feels a little on the nose) arrives next year. Metcalf will have some help, as Lowell returns their top six defensemen from last year, including Dylan Zink and new captain Michael Kapla. They’ll also be adding Mattias Goransson, who had 7 goals and 34 assists last year in the USHL.

Although not as prolific as the other top teams in Hockey East, the River Hawks did manage to average 3.02 goals per game, with C.J. Smith (17 goals and 22 assists) the focal point of their offense. He returns, along with Joe Gambardella and Alex Kamrass, while A.J. White and Adam Chapie are leaving. They’ll be replaced by Lighting draft pick Ryan Lohin, who averaged a point per game last year in the USHL, and whose pass-first style would fit well with someone like Smith. Guillame Leclerc, Kenneth Hausinger, and James Winkler also join Lowell from the USHL, and have the talent to contribute right away.

This is the first season in recent memory where Lowell’s offense could conceivably be better than the defense. C.J. Smith anchors the first line, and if Lohin lives up to expectations, that could be a potent 1-2 punch. With Dylan Zink (11 goals and 13 assists) and the addition of Goransson, Lowell has the ability to score from anywhere on the ice. The big question going forward is in goal: can Garrett Metcalf hold his own and give this team a chance to win games? No one is expecting him to be on the level of a Kevin Boyle, but if he can replicate, say, Ryan Ruck’s freshman season, then there’s no reason this team won’t be competing for a top four spot at the end of the season. Normally, losing a player of Boyle’s caliber would signal a regression, but at this point it would be stupid to doubt Bazin and co. The offense has a chance to be really good, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see C.J. Smith get all Hockey East consideration. In the end, Lowell will do what they always do: quietly go about their business while the Boston teams dominate the headlines, and come February they’ll lock themselves into a first round bye and make another deep run in the Hockey East tournament. It’s just what they do.

Hockey East Preview – Boston University

By: Josh Brown

Head bost-14-mast-logo-bigCoach – David Quinn, 4th season

Last Season – 21-13-5 (12-6-4 in Hockey East, 5th); lost in NCAA Tournament first round

Losses – D Matt Grzelcyk, D Brandon Fortunato F Danny O’Regan, F Mike Moran, F Ahti Oksanen, F Matt Lane, F Erik Udahl, F Dillon Lawrence, F Robbie Baillargeon, G Sean Maguire

Newcomers – D Dante Fabbro, D Chad Krys, F Kieffer Bellows, F Gabriel Chabot, F Patrick Curry, F Patrick Harper, F Clayton Keller, F Johnny McDermott, G Jake Oettinger

Last season was the beginning of a new chapter for Boston University. In their first year PE (post-Eichel), the 2015 NCAA Tournament runner-ups had their ups and their downs, finishing fifth in league play before being bounced by Umass Lowell in the Hockey East quarterfinals and Denver in the first round of the national tournament. Take away a five game winning streak over Maine, Merrimack, Northeastern (Beanpot semifinals) and UMass that spanned from late January to early February, and BU was consistently inconsistent the rest of the season. Looking at the Terriers stats it’s not hard to see why. Although BU was ranked fourth in Hockey East in scoring offense (3.18 g/gm) and power play (21.1%), the Terriers were seventh in the conference in scoring defense (2.72 g/gm), seventh in penalty minutes (10.6 PIM/g) and clipped at a mediocre 81% on the penalty kill.

To make matters worse for BU they graduate their top-two leading scorers (and four of their top seven) in Danny O’Regan (17 g, 27 a) and Ahti Oksanen (15 g, 21 a), who combined for 80 points on the Terriers top two lines last season. To combat these loses the five-time NCAA champions will look to a trio of sophomores — assistant captain Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (10 g, 20 a), Jordan Greenway (5 g, 21 a) and Bobo Carpenter (12 g, 4 a) – to  help lead the offensive core. Defensively BU will head into the 2016-2017 season without their best defenseman in Boston Bruins draft pick Matt Grzelcyk, who put up 10 goals and 13 assists despite missing 12 games due to various injuries throughout the season. Brandon Fortunato, who had 40 career points over two seasons for the Terriers, also announced he was leaving the program in late July. After an impressive freshman season that culminated with him being selected 14th overall in the NHL draft by the Boston Bruins, Charlie McAvoy will fill in Grzelcky’s shoes as the unquestioned leader of the BU blue line joined by captain Doyle Somerby and assistant captain Nikolas Olsson.

But before you start feeling bad for BU, remember who you’re dealing with. Like they have a tendency to do, the Terriers will be bringing in what many are saying is the best recruiting class in not only Hockey East, but the whole nation. Five star recruits Clayton Keller and Kiefer Bellows, teammates in the National Development Program, will look to fill the scoring depth felt with the absence of O’Regan, Oksanen and Lane. Keller, an 18-year old center from Chesterfield, Missouri who was drafted seventh overall by the Arizona Coyotes this year, had a whopping 37 goals and 70 assists for the U.S. National U18 Team last season, passing Pittsburgh Penguin Phil Kessel as the program’s all-time leading scorer. Bellows, drafted shortly after Keller by the New York Islanders (19th overall), netted 50 goals and 31 assists in just 62 games with the national team. In addition to Keller and Bellows look to guys like USHL vet Patrick Curry, and prep school products Patrick Harper (Avon Old Farms) and Johnny McDermott (Westminster) to contribute immediately for the Terriers.

Joining McAvoy and company along the blue line is BCHL Defenseman of the Year Dante Fabbro. The 18-year old was drafted 17th overall by the Nashville Predators in this year’s NHL Draft after winning BCHL Defenseman of the Year honors for Penticton Vees. Fabbro will be joined by Chicago Blackhawks pick Chad Krys who has represented the United States in international play since the 2014-2015 season.

It’s not clear who will be the starting goalie for BU right off the bat with the returning Connor LaCouvee and freshman Jake Oettinger both vying for ice time. LaCouvee split time with (and was outshined) by Sean Maguire last season, appearing in 19 games, posting a 2.92 goals against average and .897 save percentage. Oettinger, you guessed it, another member of the U.S. National Team, appeared in four games in the 2016 World Junior Classic where he compiled a 1.50 goals against average and .934 save percentage.

Bottom Line: If the freshman play up to expectations, Boston University should have one of the best offenses in Hockey East this coming season. Although there are still some question marks defensively and in goal, if everything comes together we could see a repeat of the 2014-2015 team who steamrolled through league play, winning the Beanpot and taking home the Lamoriello Trophy. With that being said, BU has not exactly been a model of consistency over the past four seasons. If the freshman class has a longer adjustment period than David Quinn and staff hope, it could be another middle of the pack finish for the Terriers before what should be a monster 2017-2018 season.

Hockey East Preview – Merrimack College

By: James Duffy

Head Coachmerrimack Mark Dennehy, 12th season

Last Season – 13-19-7 (5-10-7 in Hockey East, 7th); Lost in second round of conference playoffs to Providence College

Losses –  F Craig Wyszomirski, F Brian Christie, F Ben Bahe, F Justin Hussar, F John Gustafsson, D Matt Cronin, G Joe Pantalone

Newcomers –  F Tyler Irvine, F Logan Coomes, F Cole McBride, F Patrick Kramer, F Tyler Drevitch, F Sami Tavernier, D Shawn Brennan, D Johnathan Kovacevic

For the fourth straight season, Merrimack ended the year with a record below .500. They opened the season at a torrid pace, going 7-1-4 through 12 games before losing 12 of their next 14 games in the stretch that defined their season. In the Hockey East Tournament, the Warriors beat New Hampshire in three games, but ended up being swept by Providence to end their season.

Entering this season, Merrimack has some major holes to fill on offense. Graduates Brian Christie, Ben Bahe and Justin Hussar were some of the team’s best scorers last season, combining for 25 of the Warriors 95 goals on the season. The only loss on the blue line is Matt Cronin, who played 22 games in his senior year. Pantalone was a non-factor in net, appearing in just one game last season. In addition to scoring, Merrimack also lost leadership. Christie was the team captain, and the other six seniors were important locker room presences.

As five forwards graduate though, six freshman forwards will be coming to North Andover. Center Cole McBride comes to Merrimack with the best record after posting 66 points in 58 games with the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. They also welcome in Sami Tavernier, who won silver with Finland in the World Junior Classic last year. Tavernier most recently played for the Topeka Roadrunners of the North American Hockey League, racking up 24 points in 30 games.

Johnny Kovacevic might be the most interesting newcomer for Merrimack. The 6-foot-4 defenseman brings size and offense to the Warriors blue line. He played in the Central Canada Hockey League last season, netting six goals and adding 20 assists in 30 games. He ended up 9th in the league in scoring for defensemen, and could develop into a strong defenseman for Merrimack.

The Warriors seemed poised to stay towards the middle of Hockey East this season. While they did lose some scorers, they also retained Brett Seney and Hampus Gustafsson, their leading contributors from last season. The defense from last season also remains mostly unchanged, and Collin Delia will be back in net for his junior season.

Delia is the X-factor. In his freshman year, he was one of the most dominant goalies in the nation, posting a .937 save percentage and allowing less than two goals per game. He suffered a major sophomore slump last season, and the Warriors will need him back in form if they want to compete for home ice in the first round of the Hockey East Tournament.

Bottom Line – Merrimack will float between 5th and 7th place in the conference. They’ll live and die by Delia and the defense this season, especially considering that the offense is not quite as potent as it was a year ago.

Husky Sports Update: Week 2

After a dominating 3-0 performance at the Northeastern Tournament, senior Hannah Fry, senior Caterina Rosander and junior Kristen Walding earned All-Tournament honors (Image Courtesy of GoNU.com).
After a dominating 3-0 performance at the Northeastern Tournament, senior Hannah Fry, senior Caterina Rosander and junior Kristen Walding earned All-Tournament honors for Northeastern volleyball. (Image Courtesy of GoNU.com).

by James Duffy

Fall sports are getting into full swing, and as the school year is kicking off, Northeastern teams have been doing the same. Here’s a recap of last week’s action:

9/8 Women’s Soccer

Northeastern rolled over Holy Cross 4-0 for their third win of the season. Junior Kayla Cappuzzo scored twice, and Nathalie Nidetch posted a shutout in net.

9/9 Women’s Field Hockey

It took two overtimes, but Northeastern managed to outlast Providence College for a 1-0 win. Sophomore June Curry-Lindahl scored the lone goal of the game to seal the Huskies win.

9/9 Women’s Volleyball

Led by senior Jamie Brehdahl’s 14 kills and 4 aces, the Huskies beat Fordham handily in four sets. This was Northeastern’s first home game of the season, and kicked off the Northeastern Tournament.

9/10 Women’s Volleyball

The Volleyball team dominated in the Northeastern Tournament, beating Presbyterian and Binghamton in straight sets to finish off a 3-0 weekend. Senior Hannah Fry had 25 kills between the two games, helping her earn Tournament MVP honors.

9/10 Men’s Soccer

Northeastern lost its second straight game, falling to Farfield 2-1. Dominic Marshall scored twice in the second half for Fairfield, and sophomore Khori Bennet had the lone NU goal in the 89th minute.

9/11 Women’s Soccer

Northeastern lost a heartbreaker at Parsons Field. They carried a 1-0 lead into the 90th minute against Boston College, but allowed a last second goal that forced overtime. In the second overtime, BC finally broke the tie and stole a 2-1 victory.

Hockey East Preview – University of Connecticut

By: Dan McLoone

Head Coach144414a: Mike Cavanaugh; 4th season

Last Season: 11-21-4 (6-12-4 in HE, 8th); Lost to Vermont in HE First Round

Losses: F Joey Ferriss, D Kyle Huson, F Patrick Kirkland, F Shawn Pauly, F Marco Richter

Newcomers: F Benjamin Freeman, F Justin Howell, G Adam Huska, F Brian Morgan, D Bryan Nelson, D Wyatt Newpower, F Alexandre Payusov

The other Huskies of Hockey East have been working their way towards competing since joining the conference. Now entering their third season in the nation’s premier conference, head coach Mike Cavanaugh boasts a strong returning core that will look to grab that elusive first playoff win.

UConn returns five of its top seven scorers from last year’s squad, headlined by the dynamic sophomore forward duo of Max Letunov and Tage Thompson. The tandem accounted for 30 percent of UConn’s scoring and led to both players receiving rookie awards. Letunov logged 16 goals and 24 assists, while Thompson added 14 goals and 18 helpers. The strong sophomore forward class, joined by Karl El-Mir and Max Kalter, will be relied upon to best the measly 2.44 goals per game that the Huskies averaged last year.

Freshman Benjamin Freeman will look to make an immediate impact for UConn after a strong 38-point campaign last season in the USHL. Graduate student Brian Morgan will add a much-needed veteran presence to Cavanaugh’s attack after transferring from Maine.

The Huskies will remain a physical threat defensively, anchored by 6-4, 205-pound senior Joona Kunnas and 6-6, 190-pound junior David Drake. Cavanaugh will have no shortage of big bodies to throw at opposing teams as he looks to cut down on the 3.17 goals against average the Huskies posted last season. Sophomore Miles Gendron and senior Ryan Segalla will also log significant minutes when the Huskies elect to replace their bruiser defensemen with smaller skaters on the blue line.

Bryan Nelson, a 6-3, 225-pound freshman, will serve as another large body that Cavanaugh can throw at teams, while true freshman Wyatt Newpower will be an immediate contributor after a standout high school career in Minnesota.

Senior Rob Nichols returns for one final run in between the pipes in Storrs. Nichols suffered a down year by his standards last year, allowing a 2.96 goals against average and posting a .911 save percentage. However, he has quietly been one of the most consistent netminders in Hockey East since becoming a starter, and a return to form during his senior campaign would go a long way towards helping UConn secure a playoff victory.

Junior Tanner Creel is slated to back up Nichols for now, but freshman Adam Huska is waiting in the wings. A New York Rangers draft pick, Huska appears to be the future in net for the Huskies after a phenomenal campaign that saw him post a 1.82 goals against average and a .931 save percentage for the Green Bay Gamblers, earning him USHL Goaltender of the Year honors.

Bottom Line: While UConn still has a long way to go to compete with the top teams in Hockey East, Cavanaugh has his team headed in the right direction. While the team is young overall, the nice blend of returning seniors and electric sophomores should propel the Huskies to a home ice matchup in the first round, and, if the right matchup falls their way, an appearance in the Hockey East Quarterfinals.

Hockey East Preview – University of Vermont Catamounts

By: James Duffy

0146985f69a40a2d4993aeea2b76e298

Head Coach – Kevin Sneddon, 14th season

Last Season – 15-22-3 (6-13-3 in Hockey East, 9th); lost in 2nd round of conference playoffs to Boston College

Losses – F Jonathan Turk, F Dan Senkbeil, D Yvan Pattyn, D Alexx Privitera, G Packy Munson

Newcomers – F Matt Alvaro, F Ross Colton, F Cameron Klein, F Derek Lodermeier, D Max Daigle, D Jake Massie, D Corey Moriarty, D Matt O’Donnell, G Stefanos Lekkas

The Catamounts struggles started before their season actually began. Vermont lost its preseason exhibition game against Acadia, and followed that up by going 2-6-1 to start the year. They managed to sweep UConn in the first round of the Hockey East Playoffs, and pushed BC to three games, but eventually fell short and ended a disappointing season. The biggest takeaway from the season was the emergence of freshman goaltender Packy Munson, who seemed poised to take the starting job from senior Mike Santaguida before deciding to transfer to Denver in another setback for the Catamounts.

Offensively, Vermont lost very little production this offseason.  Turk and Senkbeil, the graduating forwards, were essentially non-factors in their senior seasons. Privitera, who finished fifth on the team in goals, is the biggest loss, but the five graduates combined for just 15 goals last year. The defense was hit much harder. Pattyn, the Catamount’s captain, and Privitera, a top pair defenseman, were essential on the blue line.

Vermont will look to incoming freshman Ross Colton to fill the void on offense. Colton was selected by Tampa Bay in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Draft after posting 66 points in 55 games with Cedar Rapids of the USHL. The team will also rely heavily on Mario Puskarich, Brendan Bradley and Jarrid Privitera, all of whom netted 10 goals last season. The team will also be looking for a rebound from senior forward Brady Shaw. Shaw led the team with 19 goals two seasons ago, but took a major step back last season and lit the lamp just 4 times.

On defense, sophomore Ori Abramson will need to step up, as he may find himself on the top pair. The team will also look to senior Rob Hamilton to lead the D corps, and sophomore Jake Kearley to continue to develop after a strong rookie season. Jake Massie, a former Hurricanes sixth round pick who was traded to the Blackhawks, looks to be the most promising incoming defenseman, and may claim a bottom six spot this season.

In net Vermont is going to need a breakout season from Santaguida, the only established goalie on the team. The Mississauga, Ontario native went 6-11-2 with a 2.65 goals against average and .913 save percentage last season. After strong freshman and sophomore seasons, the Catamounts are hoping Santaguida returns to form as their only other option are senior Pat Feeley, who has under 3 minutes of regular season experience and freshman Stefanos Lekkas.

Bottom Line – This season hinges on the back end for Vermont.  Mike Santaguida will need to be strong in net in his senior season, and the team will need to find a way to replace Privitera and Pattyn on defense. The Catamounts will be able to score, but it remains to be seen if they can keep the puck out of their own net. If they can do that, they should be able to climb out of the cellar of Hockey East.

 

Hockey East Preview – University of New Hampshire Wildcats

By: Joseph Barbito

unh-logoHead Coach – Dick Umile (27th Season)

Last Season – 11-20-6 (4-12-6 in Hockey East, 10th), lost in conference first round to Merrimack

Losses – F Andrew Poturalski, D Harry Quast, F Dan Correale, F Maxim Gaudreault, F Kyle Smith, F Collin MacDonald, G Jamie Regan

Newcomers – F Brendan van Riemsdyk, F Justin Fregona, F Joe Sacco, F Patrick Grasso, D Anthony Wyse, D Nick Nonis, F Liam Blackburn

New Hampshire’s fall from grace as one of Hockey East’s top programs continued last year after a disappointing 10th place conference finish. Sophomore Andrew Poturalski (22-30-52) was the highlight of an otherwise dismal season in Durham, but he opted to sign with Carolina in the NHL this offseason. For a team that finished first in the conference in power play percentage (23.9%) losing a goal scorer like Poturalski is sure to make itself evident. Forward Tyler Kelleher (18-24-42) and blueliner Matias Cleland (5-22-27) were the next two highest point scorers in 2015-2016 and will try to hold the offense up while Dick Umile looks to find a solution for an aching defense.

New Hampshire came in sixth in the conference in goals per game (3.03), scoring 112 total goals. Coupled with a potent power play, New Hampshire certainly could have won more games if not for poor goaltending and lackluster defense. UNH came in third to last in goals against per game (3.27), allowing 121 goals throughout the course of the 2015-2016 campaign. In a conference filled with top-tier goaltending, Danny Tirone (3.19 GAA, .907 sv%) was not enough to cut it. The Wildcats were 10th in shots on goal differential at -223 and 10th in shots on goal differential per game at -6.03. For perspective, the 9th overall shots on goal differential belonged to Maine with a -40 differential.

The only departing defender is Harry Quast (1-7-8) who was at a +2 overall in 2015-2016, and will be replaced by Anthony Wyse of the USHL Lincoln Stars and Nick Nonis of the BCHL Powell River Kings. Wyse was a high scorer, with 2 goals and 17 assists for 19 total points in 54 games. Nonis is a large defender, and at 6’3”, 201 lbs with 10 points (2 goals and 8 assists) he profiles as more of a stay at home defender than Quast. He did have 58 PIM over 54 games in the BCHL, which can be cause for alarm if he cannot keep out of trouble with the referees. Given that the biggest problems for UNH in the past have been related to defense, it is highly disappointing to see only two recruits being brought in to address this area with both of them on the lower end of defensive recruits in the 2016 entering class.

Keeping in tradition with the current game plan of scoring a lot and trying to cobble together enough defense, the Wildcats have brought in Liam Blackburn of the West Kelowna Warriors of the BCHL. Blackburn scored 27 goals and 47 assists (74 total points) in 58 games, good for 1.28 points per game. The prior year he scored 73 points in 55 games, and all signs point to top-six minutes for the 5’11” forward from Prince George. Patrick Grasso (22-21-43) of Des Moines in the USHL is a bit of an undersized freshman at 5’7” and 174 pounds, so it will be interesting to see how he transitions to the college level. Brendan van Riemsdyk (20-27-47) of the USPHL Islanders will round out the forward class. The youngest of the van Riemsdyk family had penalty issues last season (50 PIM in 43 games), but shows more of a two-way game than Blackburn or Grasso.

Bottom Line: The biggest issue for New Hampshire last season was defense, and very few moves have been made to address that issue. Coach Umile and the rest of the Wildcats coaching staff will have to hope they can provide enough offense between returning scorers like Kelleher and freshman potential in Blackburn. With every team in the conference working to improve their areas of difficulty, UNH will have to look from within to increase their position in the standings this season.