Saturday, January 13, 2018

UNH Commits Update 1-13-18: Spotlight on Tim Stützle, Jackson Pierson

Tim Stützle
2020 UNH Commit
Jackson Pierson
2018 UNH Commit

Player Spotlight - Tim Stützle

Rising German star Tim Stützle, who turns 16 on January 15th, continues to rack up points against older players in the U19 German Development League (DNL). The 2020 UNH Commit plays for the first-place Mannheim Junior Eagles U19 (Jungadler Mannheim). In Stützle's first 16 games of the 2017-18 DNL season, the 5'9", 159 lbs. left-shot, left-winger has scored 13 goals and 18 assists. He is the third leading scorer in the DNL, has the third most assists, and is tied for third in goals.

In the first of these video clips from two Mannheim victories last weekend, Stützle, who wears #8, starts the scoring play with a nifty backhand pass from below the goal line. He then dishes a soft, backhand pass for his 16th assist of the DNL season. In the second clip, he hops over the boards, cruises below the faceoff circle, and lifts a one-timer into the top corner for his 13th goal of the season.



In the last week of December, Tim Stützle made his debut with Team Germany U18 at the 5-Nations Tournament in Zuchwil, Switzerland. In the opening game against Switzerland, Stützle scored 2 goals, including the game-winner. He also played in Game 2, the 4-3 win over the Czech Republic but missed the final two games with the flu. Team Germany also defeated Slovakia but lost the final game to Finland 3-4.

At the end of January, Stützle and the Mannheim Young Eagles will travel to St. Andrews College in Ontario for the annual MacPherson Tournament. They will compete against prep school teams from Canada and the United States. Live streaming of the games will be available on the St. Andrews College website.

Player Spotlight - Jackson Pierson

2019 or '20 Commit Jackson Pierson (DOB: 9/10/1999) and the Culver Academy Eagles just completed a stretch of 10 away games which included two tournaments and a showcase. In competition against top New England Prep School teams, they finished runnerup in the Groton/Lawrence Tourney and won the 2017 Edward G. Watkins Invitational Tournament at Cushing Academy. Last weekend, they won all three games in the Alliance Showcase at St. Andrews College in Ontario. Culver Academy improved its record to 23-1-0. They moved back to #1 in the national rankings for USA Midget 18U Tier 1 hockey.

Pierson, who is the starting center for Culver, scored a total of 7 goals and 15 assists in these 10 games. In addition, he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Watkins/Cushing Tournament. Overall, Pierson has tallied 24 goals and 31 assists in 24 games this season. Here are video highlights of two assists he distributed at the St. Andrews Showcase:

2017-18 Statistics

NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2018 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2018. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2018 Commits
Joey Cipollone*  (F) Junior Bruins NCDC 32 15 21 36 16
Angus Crookshank*  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 28 14 16 30 20
Team Canada West WJAC 5 2 3 5 2
Eric Esposito*  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 28 7 4 11 83
Corson Green  (D) Central Illinois Flying Aces USHL 7 1 0 1 24
Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 19 1 3 4 39
2018 or '19 Commits
Ryan Verrier*  (D) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 25 3 6 9 20
2019 Commits
Lucas Bahn  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 27 1 5 6 17
Nolan McElhaney  (D) Cushing Academy NE Prep 17 10 16 26 16
Chase Stevenson  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 30 7 11 18 23
2019 or '20 Commits
Jackson Pierson*  (F) Culver Academy Prep 24 21 31 52 -
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 2 0 0 0 0
Connor Sweeney  (F) Lawrence Academy NE Prep 13 2 5 7 6
Marek Wazny  (F) Burlington Cougars OJHL 21 5 13 18 8
Brookings Blizzard NAHL 7 0 0 0 0
2020 Commits
Tim Stützle  (F) Mannheim Young Eagles DNL U19 16 13 18 31 8
Team Germany U18 Intl 2 2 0 2 4
Team Germany U16 Intl 6 4 3 7 -
* = Signed National Letter of Intent

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2019 Commit Chase Stevenson sustained a lower body injury during the Canada West tryout camp for the World Junior A Challenge. He hopes to return to the West Kelowna Warriors' lineup in about 3 weeks.

National Collegiate Development Conference:

~ 2018 Commit Joey Cipollone was named to the NCDC All-Star Game which takes place this Monday at Merrimack College. Cipollone (32GP 15G 21A) is tied for 6th in NCDC scoring.

~ Liam Darcy will not be playing hockey for UNH in the future. It's highly likely the NCDC All-Star will play for some NCAA team. I wish him the best of luck!

Prep School:

~ 2019 UNH Commit Nolan McElhaney, scored his 10th goal of the season in a 3-6 loss to Salisbury earlier this week. The Cushing Academy senior leads all New England Prep School defensemen in scoring (1.53 Points Per Game).

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Nolan McElhaney: Cushing Academy Defenseman Commits to UNH

Nolan McElhaney
2019 UNH Commit
"Long reach, soft hands, and a swift first pass. Is a high-ceiling prospect." Neutral Zone
"He (Nolan McElhaney) skates well for his size, with great long strides." U.S. Hockey Report
"He is a strong skater with great acceleration who has the offensive instincts to jump into the rush, and he continues to show a rapidly developing offensive game." Steve Jacobs, Head Coach, Cushing Academy
Since Mike Souza returned to his alma mater in July, 2015 as the "head coach in waiting", he has helped recruit several big, mobile defensemen who can thrive in UNH's transition style of play. These include sophomore Anthony Wyse (6'3", 225 lbs.), freshmen Max Gildon (6'3", 191 lbs.), Benton Maass (6'2", 195 lbs.), and James Miller (6'2", 190 lbs.) and 2018 commit Corson Green (6'1", 210 lbs.). A couple weeks ago, another defenseman in that mold committed to UNH. Nolan McElhaney, a 6'3", 190 lbs., right-shot defenseman from Yorba Linda, California, by way of Cushing Academy, is projected to matriculate in the fall of 2019.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2017-'18
Nolan McElhaney  (D) Cushing Academy NE Prep 14 9 15 24 14
EMass Senators MHSL U18 18 7 6 13 24
2016-'17
Cushing Academy NE Prep 32 5 10 15 -
EMass Senators MHSL U18 14 1 8 19 15
2015-'16
Cushing Academy NE Prep 31 3 4 7 -
Junior Bruins MHSL U16 11 4 2 6 10


Scouts who have followed McElhaney since he came to Massachusetts as a freshman at Cushing Academy have identified his high-end potential. In December, 2015, U.S. Hockey Report said he "could get a lot of attention in the years to come". Soon after the Neutral Zone scouting service launched, they observed McElhaney at the Massachusetts Tier 1 Labor Day Showcase in September, 2016 and wrote:
"Nolan has a lot of tools. He is 6’3”, handled the puck very well and takes passing lanes away with his long reach. He looked poised on the power play and scored a very nice goal. The 1999 from CA is an elite talent who has a ton of upside."
McElhaney began last season as a 170 lbs. junior at Cushing. He scored 5 goals and 8 assists in 29 regular season games. Cushing Academy qualified for the New England Prep Small School playoffs. In 3 games, McElhaney tallied 2 assists but the Penguins lost in the finals 2-3 to Pomfret. Neutral Zone's review of the Championship Game served as a marker on McElhaney's progress:
"McElhaney is a tall, thin, raw but mobile defenseman. He doesn’t have the strength to play the game the way he wants to play it but is able to defend with his long stick and body positioning. He’s got a decent shot from the point and did a nice job here in keeping pucks in the offensive zone. He made a few nice breakout passes and broke up a few passes in his own end but overall it was a quiet game for Nolan. We still believe he has great upside as he fills into his body and plays a more shutdown game, but he’s got a long way to go."
The 2017-18 New England Prep regular season is less than half over and Nolan McElhaney has already demonstrated gains in several areas. He has added 20 lbs. to his 6'3" frame. Over the first 14 games, he has already doubled his scoring totals from last season. Among all New England Prep defensemen, McElhaney has tallied the most goals (9), assists (15) and points (24). His 1.71 points per game average is the highest among all defensemen and 10th among all New England Prep players.

Groton/Lawrence Holiday Hockey Tournament

At the Groton/Lawrence tourney in mid-December, McElhaney won the Most Valuable Player award and Cushing won the championship. He tallied a goal and the overtime, game-winning assist against Lawrence Academy, which includes UNH commit Connor Sweeney. He posted 4 assists, including the game-winning assist, in the 5-0 shutout of Pomfret and added another goal in the 4-1 defeat of Holderness. In the championship game, Cushing defeated Culver Academy, which features UNH commit Jackson Pierson. McElhaney scored his 3rd goal of the tournament in the 3-1 victory. Here's Neutral Zone's review of McElhaney's performance at the Groton/Lawrence Tourney:

"Nolan had a big weekend. He committed to UNH shortly after the tournament. He is still a little raw but has started to piece everything together. He is very long and still has room to fill out. He moves well for a bigger body and has the speed to recover on defense. He was impressive offensively on the weekend, consistently activating into the play to create scoring opportunities. On the back-end he uses a long reach to keep forwards to the outside. He is not overly physical, but doesn’t shy away from contact. Should only get better."
Overall Player Rating - 3 3/4 out 5 Stars.

E.G. Watkins/Cushing New Years Tournament

Following a 12-day break for the Christmas holiday, Nolan McElhaney and the Cushing Academy Penguins returned to action in the 27th Annual E.G. Watkins New Years Invitational Tournament at Iorio Arena on the Cushing campus. The day before the tourney began, Cushing Head Coach Steve Jacobs provided me with this assessment of McElhaney's strengths:
"Nolan is a highly competitive character player with a strong "all around" game. He has length at 6'3 and is hockey smart. He is a strong skater with great acceleration who has the offensive instincts to jump into the rush, and he continues to show a rapidly developing offensive game. He is a crisp and accurate passer who plays with poise and he makes high end plays. His battle level is always high in both practice and games, and he leads by example with his day to day preparation. He contributes at both ends of the ice and on both special teams. He is a dominant player at the prep school level."
In Cushing's opening game against Northfield-Mount Hermon, McElhaney's offensive blitz continued with an assist and the overtime, game-winning goal. He picked up another goal and 2 assists in the 5-0 win over Governor's Academy. Finally, McElhaney distributed 2 assists in the 3-2 overtime victory over Dexter in the 3rd-Place game. The second assist was critical as it came on the game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation. Both of McElhaney's goals and this game-tying assist in the Watkins Tournament are shown in this highlight video. Note how these goals come from the faceoff circles:

Interview

I had an opportunity to interview Nolan McElhaney, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?

Nolan McElhaney: I chose UNH because I loved the campus and its the best place for me for school. I also really like what the coaching staff is trying to do within the next couple years and I want to be a part of what they are trying to accomplish. I am a huge fan of the big ice sheet as it compliments my style of play very well, so I believe that I would be able to take over during games. Practicing and playing every day on that ice will get me more ready for the next level. The positive atmosphere of the games is a thrill, furthermore I have always wanted to be a part of those games.



Mike Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?

Nolan McElhaney: We have a target date for the fall of 2019 but Coach Souza might want me to come in during the summer before to take some courses.



Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

McElhaney: Other schools I was considering were Providence College, Umass Lowell, UConn, and Boston University. I went to Providence over the summer and I wasn’t offered anywhere else at the time when I took UNH’s offer.



Lowry: At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?

McElhaney: My strengths of my game include my shot, my first pass up ice, my ability to jump in the play and create offense, and how I can be a shut down guy if I need to be. I'm trying to improve my defensive zone positioning and finishing off plays before jumping in the play. I need to focus more on becoming a better skater before I come into UNH. I am also trying to add weight and strength to my body.



Lowry: Last year, in your junior season at Cushing Academy, you scored 5 goals and 10 assists in 32 games. So far this season, in only 10 games, you've scored 7 goals and 10 assists. What factors have lead to this big jump in performance?

McElhaney: I was in the weight room all summer only focusing on getting better and stronger. I worked on the areas I needed to work on, on the ice, to bring my game to the next level. I also have gained a lot of confidence from the NCAA and junior interest and it keeps my confidence up. Our team has a goal and I just want to be the best I can be for them in accomplishing that goal. Coach Jacobs has also really helped me this year in becoming more calm and a more consistent player. My D-partner, Cam Berube, has also been pushing me to become the best I could be the past three years and I try to match his intensity every game, practice and day.



Lowry: Last June, you participated in the Sioux Falls Stampede's tryout camp. Do you plan to play in either the United States Hockey League or British Columbia Hockey League before you come to UNH?

McElhaney: I plan on playing in the USHL next year before I come to UNH in 2019. Not sure where I will end up in the USHL but wherever I do, I know I will love the atmosphere of playing in that league and love the style of juniors.



Lowry: You grew up in Yorba Linda, Orange County, California. When did you first start skating and playing hockey? Who helped spur your interest in the sport?

McElhaney: I started skating around 2 years old and started hockey around 3. My dad went to prep school at Lawrence Academy and played in college at Clarkson, so he was always a fan of hockey. My mom says that she pushed me more to play hockey, so my mom is the one who really introduced me to the sport. My dad just had the background in hockey.



Lowry: In your freshman and sophomore years at Orange Lutheran High School, the team advanced to the USA Hockey National Championships. Why did you decide to come east to Cushing Academy?

McElhaney: It was fun playing in California, but it wasn't as competitive as I would like. As being the only kid wanting to play Division I college hockey, I knew I had to go out east where every game is competitive and every kid has the dream of playing college hockey. My dad went to Lawrence Academy but that wasn't on my list of schools. Once I visited Cushing, it felt like home for me and I was pleased with what Coach Gagnon told me about the program at Cushing and the future. Coming to Cushing was the best choice I could have made. I have had the best time here and a lot of fun playing for such a prestigious program that there is at Cushing. I knew as soon as I toured that this place would get me to the next level while being a great fit for me.



Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests? Have you thought about what you might major in when you enroll at UNH?

McElhaney: I really like Math and Science, those are my top two classes in school. I will probably study Business and Finance.



Friday, December 22, 2017

UNH Commits Update: December-22-2017



Angus Crookshank
2018 UNH Commit
Joey Cipollone
2018 UNH Commit
Jackson Pierson
2019 or '20 UNH Commit

Player Spotlight - Angus Crookshank

2018 Commit Angus Crookshank not only made Team Canada West, he lead them on the road to the gold medal in the 2017 World Junior A Challenge (WJAC). Canada West, which included the top players from the Junior A leagues in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, started off slowly losing to the Czech Republic 2-5. In Game 2, they battled the top players from the United States Hockey League in what turned out to be a preview of the Gold Medal game. Early in the second period, Team USA struck first but Canada West answered on the next shift when Crookshank made a pretty pass (see highlight video) to Ross Armour (Trail Smoke Eaters; Bemidji State commit). Crookshank, who plays center for the Langley Rivermen, primarily played left wing throughout the WJAC. Team USA scored the winning goal with 32 seconds left in regulation. Crookshank was named the Player of the Game for Canada West.

Canada West downed Canada East 4-3 in overtime in the do-or-die quarterfinal game. In the semifinals, they faced the undefeated Czech Republic and beat them convincingly 5-1. Angus Crookshank's game-winning goal came on a wrist shot from a nearly impossible angle (see video). The championship game featured a rematch between Team USA and Canada West. Once again, Crookshank scored the game-winning goal and also dished the primary assist on Canada West's 4th goal in the 5-1 victory.



Angus Crookshank tallied 2 goals and 3 assists in the 5 WJAC games. He was the second-leading scorer in the tournament. He also tied for 3rd in goals and tied for 2nd in assists. Crookshank returns to action with Langley in the BCHL on December 29th. Earlier this week, he was chosen to participate in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game scheduled for January 23rd in Mississauga, Ontario. The NHL Central Scouting Service selected the players who are eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft next June in Dallas.

Player Spotlight - Joey Cipollone

In November and December, Joey Cipollone was a consistent and top scorer for the Boston Junior Bruins in the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC). He scored a goal in 10 out of 13 games and tallied a total of 11 goals and 7 assists. Two of the goals were game-winners including this one off a faceoff play in the 5-1 win over the P.A.L. Junior Islanders last Sunday:



Cipollone, who is the first-line, left winger for the Jr. Bruins, is currently the 3rd leading goal scorer in the NCDC. He's also tied for 4th in scoring and T-7 in assists. The Jr. Bruins are in second place in the NCDC, 4 points behind the Islanders Hockey Club. Cipollone signed a National Letter of Intent with UNH in November and will enroll at UNH next fall.

Player Spotlight - Jackson Pierson

2019 or '20 Commit Jackson Pierson (DOB: 9/10/1999) is the 5'9", 170 lbs., starting center for Culver Academy. The Eagles are ranked #2 in the nation among all Tier 1 18U Leagues. Through the first 13 games of Culver's 2017-18 season, Pierson was tied for the team lead in goal scoring. Here is his 14th goal of the season scored in a 5-3 victory over St. Andrews College - notice how Pierson (#18) begins the scoring play by body-checking an opposing player into the half-wall and causing a turnover:



Culver Military Academy is located in northern Indiana in the town of Culver. Last weekend, the Eagles traveled to the Groton Lawrence Tourney to play three New England Prep School teams. Culver (16-1-0) won the first three games against Groton School (9-1), Dexter Academy (3-1), and Proctor Academy (5-2). In the championship game, Culver fell to Cushing Academy 1-3. From January 28-30, Culver will compete in the 2017 Edward G. Watkins Invitational Tournament at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. Three UNH Commits - Jackson Pierson (Culver), Connor Sweeney (Lawrence Academy) and newest commit Nolan McElhaney (Cushing) - are scheduled to play.

2017-18 Statistics

NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2018 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2018. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2018 Commits
Joey Cipollone*  (F) Junior Bruins NCDC 30 15 19 34 16
Angus Crookshank*  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 22 14 11 25 16
Team Canada West WJAC 5 2 3 5 2
Eric Esposito*  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 22 6 4 10 66
Corson Green  (D) Central Illinois Flying Aces USHL - - - - -
Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 19 1 3 4 39
2018 or '19 Commits
Ryan Verrier*  (D) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 19 2 6 8 18
2019 Commits
Lucas Bahn  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 21 1 4 5 2
Nolan McElhaney  (D) Cushing Academy NE Prep 10 7 10 17 -
Chase Stevenson  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 30 7 11 18 23
2019 or '20 Commits
Jackson Pierson*  (F) Culver Academy Prep 13 14 16 30 -
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 2 0 0 0 0
Connor Sweeney  (F) Lawrence Academy NE Prep 7 1 3 4 2
Marek Wazny  (F) Burlington Cougars OJHL 17 5 10 15 8
Brookings Blizzard NAHL 7 0 0 0 0
* = Signed National Letter of Intent

News & Notes

United States Hockey League:

~ 2018 Commit Corson Green was traded from the Sioux Falls Stampede to the Central Illinois Flying Aces. Last season, the 6'1", 210 lbs., left-shot defenseman scored 5 goals and 10 assists in 48 regular season games with the Chicago Steel. During Chicago's run to the USHL Championship/Clark Cup, Green tallied 3 assists. In 19 games with the South Dakota team, he scored a goal and 3 assists.

Prep School:

~ Nolan McElhaney, the 18-year-old captain of the Cushing Academy Penguins, committed to UNH earlier this week. The Neutral Zone scouting service provided this summary of the right-shot defenseman's strengths:
"3.75 Star prospect is a tall, thin, athletic, mobile & multi-purpose defenseman w/ a long reach, soft hands & a swift first pass. Is a high-ceiling prospect who earned A in the Lawrence-Groton Tournament and is ranked as a Top 10 prep hockey defenseman."
Look for a feature article on McElhaney, including an interview, coming soon on the blog.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

UNH Plays of the Game: UNH 1 Providence 0

Rich Boyd
Game-Winning Goal


A week ago, UNH needed a win against the Yale Bulldogs. The Wildcats had lost 3 games in a row and had fallen from #9 to #13 in the USCHO.com Division I National Poll. Senior goalie and Alternate Captain Danny Tirone came up big in a 4-0 shutout down in New Haven. He was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week and UNH held on to #13 in the nation.

Last night, UNH badly needed a win. Providence College, ranked #8 in the nation, handed UNH its fourth consecutive loss in Hockey East competition on Friday night at Schneider Arena. The 2-5 defeat dropped their HE record to 3-4-1 while PC improved to 6-3-1. Another loss on Saturday at the Whittemore Center would have been the fourth consecutive loss at home.

In the latest UNH Captain's Corner, Dylan Chanter mapped out the team's path a return to the NCAA Tournament:
"One of our team goals is to finish as a top-four team in Hockey East this year. By doing so, we would put ourselves in a good spot nationally and have a great shot at making the tournament."
If UNH lost to PC last night, they would have been 4 points behind 4th place Boston University, 7 behind Northeastern, 8 behind Providence, and 11 points behind first-place Boston College. The Wildcats have 15 games remaining against Hockey East teams. So the game against Providence wasn't a do-or-die situation, but it was important. In an exciting, fast-paced contest, UNH scored in the first period and kept PC off the board for a 1-0 victory.

Here's a video review of what I believe were the key plays.

Play, Goal, Assist, and Hit of the Game

Usually, I break down the key plays into distinct items - play of the game, goal of the game, save of the game, etc. But in the UNH shut out of Providence, I think the hit, assist, and goal all came in the same sequence and formed the "Play of the Game". It began with senior defenseman Rich Boyd preventing the puck from leaving the PC zone along the half-wall to the right of goalie Hayden Hawkey and sending it back around the boards. Fellow senior Shane Eiserman poked the puck along the boards behind the goal line.

PC freshman defenseman Jake Ryczek, who originally committed to UNH before changing his mind in favor of Providence, attempted to control the puck behind the net. At that moment, junior Marcus Vela leveled the "Hit of the Game" taking Ryczek into the boards and out of the play.

Ara Nazarian, playing on the first forward line with Eiserman and Vela, jumped on the loose puck and feathered a pass out to the top of the slot to Boyd - the "Assist of the Game".

Rich Boyd, who missed most of last season battling an internal health problem, slung a wrist shot past three players and over the glove of Hawkey. Time of the "Goal of the Game" was 7:12 of the first period. Here's the whole sequence in real time and slow motion:

Saves of the Game: Danny Tirone

En route to his 4th shutout of the 2017-18, Danny Tirone made 24 saves. Three of his best came in the 2nd period, two on the power play.

Defensive Play of the Game: Michael McNicholas & Anthony Wyse

With 1:47 left in regulation, PC head coach Nate Leaman pulled his goalie for an extra attacker. Their best scoring bid came with just under a minute to go. Brandon Duhaime got open in the top of the slot but as he received a pass and attempted a shot, both senior forward Michael McNicholas and sophomore defenseman Anthony Wyse surrounded him and deflected the shot up into the netting behind the goal. As the replay shows, this play was particularly important because Tirone was screened by a single PC player in front of the net.



The Wildcats return to nonconference action on Wednesday at RPI. Next weekend features home games against Army on Saturday and Merrimack College on Sunday.

Friday, December 01, 2017

UNH Commits Update: December-1-2017

Joey Cipollone
2018 UNH Commit
Liam Darcy
2018 Commit


Eric Esposito
2018 UNH Commit
Marek Wazny
2019 or '20 Commit

Player Spotlight - Joey Cipollone

In his third season of junior hockey, 2018 UNH Commit Joey Cipollone (DOB: 3/29/1997) is one of the top scorers in the newly formed National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC). Over his last 5 games with the Boston Junior Bruins, the first-line left winger has been on a goal-scoring tear. He tallied a goal-a-game for 4 games and two goals in the 5th game. This video highlight shows his game-winning goal in the Jr. Bruins' 3-2 victory over the Syracuse Stars on November 12th:



Over the first 23 games of the 2017-18 season, Cipollone scored 10 goals and 16 asssists. He is the 5th leading scorer in the NCDC. He's also tied for 6th in goals and T-5 in assists. The Jr. Bruins have won 9 games in a row and are in second place in the NCDC. For a couple of decades, the Jr. Bruins organization has been a training ground for many UNH players. Current Wildcats Charlie Kelleher, Chris Miller, Danny Tirone, and Mike Robinson all played for the Jr.Bruins during their junior careers.

Joey Cipollone recently signed a National Letter of Intent with UNH during the early signing period. He will enroll at UNH next fall.

Player Spotlight - Liam Darcy

20-year-old Liam Darcy (DOB: 2/26/1997) is another 2018 UNH Commit competing in his third season of junior hockey. The 5'11", 190 lbs., left-shot defenseman from South Berwick, Maine is a starter for the Islanders Hockey Club (IHC) in the NCDC. IHC is currently in first place 4 points ahead of the Jr. Buins.

Over his last 7 games, Darcy has scored 4 goals including this game-winner against the Syracuse Stars on November 12th:



Darcy has tallied 4 goals and 10 assists in 23 games this season. He is the 4th leading scorer among all NCDC defensemen. Liam is on track to enroll at UNH next Fall. He follows current UNH sophomore Brendan van Riemsdyk who played 2 seasons under the tutelage of head coach Sean Tremblay with the Islanders Hockey Club.

Player Spotlight - Eric Esposito

Eric Esposito (DOB: 8/24/98) is the third UNH Commit for next season who is playing in his third year of junior hockey. The 5'11", 181 lbs., right-shot winger is the Alternate Captain with the Youngstown Phantoms in the United States Hockey League.

Esposito has scored 3 goals in the last 3 games and the Phantoms are on a 4-game win streak. Two of his goals came on the power play including this one in the 4-3 win over the Central Illinois Flying Aces:



Esposito posted 9 goals in 52 games last season. He already has 6 goals in the first 17 games of this season. Eric signed a National Letter of Intent with UNH a year ago during the early signing period. He, Joey Cipollone, and Liam Darcy are the final three players who verbally committed to UNH when former UNH associate head coach Scott Borek (now Associate HC at Providence College) was in charge of recruiting. They verbally committed before either Coach Mike Souza or Glenn Stewart had joined the UNH staff.

Player Spotlight - Marek Wazny

Last season, UNH Commit Marek Wazny was the second leading goal-scorer on the 5th-ranked 16U team in the nation - the North Jersey Avalanche. Wazny tallied 21 goals and 11 assists in 32 games. After a brief, unfulfilling stint in Brookings, South Dakato with a North America Hockey League team, Marek has returned to form. In late October, he joined the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League near his family's home in Mississauga. Since then, he's been scoring at over a point-a-game clip with 5 goals and 9 assists in 12 games.

Last Friday, Wazny notched the first hat trick of his junior hockey career. In the 5-2 win over the Lindsay Muskies, Wazny tipped in a teammate's shot for what turned out to be the game-winning goal. In the third period, he added these insurance goals:



At this point in his rookie season in the OJHL, the 6'1", 172 lbs., Wazny centers the Cougars' 2nd forward line and the 1st power play unit. He will turn 18 in February and is on a path to enroll at UNH in the Fall of either 2019 or 2020.

2017-18 Statistics

NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2018 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2018. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2018 Commits
Joey Cipollone*  (F) Junior Bruins NCDC 23 10 16 26 12
Angus Crookshank*  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 22 14 11 25 16
Liam Darcy  (D) Islanders Hockey Club NCDC 21 4 10 14 4
Eric Esposito*  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 17 6 2 8 58
Corson Green  (D) Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 15 1 1 2 18
2018 or '19 Commits
Ryan Verrier*  (D) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 15 2 5 7 12
2019 Commits
Lucas Bahn  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 15 1 4 5 2
Chase Stevenson  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 29 7 11 18 23
2019 or '20 Commits
Jackson Pierson*  (F) Culver Academy Prep 7 4 12 16 -
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 2 0 0 0 0
Connor Sweeney  (F) Lawrence Academy NE Prep - - - - -
Marek Wazny  (F) Burlington Cougars OJHL 12 5 9 14 6
Brookings Blizzard NAHL 7 0 0 0 0
* = Signed National Letter of Intent

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2018 Commit Angus Crookshank has potted 14 goals in 22 games with the Langley Rivermen. He is tied for 6th in BCHL goal-scoring and 5th in goals per game (.636). Starting tomorrow, Crookshank will participate in the Team Canada West selection camp for the World Junior A Challenge. The camp runs from Dec. 2-5. If he makes the team, he will play in the WJAC scheduled for Dec. 10-16 in Truro, Nova Scotia. The NHL Central Scouting Service ranked Angus Crookshank as a 'C' prospect on their November "Players to Watch" List. He is a candidate to be drafted in the 4th, 5th, or 6th Round in the 2018 NHL Draft.

~ 2019 Commit Chase Stevenson will also participate in the Team Canada West selection camp for the World Junior A Challenge.

Prep School:

~ 2019 or '20 Commit Jackson Pierson is the second leading scorer for Culver Academy, the #2 18U Tier 1 in the nation. Pierson has scored 4 goals and 12 assists in 7 games. He signed a National Letter of Intent with UNH last month during the early signing period.

~ 2019 or '20 Commit Connor Sweeney and Lawrence Academy begin their season today. Like Angus Crookshank, Sweeney is identified as a 'C' Propsect on the NHL CSS November Players to Watch List.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

UNH Plays of the Game: UNH 4 Yale 0

Danny Tirone
3rd Shutout of Season


UNH needed a win. After starting the 2017-18 season with 5 consecutive wins and moving up to #9 in the USCHO.com Division I National Poll, the Wildcats had lost 3 in a row. The loses came against top Hockey East competitors: 2-1 to UMass-Lowell, 4-0 to Boston University, and 3-2 to Boston College.

In a review of the first third of the season on the most recent "UNH Captain's Corner", Dylan Chanter credited the play of senior goalie Danny Tirone with "giv(ing) us a chance to win every night". Last night at the historic Ingalls Rink on the campus of Yale University, Tirone did it again. He made 34 saves and earned his third shutout of the season and ninth NCAA shutout. Tirone currently has the second best Goals Against Average (2.10) and Save Percentage (.932) of all the Hockey East goalies.

Here's a video review of what I believe were the key plays of the 4-0 shutout of Yale.

Play of the Game: Anthony Wyse

Every hockey game has a key play at a critical moment which shifts the momentum toward the win. I think the key play against the Yale Bulldogs came midway through the third period. Although UNH was ahead 2-0, Yale was pressing to get on the scoreboard and back in the game. With the Bulldogs buzzing around the UNH net, sophomore defenseman Anthony Wyse cleared the puck away from the crease, then blocked a pass and stole the puck. He then cleared the puck up the half-wall which sent UNH off on a 3-on-2 breakout. Michael McNicholas nearly beat Yale goalie Sam Tucker and Marcus Vela rifled home the rebound. Vela's second goal of the season effectively put the game out of reach.

Goal and Assist of the Game: Ara Nazarian and Shane Eiserman

Midway through the first period, senior Shane Eiserman reminded UNH fans why he's such a key ingredient in the team's success. After a faceoff in the Yale end, Eiserman hustled below the goal line, knocked the puck away from a Bulldog, and ladled a centering pass to linemate Ara Nazarian. He snapped it home for the game-winning goal and his fifth goal of the season.

Saves of the Game: Danny Tirone

Of all the 34 saves Danny Tirone made against Yale, these two stood out as extraordinary. Both came when UNH was nursing a 1-0 lead - one late in the first period and the other early in the second.

Hit of the Game: Shane Eiserman

For a game against an ECAC opponent, the Yale game was not particularly physical. Similarly, this hit by Shane Eiserman wasn't particularly heavy. However, it signaled that he was back to his intimidating style after missing 6 games with a knee injury.

Defensive Play of the Game: Anthony Wyse

Less than 2 minutes into the second period and UNH ahead 1-0, Joe Snively, Yale's leading goal scorer (9 goals in 9 games) broke into the UNH Zone. Anthony Wyse caught up with him and steered him away from the slot. Then, Wyse made one of the most heads up defensive plays of the year as he swatted an airborne rebound away from the crease.



UNH improved it's overall record to 7-4-1. The Wildcats return to Hockey East action next weekend in a home-and-home series against Providence College.

Friday, November 24, 2017

UNH Captain's Corner: Reviewing the First Third of the 2017-18 Season

UNH Captain Dylan Chanter


Hard to believe the first third of the 2017-18 regular season is in the books. In the initial 11 games, UNH has won 6, lost 4, and tied 1. The Wildcats are currently ranked #13 in the USCHO.com Division I National Poll. In Hockey East competition, they are 3-3-1 and tied for 4th place. The remainder of the regular season includes 17 Hockey East games and 6 nonconference matchups.

It's an opportune time to reflect on the performance of the 2017-18 team so far and take a look forward with UNH Captain Dylan Chanter. For background, here's my take on some of the accomplishments and areas for improvement.

Pluses

~ UNH won the first 5 games of this season, the most since the 1993-94 team won the first 7 games.

~ For the first time since 2012-13, the year UNH advanced to the Regional Finals of the NCAA Tournament, the team cracked the top 10 national rankings - #9 on November 6th.

~ UNH's scoring offense is 3.09 goals per game, 2nd best in Hockey East and 18th in NCAA Division I. Power play efficiency is 22.7%, 3rd in Hockey East and 14th in the nation.

~ Balanced scoring: 8 players have scored 2 or more goals. Max Gildon has 6 goals. Brendan van Riemsdyk, Liam Blackburn, and Ara Nazarian have 4 goals.

~ 18-year-old freshman Max Gildon is tied for 1st in goal-scoring among all NCAA defensemen and has the highest goals per game (0.55).

~ Freshman Benton Maass, who turns 19 tomorrow, is tied for 4th among all NCAA defensemen in assists (9) and is 4th assists per game (0.82).

~ UNH's overall defense is the best in Hockey East in terms of goals against per game (2.27) and 7th best in the nation. The Wildcats' penalty kill efficiency is 88.2%, second best in Hockey East and 8th in the nation.

~ Senior goalie and alternate captain Danny Tirone's save percentage is .926, second best in Hockey East and tenth among all Division I goalies.

Minuses

~ UNH is in the midst of a three-game losing streak. By comparison, the 2012-13 team, the last to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, never lost more than two games in a row.

~ During the regular season last year, UNH had three forwards who scored goals at a 0.50 pace (one goal for every two games played) or better - Tyler Kelleher (0.65 goals per game), Jason Salvaggio (0.62) and Patrick Grasso (0.50). So far this season, no forwards have reached that level of goal-scoring. Brendan van Riemsdyk has the highest goals per game (0.40) among all UNH forwards.

~ Although UNH's total defense has improved substantially as compared to last season - 2.27 goals against per game vs. 3.47 GA/GP - shots on goal allowed has only showed a small improvement - 30.84 shots on goal against per game vs. 33.26 SOGA/GP.

Captain's Interview

Here's the interview with UNH Captain Dylan Chanter regarding the first third of the 2017-18 season:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): The Wildcats have completed the first third of the regular season. Prior to last weekend, the team was undefeated in Hockey East play (3-0-1) and ranked #9 in the nation. That was followed by three consecutive loses against UMass-Lowell, Boston University and Boston College. What has the team done well over the first 11 games?



Dylan Chanter: There are a lot of things we have done well early on this season. After our great start, teams started to take note to the way we play and took advantage of some costly mistakes on our part. Our overall effort on the defensive side of the puck has been emphasized and I believe that it has been much better so far this year. Goal scoring is another area that has helped us immensely, especially to start off the season. Lastly, I think strong goaltending has given us a chance to win every night thanks to Danny Tirone.



Mike Lowry: What areas have room for improvement?

Dylan Chanter: As far as improvement goes, we are always looking to improve every part of our overall team game. Getting back to consistent 60 minute efforts is a huge aspect in winning hockey games. Everything that comes with a 60 minute effort are areas that we can improve on. Whether it is goal scoring, getting pucks to the net to create scoring chances, preventing grade-A scoring chances, blocking shots, etc., we need to continue to get better in those areas in order to win games.



Lowry: Do you believe UNH is one of the top ten teams in the nation? If so, why?

Chanter: As a team, we try not to listen to the outside noise of national rankings. One of our team goals is to finish as a top-four team in Hockey East this year. By doing so, we would put ourselves in a good spot nationally and have a great shot at making the tournament. At the end of the day, we are mostly concerned with ourselves, our league, and what we can do to best prepare for our next opponent.



UNH returns to action tomorrow night for a nonconference game at Yale University. On the first weekend in December, UNH will play a home-and-home series against Providence College.

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