Tuesday, April 28, 2015

UNH Captain Collin MacDonald Looks Forward to 2015-16 Season

Collin MacDonald Named
UNH Hockey Captain


22-year-old forward Collin MacDonald from West Milford, New Jersey is the new captain of the UNH hockey team. The announcement was made last Saturday at the 2015 Awards Banquet sponsored by the Friends of UNH Hockey. Dan Correale and Maxim Gaudreault were named as the Alternate Captains. Here's Collin accepting his new jersey with the 'C' and addressing the crowd at the banquet:



Collin MacDonald: Fast Facts
~ 4 years at West Milford High School (NJ), scored over 300 goals.
~ 2010-11 season with the Jersey Hitmen, the 18-year-old lead Empire Junior Hockey League in scoring with 29 goals and 53 assists.
~ 2011-12 season, scored 27 goals, 18 assists; named an All-Star in Eastern Junior Hockey League.
~ October, 2011, NHL Central Scouting Service identified MacDonald as a "B prospect", potential 3rd to 5th round draft pick in 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
~ Recruited by Providence College, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Brown.
~ 3 seasons at UNH - 51 games, 5 goals, 5 assists.
~ February 16, 2014, broke femur in right leg, missed rest of sophomore season.

I had an opportunity to interview Collin, via email, about his selection as captain, his playing career, and goals for next season:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations Collin on being selected as the UNH Hockey Captain for the 2015-16 season. Back in 2010, you were the captain of the Jersey Hitmen team that played in the Empire Junior Hockey League. What leadership qualities do you believe you will bring to the UNH captaincy?
Collin MacDonald: Thank you Mike. It’s important not to change my ways now that I have been named captain. I do know that with it comes great responsibility, but I am not alone by any means when it comes to leading this group of guys.
I’ve gained respect from my teammates because I respect every single one of them. I will continue to respect them, and lead with confidence and by example. I’m vocal in the room, and I understand the importance of listening as well.

Mike Lowry: At the annual banquet last year, the newly selected captain Matt Willows said "I can't wait to win a National Championship...sorry you seniors won't be here when it happens, but next year's the year". In your remarks at the recent banquet, you said "I think it's easy to stand up here and say 'we're going to win the National Championship', but it takes a lot of hard work and these guys are definitely willing to put it in. So, we're going to show everybody that in October." What message were you conveying to your teammates and the UNH fans?
Collin MacDonald: Firstly, I want to recognize that my remarks weren’t directed toward Matt. I understand that his remarks were intended to fire the team up for the following season.
I thought to take a step back and remind the boys that we have a team capable of winning, and that there is plenty of work to be done. The fans should be excited in knowing that the team understands what’s in front of us, and that we are willing to put the work in to be successful.

Lowry: In February of your sophomore year, you broke the femur in your right leg during practice. Would you describe what happened, the severity of the injury, and the time you spent in hospital recovering? What was the rehabilitation like and when did you resume "full contact" practice with the team?
MacDonald: Yes I did break my right femur in practice as a sophomore. I crashed into the wall behind the goal line, just an unlucky break. Unfortunate complications kept me in a couple different hospitals for two weeks, and a rehabilitation center for four days. From there I worked with trainer Glenn Riefenstahl, on top of outpatient physical therapy three times a week for about four months. I was cleared for full contact in the beginning of September before the year started.

Lowry: When you committed to UNH in August, 2011, your coach with the Jersey Hitmen, Toby Harris, told US Hockey Report that you have "awesome speed" and "everything to succeed on the big rink at UNH". Have you regained your speed since you broke your femur?
MacDonald: I was in good condition when I returned to Durham in the fall. I wasn’t as strong as I would have liked to have been because of my off ice limitations in the summer. For my size and strength at the time I would say my speed was average.
I’m excited that we are in full swing with spring workouts and I have all summer to get even stronger than I was before the leg injury. So ultimately my answer is that I didn’t have all my speed back last year, but I plan to have all of it and more when October arrives.

Lowry: I interviewed Coach Harris shortly after you committed to UNH and he likened your skills to James van Riemsdyk. He told me:
"I recruited James van Riemsdyk when he was a sophomore at Christian Brothers Academy in (Middletown) NJ. I saw a lot of GOD given talent and skill. Although James was a sophomore and Collin a postgraduate, there is an uncanny resemblance. He skates extremely well, has incredible hands, an excellent scoring touch/release, and great size. With the UNH system, rink and off ice training program he will excel."
What do you think of Coach Harris' assessment?
MacDonald: It’s an enormous compliment to be compared to a player like James. I’d be lying if I said I don’t try to replicate parts of his game. Along with his skill, he has hockey sense that is second to none. I’m grateful for Coach Harris’ assessment, but I know there’s a lot of work to be done in order to prove that assessment correct.

Lowry: Your broken leg ended your sophomore season after only 16 games and as a junior, you played in 20 of UNH's 40 games. Are you ready to play a full, 40-game season? What personal goals to you have for the 2015-16 season?
MacDonald: I will 100% be ready to play a full season next year. I’ve got a great family that will afford me the opportunity to do what I need to do to make that happen.
Personally, I want to be productive offensively, and reliable defensively. I want to make all my teammates better along the way. I can honestly say I just want this team to be successful and consistent all year long.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Future NHLer Stevie Moses Reflects on UNH Career

Stevie Moses UNH Wildcat
Steve Moses in KHL


"It's a game in my career I'll never forget, but I wish I could forget."

That was Stevie Moses' initial reaction when I asked him about his final game as a UNH Wildcat. He had a wry smile as he said it, but the bitter disappointment of losing in double overtime to Boston University in the 2012 Hockey East Quarterfinals was still apparent during our FaceTime interview on January 30th.

As the senior Alternate Captain, Moses lead the 2011-12 UNH squad in goals. He tallied 22 goals, including 4 game-winners, and added 13 assists. The Wildcats finished the regular season in 6th place in Hockey East and faced the 3rd-place BU Terriers in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs. That BU team was loaded with 8 NHL draft picks, including second rounders Matt Nieto, Alex Chiasson, and Adam Clendening. In addition, two standouts on this year's NCAA runner-up team - Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues - were freshman.

In Game 1, UNH defeated BU 3-2 in double overtime. BU rebounded with a 4-2 win in Game 2. In the decisive third game, UNH outshot BU 72-55 but lost in double overtime 5-4. Stevie Moses was held to just one goal in the series despite firing 20 shots on goal. In fact, Moses registered a remarkable 177 shots on goal over the 37 game season. John Henrion had the second highest shot total with 125 SOG.

Now, just three years later, Stevie Moses has achieved a level of professional success which may come as a pleasant surprise to UNH fans. When I interviewed Stevie on January 30th, he had just scored his 33rd goal of the season in the Kontinental Hockey League - the second best professional hockey league in the world after the National Hockey League. He was in his third season with Jokerit based in Helsinki, Finland. Just one week later, Moses tied the KHL record for most goals in a season when he potted #34 and #35. Then, with just 5 games remaining in the regular season, Stevie Moses broke the KHL single season goal-scoring record.

In the second installment of my series of articles on Stevie Moses, he discussed how his success playing in Finland had set him up with coveted options for his playing future. His agent had already talked with several NHL teams about signing as a free agent next season. Moses was also weighing the option of playing for one of the Russian-based teams in the KHL which would have meant a hefty increase in salary.
"This is a job where I can only play for 10-12 more years and you have to think about your life after and what you want to do after your playing career is over. As much as it’s about the dream of playing in the NHL, you want to be pretty comfortable financially when you’re done playing."
Two weeks ago on April 9th, Moses took a giant step toward meeting his goals of playing in the NHL and acquiring financial security. The Nashville Predators announced, that Steve Moses had signed a one-year, $1 million contract for the 2015-16 season. When I spoke with him in late January, he stressed the importance of signing a one-way contract, and that's what he got. He will earn the $1 million regardless of whether he plays for the Predators or their AHL affiliate. In addition, having a one-way contract means he has to clear waivers before being sent down to the AHL.

The day before Moses signed his NHL contract, more good news came his way. He was selected to play for Team USA in the 2015 World Championship from May 1-17 in the Czech Republic. He will join other American-born NHL players who are not participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as well as a few top NHL prospects from the college ranks.

Stevie Moses' four-year career at the University of New Hampshire set the stage for his success as a professional hockey player. In this final installment of my January 30th interview with Stevie**, he talks about his experiences as a UNH hockey player.

Stevie Moses as
a Junior Bruin
Mike Lowry:
"My understanding is that you were recruited by a number of schools including Boston College. Have I got that right?"

Stevie Moses:
"Ya, I had a lot of interest when I was playing juniors. It came down to Maine, UNH, Dartmouth, and Boston College. Maine, UNH and Dartmouth wanted me to come in 2008 and BC wanted me to do an extra year of juniors and come in 2009. I committed early in my junior year of high school so it was two years before I was going to enroll."

"BC was saying you need to do your final two years of high school then an additional year of junior hockey because they already had a group of guys committed for the 2008 class. They were similar players to myself – Cam Atkinson, Paul Carey – so BC already had a good class coming in 2008."

"Scotty Borek was the first of all those schools to talk to me. I went up to UNH for an interview so I had been talking to them for the longest. I felt it was the best fit for me. Of course, growing up in Massachusetts, BC was intriguing but when it came down to it, I really felt good with Coach Umile and Borek and Coach Lassonde at the time. I really had good talks with them all. It made it an easy decision."

"At the time, Dartmouth was really in the mix but they didn’t offer athletic scholarships as an Ivy League school. It would have been too expensive. I wanted to play hockey, that was my main interest, so UNH was the best place to do that. It worked out well for me."

"I think Coach Borek is a great recruiter and a good assessor of talent. I think Coach Umile puts a lot of trust in him. When Coach Borek says this player is going to fit into our system, Coach Umile listens to him. Obviously, Coach Umile has been there so long, he doesn’t do quite as much travelling and scouting, I think, as some of the other head coaches who are a little bit younger."

"Scott and Dave (at the time) do a lot of the recruiting. They must have watched me play 50 to 75 times before I committed. They followed all the recruiting rules by the book. They also spoke with my parents. My Dad’s been a huge part of my hockey career. He was my coach and my parents still watch every game I play in. My Dad spoke to Scotty a lot and he and I trusted the UNH coaches."

"Obviously, it was an early decision. I was pretty young, 16 years old I think, and it was the right decision for me."

Mike Lowry:
"The trend in recruiting is to have players commit at a very young age. UNH just got a verbal commitment from a 14-year-old youngster named Joel Farabee. Schools like UNH can’t wait until the kid develops into a superstar at 18 or 19 and then pick him up like the BC’s and Michigan’s can. What do you think about this trend?"

Stevie Moses:
"It’s kind of a necessary evil in my opinion. Even when I made the commitment to UNH, I was young. I didn’t have all the information. Like I said, I’m thrilled with my decision but it doesn’t always work out that way. Also, I think it’s tough for schools to know what they’re going to get when they look at a 14, 15, even 16-year-old player. A lot changes from 16 to 18, especially 14 to 18."

"Like you said, it’s such a competitive business and everyone needs to do what they can to get an edge. If a guy watches a 14-year-old play and says the kid’s going to be a player, that’s their job and hopefully he does a good job evaluating the kid. Hopefully it works out for everyone involved."

"I think it’s the direction college hockey has been headed in for a long time now. Like you said, it’s obviously gotten to an extreme point with 14-year-old freshmen in high school committing. It is what it is and everyone has to deal with it."

Mike Lowry:
"You were one of the most electrifying UNH Wildcats to ever play at the Whittemore Center and generated an extraordinary number of shots on goal. One of your trademarks was what could be called the "unassisted shot on goal". That's when you would either steal or gather the puck, carry it through the three zones, or within the offensive zone, and fire a shot on goal without an opponent, or another teammate, touching the puck. Is this still an important part of your arsenal? Has it been more difficult to single-handedly generate offense at the professional level?"

NOTE TO READER: As this video highlight shows, Moses is still perfectly capable of generating offense on his own:





Stevie Moses:
"I think that was a strength, obviously, in college. I could skate and handle the puck higher than most guys at that level. I was able to do a lot of stuff on my own. Obviously, as you go up and play at higher levels like in the Finnish League, for example, I had to adapt a little bit at times, for sure. I think I've developed a lot, become a better hockey player and learning how to use my teammates better."

"For the fans and people watching the games it was fun to watch me try to do a lot of stuff on my own. It wasn't a selfish thing like I wanted to do it on my own but maybe I didn't see the guys as well as I do now."

"I was lucky enough, my first season here. When I came over here, it was during the NHL lockout and I was playing on the power play right away and my first power play was with Erik Karlsson (Currently the Captain of the Ottawa Senators). I was playing on the point with Karlsson as my partner. He's arguably the best offensive defenseman in the world. And we had Valtteri Filppula, one of the top Finnish players who played for the Detroit Red Wings (currently with the Tampa Bay Lightning) and his brother Ilari Filppula."

"I was lucky to play with some older guys and I really needed to move the puck with those guys because they were world class players. I think that helped me a lot to see that sometimes it's better to get open without the puck and try to find some open space without the puck. Sometimes when you have the puck, everyone's coming toward you and you learn how to move it."

"I think I've taken another step this season playing with some of the guys we have on the team now. We really try to move the puck as much as we can and try to create offense that way."

"The number of shots on goal is still an important part of my game. As I've been touring a lot this season, the media here is just crazy. It's like every game they ask 'how many more goals until you beat the record?'- the single season goal record. The record's 35, I have 33 so I'm getting close. What I always tell them is, as a goal scorer or a guy that's expected to score, I try to focus more on the chances that I get in a game and the opportunities I get. I focus on the number of shots on net to evaluate my performance as opposed to whether or not I scored."

"It's easy to get frustrated when you go 4 or 5 games without a goal if that's all you're focused on. But, I've been coaching myself to thinking - as long as I'm getting my chances and shots on net, the goals will come. The way you do it is to get the puck to the net whether it's shots, tips, getting chances. I still try to get 3, 4, 5, 6 shots a game. That's something I learned in college and Scotty Borek and Dick Umile really helped me with that. They helped me realize you don't always have to have the perfect shot, you just get the chances and eventually they'll go in."

"On a personal level, I've matured. At UNH, I was physically mature but mentally there were games, especially in my senior year, when I felt like I could dominate and do whatever I wanted. But there were games when I couldn't get that same level. I don't know if it was pressure or pressure I put on myself but I couldn't rise to the occasion every game. I couldn't play at my max all the time."

"Playing over here the last few years has really helped me become a pro in the sense that it's not about being good one out of every 3 games. It's about being good every game. Even on the bad nights, it's playing at 75% of your max rather than 30%. I think I've improved mentally and being mentally prepared every game. I realize I have a big opportunity here and so it's important to perform as close to my max as possible every shift in every game."

Mike Lowry:
"Have you found, talking to guys like Phil DeSimone, that they've had a similar experience as you in terms of finding it easier to play consistently night-in and night-out in the pros than it was in college?"

Stevie Moses:
"I've talked to a lot of guys about it and I think every player is different. I personally really didn't like the schedule in college hockey where you practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday then play on Friday and Saturday with Sunday off."

"To me, there was so much build up to the games that you start to overthink things. In the pros like the KHL, we have a game day then an off day, then a game, then an off day, then practice. We practice so much less, it's more game-to-game. You feel so much more relaxed in the game because you're so used to playing games as opposed to college where you're practicing so much and working on everything with so much focus and precision on every little thing you're doing."

"For me personally, when it came time for a game in college, I felt mentally it was a little bit tough. Of course, every player is different and some guys really thrive on that college setting. Still, it's different for everybody. I don't want to speak for Phil - he's still a really close buddy of mine and I know he's had success playing in Austria."

Mike Lowry:
"Less than two weeks after your final game with UNH - that tough, double-overtime loss to Boston University in the 2012 Hockey East Quarterfinals - you signed an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO) with the Connecticut Whale, the New York Rangers' AHL affiliate, and scored 2 goals in 9 games. What was that transition like for you?"

Stevie Moses:
"When I signed an ATO with the Connecticut Whale - it's not an easy situation for a player to come in at the end of the season and try to find a role in 5 or 6 games. It was important for me to go in and try to get my feet wet and learn a little bit about the business."

"When you're playing college hockey, it's competitive within the locker room for ice time and power play time but it's nothing compared to professional hockey players. It's how they feed their families and pay for their homes. It's a different atmosphere when you get into a business setting."

"My agent set me up to go play with the Connecticut Whale and it was important for me to go in and learn what it was like to play as a pro and how hard it is. We ended up going to the playoffs and I wasn't playing and getting a healthy scratch. They had a good team and they signed guys for depth but they didn't need me in the playoffs."

"I kept training and skating with the team and not playing at all and kind of being a bit miserable. I was missing the last couple months of college in April and May where all my friends were back at school and having fun. I was in Hartford, CT going on bus trips, trying to get into the lineup. I learned a lot about how much of a business it is so it was an important couple of months."



After three years of playing professional hockey with Jokerit in Finland and setting the single-season goal-scoring record in the Kontinental Hockey League, Stevie Moses has an excellent chance of making it in the National Hockey League. As he told me in our interview, the level of success he attains will depend, in part, on whether his team allows him to utilize his offensive strengths.

Former UNH star James van Riemsdyk certainly knows what it takes to succeed in the NHL. JvR likes Stevie Moses chances:
"Moses played with James van Riemsdyk at UNH and the pair lived together a couple summers ago. Van Riemesdyk, the Toronto Maple Leafs winger, says his friend is one of the most dedicated athletes he's ever met and recalled him having a timer on his watch beep every two hours to remind him to eat as part of a specialized meal plan. Even though Moses isn't particularly tall, van Riemsdyk says he's thick like Toronto teammate Leo Komarov and should be able to withstand the physical rigours that come with playing on a smaller ice surface. 'He skates like the wind,' van Riemsdyk told me. "He's really well built. He won't get thrown around over here.'"




** Special thanks to long-time UNH hockey fan Tina Thibodeau for helping to coordinate my interview with Stevie Moses.

Friday, April 24, 2015

UNH Recruit Christopher Miller Set to Join UNH in Fall 2015

Chris Miller Coming to
UNH Fall 2015


19-year-old Christopher Miller from Windham, NH will be enrolling at UNH this fall. Although he was not offered athletics financial aid for his freshman year, he will compete for playing time on the 2015-16 UNH roster.

Miller, a competitive center/winger with outstanding speed, played last season for the Junior Bruins in the United States Premiere Hockey League. He missed 11 games in late October and throughout November with a mild concussion. Miller was a key player on the Junior Bruins team that won the 2014 Tier III National Championship. He scored 3 goals and an assist in 5 tournament games.

Here are player statistics and background information for Chris. It includes 2 informative links. Click on his name and a link to his statistics comes up on a separate screen. Click on the date next to "Commit to UNH:" for a link to an article which announced his commitment to UNH.

Christopher Miller
Junior Bruins
United States Premiere Hockey League
DOB: 6-1-1995 Hometown: Windham, NH
Forward, 5'7", 155 lbs. Shoots Right
Commit to UNH: 11-22-2013 at Age 18 years, 5 months.
"I chose the University of New Hampshire for a variety of different reasons. Not only does it offer great academics - more specifically a great business program - but it also allows me to play in front of friends and family in my home state of New Hampshire. UNH seems to be the perfect fit. It has been my dream hockey school for some time now and I didn’t hesitate when I was given the opportunity to become a Wildcat. I was considering some other Division 1 schools as well as a number of Division 3 NESCAC schools."


Player Year Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
Christopher Miller  (F) 2014/2015 Junior Bruins USPHL 33 8 12 20 10
Playoffs USPHL 3 1 2 3 0
2013/2014 Junior Bruins USPHL 31 5 10 15 10
Playoffs USPHL 6 1 0 1 2
Nationals USA 5 3 1 4 2

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Clarification: Update on UNH Recruits and National Letter of Intent

Clarification

Two days ago, I sought clarification from the National Letter of Intent Program on the question of deferring an NLI. I just received a return call from Susan Peal, the Director of the National Letter of Intent. She explained that the prospective student-athlete who has signed an NLI either during the November, 2014 early signing period or the current signing period, has the option to delay enrollment until Fall 2016. This is up to the discretion of the prospective student-athlete and can not be imposed by the college/university. This clarification appears to contradict one aspect of the "NLI Primer" article from the College Hockey News described below. A delay, if initiated by the prospective student-athlete, is for one year.

Clarification

To date, I have confirmed that four UNH recruits who were projected to enroll at UNH in either the Fall of 2015 or 2016 have signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI). They are:
Liam Blackburn
Jason Kalinowski
Ara Nazarian
Marcus Vela

Some of the key provisions of the NLI are:
"By signing a National Letter of Intent, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. Pursuant to the terms of the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid to the student-athlete, provided he/she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules.
An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution.
At the time the prospective student-athlete signs the NLI, he must receive a written offer of athletics financial aid for the entire 2015-16 academic year from the institution named in the document. The offer must list the terms, conditions and amount of the athletics aid award."
The vast majority of ice hockey recruits who sign an NLI either during the early signing period (November 12-19, 2014) or the regular signing period (April 15-August 1, 2015) enroll at the college/university the following fall. For example, all 10 UNH recruits who signed an NLI in November, 2013 or April/May, 2014 enrolled at UNH in the Fall of 2014 and played for the Wildcats in the 2014-2015 season. However, if the recruit and the college/university agree, the enrollment date can be deferred for a year.

Last November, Mike McMahon clarified this point in the "NLI Primer" he wrote for the College Hockey News.
"How long is an NLI good for? Originally NLIs were meant to be signed the year before you begin competition for a college program. However, an NLI can be deferred for up to four years if agreed upon by the school and player. It's possible a player signs an NLI as a 17-year-old senior in high school but defers for three seasons to play junior or prep hockey and doesn't start with his NCAA program until he is 20 years old."
I have received the following confirmation from Michelle Bronner, Senior Associate Director for Compliance at UNH, that the agreement included in an National Letter of Intent can be deferred:
"The quick answer is yes an NLI can be deferred. There is a provision in the letter of intent #7c that states “This NLI shall be declared null and void if I have not attended any institution for at least one academic year, provided my request for athletics financial aid for a subsequent fall term is denied by the signing institution.” So as long as a school holds a scholarship for the individual and makes it available the NLI remains in effect.
One topic of conversation among college hockey fans which comes up this time of year is - Which recruits will be playing for the team next season? Knowing that a recruit has signed a National Letter of Intent does not necessarily mean that he will enroll next fall. Also, a recruit who does not receive an offer of athletics financial aid in an NLI from the college/university may still be informed that he can enroll next fall and have an opportunity to make the hockey team.

So far, I have received confirmation from Jason Kalinowski, Ara Nazarian, and Marcus Vela - three recruits who have signed an National Letter of Intent - that they will be enrolling at UNH next fall. As I pointed out last November when Liam Blackburn signed an NLI during the early signing period, he and the UNH coaches had not yet decided upon an enrollment date for him. Blackburn's player profile page on the West Kelowna Warriors' website says "Committed for: TBA" . When information regarding Blackburn's enrollment date becomes available, I will report it in a tweet and/or on the blog.

Finally, I have received confirmation from UNH recruit Frankie Cefalu that he will enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2015. He was not offered an NLI for next year.

To summarize, as of today, four forwards - Cefalu, Kalinowski, Nazarian, and Vela - plan to enroll next fall and join the UNH hockey team. Since Liam Blackburn has signed an NLI, he may very well be the fifth forward to enroll in the Fall of 2015 but that has not yet been confirmed. Other UNH recruits who verbally committed to UNH and may enroll next fall include Joseph Masonius, Nick Nonis, Christopher Miller, Patrick Grasso, and Brendan van Riemsdyk. Liam Darcy will not be coming to UNH next season. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

UNH Recruit Jason Kalinowski Signs National Letter of Intent

Jason Kalinowski Signs
NLI with UNH


19-year-old Jason Kalinowski from Stamford, CT has signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to enroll at the University of New Hampshire and play for the Wildcats' hockey team. Some of the key provisions of the NLI are:
"By signing a National Letter of Intent, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. Pursuant to the terms of the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid to the student-athlete, provided he/she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules.
An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution.
At the time the prospective student-athlete signs the NLI, he must receive a written offer of athletics financial aid for the entire 2015-16 academic year from the institution named in the document. The offer must list the terms, conditions and amount of the athletics aid award."
Kalinowski, a forward, played the last two seasons in the United States Hockey League. Here are player statistics and background information for Jason. It includes 2 informative links. Click on his name and a link to his statistics comes up on a separate screen. Click on the date next to "Commit to UNH:" for a link to an article which announced his verbal commitment to UNH.

Jason Kalinowski
Bloomington Thunder
United States Hockey League
DOB: 7-2-1995 Hometown: Stamford, CT
Forward, 5'10", 182 lbs. Shoots Right
Commit to UNH: 9-16-2011 at Age 16 years, 2 months.
"When my mom and I went to visit the campus, we attended a New Hampshire hockey home game. The arena was packed. The atmosphere was electric. And the academics there fit into what I want to study. Last year at Salisbury (Prep), I was just an offensive forward. Now I'm a two-way hockey player. I'm a player you can trust on the ice. I know the University of New Hampshire is the right place for me. Making the decision now takes a lot of stress off me."


Player Year Team League GP Goals Asst Pts +/- PIM
Jason Kalinowski  (F) 2014/2015 Bloomington Thunder USHL 45 2 9 11 +5 60
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 -1 4
2013/2014 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 57 8 23 31 -3 64
Playoffs USHL 4 0 0 0 -3 4


UNH Recruit Marcus Vela Signs National Letter of Intent

Marcus Vela Signs
NLI with UNH


18-year-old Marcus Vela from Burnaby, BC has signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to enroll at the University of New Hampshire and play for the Wildcats' hockey team. Some of the key provisions of the NLI are:
"By signing a National Letter of Intent, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. Pursuant to the terms of the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid to the student-athlete, provided he/she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules.
An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution.
At the time the prospective student-athlete signs the NLI, he must receive a written offer of athletics financial aid for the entire 2015-16 academic year from the institution named in the document. The offer must list the terms, conditions and amount of the athletics aid award."
Vela, a center/winger, played the last two seasons with the Langley Rivermen in the British Columbia Hockey League. Here are player statistics and background information for Marcus. It includes 2 informative links. Click on the his name and a link to his statistics comes up on a separate screen. Click on the date next to "Commit to UNH:" for a link to an article which announced his verbal commitment to UNH.

Marcus Vela
Langley Rivermen
British Columbia Hockey League
DOB: 3-3-1997 Hometown: Burnaby, BC
Forward, 6'2", 200 lbs. Shoots Right
Commit to UNH: 9-25-2013 at Age 16 years, 6 months.
"Some of the main reasons I decided on UNH were, that they play in the best division which is Hockey East, they have a very good hockey program that I felt would suit me best, and they are also a good school academically which is also important to me. I was also very comfortable and confident in deciding to commit to UNH. It felt right!"
"I was also considering a few other schools such as Western Michigan, University of Connecticut and Denver. They are all very good programs and exceptional hockey teams but I just felt that UNH was the right fit for me."


Player Year Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
Marcus Vela  (F) 2014/2015 Langley Rivermen BCHL 50 20 26 46 57
Playoffs BCHL 3 0 1 1 4
2013/2014 Langley Rivermen BCHL 54 11 11 22 41
Playoffs BCHL 12 1 4 5 6


Scouting Reports

Marcus Vela #12
In the NHL Central Scouting Service's 2015 Final Rankings, Marcus Vela was listed as the #123 North American skater. He is likely to be drafted by an NHL team in the Entry Draft this June.

Scouting report from NHL CSS:
"Key on the power play and penalty kill … plays a responsible two-way game … very strong on the puck … solid on face-offs … brings a physical element … plays with a purpose … good vision … high compete level.”
From Elite Hockey Prospects:
"An offensively gifted power center that takes the game as it comes to him. Good hockey sense and possesses the positive character traits that indicate versatility in a lineup; scouts look for these intangibles in players. Decent skating ability, but knows what he can and can't do. Knows how to direct plays and realizes when and how he can step in to make a difference - whether it be through a little bit of rough stuff or with a clutch goal. All-in-all, the type of well-rounded player that can compliment his linemates well, and knows how to make an impact in a game.”

Coach's Report

In his two seasons with the Langley Rivermen, Marcus Vela was coached by General Manager/Head Coach Bobby Henderson and his staff. In September, 2014, when Vela first appeared on the NHL CSS "Players to Watch" list, Assistant Coach Kurt Astle provided this assessment of Vela:
"Marcus is the type of player that has the ability to play in any situation. He’s hard to defend against down low and on the attack. In the defensive zone, he makes good reads and can execute when put in an out-numbered situation. Marcus’ awareness in the defensive zone allows him to play key minutes in a tight game which gives him the title of a two-way centre.”


UNH Recruit Ara Nazarian Signs National Letter of Intent

Ara Nazarian Signs
NLI with UNH


18-year-old Ara Nazarian from Boxford, Massachusetts has signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to enroll at the University of New Hampshire and play for the Wildcats' hockey team. Some of the key provisions of the NLI are:
"By signing a National Letter of Intent, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. Pursuant to the terms of the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid to the student-athlete, provided he/she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules.
An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution.
At the time the prospective student-athlete signs the NLI, he must receive a written offer of athletics financial aid for the entire 2015-16 academic year from the institution named in the document. The offer must list the terms, conditions and amount of the athletics aid award."
Nazarian, a forward, recently completed his rookie season in the United States Hockey League. He scored 12 goals and 16 assists in 60 regular season games with the Des Moines Buccaneers. Before he joined the Bucs, he was a prolific scorer for Massachusetts powerhouse Malden Catholic High School. The Lancers won the Massachusetts Super 8 Championship in Nazarian's freshman, sophomore and junior seasons and he compiled 70 goals and 76 assists in 71 games. After his sophomore year, ESPNBoston.com selected Nazarian as the Mr. Hockey Award winner. Here are a couple highlights of Nazarian in his final season at Malden Catholic:



In two months, Nazarian will graduate from high school and turn 19. There are similarities between Nazarian and Andrew Poturalski who also played in the USHL. Andrew just finished his first season at UNH and he was the Wildcats' fourth-leading scorer with 14 goals and 14 assists. In Poturalski's first full season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the USHL, he turned 19 in January and scored 12 goals and 21 assists in 53 games. By comparison, Nazarian was 18 throughout his rookie season and he tallied 12 goals and 16 assists in 60 games. Both Nazarian and Poturalski primarily played center in the USHL. Here's a video clip of Nazarian's first goal in the USHL:



Here are player statistics and background information for Ara. It includes 2 informative links. Click on his name and a link to his statistics comes up on a separate screen. Click on the date next to "Commit to UNH:" for a link to an article which announced his verbal commitment to UNH.

Ara Nazarian
Des Moines Buccaneers
United States Hockey League
DOB: 6-19-1996 Hometown: Boxford, MA
Forward, 5'8", 183 lbs. Shoots Left
Commit to UNH: 4-2-2013 at Age 16 years, 10 months.
"UNH is the best fit for me and how I play, as well as academically. I feel very comfortable being up there and being at the campus. There were a couple other Hockey East, ECAC, and a mid west school opportunities I was considering."


Player Year Team League GP Goals Asst Pts +/- PIM
Ara Nazarian  (F) 2014/2015 Des Moines Buccaneers USHL 60 12 16 28 -17 16
2013/2014 Malden Catholic Mass. HS 20 20 27 47
Super 8 Mass. HS 4 1 8 9

Scouting Reports

From Elite Hockey Prospects :
"This smart, skilled forward with creative hands can have moments where he looks disinterested in the play but when he sniffs out an offensive chance he becomes hard to handle and aggressive offensively. Has a quick release on a real dangerous shot selection.”
From Kirk Luedeke, New England Hockey Journal:
"ESPN Boston’s inaugural Mr. Hockey isn’t a dynamic skater but he’s got outstanding hands and a lot of vision and creativity. He’s been on area watch lists for years."

Monday, April 20, 2015

UNH Recruits Update: April-20-2015

Marcus Vela
Langley Rivermen
Liam Darcy
Berwick Academy
Mike Robinson
Lawrence Academy


The National Hockey League's Central Scouting Service released it's Final Rankings for the 2015 Draft on April 8th. Three UNH recruits, Marcus Vela, Liam Darcy and Mike Robinson, made the final rankings. Vela and Darcy are on the list of North American skaters and Robinson is on the North American goalies list.

Player Spotlight - Marcus Vela

At 6'2", 200 lbs. Marcus Vela (DOB: 3-3-1997) from Burnaby, British Columbia has the prototypical build for an NHL forward. After following him throughout the year, the NHL Central Scouting Service has ranked him as the #131 North American skater eligible for the 2015 Entry Draft. Vela was the top-ranked British Columbia Hockey League player in the Final Rankings. In their Midterm Rankings, Vela was #123.

In December, Marcus Vela was selected to play for Canada West in the World Junior A Challenge. In a preview of the event, the NHL CSS provided this scouting report on Vela:
"Key on the power play and penalty kill … plays a responsible two-way game … very strong on the puck … solid on face-offs … brings a physical element … plays with a purpose … good vision … high compete level."
Vela contributed 2 assists in four games for Canada West and tied for second in scoring on the team.

Vela ended the regular season with 20 goals and 26 assists - the third best scorer on the Langley Rivermen's roster. He more than doubled his offensive production this season. As a 16-year-old rookie last year, Vela scored 11 goals and 11 assists. Vela scored 13 goals in the final 13 games of the 2014-15 regular season. He scored his first BCHL hat trick in the Rivermen's last regular-season home game. Though Langley lost to Salmon Arm 4-3 in overtime, Vela's first goal gave the Rivermen the initial lead and his second and third goals tied the game up. Here's a video of Marcus Vela's hat trick - he is #12 in the dark blue jersey:



It's not possible to predict with certainty whether Marcus Vela will be drafted in the NHL Entry Draft this June in Sunrise, Florida, home of the Florida Panthers. As the 131st ranked North American player, he has a good chance of being drafted in the 4th to 7th Rounds. Last year, the #131-ranked player was Ryan Hitchcock and he was not drafted. However, 9 out of 10 of the players ranked from #132-#140 among North American skaters were drafted somewhere in Rounds 4-7.

Player Spotlight - Liam Darcy

Liam Darcy (DOB: 2-26-1997), a 5'11", 175 lbs. defensemen from South Berwick, Maine, recently capped off a four-year career at Berwick Academy just 12 miles up the road from UNH. Over his first three seasons with the Bulldogs, Darcy averaged 6 goals and 16 assists and a point-a-game. Although his point production decreased to 2 goals and 6 assists in 26 games this season, Darcy was still named to the 2014-15 New England Prep All-Star Team by the league's coaches.

On the NHL CSS 2015 Midterm Rankings, which came out on January 20th, Liam Darcy was listed as the #156 North American Skater. In their Final Rankings, Darcy has dropped down to #204. This does not necessarily mean he won't be drafted by an NHL team in June but his chances appear to be lower. Of the players who held the #204 to #210 rank (i.e., the end of the list of North American players) on the 2014 NHL CSS Final Rankings, only one was drafted by an NHL team.

Player Spotlight - Mike Robinson

Tall, athletic goaltenders have become hot commodities in NCAA and professional hockey. Jon Gillies, who backstopped Providence College's run to the National Championship and was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NHL draft by the Calgary Flames, is a prime example. The 6'5", 215 lbs. goalie from Portland, Maine just signed with the Flames in time for the NHL Playoffs. UNH is hoping that 2016 or '17 recruit Mike Robinson from Bedford, New Hampshire will attain a similar level of success.

Robinson (DOB: 3-27-1997), the 6'5", 200 lbs. goalie who recently completed his junior season at Lawrence Academy, could very well hear his name called at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Last January, Robinson was the #16 tender on the NHL CSS 2015 Midterm Rankings of North American goalies. Robinson started every game this season for UNH alum Robbie Barker's Lawrence Academy Spartans and played nearly every minute. He finished with a record of 7 wins, 16 loses, and 2 ties, a Goals Against Average of 3.20, and a Save Percentage of .902. Apparently, the NHL CSS scouts were impressed because Mike Robinson moved up to #8 on their 2015 Final Rankings for North American goalies.

Of the top 10 North American goalies on the 2014 NHL CSS Final Rankings, 7 were drafted in the 2014 NHL Draft. The 8th-ranked goalie Thomas Perry was drafted in the 5th Round by the Detroit Red Wings. These results bode well for Mike Robinson's prospects this June in Florida. Next season, Robinson will play for the Junior Bruins in the United States Premiere Hockey League - the same team that UNH goalie Danny Tirone played for in the first half of this past season. Both Tirone and Robinson have been coached by Mike Buckley of Goaltending Development Services.

NOTE
The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2015 Recruits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2015. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ The year the recruit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ The date the recruit signed the National Letter of Intent.
~ How old the recruit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The recruit's performance in the current season 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
2015 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 55 22 51 73 34
Playoffs 4 1 2 3 0
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Bloomington Thunder USHL 42 2 9 11 60
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 18 5 5 10 14
USHL 24 0 10 10 45
NAHL 2 0 1 1 0
Int'l. 12 0 5 5 18
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 33 8 12 20 10
Playoffs 3 1 2 3 0
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 56 1 6 7 41
Playoffs 4 0 1 1 4
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 50 20 26 46 57
Playoffs 3 0 1 1 0
2016 Recruits
Frankie Cefalu  (F) Walpole Express EHL 44 17 46 63 48
Playoffs 4 4 3 7 2
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 60 9 25 34 12
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 60 12 16 28 16
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 47 29 12 41 56
Playoffs 4 2 1 3 14
2016 or '17 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 24 18 33 51 30
Playoffs 4 4 3 7 2
Non-League 30 7 20 27 -
Natl. Champ. 4 3 0 3 4
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 26 2 6 8 -
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 19 10 13 23 18
Playoffs 4 2 1 3 2
Non-Conf 33 21 24 45 26
Natl. Champ. 5 3 6 9 0
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 37 11 21 32 26
Playoffs 3 2 1 3 0
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 41 1 1 2 12
Mike Robinson  (G) Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 25 7W 16L/2T 3.20 .902
Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 55 6 12 18 26
Playoffs 4 0 0 0 0
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 26 17 14 31 -
Playoffs 1 1 0 1 -
CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 34 17 15 32 44
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 29 16 24 40 39
Playoffs 4 3 3 6 0
Non-League 9 4 2 6 -
2018 Recruits
Joel Farabee  (F) Selects Academy 16U USPHL 16U 28 8 25 33 16
Playoffs 3 0 2 2 0
Non-League 31 6 10 16 -
Natl. Champ. 4 0 3 3 0

News & Notes

United States Hockey League:

~ In the 2014-15 season, five UNH recruits played in the USHL - Patrick Grasso and Ara Nazarian for the Des Moines Buccaneers, Jason Kalinowski for the Bloomington Thunder, Aaron O'Neill for the Green Bay Gamblers, and Jake Ryczek of the Sioux City Musketeers. Only Ryczek and the Musketeers advanced to the USHL Playoffs. They are currently tied with the Sioux Falls Stampede two wins a piece in the opening round, best-of-five series.

2015 USA Hockey/Toyota National Championships:

~ 2016 or '17 UNH recruit Joey Cipollone and the Selects Hockey Academy 18U team (aka: Central Connecticut Selects) advanced to the Quarterfinals of the 2015 National Championship but lost to the New Jersey Avalanche 2-1. Cipollone scored 3 goals in 4 games and tied for 3rd in goal scoring among all the 18U players.

~ 2018 UNH recruit Joel Farabee and the Selects Hockey Academy 16U team (aka: Central Connecticut Selects) advanced to the Quarterfinals of the 2015 National Championship but lost to Honeybaked 9-2. 15-year-old Farabee scored 3 assists in 4 games.

Monday, March 30, 2015

UNH Defeated Three Final Four Teams This Season



This is how UNH Alternate Captain Casey Thrush summed up the 2014-15 UNH Hockey season following their battle with Boston University in the Hockey East Semifinals:
“At least it ended here. We had a very tough stretch, I’m very proud of the way our team stuck together and really proved a lot of people wrong. The way we played (Friday) and our streak, I think you can say we’re competitive with anyone in the country.”
Competitive indeed. In fact, over the course of the season, UNH played three of the teams that advanced to the Frozen Four - Boston University, Providence, and the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) - and beat each of them at least once.

Over the first half of the season, the hockey program faced challenges such as the unexpected loss of their veteran goaltender Casey DeSmith in August and the infusion of 11 freshmen - 5 forwards, 4 defensemen, and 2 goalies - into the lineup. By the end of January, UNH had lost 15 games, won 9, and tied 2. They were hovering near the bottom of the Hockey East standings.

Then, in a dramatic turnaround, UNH won 6 of its last 7 regular season games, earned home ice in the opening round of the Hockey East playoffs, swept UConn, and eliminated Providence College in the quarterfinals. Although the Wildcats lost to Boston University, the #3 team in the nation at the time, in the Hockey East Semifinals 4-1, the game was tightly contested well into the final period. As Captain Matt Willows said after the game:
“I think we played pretty much a full 60 (minutes). They’re a great team. We knew it was going to be a battle. I don’t think the score was indicative of the game. We played well. We had our chances. We just didn’t bury them."

Games Against Frozen Four Teams

Looking back over the 2014-15 season, UNH played against all of the teams that earned a berth in the 2015 Frozen Four except North Dakota. The Wildcats played Hockey East opponents BU and Providence during the regular season and in the Hockey East Playoffs. They also travelled to Omaha at the end of December to play two games against UNO. In all, UNH played 10 games against these three teams and compiled a record of 5-5-0.

Boston University

During the regular season, UNH was one of only seven teams to defeat Boston University. In a home-and-home series in mid-February, BU downed UNH 6-3 at the Agganis Arena and UNH beat BU 4-3 at the Whittemore Center. This video clip shows senior Jay Camper's game-winning goal, set up by freshman Warren Foegele:

Providence College

Providence played both regular season matchups at the Whittemore Center. The Friars downed UNH 1-0 on November 21st and the teams were scheduled to play the following evening. However, a problem with the ice making system resulted in a postponement. The game was played on January 13 and was freshman goalie Danny Tirone's first start at the Whittemore Center. UNH won 2-1 in yet another tightly contested match. Grayson Downing, the team's leading goal-scorer, potted both UNH goals. Here is Downing's game-winner:



Then came the dramatic quarterfinal playoff series with Providence down at the Schneider Arena. UNH won the first game 2-1 on a dramatic, overtime goal by Grayson Downing. PC evened the series with a 2-1 win of it's own. Then, UNH won the third and decisive game 2-1 in overtime. Once again, Jay Camper scored an important game-winning goal.

University of Nebraska-Omaha

In the first game against UNO on December 30th, UNH lost in overtime 2-1. The following night, New Year's Eve, the Wildcats exploded for 6 goals. Freshman Andrew Poturalski, Brett Pesce, Grayson Downing, Tyler Kelleher, Matias Cleland, and Matt Willows tallied the goals. It was Danny Tirone's first NCAA game and he got his first college win. Here's the game-winning goal scored by Grayson Downing in the second period:



Grayson Downing lead the team in goals with 21 including 4 game-winners. Matt Willows added 19 goals. The five UNH seniors combined for 50 goals. Junior defenseman Brett Pesce, who signed with the Carolina Hurricanes last week, added 3 goals. Sophomore Tyler Kelleher tallied 18 goals and freshman Andrew Poturalski scored 14. This year's underclassmen and the incoming freshmen will be called upon to replace the scoring production of those who have left the team. In an article published today in The New Hampshire, Tyler Kelleher expressed confidence that they will be able to reach that goal:
“We’re going to lose some of our top guys, but we definitely have a lot of talent on this team,” Kelleher said. “I think all of our guys are capable of stepping in for us. I really believe any of them could perform.”
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