Who: #5 Michigan @ #13 New Hampshire
When: October 18, 7:30 EST and October 19 at 7:00 EST
TV: Fox College Sports Atlantic (Channel 722 on Comcast, DirecTV 623). mgoblue.com for audio stream and 1050 AM for the usual radio.
ESPN Boston has a brief blurb about UNH previewing their upcoming season HERE
The Wildcats early season success last year catapulted Dick Umile's squad into the postseason despite the fact that New Hampshire sputtered down the stretch, failing to earn home-ice for the Hockey East playoffs and getting bounced by the Providence Friars in the quarterfinals. To get back to the TD Garden in March, and the NCAAs, New Hampshire will need continued strong play by stalwart netminder Casey DeSmith and airtight defense led by Trevor van Riemsdyk and NHL draftees Eric Knodel and Brett Pesce. With the loss of Austin Block and John Henrion, young forwards will need to pitch in to help Kevin Goumas and Jeff Silengo.
Remember this is still early in the season, but UNH's results have been encouraging more so than positive. The Wildcats started the season in Minneapolis at the icebreaker tourney with a 4-1 victory over Clarkson and followed that up with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Gophers which saw them squander a 2-0 lead in the second period. It's too early to tell about UNH so far and they'll likely be a good Hockey East test in their own barn this weekend for the maize and blue.
- The name van Riemsdyk should be a familiar one to hockey fans. Trevor van Reimsdyk hails from the same family as Toronto Maple Leafs (and former wildcat) winger James. Trevor plays the back end and is one of nearly all of the UNH D-men over 6'2" tall. Big bodies on the blueline is a feature at this program. Although undrafted, he was named to the All-Hockey East Rookie team and First team Hockey East in 2012-13.
- Kevin Goumas is a Senior Forward who put up more than a point a game last year. He is more of a creator than a sniper with a 10-32 = 42 line from last year. He's 5'10" and had his season ended last year on this hit:
He may be out for this weekend as he had to sit out the Minnesota game with an injury suffered against Clarkson.
- Brett Pesce is another big body standing at the blue line. 6'3 and solid, he was taken 66th overall in the last NHL entry draft. He notably enrolled a year early after planning to spend some time in the USHL, but accelerating his time a year.
- The strength of the team is keeping the pucks out. From the UNH official site:
Without question, UNH's strength will be from the net out again. Veterans Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) and Jeff Wyer (Reading, Mass.) give the Wildcats experience in net. DeSmith established himself as UNH's go-to goaltender in 2012-13. A Hockey East Honorable Mention selection, DeSmith started 38 of New Hampshire's 39 games, defending the Wildcats' net for 2146:43 of a possible 2320:16. As a sophomore, he registered an 18-9-6 overall record with a 2.23 GAA and .924 save percentage. A four-time Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week and two-time Goaltender of the Month, DeSmith set the program record for longest shutout streak with a 203:32, three-plus game stretch.
What to Watch For
Can Michigan keep building the momentum? While the powerplay numbers are unsustainable (42.9%) it looks like the guys the Wolverines need to break out and have the proverbial switch come on are seeing the light. PDG and Luke Moffatt are your barometers for Michigan's secondary scoring. Expect UNH to be a pretty hostile crowd getting up for their season opener against a marquee opponent. Michigan will have the talent edge, but decidedly not the experience edge and playing a solid team on the road is different than playing them in front of your home crowd. No disrespect to RIT, but expect it to be different. A split is not a bad result for a young team, so long as they play disciplined and cut down on the penalties.