Preseason Top 16: #13 New Hampshire
Howdy, folks. It’s that time of year again. Every so often The College Hockey Blog will be unveiling our Preseason top 16 teams, one by one. If you want to see the top 16 in order, and links to each individual preview, click the tab at the top of the page. Today’s team is #13 New Hampshire
Honestly, it was tough as all get out to rank teams 13-16. I can’t say I’m terribly excited about this UNH team. They scored 116 goals last year, good for 4th amongst all Hockey East teams. James van Riemsdyk wasn’t their leading goal scorer, but he was their leading scorer, and was the only Wildcat over 1 point per game. The next time Wildcat fans see van Riemsdyk however, he’ll be suiting up for the Philadelphia Phantoms (or possibly the Flyers, who knows).
After an up and down season in 2007-08, UNH lost in the Hockey East playoffs to Boston College before an epic comeback against North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and then eventually succumbing to eventual champ BU in the second round.
As mentioned, van Riemsdyk is gone as is leading blueline scorer Kevin Kapstad. However, leading goal scorer Mike Sislo is back, as is Peter LeBlanc and Danny Dries. UNH has a lot of depth up front, and their blueline should be up to snuff as well, led by phenom Blake Kessel. There aren’t a ton of impact Freshmen coming in, but Justin Agosta is an interesting sleeper that could help provide some depth on the blueline.
Having to replace goalie Kevin Reagan seems like a very daunting task, but Brian Foster handled it admirably last year, putting up solid numbers (2.68 GAA, .910 save percentage) and getting better as the season went along. Although he allowed 5 goals to North Dakota in the NCAA Tournament, he only allowed BU to score 2, and one of those went off his defenseman’s glove. A little hiccup against Vermont in which he allowed 11 goals in 2 games was the only time he allowed more than 3 goals in over a month. His coninued improvement is a key for the Wildcats success.
A third place finish or thereabouts is probably in the cards for UNH once again, but they’ll have to get depth scoring like they did last year to make a deeper penetration into the Hockey East playoffs and NCAA Tournament.