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College Hockey: New year, same goal for Wildcats
The University of New Hampshire hockey team’s bounce-back season put Dick Umile’s team, after a rare off year, back in the NCAA tournament and the Wildcats eliminated Denver in a first-round game in the Northeast Regional at the Verizon.
“It seems like yesterday,” said UNH senior defenseman and captain Eric Knodel. “It’s a loss that didn’t sit well over the summer. We got a taste of it last year. We got back to the NCAA tournament and won the first game and lost the second We have a taste of what it takes to get there and what it takes to win.”
The winners play on Saturday night in the title game and there is also a consolation game.
“We’re excited to get going,” said Umile, who begins his 24th season as UNH’s head coach tonight. “Minnesota’s a great hockey area and we haven’t played Clarkson in a while. We’re looking to put a good game together.”
Senior Jeff Wyer will start in goal for UNH tonight and DeSmith will be in the net on Saturday.
Umile said during the pre-season that Wyer had been playing well and was going to push DeSmith, who started all but one game last year, for playing time.
The Wildcats got off to a super start last year — they won their first four games and were 11-1-2 as of Dec. 1 — and will try to do so again.
“We learned that year there are no guarantees,” van Riemsdyk said. “It makes you want even more to win the next game in the tournament, to get back to the Frozen Four.”
First, there’s the matter of competing in the new-look Hockey East: New team in Notre Dame; new coaches in Berlin native Red Gendron at Maine, on for Tim Whitehead, and David Quinn replacing Jack Parker at Boston University; and even a new schedule with league teams playing each other only twice a season in games that count in the conference standings.
And, come the second week in April, they want to be playing in the Frozen Four at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
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