College Hockey: UNH's energy guys make a difference
DURHAM — The main task for the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team’s fourth line is to provide energy, says the line’s right wing, Jamie Hill.
The line exceeded its job requirements last weekend during the Wildcats’ two-game series split at No. 16 Vermont.
Hill, a senior, recorded his first multi-point game of his career when he logged a goal and an assist in UNH’s 5-3 setback on Saturday. Justin Fregona, a freshman left wing, scored his second career goal in that same game skating alongside Hill and sophomore center Frankie Cefalu.
“I felt like our line played the best hockey we’ve played all season this past weekend and that’s what we have to do from here on out,” Hill said. “Just give our team energy and go out there and just do what we do.”
The Wildcats play a home-and-home Hockey East series with No. 4 Boston University this weekend, in Boston tonight (6 p.m., NESN) and in Durham on Saturday at 7 p.m.
UNH sophomore left wing Ara Nazarian, who plays on the second line, said his teammates on the fourth unit do more than just provide a spark.
“It’s an energy line but there’s a lot of skilled players in that room so every line is skilled and every line can score goals,” Nazarian said. “Every line brings energy but for them to be scoring some goals is huge for us.”
Wildcats coach Dick Umile said Hill, Fregona and Cefalu all played well in both games against Vermont. Continuing to get production out of the fourth line would be a big help in the team’s final two regular-season series, Umile said.
“We can put them out there and they can get minutes,” Umile said. “That takes minutes away from your top line so they’re not getting burned out ... There’s times that I may switch up the rotation but basically they’re going to play a lot.”
UNH (12-14-4 overall, 7-8-3 in Hockey East) is 2-6-2 over its last 10 games. Its 4-2 victory over the Catamounts last Friday was its first against a ranked opponent.
The Terriers (19-9-2, 11-5-2) are 6-4 in their last 10 games and are coming off a 6-3 loss to No. 3 Harvard in the Beanpot Tournament final on Monday.
“They’re a real good team,” Umile said. “They’re a highly skilled team. We’ve got to play very well, especially defensively when we don’t have the puck.”
BU sophomore defenseman Charlie McAvoy, freshman forwards Kieffer Bellows and Clayton Keller and freshman defenseman Dante Fabbro were among the first 19 players selected in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Keller, who was drafted No. 7 overall, leads the Terriers in points with 32 on 16 goals and 16 assists.
Six Terriers played for the U.S. in the IIHF World Junior Tournament in December: McAvoy (a Boston Bruins prospect), Bellows (New York Islanders), Keller (Arizona), goalie Jake Oettinger (2017 draft eligible), forward Patrick Harper (Nashville) and forward Jordan Greenway (Minnesota). Another Terrier, defenseman Dante Fabbro, played for Canada.
“I know they’ve got a lot of young guys — a lot of very skilled guys,” Hill said. “They’re going to be fast but at the same time, we know how we play and we’re not going to change anything for them. We’re just going to go out there and play UNH hockey and go nose-to-nose with them.”
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Umile said he expects senior defenseman Dylan Maller will return to the lineup tonight at BU. Maller has not played since re-injuring his hip in the Wildcats’ 5-3 victory over Northeastern University Jan. 12. He has 10 points (three goals, 10 assists) over 14 games this season.