By Parker Wheeler, the voice of the Wildcats
The concern around the UNH hockey team entering this year was the lack of experience with all of the youth on the team. Questions of “Who will be a leader?”, “Who will score the goals?,” and, most importantly, “Who will be between the pipes?” were frequently asked before the season got underway. The UNH hockey team welcomed 10 new freshmen this year to the team and so far, the young Wildcats have shown they can produce.
Despite a 1-2 record to start the season, UNH has played exceptionally well against two of the best teams in college hockey. A 3-1 loss to No. 2 Union to start the season and a split series against then-No. 10 Michigan, where they out-scored the Wolverines 6-3, shows signs of success to come for the Wildcats. All 10 freshmen have already seen ice time for the team and almost all of them can expect to be consistent starters going forward in the season.
Arguably the most important piece to solving the puzzle that is a successful hockey team is the goaltender. Adam Clark appears to be that piece. With questions looming around the UNH goalie situation, Adam Clark has taken full control. Clark has posted a .929 save percentage and a 2.02 goals against average through the first three games. He currently ranks fifth in Hockey East in both of those categories. Only three games into the season, there is plenty of time for things to change, but with three strong performances against top teams in college hockey, Clark has proved worthy of the starting job.
After losing five of their top six point scorers from the 2013-14 season the Wildcats needed to find new sources of production. The return of Matt Willows and Grayson Downing is a promising sign for the Wildcats offense this season, but they need more than two seniors to carry the offensive load. On Friday night in Ann Arbor, the offense exploded for five goals, including goals from freshmen Shane Eiserman and Andrew Poturalski. Poturalski and his freshmen teammate Warren Foegele also added assists on the night for their first career collegiate points.
Overall, the Wildcats have answered many of the questions they had to start the season. The strong start for the freshmen class is a large reason why they were so competitive against difficult opponents and their performances will need to stay on track in order for them to have a successful season. The production will come from a variety of sources for this team every weekend, but what the Wildcats need is consistency. If UNH can consistently get goals from multiple players and continue to play strong defense with Clark as their backbone the Wildcats have a chance to find themselves in a similar situation as they did last year.
The Wildcats now move on to their home opener: a one game-series against Colorado College Saturday night at the Whittemore Center. There are things the Wildcats need to improve on in the coming weeks as they prepare to get into action against Hockey East opponents. This includes their power play, which up to this point has been a dismal 1 for 9 on the season thus far.
The loss of Eric Knodel on the point during the power play and last year’s leading power play scorer Nick Sorkin has the Wildcats once again looking for options to plug in. We will see going forward if the newcomers can fill yet another void. For now it looks like the Wildcats will fair just fine against their opponents this season, which leaves all of Wildcat country wondering where this team will be at the end of this season.