By Allison Bellucci, Design Editor

With the first round of the Hockey East tournament starting this weekend, the UNH Wildcats will be up against UConn in a battle for a spot in the quarterfinals. After a tough first half of the season, the ‘team is confident that this game will be a success.

Head coach Dick Umile credits the team’s turnaround to the strong leadership from the senior class.

“I’ve said this before, this team went through a lot the first half, we come in and practice everyday, go into the locker room as a team, and we know we can be a good team,” Umile said. “We just want to be better and better, and I give [the seniors] credit for making that happen.”

One of the seniors who has stepped up recently is forward Jay Camper. With three goals within the past five games, Camper has finally added a scoring element to his strong overall gameplay.

“He trains hard, he has [one of the] highest GPA’s, he is a terrific student, he just does everything well,” Umile said. “He has been doing that all year, just the puck’s been going in for him the last three weeks. I think he scored his first goal [of the season] three weeks ago, which didn’t take anything away from how well he has played for us.”

“I think over the past month he has picked it up a lot and shown the guys that he deserves to be out there” freshman center Andrew Poturalski said.

Camper credited the success to simply wanting to seize every one of his last moments skating at the Whittemore Center.

“I take the most of my opportunity and from here on out knowing that any game could be my last,” Camper said. “So just kind of playing in the moment, and making the most of it.”

Camper’s first career goal four years ago was against UMaine in November of 2011. Now having scored three goals this season, against BU, UConn and the last against Merrimack, Camper does best in the team’s toughest games.

“The guys joke around that whenever it’s some sort of special event it seems like I get a goal, or some sort of point, but I guess it’s just the way it fell,” Camper said. “It’s kind of a good thing to score in those games in front of the crowds, but hopefully going throughout the playoffs I can keep getting some points for the team. I can help us keep going forward.”

With the two most important games of the year coming up, Camper is locked in on the game against UConn, with the goal of two victories over the weekend.

“Sweep UConn. We were talking, obviously it’s best of three, but to get a Friday/Saturday win so we don’t have to worry about a Sunday afternoon game, that would be huge,” Camper said. “That’s definitely our first goal: Friday and Saturday, have Sunday off we can enjoy, get back to the week, and then move on to the next game after that.”

As far has his future looks, Camper is hopeful to continue his hockey career but is currently focused in on the Wildcats.

“I would like to, obviously it’s not what I’m focused on right now with the playoffs” Camper said. “But for now that’s my main goal, to keep the season going. We’ll see what happens.”

Camper wants to continue his strong game play, and is planning on a strong ending to his Wildcat career.

“I just think I’ve just played in the moment, realizing it’s coming to the end of my college career and I’m just trying to make the most of it.”