Following a season shortened by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats failed to gain much momentum finishing with a 6-14-3 record. The Wildcats will look to get off on the right foot early this year. With an experienced batch of 11 seniors including goaltender Mike Robinson, the Wildcats have the leadership they need to have a successful season in an incredibly competitive Hockey East Conference.  

Earlier this week UNH head coach Mike Souza announced the leadership group that will be headlining the team this year. The group will be led by senior defenseman Will MacKinnon who’s been named captain of the team, making him the 118th captain in program history. The team will also have three assistant captains on the ice this year including senior forward Eric MacAdams, senior forward Jackson Pierson and senior defenseman Ryan Verrier.  

Hockey East held its media day for all coaches across the conference last week, this included a brief session with Souza. Souza is now entering his 4th season manning the Wildcats bench. He was also a key piece for the UNH hockey team from 1996-2000, where he helped lead the team to two Frozen Fours as well as one National Championship appearance.  

The Wildcats’ head coach is excited about the team’s captains and experience ahead of their season opener. He thinks his veterans will set the tone for the rest of the team. 

“This is a strong character, and competitive group of seniors that drives the competitive spirit of our team, led by our captain Will MacKinnon, who’s a guy that’s not going to show up on the score sheet necessarily but is such an integral role to the way we want to play and practice,” explained Souza. 

Souza also mentioned that having guys like Verrier and MacAdams, along with other guys who have been around the league will be important due to how tight it’s going to be throughout the year.  

Souza ended the press conference on a high note pointing out his excitement for fans returning to the Whittemore Center this year after they were unable to come last year. 

“We certainly feel like we have a huge advantage here because of our fan base. I know, talking to a lot of [the fans], they’re excited to get back and we’re really optimistic that we’re going to have a lot of good games because naturally people are looking for things to do,” said Souza. “I’m really excited to get started next Friday.” 

The Wildcats hit the ice for opening weekend at the Whit on Oct. 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. with a series against Union College. The Wildcats hit the road for the first time the following opening weekend when they fly out to Arizona to take on the Sun Devils of Arizona State for two games.  

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot