UNH Men’s Hockey: Red Hot Wildcats Welcome Maine for First White Out the Whitt in 4 Years


Andrew Gardner, Sports Editor

DURHAM, NH- For the first time in four years the University of New Hampshire Wildcats (UNH) Men’s Hockey team (11-18-1, 6-13-1) will host the University of Maine Black Bears(13-13-3, 7-9-2) at the Whittemore Center in the long awaited White Out the Whitt game. White Out the Whitt is a tradition that started in 1999 as fans in Durham started wearing white to UNH’s home games against Maine to support the team. This year the event is more anticipated than ever as changes in Hockey East scheduling and COVID have made it over four years since this white out last happened. 

The last time White Out the Whitt happened was February 2nd, 2019 which was Wildcats Head Coach Mike Souza’s first year with the team. UNH dropped the game 5-3 to Maine with goals coming from Frankie Cefalu, Ara Nazarian, and Max Gildon.

“I know the kids are pumped about it, it’s one of the great rivalries in all of college sports, not just college hockey but certainly college hockey, it’s fun. To think that guys haven’t experienced that is amazing… it’s going to be a good weekend of college hockey” Souza mentioned after Saturday’s win over UConn.

The Wildcats come into the weekend set with the Black Bears playing some of their best hockey of the season. Winners of four in a row and seven out of nine, UNH has an opportunity to finish this weekend in a tentative position to host a home playoff game. The Wildcats currently sit in 9th in Hockey East with 19 points, trailing Boston College by two points for the eighth and final home playoff spot. 

The Black Bears on the other hand enter the Whitt 7th in Hockey East, three points ahead of Boston college with 24 points. Maine is also on a hot stretch of their own as they’ve won four out of their last six games while also collecting points in five of their last six.

Over the last two weekends the Wildcats offense has been fueled by Senior Captain Chase Stevenson. Two weekends ago Stevenson was named Hockey East Player of the Week following a two goal, four assist performance against Merrimack and UMass-Lowell. Stevenson followed up his award winning weekend with another strong performance last weekend, recording two goals on Friday and an assist on Saturday. 

The 2nd line, or “S” line for the Wildcats consisting of Stevenson centering First-Year forwards Stiven Sardarian and Kristapas Skrastins has been productive as a whole. Sardarian has two goals and three assists in his last four games while Skrastins also has two assists in the same time frame. 

First-Year players for the Wildcats have been all over the score sheet for the Wildcats during this run as all three goals against UConn on Saturday were scored by them. First-Year forward Jake Dunlap recorded his third goal of the year along with the game winning assist against the Huskies which won him Hockey East rookie of the week. First-Year Damien Carfagna scored the overtime winner for the Wildcats on Saturday, the week after he won Hockey East co-defender of the week and scored the overtime winner against Merrimack. New Hampshire native and First-Year forward Cy LeClerc has also been finding the back of the net left and right for the Wildcats as he currently leads the team in goals with 13, the second most of any first year player in Hockey East. 

Despite being the first non-ranked opponent the Wildcats have faced in their last eight games, Maine has the skills and strengths to make for a competitive weekend of hockey. 

The Black Bears are led in scoring by Lynden Breen who had two goals for Maine last weekend against Boston College and UMass-Lowell. Between the pipes Victor Ostman has been fantastic for Maine, and was recently named a semifinalist for the Mike Richter Award which is given to the top collegiate goaltender in the country. Ostman has posted a 2.15 goals against average and .922 save percentage in 26 games this year for the Black Bears. 

The Black Bears remain at .500 on the season right now but have had their struggles on the road, sporting just a 4-9-2 record when away from Alfond Arena. Friday’s 3-1 win for the Black Bears at Boston College was the team’s first road win since December 3rd against the University of Vermont. 

It will be an exciting weekend of hockey at the Whittemore Center as the mix between late season playoff implications and UMaine being in town will make for can’t miss action. The first 2,500 fans in attendance for Friday’s game will receive a free White Out the Whitt t-shirt. Both games will be played at 7pm. with Friday’s being broadcast on NESN and Saturday’s on ESPN+. 

Photo Courtesy of UNH Athletics