Umile Pulling the Right Strings at New Hampshire
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Dick Umile knows more than anyone that you don't win championships in January. He's brought many, many strong teams to the dance, and has been to two national finals, but UNH has never won a national championship.
So after his team's two-game sweep of Massachusetts and CHN Team of the Week status, you'll still only hear Umile say, "Things are good ... today."
"It's always about the weekend," Umile said. "It's always tough with the parity to win two games, especially against a team as good as UMass. So it was a good weekend for us."
UNH came back from down 2-0 on Friday, then rolled through the weekend.
"Kevin Regan, our goaltender, played real solid for us," Umile said. "The first period Saturday they had good chances, he made good saves. That gave us a chance to develop the game."
The play that kick-started things was a goal from freshman phenom James vanRiemsdyk, who, fresh from leading the World Juniors in scoring, scored his seventh goal of the season Friday to start the rally.
"Huge," Umile siad. "Two-nothing, he comes out and makes a move one-on-one and gets a huge goal. And then he scored another highlight one on Saturday.
"Usually because of the travel, excitement and the level they play at (players suffer a lull). But he came right back and continued what he was doing."
Umile has nothing but praise for van Riemsdyk, who has a 3.5 grade point average in addition to everything else.
"He's a very disciplined — he works real hard," Umile said. "He has a great passion for the game. He's here early. He's just a smart player. He has a great feel for the game. It's not by accident (he succeeds)."
When vanRiemsdyk left for the World Juniors, Umile moved freshman Danny Dries into his spot, playing with seniors Matt Fornataro and Mike Radja. Then Radja was suspended for two games, and scheduled to return this past weekend. Umile decided to reunite that unit with Dries, and put vanRiemsdyk at center with sophomore Bobby Butler and junior Jerry Pollastrone. The move definitely paid off.
"Just to put him in the middle of the ice. He can play well defensively," Umile said of vanRiemsdyk. "Center is a lot of work defensively. He understands the game. He only practiced it a couple of days. But being in the middle of the ice, he sees the puck more often, and we thought it would be a good thing. It gives us more depth in the top two lines."
Radja also played well in his return, following the two-game suspension that resulted from his arrest on North Dakota's campus just before New Year's for disorderly conduct. Umile believes that's behind Radja now.
"He screwed up. He sat out the weekend. And he came out and had a great weekend. He's learned his lesson," Umile said. "He came to me and told me what happened. It might have gone under the radar for a while, but he came to me the next day, and I said, 'OK, you sit.' He knows he's an assistant captain and a leader. He'll be fine."