UNH Underclassmen Contributing to Turnaround
by Josh Seguin/CHN Reporter
DURHAN, N.H. When New Hampshire came out of the gate scoring just one goal in its first three games, and allowing 14, panic had set in throughout the tight-knit hockey community in Durham.
But when the Wildcats went to St. Cloud State, UNH finally began to score in bunches, though its defense was still porous, and it only managed a loss and tie.
In the last couple of weeks, UNH has finally gotten both aspects of its game together.
UNH has used a different formula than years past to score goals and win hockey games. On Friday against Massachusetts, UNH used a balanced attack with seven different goal scorers and 14 skaters that registered at least one point. With the win, UNH got within one game of evening its season record after starting a woeful 0-4-1.
In a season that brought many question marks to Durham, the Wildcats have responded by getting goals from players that even coach Dick Umile may not have expected — from 13 different players so far.
"Everyone is chipping in, in some way," UNH's John Henrion said. "If you look across the stat sheet everyone has something. The third and fourth lines are doing a great job in keeping our spirits up and keeping everyone going."
Last Saturday against Northeastern, the third and fourth lines not only kept the spirits up of UNH but they contributed greatly to the stat sheet by scoring four of the five goals. The fourth line in particular was very strong, scoring three goals, two from Mike Borisenok and one from Kevin McCarey. The other member of the line, freshman Casey Thrush, has impressed many with his playmaking abilities in garnering four assists in the past two games.
Production from the bottom two lines is often hard to come by in college hockey, but UNH has found a way to use the depth up front to its advantage. With a highly touted freshman class coming into the season, three of these freshmen forwards have made homes in the lineup, with two of them making impressive contributions to the team.
"The younger guys are scoring and Grayson (Downing) is a clever hockey player," Umile said. "It's not always about scoring goals, I mean he handles the puck in difficult situations and makes the good pass. (Jay) Camper was in the lineup tonight; he stepped in and did a great job. Casey Thrush is also chipping in. We are getting production from these younger guys and also from the older guys. Very balanced.”
That balance hasn't always been there at New Hampshire, and so it's very noticeable. In a program that often relies on upperclassmen to do most of its scoring, the early part of this season has seemingly been a change of course.
So far, a sophomore, Nick Sorkin, and a freshman, Downing, have come out of the gates to be two of the leading point getters with nine and five respectively. The latter scored his first career goal on Friday night against UMass, which should be the first of many in his career.
"The use of four lines really makes the opposition kind of panic," Henrion said. "It's one after the other with the offensive play and all the lines continue the momentum. (Thrush, Camper and Downing) are doing a great job for us. It's not easy to step in the lineup right away as an underclassman but these guys are doing it. It's awesome, and the guys are excited that these guys have stepped up."
A symbol of the depth has come in the team's performances on Saturdays, when playing back-to-back games. On Saturdays this season, other than the opener against BU, UNH has outshot their opponents 125-66. Even though UNH is 1-1-1 in these games, they have carried play for large amounts of the game.
This season UNH may not have had that one guy step up, as in years past, but instead it is getting scoring up and down the lineup. The days of one-line hockey are seemingly done at UNH, at least for now.