Durham, NH – It was only an exhibition, but exhibitions can actually tell us a lot. Early on, Acadia appeared to be the team with the upper-hand but the visiting Axemen from Nova Scotia became undisciplined. The Wildcats had six power-plays in the first 30 minutes of the contest. They were able to capitalize on two of the six, to take an early 2-0 lead in that time frame. But then the floodgates opened late in the second as UNH would score three in the final three minutes of the stanza to take a 5-1 lead after two periods. Acadia would outscore UNH 2-1 in the final period, but UNH would leave with a 6-3 win.
What I Saw
- UNH was the obvious more skilled team, which is usually the case when CIS teams come south to play NCAA teams. The indiscipline of Acadia led to UNH playing on the power-play for a good portion of the first 3o minutes. All in all, without solid practice UNH looked fine on the power-play. They generated shots, generated opportunities and moved the puck around the ice well. One of things that is always evident in the exhibition games is the lack of organized practice and this directly effects special teams more than anything else. On this night though
- Jeff Wyer started the game for UNH and played a solid, shutout 32 minutes, including one highlight reel save before he was pulled in lieu of Casey Desmith. The change is always planned in the exhibition games, as teams look to give guys in- game action. Desmith on the other-hand gave up a goal, he should have stopped, late in the second period. He also gave up two more in the third period. Of the two, Wyer looked much stronger. Dick Umile downplayed any controversy in his press conference, but I am sure this performance will stick in the back of his mind.
What I Thought
- It wasn’t pretty, at times, but UNH got the job done. Defensive breakdowns in an exhibition game are going to happen and they did. Matias Cleland was arguably one of the more efficient defensemen on this night. The freshman, looked poised on defense and his ability to see the ice looked good. For his first game on the blue line and playing on the second D-pair the youngster looks like he will be solid for the Wildcats in the future. With Eric Knodel, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Brett Pesce and Justin Agosta, UNH should be solid on the blue-line, if the bottom two guys can step up. If tonight was any indication, Cleland will fill the role just fine. Cleland was a +1 on the night.
- It’s an exhibition game. It is sometimes hard to figure out what a team will actually do when the season begins but in one interesting lineup decision, Dick Umile had freshman, Tyler Kelleher on his top line with Goumas and Downing. Kelleher comes to UNH, highly touted, from the USNTDP and has some honest skill. He looked like he fit with that line and it will interesting to see if Umile sticks to that as the season continues. His poise was evident throughout the night and he seems to be a responsible player on the ice. His coach had nothing but positives to say about him in his press conference.
- For a guy that saw limited time last season, Kyle smith looked impressive. Scoring two goals is one thing, but looking good is another. On one of his goals he took a lead pass and flew past two defenders to go in all alone on a break. He was able to finish and he played a solid game. It will be interesting to see if he gets playing time as the season goes along.
What They Said
UNH coach Dick Umile said:
“Jeff Wyer is fighting for time and he had a solid first half of the game for us. He made some key stops for us and he made two big saves early in the game.”
“I thought Kelleher did a great job with Goumas and Downing. He is a clever young hockey player and I think he can find them. He is very similar to the both of them and I think there might be some chemistry there. I f we keep them there, though, we can always put Kevin back at Center.”
What Else You Should Know
UNH will begin the season next Friday against Clarkson in the Icebreaker tournament, which takes place in Minnesota. They have the early game beginning at 6pm est. time. Clarkson will come in tested with two live games under their belt against Niagara. Clarkson was victorious on Saturday night and began their season 1-0.