Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Northeast #4: New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire Wildcats

#4 seed vs. Miami University (which is located in Ohio, but we can't actually call them Miami (Ohio) because they get upset when you do.)
Northeast Regional (Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, NH), 
Saturday, March 26, 2011

At-Large Berth from Hockey East

Record: 21-10-6
Head Coach: Dick Umile

New Hampshire is making its 21st appearance in the NCAA tournament, of which they have times.  The good news is, this is five more appearances than the entire rest of the Northeast Regional combined, all of whom also have zero NCAA Championships.  But we won't call them the University of No Hardware, in part because we're not Hockey East partisans.  New Hampshire does have one major advantage as the four seed, in that they are hosting the Northeast Regional (which, while not the Olympic Ice of Durham, is still a frequent host to the Wildcats.) meaning that they will be playing in front of a partisan crowd in their Regional Semi-Final showdown with Miami.  Will it be enough?  Hard to say, but the history of host upsets in the NCAA tournament means that New Hampshire is setting up a run for St. Paul is probably easier than any of the other four seeds.

If New Hampshire is going to be a threat, the senior leadership of their top line of Paul Thompson, Phil DeSimone, Mike Sislo will need to come up big for the 'Cats.  Thompson's 28 goals and 24 assists show a nice balance in leading the team in scoring, literally doubling up Stevie Moses' 14-12 line.)  Thompson also has 12 power play goals, which might be critical in downing Miami.

Matt Digirolamo mans the nets for New Hampshire, and will need to return his early season form if the Cats will make it to Saint Paul.  The outlook could be sunnier for UNH, but in a one and done format, all it takes is winning four games to hoist the hardware, and the only way you get a shot at that is to be in the tournament.  That's New Hampshire's best hope right now.  That they're on the list.

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