I'll admit it; I was sadly falling to the idea that UNH had no chance in the NCAA Tournament for men's hockey after finding out they had to play Miami (OH) in the first round. When I watched their upset of the No. 1 seed in that region, however, I started to realize that this could totally happen. With mild flashbacks of the 2009 tournament after the literal last-second goal against North Dakota, I eagerly awaited the Wildcats playing against Notre Dame the next day.
We all know how that one turned out. To keep the already-old joke running, I could write the same complaints (Dick Umile is overpaid, UNH chokes in the playoffs, etc.), but I'll try to save you the whining. I think The New Hampshirite's column on Tuesday (and the comments underneath) were the most accurate when they said that good teams adjust their game when it comes to the final stretch of the season, something the Wildcats have never done. It really fits in with the mentality of New Hampshire as a whole: we really what we're doing now, and we're afraid of change. This could get political, too, but we're talking about hockey here.
Anyway, when I read the column by Chad Graff in The New Hampshire called "Note to fans: don't take success lightly," it got me a little irritated, so much that I woke from my incredibly long hiatus on this blog, that consisted of drinking shitty beer and watching MTV Jams with some classes in the mix, to write about how I really don't agree with anything Chad said.
I've got nothing against Chad, just against his points. Let's go through some snippets.
Mike Sislo sat at the postgame press conference fighting to spit out words in between tears.
Paul Thompson and Phil DeSimone – still in full hockey gear – stood outside the locker room minutes after their hockey careers at the University of New Hampshire had come to an end, trying to explain the disappointment they felt after UNH's 2-1 loss to Notre Dame in the Northeast Regional final.
"Words can't describe it," DeSimone said.
They didn't have to – their emotions did that for them.
Sislo spoke softly as he answered questions with his yellow bath towel hanging around his blue UNH sweater.
DeSimone refused to take off the jersey that helped him become one of the best playmakers in college hockey.
And then there was Thompson - the hometown kid who grew up 15 minutes from the Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Derry native spoke softly, staring at the ground. It was clear he wanted no part of removing his sweater. Or even shaving his Luigi-esque mustache that the team grew for the playoffs.
Alright, I've first got a problem with this lede/beginning. If you're trying to set a scene of defeat and sorrow, don't add something unintentionally funny about a mustache. It kills the mood quicker than my diarrhea while hooking up with a girl a couple weeks ago. Just kidding; it was me puking.
Anyone that understands sports is aware that titles are the only things that matter. And no one in the Granite State needs to be reminded that UNH hasn't won a men's title. By no means does consistency make up for championships.
But in a competitive college landscape with millions of dollars at stake, the risks are too high to gut everything. Consistency reins in college where coaching staffs recruit players that fit their system.
Umile and Co. have done just that.
WRONG! The only players recruited by Umile are from America, and they SHOULD take more chances on skaters from other areas. I'm sure there is no international talent the men's hockey team could chase after that would benefit them greatly, right Gustav Nyquist? Stephan Da Costa?
Think back to Bobby Butler. Last year's captain wasn't recruited by any big-name programs – until UNH fell in love with his work ethic. He only went on to turn in one of the best careers in recent memory and continues to gain UNH recognition with his play in the NHL.
Sure, there are unearthed gems UNH can find, but that doesn't mean they should stop and pat themselves on the back for it. Go after the bigger fish as well.
I'm not saying we, as a UNH community, should settle for the playoffs. That's the worst thing we could do. The goal should always be the national title.
But for fans to be up in arms about last weekend's loss is absurd. This is, after all, a squad that was predicted to finish fourth in the Hockey East. They went on to participate in hockey's version of the Elite Eight, far exceeding these expectations.
Winning changes preseason predictions greatly. After the hot early start, I'm pretty sure no one thought this team couldn't get to the Frozen Four. Also, you were earlier talking about 10 straight postseason appearances (click on the article and find it), but yet you say the expectations weren't that high. If a team does something great nine seasons in a row, the likelihood of them repeating that task for a tenth time is pretty likely, especially since I know they've been able to deal with players leaving their system and new, unproven ones replacing them.
I'm going to finish this off with some final thoughts that, again, echo the sentiments of some commenters on this site: if you are good in the early season, other teams will catch on, especially ones in your division. UNH, once again, never adjusted and paid the price. I've had high expectations for the team ever since I came to UNH and realized what a powerhouse they can be. My expectations weren't for the playoffs but for the team as a whole from last season. I expect them to know how to adapt and to stop playing hockey as one-dimensional as a conversation with an Alpha Phi girl. If that takes a change at the coaching level, then yes, I do support it.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," Albert Einstein said. ADAPT. EVOLVE. PUT THESE GODDAMN WORDS ON A T-SHIRT AND HAND THEM OUT TO ALL YOUR PLAYERS, DICK UMILE. DRILL IT IN YOUR PLAYERS' HEADS, AND STOP USING A FUCKING DUMP AND CHASE AS THE DUCT TAPE WHEN YOUR OFFENSE STARTS CRACKING.
I love calling the other goalie a sieve when UNH scores, so just let me do it for a couple more games next time.