Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sometimes the Truth Hurts

I love UNH hockey with all my heart, mind and soul. For the past three seasons I have attended nearly every home game and I've made trips to Manchester and Boston to watch others. I still remember the first game I attended as a nine-year-old, when Jason Krog netted a few points in a 9-4 win over Providence. I remember the pain of the 1999 loss to Maine in the National Championship and again in 2003 to Minnesota. I remember screaming and running up and down the halls of Williamson when they tied North Dakota with less than a second left. I will always remember those games, just as I will remember the games this past weekend. The win over Miami-Ohio was as exhilarating as they come and the loss to Notre Dame hurt as bad as any other since I first watched the blue and white take the ice in the late 1990s.

Sunday night's performance against Notre Dame is a tough one to swallow. After UNH looked so good against arguably the hottest team in the country in Miami-Ohio, the team just did not seem to have the same fire in the second game. Every year it has been the same story. Early season promise, breakout players, great regular seasons followed by an early playoff exit. I love UNH hockey, but the truth hurts. I know I am not alone.

Following Sunday night's collapse, my Facebook, Twitter and text message inbox was full of similar reactions. Here are just a select few: "I hate reruns;" "Such is the life of a UNH hockey fan;" "UNH loses in disappointing fashion in March? Haven't we watched this episode before?" "They looked unmotivated until it was too late. Where was the team that shut down Miami?" "Can't believe UNH couldn't win a big game ... oh wait, yes I can." "Damn. UNH, can we win an important game for once?" "And the post season Umiliation of UNH hockey continues." "Still the University of No Hardware." "Now can we fire Umile? Please?" "$380,000 for what? Another early exit?"

Just like when every season ends, fans instantly brought up coach Umile's playoff history. I'll be the first to admit it is obviously not pretty. Let's face it, he has done a fantastic job, always fielding a highly competitive team. We rarely hear of UNH players having off-the-ice issues, and players develop extremely well during their UNH career. Recently, Bobby Butler and Paul Thompson are perfect examples of student athletes who have improved on and off the ice under Umile's watchful eye. But the truth hurts. UNH still has yet to win a national championship and like former Jets' coach Herm Edwards famously ranted, "You play to win the game." I mean no disrespect to coach Umile or the players, but facts are facts. For UNH to truly be considered a college hockey powerhouse, we need a national title.

Fans looked for other things to blame following the game. Many pointed out the fact that a lobster was thrown and not a fish. As soon as I saw the lobster I thought it might have been a bad omen. The fish is tradition; you cannot change tradition, especially with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line! At times the team looked flat, unmotivated and deflated up until the late goal. What else is there to say? That was a hell of a season that provided hours of entertainment for UNH fans, and although it ended with a sour taste in our mouths, I cannot help but still feel proud for this team and especially the senior class. Entering the season no one really knew what to expect. We had lost our leading scorer and had a virtually untested goalie. For most of the season, the team came up big and up and down the lineup, with different players of each class stepping up when the team needed them. It didn't end the way we wanted because "most of the time" is not the same as "always."

Looking back on the entire season, I think we can all say it was one of the most entertaining seasons in a long time. Maybe that's why this loss hurt so badly. I cannot end this without thanking our senior class. For the last four years Greg Manz, Mike Beck, Phil DeSimone, Paul Thompson, Matt Campanale, and Mike Sislo represented UNH extremely professionally on and off the ice. Thank you for the memories and best of luck with your future careers. I don't know any of them personally, but I'm proud to call them my fellow students.

Stay classy, not UMassy.


  1. Lobsters have nothing to do with the Godfather. Fact.

  2. I respect your dedication to your team - hope that banner stays up in your apartments/houses for the rest of your life...

  3. The biggest issue with Sunday's game wasn't a lack of motivation or effort, but rather a case of ND predicting our style flawlessly. We are a team that primarily just directly crashes the net on offense and we didn't play other styles really at all this year. ND saw that and used it against us, they executed the neutral zone trap flawlessly forcing us to play dump-and-chase in the offensive end which is something our team hasn't been able to perfect this year. Our defense was phenomenal that night and it was one of DiGi's greatest games. In the end it came down to ND outplaying us and UNH having a predictable style of play.

    For us to have had success late in this season we had to get the monkey off our back that was how predictable our playing style was, and we didn't do that.

    Being at the game and sitting only a few rows back from the glass you could see that our players were most certainly motivated and for the most part were giving a good effort. You could see on their faces that they wanted it but were frustrated that they were forced by ND to play a style that we have not been strong at all season. The team looked very tired at some points which I would contribute to some of the lines being left on the ice for far too long. Sislo's post-game interview showed how he was the exact person who deserved the role of captain on that team, the man was practically in tears over that loss. Him and the rest of the senior class will be missed. Thanks for a very exciting season and let's put another run at it next year!

  4. above comment proves why Umile can't win late season. They don't adjust mid-game (or midseason for that matter) and other good teams do...

  5. I was there on Sunday night, and as bad as it was to lose-I can't help but feel proud of what the team accomplished this season. That's all I'll say.