UNH men’s hockey hopes to spark secondary scoring

  • Senior Ara Nazarian (22) has been part of a productive first line for the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team. The Wildcats will take on No. 19 Miami this weekend at the Whittemore Center. Friday night’s 7 p.m. game is Fan Appreciation Friday and for this one young Wildcat fans will be admitted free if they are wearing their youth hockey jerseys and they will receive a free decal for their helmets.  CHINA WONG— University of New Hampshire

  • Sophomore Charlie Kelleher has been part of a productive first line for the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team. The Wildcats will take on No. 19 Miami this weekend at the Whittemore Center. Friday night’s 7 p.m. game is Fan Appreciation Friday and for this one young Wildcat fans will be admitted free if they are wearing their youth hockey jerseys and they will receive a free decal for their helmets.  CHINA WONG— University of New Hampshire

  • Freshman Jackson Pierson has been part of a productive first line for the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team. The Wildcats will take on No. 19 Miami this weekend at the Whittemore Center. Friday night’s 7 p.m. game is Fan Appreciation Friday and for this one young Wildcat fans will be admitted free if they are wearing their youth hockey jerseys and they will receive a free decal for their helmets.  CHINA WONG— University of New Hampshire

For the Monitor
Published: 11/21/2018 7:08:56 PM

Senior Ara Nazarian, sophomore Charlie Kelleher and freshman Jackson Pierson have a nice little run going for the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team.

The three are linemates and have scored all six of UNH’s goals over the team’s last three games.

Coach Mike Souza hopes the line stays hot, but is also looking to get it some help on the scoring front as the Wildcats head into a weekend series against No. 19 Miami (Ohio) University at the Whittemore Center.

Nazarian, Kelleher and Pierson have led the Wildcats all over the ice, and rather than break them up to try and spread the wealth, Souza is aiming to get other lines contributing as well.

“The thing about them is they’ve been good in all areas of the ice,” Souza said. “They’ve been good in our own end. They haven’t given up a lot. It’s really hard to break them up just because they’re playing so well. They really seem to be coming together nicely. ... I think it’s a matter of trying to get some other guys going, tinkering with some combinations to see if we can get some secondary scoring.”

Pierson, the center, leads the team in plus-minus at plus-seven, which is tied for fourth-best in Hockey East. Kelleher, the right wing, is right behind at plus-six and Nazarian is at plus-four.

Kelleher is tied with sophomore defenseman Max Gildon for the team lead in scoring. Each has a goal and nine assists for 10 points. Pierson trails them with four goals and four assists for eight points and Nazarian leads the team with five goals and has two assists for seven points.

“I think it’s a combination of things,” said Souza when asked what has made the three click in their six games as a unit. “They all can skate. They play with pace. They don’t give up pucks. They win puck battles. They’re really good at that. If they’re in two-on-two battles down low, anywhere on the ice, chances are they come out with it. Ara’s as good as anyone at coming out of a pile with the puck. He’s pretty clever. They know how to position their bodies against bigger guys. They’re just good hockey players and they complement each other very well.”

The challenge is to get more goals overall.

UNH has scored an average of two goals a game for the season and exactly two goals in each of its last four contests.

Two goals were enough to earn a pair of Hockey East ties against UMass Lowell and Boston College. But not quite enough in an overtime loss to Boston University and in a 4-2 setback at No. 4 Massachusetts last Sunday.

The Wildcats are 1-6-3 overall and 1-3-2 in Hockey East and have been in every game this season. Three of the last four games and five total have gone to overtime. The only games decided by more than a goal were a pair against UMass.

“We’re this close,” Nazarian said. “We know the ability we have in that room and we trust every guy in there. We know that we’re that close to being on the other end of those games. I think that’s a positive.”

Miami, coached by Enrico Blasi, comes in with a 9-5-0 record. The RedHawks own a couple of wins over Colgate. They have split their last three weekend series against North Dakota, Colorado College and Omaha and also split with UMass Lowell.  

“This can be huge for us,” Nazarian said. “Miami’s a great team. They’re a highly skilled, fast team. It’s a good opportunity for us to really prove and show what we can do. As coach says, we’re trying to make the Whittemore Center one of the hardest places to play in the nation. Every weekend is important, but this is a huge weekend for us and could really give us a boost moving forward.”

Senior forward Josh Melnick leads Miami in scoring with four goals and nine assists for 13 points, junior forward Gordie Green is at 6-6-12 and freshman defenseman Derek Daschke at 3-8-11.

Junior goalie Ryan Larkin has a .941 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average with an 8-4-0 record.

The teams have not played since an NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal match on March 26, 2011 in Manchester. UNH won that one, 3-1.

Friday night’s 7 p.m. game is the first Fan Appreciation Friday of the season and Saturday’s 7 p.m. game is Miami Vice Night.

Yes, the Wildcats know the RedHawks represent Miami University in Oxford, Ohio – and not that other school in Florida with the beaches and all – but that can’t stop them from having a little holiday weekend fun. White jackets, mullets and tapping into your inner Don Johnson are all encouraged. To celebrate the occasion, sunglasses will be handed out to the first 1,000 fans on Saturday.

Fan Appreciation Fridays will be on the docket all season. For this one, young Wildcat fans will be admitted free if they are wearing their youth hockey jerseys and they will receive a free decal for their helmets. In addition, the first 1,000 fans will receive the first in a set of six Wildcat trading cards. There will also be a group of selected players signing autographs after the game.

(Allen Lessels is the UNH Insider and can be reached at Allen.Lessels@unh.edu or on Twitter @UNHInsider)



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