UNH Insider: Swedish C Engaras coming on strong for men’s hockey

  • University of New Hampshire sophomore center Filip Engaras hunts for the puck during a Jan. 4 game against Brown in Durham. This is the first season Engaras is playing for the Wildcats and it took him some time to get going, but he has hit a nice stride over the last four games. Courtesy UNH Athletics

UNHWildcats.com
Published: 1/16/2020 7:33:28 PM

Filip Engaras, the newest addition to the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team, is finally hitting his stride.

Engaras didn’t score his first collegiate goal until his fifth game, a win over Princeton in the consolation game of the Friendship Four in Northern Ireland over Thanksgiving Weekend. That was his only point in his first seven games as a Wildcat.

The last four games have been a different story for Engaras. The 6-foot cetner out of Stockholm, Sweden, has two goals and five assists for seven points in that stretch and is one of the hottest players on the team heading into a weekend series against Providence College, the top team in the Hockey East standings and the squad ranked No. 11 in the country by USCHO.

UNH, 11-8-1 overall and 5-5-0 in Hockey East, takes on the Friars (13-5-5 and 7-4-2) on the road in Schneider Arena on Friday night at 7. The teams move up to Durham for a rematch in the Whittemore Center on Saturday night at 7.

Engaras had three assists in last Saturday’s thrilling 5-4 overtime win over No. 11 Northeastern – Providence took over the No. 11 spot from the Huskies in this week’s poll. Engaras was all over the ice in the game and created a couple of scoring chances in OT, too.

“I thought he was outstanding,” UNH coach Mike Souza said on Saturday. “The guys do a thing after the game where they pick their player of the game and that’s who they gave it to tonight. Well-deserved. ... I thought tonight was far and away the best game he’s played since he’s been here.”

Engaras has still played just 11 games for the Wildcats, just 11 in North America in fact. The NCAA ruled he had to sit out all of last year and nine more games this year because of games he played in Sweden as a young player.

Despite the limited number of games, Engaras’s role on the team is clear and is growing bigger. Souza raves about the work he does at both ends of the ice.

The last three games Engaras has centered a line for a couple of junior forwards, Kohei Sato on the left and Patrick Grasso on the right. Sato and Grasso each had a goal against Northeastern.

“I think it’s a group that complements each other well,” Souza said. “Ko’s speed is phenomenal, as everyone who has seen us play knows. He’s able to create, just get in on the forecheck. He’s a strong kid, too. Patrick’s a guy who’s scored goals in our league before and he’s sort of finding that again. I think the goal he scored last weekend is kind of what he does. He gets himself in position and he’s ready to shoot when he does.”

And Engaras is coming on.

“Filip is finding confidence each and every day,” Souza said. “Each and every game he seems to be getting better. He’s a sophomore in terms of his class. But he’s really like a freshman in terms of never playing in North America until this year.”

Junior forward Eric MacAdams, another of the Wildcats who is on a tear, has been impressed by the Engaras line up close.

“It’s tough to contain them in practice,” MacAdams said. “They’re a fast and quick line. All three of them have unbelievable shots, too. I can’t wait to see what they do this weekend.”

MacAdams has been tough to contain as well. He has scored at least one goal in each of the last five games and has six goals and four assists for 10 points in his last six.

He, Grasso, Engaras and others have showcased some newfound scoring depth.

The Wildcats have averaged 4.6 goals a game over their last five contests. They had been shutout in five of their last six games against Northeastern before putting up the five goals last weekend.

The scoring is coming from throughout the lineup: In each of the last five games the Wildcats have had at least one goal from three different lines.

“That’s really important,” MacAdams said. “At this level you need secondary scoring to be happening. In the beginning of the season it was kind of challenging. We just had our top guys going at it the whole time. Now it’s a four-line basis. Every line is doing what we’ve been told to do. We’re just getting it in, getting shots, getting traffic. Every line’s been doing really good at that.”

The Northeastern victory gave UNH a school record fifth overtime win of the season.

It also improved the team’s record to 8-1-0 at the Whittemore Center this year, tied for the third-best home winning percentage in the country.

Souza and the Wildcats love that mark and they’ll look to improve it Saturday night, but first they’ll be out to boost their record on the road Friday night.

UNH last won a road game on Oct. 25, a 3-2 decision in overtime at Merrimack (the 3-2 win over Princeton in Northern Ireland is officially a neutral site win).

“I’ll take the responsibility for that,” Souza said. “We’ve got to be better on the road. You can’t be known as a team of homers and only want to play here. We love playing here, for obvious reasons. I think we have the best fans. I think it’s a comfortable building for us. The kids obviously enjoy being here.”

The Wildcats are 2-6-1 on the road thus far.

“You’ve got to be able to establish yourself on the road,” Souza said. “The top teams in our league are able to win both home and away. We want to be a top team so you’ve got to bring your best when you’re not at home as well. We haven’t done that consistently, or at all for that matter, this year. This is an opportunity for us to play the game the right way on Friday. Not here.”

Notes

UNH is tied with Maine in eighth place in the Hockey East standings. The top eight teams in the conference make the HE playoffs. Boston University and UConn are tied for seventh, two points ahead.

■The Wildcats have played four fewer games than UConn, one fewer than BU and three fewer than Maine.

■UNH and Providence tied 1-1 on Nov. 30, 2018 last season in Providence. The Friars won the next night’s game, 3-1, in Durham.

■The Wildcats are 1-4-1 in their last six games against the Friars. The only win was a 1-0 decision on Dec. 2, 2017 in Durham.

■Junior forward Charlie Kelleher leads UNH with five goals and 14 assists for 19 points.

■Providence sophomore forward Jack Dugan leads the league in scoring with seven goals and 34 assists for 41 points.

■UNH’s junior goalie Ty Taylor has a 6-0-0 record with a 2.30 goals against average.

■The first 1,000 fans at Saturday night’s game will receive “I Believe in UNH” rally towels. Both Friday and Saturday games will be on NESN.

■Season, group and individual tickets for all UNH home games are available at unhwildcats.com or by calling 862-4000. Tickets start at $9.




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