College hockey: Breaking down UNH’s 2018 recruitment class

Monitor staff
Published: 6/22/2018 12:18:22 AM

The University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team released its freshman recruiting class for the upcoming 2018-19 season on Thursday.

Five forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender make up the group of newcomers, the first freshman class to play under new head coach Mike Souza, who was promoted from associate head coach after Dick Umile retired at the end of last season.

“This class brings talent and depth,” Souza said in press release announcing the recruits. “What stands out about this group is their strong leadership qualities. We really look forward to having them be a part of our program.”

Here is a breakdown of the class by position:

Forwards

Joseph Cipollone (age 21, 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, shoots left)

The Purchase, N.Y., native most recently played two seasons for the Boston Junior Bruins (NCDC) and knocked in 25 goals with 30 assists in 49 games in 2017-18. Cipollone won a Clark Cup Championship with the Tri-City Storm (USHL) in 2016.

A two-time captain while attending South Kent School – a private boarding school in Connecticut – and an assistant captain for the Junior Bruins last season, Cipollone appears to have the leadership experience Souza is looking for.

“Joseph has good hockey sense and will bring character,” Souza said.

Angus Crookshank (age 18, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, shoots left)

Crookshank recently wrapped his second full season with the Langley Rivermen (BCHL), notching 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists) in 42 games. His career numbers with the Rivermen: 32-35-67 in 77 games.

NHL Central scouting ranks Crookshank No. 135 and is anticipated to be a selection on the second day of this weekend’s NHL draft. The first round is Friday beginning at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN) and continues with rounds 2-7 on Saturday at 11 a.m. on NHL Network.

Crookshank is from North Vancouver, British Columbia.

“Angus is a skilled player with a high compete level and an ability to find the back of the net,” Souza said. “He has strong work ethic and tremendous upside.”

Filip Engarås (age 19, 6-foot-0, 194 pounds, shoots right)

In his last two seasons with the the Skellefteå AIK J20 team, Engarås saw his scoring production jump from 19 points in 38 games (2016-17) to 34 points in 40 games. The Stockholm native served as a captain in both seasons.

Engarås arrives in Durham this fall to join the Wildcats, his first team in North America.

“Filip is a two-way player that is excellent on faceoffs,” Souza said. “He was the center on a talented line for his team and led them to success. He was a two-year team captain that will bring leadership qualities.”

Eric Esposito (age 19, 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, shoots right)

Esposito, who will turn 20 on Aug. 24 and is from West Haven, Conn., played three seasons for the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms and served as captain in 2017-18. His regular-season scoring jumped from 16 points in 2016-17 to 33 points (23 goals, 10 assists) in 2017-18.

The Phantoms won an Eastern Conference title this past season and reached the Clark Cup Final. Esposito scored four goals and added five assists in 11 playoff games.

Esposito spent an average of more than two minutes per game in the penalty box in 2016-17. He brought that average to less than two minutes last season.

Souza describes Esposito as a “hard-nose tenacious player.”

Jackson Pierson (age 18, 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, shoots left)

Pierson attended Culver (Ind.) Military Academy for the last two years and became the school’s all-time career leading scorer in that time with 150 points (58 goals, 92 assists) in 75 games.

The team went 43-4-1 last season and for the first time ever was ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Hockey.

Pierson is from Zionsville, Ind.

“Jackson is a two-way player that sees the ice well,” Souza said. “He has leadership qualities as he was the captain for the No. 1-ranked high school team in the nation at Culver Military Academy.”

Defensemen

Drew Hickey (age 20, 5-foot-11, 185, shoots right)

The New Canaan, Conn., native played two seasons with the Connecticut Junior Rangers of the National Collegiate Development Conference and served as captain last season. He totaled 46 points (10 goals, 36 assists).

Hickey led all defensemen in the league scoring seven goals with 27 assists for 34 points in 47 games last season and was named a league all-star.

“Drew is a strong leader with experience as a captain,” Souza said. “He had a great year with the Connecticut Junior Rangers last year. He also has the ability to move the puck.”

Will MacKinnon (age 18, 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, shoots left)

Hailing from Plymouth, Mich., MacKinnon spent last season with the Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL), where he served as assistant captain and scored two goals with eight assists.

MacKinnon was a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program in 2016-17 and played in 91 games.

MacKinnon is the first player born in the year 2000 to join the Wildcats. He’ll turn 19 next April.

“Will has great leadership attributes,” Souza said. “He is a strong defenseman that can move the puck. He will bring character to our team on and off the ice.”

Ryan Verrier (age 19, 6-foot-0, 185 pounds, shoots left)

Verrier played last season in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers and led defensemen on the team with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists).

“Ryan is a mobile defenseman and had a great season in the USHL leading his team in points by a defenseman,” Souza said. “He will add to our athleticism on our blue line.”

Ryan’s brother, Sean, is a forward going into his junior year at nearby Saint Anselm College.

Goaltender

Ty Taylor (age 18, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, catches left)

Taylor, the 2018 BCHL Goalie of the Year, is ranked 25th among North American goalies by NHL Central Scouting.

The Richmond, British Columbia, native played two seasons with the Vernon Vipers and set a team record with eight shutouts last season, tying the BCHL all-time record. He posted a 1.87 goals against average and a .931 save percentage.

Taylor will turn 19 on July 5.

“Ty is a goaltender with natural ability,” Souza said. “He brings competitiveness, athleticism and size.”

(Nick Stoico can be reached at nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)


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