2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: New Hampshire Wildcats

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Hilary Witt (2nd Season)
2015-16 Captains: Sara Carlson (C), Heather Kashman (A), Cassandra Vilgrain (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 10-23-3 (6-13-2 Hockey East/2nd place)
Hockey East Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; eliminated in quarterfinal series by Northeastern

The Wildcats picked up a couple of non-conference wins early, beating RIT and Rensselaer within their first six games, but they then dropped five straight, including two against Hockey East foes Northeastern and Boston University. After earning a 5-1 win against Vermont on Nov. 8, New Hampshire entered a tough stretch with series against Boston College and Wisconsin and another game against BU. That put the team in the midst of a five-game skid, but they picked up a win against Providence on Dec. 5 to close out 2014.

The Wildcats began 2015 with another three losses but then put together a three-game win streak, sweeping UConn on the road and defeating Penn State in a non-conference match-up. They split with Maine the following weekend, and after a loss to the Terriers, they gained four of six points in a game against Connecticut and a series against the Catamounts.

New Hampshire closed out the regular season with an unfortunate sweep at the hands of Northeastern, whom the squad would face in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. As the No. 6 seed, the Wildcats upset the Huskies in the first game, 2-1, behind a 40-save performance from goaltender Ashley Wilkes. They were unable to close out the series, however, dropping the next two pivotal games, which effectively eliminated them from the Hockey East Tournament.

At the team’s annual awards banquet in the spring, sophomore Jonna Curtis took home team MVP honors. Senior defenseman Jess Ryan was named the club’s top defensive player, and junior captain Sara Carlson earned New Hampshire’s seventh player award for the second straight season. Rookie defender Amy Schlagel was tabbed as most improved, and senior forward Brenna Boulanger won the inaugural Blue Line Club Award, given to the player “who most exhibits the spirit and positive culture of the past, present, and future of the UNH women’s ice hockey program”. You can read more from the team awards release here.

Meet the Newcomers

G Kyra Smith, Pomfret School

With Smith in net, the Pomfret School (Conn.) earned a trip to the NEPSAC Division I title game this past season, thanks to a 1.33 goals-against average and .950 save percentage from the senior. At Pomfret, she was tabbed winner of the Ashmead Hockey Award, the Moffit Lacrosse Award, and the Edward E. Kelley PG Award. A native of Littleton, Colo., Smith also has club experience with the Colorado Select and the Southern Connecticut Stars.

G Hilary Cashin, New Hampton School

As a senior at New Hampton (N.H.), Cashin recorded a 1.58 goals-against average and .946 save percentage, with three shutouts to her name, in 13 games. She posted similar numbers as a junior in 28 games played, with a 1.65 goals-against average, .966 save percentage, and nine shutouts. She was named a Lakes Region All-Star and earned a spot on the All-State Team, and also garnered E.G. Watkins Tournament MVP honors.

D Jenna Rheault, St. Paul’s School

At St. Paul’s (N.H.), Rheault was an All-ISL honoree in hockey, soccer, and softball as a senior. She was the winner of the ISL Award of Excellence for St. Paul’s, and helped the team to the NEPSAC Division I title in 2015. A captain of St. Paul’s soccer team as well, Rheault also earned several invites to USA Hockey national development camps, from 2009-12, and played club hockey for the East Coast Wizards.

D Marie-Jo Pelletier, Rothesay Netherwood School

Pelletier earned a spot on the Canadian Under-18 Team for a three-game series against the U.S. back in August. She’s also been a member of Team Atlantic at the Canadian U18 Nationals multiple times, and in 2012-13, she was voted the Most Sportsmanlike at the event. She won provincial titles with the Bathurst Northern Stars in 2011 and 2012, and has earned all-star accolades at the World Sport School Challenge on several occasions. With the Rothesay Netherwood School (New Brunswick), Pelletier was named the NAPHA’s Most Valuable Player in 2013-14.

F Taylor Wenczkowski, Boston Shamrocks

In 27 games last season with the Boston Shamrocks, Wenczkowski posted 23 goals, 12 assists, and 35 points. She’s also a two-time member of the U.S. Under-18 Select Team, skating for the squad back in 2013 and 2014.

F Devan Taylor, Lawrence Academy, Assabet Valley U19

This past season, Taylor helped Assabet Valley capture a national championship, while competing as an All-ISL athlete in both hockey and soccer at Lawrence Academy (Mass.). At the school, she was the Offensive MVP for the Spartans as a senior.

F Caitlyn Radatovich, Culver Academies, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U19

A USA Hockey national development camp attendee, Radatovich was a three-year letterwinner at Culver (Ind.) before jumping back to the Penguins Elite in 2014-15. She led the club with seven power-play goals and was third in points with 37. With Culver in 2013-14, she had the most points for the team at the Mid-Am District Tournament. With the Penguins Elite the following year, she captured the Mid-Am District Tournament Championship.

For more information the Wildcats’ incoming class, read the UNHWildcats.com release here.

2015-16 Season Preview

Key Departures: F Hannah Armstrong, F Kayla Mork, D Caroline Broderick
Key Returners: F Jonna Curtis, F Amy Boucher, F Cassandra Vilgrain, D Amy Schlagel, G Vilma Vaattovaara
Key Additions: F Caitlyn Radatovich, F Taylor Wenczkowski, D Jenna Rheault, D Marie-Joe Pelletier, G Kyra Smith

The Wildcats finished sixth in the Hockey East standings last season, and fittingly, they finished sixth in the conference in both goals for (1.72) and goals against (3.08) per game. This season, they’ll look to find more consistent production from their top-six as a whole, as well as a better effort from the entire squad defensively.

Forward Jonna Curtis stepped up as a sophomore to lead the entire New Hampshire offense, finishing first on the team with 13 goals, nine assists, and 22 points. As the team’s second-leading scorer with 17 points as a rookie, forward Amy Boucher had a productive start to her career, and senior Nicoline Jensen chipped in with 15 points of her own last season. The Wildcats are losing their fourth- and fifth-leading scorers in Kayla Mork and Hannah Armstrong, but the actual point totals that they’re losing are minimal. They’re also bringing in Caitlyn Radatovich and Taylor Wenczkowski; both have attended USA Hockey camps and Wenczowski was a member of the U.S. Under-18 Select Team.

On the blue line, New Hampshire graduated seniors Caroline Broderick and Jess Ryan. The defensive group as a whole wasn’t very productive; Amy Schlagel led the way as a rookie with 10 points. Though Schlagel has already shown that she can be someone to count on, leading the team in blocked shots with 54 last season, there isn’t much skill around her to bolster that group at all. The addition of the undersized Marie-Joe Pelletier could help in that area, but the Wildcats will need to see significant improvements in their own end if they hope to build off of last season. Though not entirely the fault of the defensive corps, the team’s penalty kill efficiency last season stood at a mere 79.7%; you’d just like to see them stand a little taller when the opponent is threatening, in all situations.

Goaltending certainly played a role in that as well. Vilma Vaattovaara took on a solid workload most nights, as New Hampshire on average yielded nearly 30 shots on goal against per game, but her .904 save percentage ranked eighth in all of Hockey East. In 10 appearances, Ashley Wilkes didn’t fare any better, with a .895 save percentage of her own. Incoming freshman Kyra Smith has experience at USA Hockey camps, and could provide help right away if needed, but Vaattovaara will probably remain the starter. She’s shown that she’s capable of standing on her head at times, but as a senior, she’ll need to buckle down a bit more in her final year.

It’s going to be a little bit of give and take with the defense and goaltending if the Wildcats are going to see improvements in their goal differential. Vaattovaara could stand to be more consistent, but it would also help her out if she didn’t have so many busy nights in net. As far as the offense, Curtis, Boucher, and Jensen are three solid pieces to build around, and Curtis and Boucher look like there’s even more potential for them. If they can get contributions right away from the freshmen, their offense might be a little bit more diverse than last season, but they’re really going to need one or two players to post big numbers if they expect that to translate to more ticks in the win column.

Schedule Highlights

Oct. 17 at Merrimack
Oct. 23-24 at Clarkson
Nov. 14 vs. Boston College
Nov. 18 at Harvard
Dec. 8 vs. Dartmouth
Jan. 9 at Northeastern
Jan. 10 vs. Northeastern
Feb. 5-6 vs. Vermont

One thought on “2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: New Hampshire Wildcats

  1. Worth noting that UNH is hosting the NCAA tournament this year, though it seems likely the team will be watching from the bleachers not the ice. They’ve put in a cool new video board instead of the orange horror they used to have and the Witt is a good size venue for it, so the atmosphere should be good. The Olympic size sheet should favor teams with a good passing game, but of course in Div 1 the teams that are good at speed are also the ones that are good at passing so it’s not clear what difference this will make in practice.

    Like

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