New Hampshire may not be known as a hockey powerhouse compared to its neighboring states, but that doesn’t mean it lacks its fair share of memorable moments in the sport. From upsets to underdog victories, New Hampshire’s hockey history is filled with exciting tales that have shaped the state’s place in the hockey world. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and relive some of the most unforgettable moments in New Hampshire hockey history.
The Rise of the University of New Hampshire Hockey Team
The University of New Hampshire (UNH) hockey team has a long and storied history in the state. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the team rose to national prominence. Led by head coach Dick Umile, the Wildcats made their first ever NCAA Division I Championship appearance in 1994. Despite losing to the University of Maine in the finals, their impressive performance and dynamic playing style put them on the map as a force to be reckoned with.
Over the next decade, the UNH hockey team continued to make a name for themselves in the college hockey world. They won four consecutive Hockey East titles from 2002-2005, and in 2003, they made it to the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time in school history. The 2009-2010 season was a particularly outstanding one for the Wildcats as they not only clinched their fifth Hockey East title but also made it to the NCAA Championship game, unfortunately falling short to Boston College.
The Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics
While not specifically a New Hampshire hockey moment, the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, is still a significant moment in the state’s hockey history. Why, you may ask? Well, it involved a team made up of mostly amateur players, one of whom was then University of New Hampshire student and hockey standout, Mike Eruzione.
Eruzione, who was the captain of the U.S. Olympic hockey team, scored the game-winning goal against the Soviet Union in the semifinals, catapulting the team to victory in one of the most iconic games in sports history. The U.S. team went on to win the gold medal, solidifying their place in the hearts of hockey fans and inspiring future generations of players in New Hampshire and beyond.
The Manchester Monarchs: From Underdogs to Champions
In 2001, the city of Manchester welcomed its first professional hockey team, the Manchester Monarchs, as part of the American Hockey League (AHL). The team, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, had a rocky start, finishing their first season at the bottom of the standings. However, the team didn’t let this discourage them, and over the next few seasons, they steadily improved.
In the 2004-2005 season, the Monarchs made it to the Calder Cup playoffs for the first time. They faced the heavily favored Hartford Wolf Pack and were able to pull off a major upset by sweeping the series 4-0. The underdog Monarchs went on to win the Calder Cup that year, bringing home the first professional hockey championship to New Hampshire.
The Impressive Journey of Casey DeSmith
Hockey fans in New Hampshire have a special place in their hearts for local players, and goaltender Casey DeSmith is no exception. DeSmith, a native of Rochester, NH, had an incredible journey to the NHL. He started playing hockey at a young age and was always a standout player, even as a backup in high school.
After graduating, DeSmith played two years of junior hockey before joining the University of New Hampshire hockey team in 2011. He quickly became the number one goaltender and led his team to two Hockey East semifinal appearances in his three years there. Despite not being drafted, DeSmith signed as a free agent with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017. He made his NHL debut in 2018 and has since become a regular in the lineup, making him a role model for aspiring young hockey players in the Granite State.
From college teams rising to national prominence to amateur players achieving the impossible, New Hampshire’s hockey history is filled with moments that have left a lasting impact on the sport. These historic upsets and wins have not only put the state on the hockey map but have also inspired a love for the game in generations of players and fans. And with the future of hockey in New Hampshire looking bright, we can’t wait to see what other memorable moments are in store.