The 2004-05 season is the 78th for University of New Hampshire hockey, and it has come to the point where much has been accomplished and much is expected of the Wildcat team – season after season. Four appearances in the NCAA Frozen Four over the past six years … ten NCAA tournament appearances in the past 13 seasons … a winning record of better than .800 at the Whittemore Center in its first ten seasons … the school’s first Hobey Baker winner, Jason Krog, in 1999 … and a UNH record number of wins for Head Coach Dick Umile in his first 15 years … those are some of the benchmarks.
But UNH hockey began modestly, with the first team, coached by Hank Swasey, compiling a record of 2-2-0 in 1924-25. In its third year, the program produced an undefeated 6-0 team in 1926-27, followed by a 7-1-1 record in 1927-28. The players and fans were hardy souls, braving the Durham elements for the practices and games played on the outdoor Batchelder rink. It was not until 1962-63 that UNH played a twenty game schedule.
On February 13, 1965, a new era began when the first game was played at Snively Arena, a 4-3 overtime loss to Norwich University. Snively was widely regarded as one of the toughest places for a visiting team to play, and the Whittemore Center, which opened in 1995, has continued that reputation.
Legendary coach Charlie Holt took over the UNH program in 1968, and in 18 seasons, his teams compiled a record of 347-232-18, bringing the Wildcats to national prominence. After three seasons with the late Bob Kullen at the helm following Coach Holt’s retirement, Dick Umile (UNH ’72) was hired away to take over, and in his 15 seasons, Umile has guided his teams to 13 seasons of 20 or more wins including the last 9 consecutive seasons, and to 10 NCAA tournament appearances (soon to be 11) including two National Championship games. On February 16, 2005, Umile recorded his 348th win as head coach, eclipsing the UNH coaching record previously held by Coach Holt.
UNH has now truly earned its place as one of the elite programs in NCAA Division I hockey. And the best is yet to come!