The history of American literature is not complete without a discussion of the great Ernest Hemingway. You can read the William Faulkners, the Mark Twains and the Edgar Allen Poes and think maybe you have a hand on American lit, but without Hemingway, the education is incomplete.
Now maybe it’s a stretch to compare that to college hockey, but one look at the UNH hockey team might lead to an eerily similar conclusion.
Sure you can talk about Darren Haydar. With 76 points in 39 games, Haydar is a strong contender for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. He was Hockey East Player of the Year, the MVP of the league championship tournament, and one of the most feared players in the league.
The Wildcats’ goaltending duo of Matt Carney and Michael Ayers can give teams nightmares. The two have combined for 30 wins on the season, leading UNH as one of the top defensive teams in the nation.
But how complete would your knowledge be of the 2001-02 season without junior forward Colin Hemingway? Leave him off your curriculum and you stand to lose your accreditation.
Standing a lanky six-foot-one with a 185-pound frame, Hemingway has taken the game by storm this year. And on Sunday night, his two goals — numbers 32 and 33 of the season — helped the Wildcats defeat stubborn Cornell and take a major step in their quest towards a national championship, returning them to the Frozen Four for the first time since 1999.
“He’s had an absolutely terrific season,” said UNH head coach Dick Umile of the second-line right wing. “He made first team [all-star] in our league as one of the top forwards in Hockey East and that says a lot about him.”
Maybe all-star teams do say enough about Heminway, but as one of the nation’ s most effective goalscorers, one might think that he would be a cinch for Hobey Baker candidacy. But that’s where eyebrows raise.
With Haydar excelling from day one of the season, Hemingway has taken a back seat even in the eyes of his team. Often needing what equates to a marketing push to earn the nomination for the Hobey Baker, UNH chose to highlight Haydar’s accomplishments. You never saw a “Hemingway for Hobey” poster. There wasn’t a “Hemingway Watch.”
But all of that, in Haydar’s eyes, may be helping Hemingway.
“Colin’s a great player and I think he deserves more credit than he gets,” said Haydar, whose power-play chemistry with Hemingway helped set up both tallies on Sunday. “But I think it’s a little bittersweet for him right now. Most of the teams aren’t focusing as much on [Colin’s] line as they are on my line. So he’s liking that aspect of it.”
“When Darren’s line is out there, they’re definitely going to be focusing on his line because he’s such a great player,” said Hemingway, who has found enough space on the ice to record the longest current scoring streak on UNH — 12 games. “That definitely frees up some room for our line, actually all the lines for that matter. If [our line] isn’t going on one night, [Darren’s] is. And if they’re not going, we are.”
If there’s any surprise to why a team wouldn’t focus much on Hemingway, one needs only to look at the stats. Entering the season, Hemingway had scored but 12 markers in two years with UNH.
One of those 12 gave him some national recognition when he scored a between-the-legs, behind-the-back goal last year versus Providence that earned him a mention on ESPN’s SportsCenter. But still, “unassuming” was probably the best adjective to describe Hemingway.
With 35 points through his sophomore season, Hemingway set some pretty lofty goals for himself this year. Who knew that he would far surpass them?
“Coming in, some of my buddies back home were talking with me about getting 30, 35 maybe 40 points. Stretching, maybe I’d get 50,” said Hemingway, who hails from the far west of Surrey, B.C. “I guess I’ve passed all the expectations of myself. The hard work that I put in is paying off for me right now.”
In fact, when he fired a one-timer from the high slot past Cornell’s Matt Underhill to knot the game at two less than seven minutes into Sunday’s game, Hemingway had reached a milestone he never really thought imaginable.
“My dad said something to me today [about being one point from 100] and I really wasn’t thinking about it,” said Hemingway, who now has 45 goals, coupled with 56 assists for 101 career points. “When I did [score the goal] I still wasn’t really thinking about it.”
Thinking about it or not, Hemingway’s performance is one that can only be classified as breakthrough. Also, it works very well into the balance that the Wildcats hoped to achieve this season, and put on display on Sunday night. Though Hemingway buried two goals on the evening, fourth-liner Jim Abbott matched him with two of his own, including the game-winner in the closing minutes.
All that led to UNH’s sixth berth in the Frozen Four, and first since falling to Maine in heartbreaking fashion, 3-2 in overtime, in the 1999 championship game.
“I’m really excited about [the Frozen Four],” said Hemingway. “Who knows if it will happen again? So we’re just going to take it in stride, go out to Minnesota and play our hearts out.”
And maybe he won’t factor into the history of American literature, but with two more wins and a national championship, Hemingway could write a script that would engrain him and the 2001-02 team in UNH hockey history.