Seven New Hampshire players, including leading scorer Daniel Winnik and other top lamplighters, have been suspended for unspecified violations of team rules.
The players involved were Winnik, Trevor Smith, Josh Ciocco, Brett Hemingway, Jerry Pollastrone, Greg Collins and Mike Radja, none of whom will be on the ice for the Wildcats’ Friday game against Hockey East rival Maine.
Five of the seven players have scored in double digits for UNH this season, with a total of 98 points among all seven combined.
“They came forward, and I’m making the decision,” Umile told the Concord (N.H.) Monitor Wednesday. “It’s obviously one I don’t want to make, but it makes no difference whether we’re going to play Maine or we’re playing a non-league game, we’ll be disciplined accordingly. That’s how we’ve done it, regardless of who we’re playing, or what it means, or whether it’s on TV or not.”
Details on the infractions that led to the suspensions were not made available by the university or by Umile, but the players apparently were not surprised by their punishment.
“We’re just kind of disappointed in ourselves,” Winnik told the Monitor. “We violated team rules. We realized we did, and we’re willing to accept the punishment.”
All seven are expected to be eligible to play in Saturday’s rematch against the Black Bears.
Each of the suspended players has been a regular in the UNH lineup this season, and all seven are forwards. That will result in substantial shuffling of head coach Dick Umile’s lines, with some defensemen expected to move forward on the line charts.
This weekend’s series is critical for both UNH and Maine. Both teams are currently on the outside of the NCAA tournament bubble according to the PairWise Rankings, which mimic the NCAA’s selection process for the national tourney.