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Roger Brown's State of Sports: No growing pains for UNH's Maass

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 15. 2017 8:24PM
Freshman defenseman Ben Maass has fit in nicely with the unbeaten UNH men's hockey team. (Joey Walker Photo)

There are a couple of things that make Benton Maass an unusual college hockey player:

No. 1: He’s been inserted into the University of New Hampshire’s lineup and is playing a significant role as a freshman.

No. 2: He came to UNH directly from high school.

UNH recruited Maass, a 6-foot-2,, 195-pound defenseman, while he was skating for Elk River (Minn.) High School. The Washington Capitals selected Maass in the sixth round (No. 182 overall) of this year’s draft.

“We all respect Minnesota (high school) hockey,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “Minnesota hockey is still real darn good. A lot of the Minnesota schools ... I think they missed on him big time, because this kid is a good hockey player. Mike (assistant coach Mike Souza) saw him play and was comfortable with him. He’s a good one.”

Maass said RPI and Cornell were among the other colleges he considered attending.

“I really liked the campus,” he explained. “It wasn’t like that huge town feel. I kinda liked it. It was nice and quiet. That was a big reason. I really liked the coaching staff. The players I met on my visit were all accommodating and really nice. I think that really drew me into UNH.”

Maass is tied for the team lead in scoring with five points through unbeaten UNH’s four games. He collected two assists when UNH opened its season by sweeping a two-game series with UMass-Lowell, picked up an assist in Friday night’s 5-0 victory against Colgate and two more in Saturday’s 5-3 victory over Colgate

Maass said since arriving at UNH he’s been forced to play the game at a different speed.

“Coming into it I think the biggest thing I was focusing on getting used to was the pace of play,” he said. “Obviously college hockey’s a lot faster than anything I’ve played before, so I think that was the biggest thing I was looking at — just making sure I was up to pace with everyone.”

Maass is one of two freshman defensemen who has made an immediate impact for the Wildcats. Classmate Max Gildon has two goals and one assist in his first four collegiate games.

“We made a commitment,” Umile said. “We’re gonna play them .. put them out there. If we’re going to do well they need to play and get experience.

“Ben Maass is right out of high school. He’s a young kid. Max played for the Development Program so he played a fair number of games against college teams. They both have done a solid job.”

Maass began last season with the NAHL’s Fairbanks Ice Dogs, then returned to Elk River to play his senior season. He went back to Fairbanks once his high school season was complete.

He said he began talking to UNH at the NAHL Showcase and the plan was to always come directly to UNH. “That was what they wanted from the beginning. Yup,” Maass said.

UNH captain Dylan Chanter said he’s been impressed with Maass’ maturity on and off the ice, and called Maass “a really smart guy” in the classroom. He also said Maass doesn’t play like a “typical” freshman.

“I’m not surprised he’s a draft pick,” Chanter said. “You see flashes out there where you know he’s destined for good things. He’s just been impressive at both ends of the ice — offensively and defensively as well. He’s a strong kid and he’s got a bright future.”

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When is a tie not really a tie? When it comes to the NHIAA football standings.

In Divisions II and III, outside of the conference champions, playoff teams (and seeding) are determined by the Football Point Rating, not overall records. If, for example, there are two teams battling for the final playoff spot in Division II and both finish the regular season at 5-3, but one has a rating of 11.3 and the other has a rating of 10.0 there would be no need to study up on NHIAA tiebreakers. The team will the higher rating would be awarded the final playoff berth, even if it lost to the other 5-3 team head to head.

This is something to keep in mind as we enter the final two weeks of the regular season.

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