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Chris Duffy's Sports Editor's Notebook: Big test for UNH tonight

Union Leader Sports Editor

January 09. 2018 11:36PM
New Hampshire's Darryl Stewart is congratulated for a job well done after their win over the University of Albany on Saturday. (Nicole Goodhue Boyd/Union Leader)

SOME mid-week bits and pieces, heavy on hoops and hockey ...

We’re making the walk through the tunnel tonight, from Lot A to Lundholm Gym, to see which direction the UNH men’s basketball team is headed.

Will the Wildcats use Saturday’s win over favored Albany as a springboard to continued success in America East? Will that rugged defense surface again tonight against Binghamton? Will UNH show an esprit de corps, with bench players — including football player Evan Horn — stepping up in place of the injured Jordans (Jordan Reed and Elijah Jordan)?

UNH is 5-11 overall, but 1-1 in the league, as coach Bill Herrion pointed out after Saturday’s victory. Binghamton is 9-7 overall and lost at home to Maine in its conference opener on Saturday.

Tipoff is 7 p.m. ...

Derry’s Geo Baker had seven points in Rutgers’ 64-60 victory over Wisconsin last Friday. The Scarlet Knights visit No. 4 Michigan State tonight. ...

Pelham’s Keith Brown, who we featured last month, is still pouring in points for Division III stalwart Endicott. He had 12 on Saturday at Wentworth — which dropped his average to 24.9 — but scored 34 against Clark in the Salem State Tournament on Dec. 30. Nice feature story on him in Monday’s Boston Herald. ...

The University of Maine hockey team, under Berlin’s Red Gendron, cracked’s top 20 for the first time in a while on Monday — at No. 20 — then went out and tied Brown 4-4. (Yes, Brown played to a 4-4 tie 48 hours after playing to a 4-4 tie at UNH.) Nashua North’s Brendan Robbins continues to produce for the Black Bears with seven goals and five assists in 19 games.

Londonderry’s Brent Beaudoin, of the Brown Bears, had a goal and two assists in Monday’s tie after notching the game-tying goal on Saturday in his home state. ...

Still on the college hockey scene, junior forward Nicholas Fotiu of the Franklin Pierce University men’s ice hockey team was named Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Week, for the week ending Jan. 7.

The name should be familiar to hockey fans: Fotiu’s dad, Nick, notched a total of 146 points in 646 NHL and 110 WHA games combined, mostly with the Rangers and some with the Whalers (New England and Hartford). He also did some coaching, with the Johnstown Chiefs (of Slap Shot fame) and later in the AHL with the Cleveland Barons and Hartford Wolf Pack. ...

Great to see Zach Sanford return to the ice. The former Pinkerton Academy and Boston College star, who dislocated his left shoulder in the St. Louis Blues’ first preseason practice, has resumed skating, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

What that means is there’s a chance he could be back before season’s end. “I was expecting big things from Zach this year and hopefully he can turn this season around and still be a posititive,” Blues coach Mike Yeo told the newspaper. “He’s a kid with a real bright future. He’s got size, he’s got skill, he’s got sort of an attitude and presence around him that you like in hockey players.” ...

After hearing the TV announcers constantly referring to those “true freshmen” (not redshirt freshmen) for Alabama in the national championship thriller on Monday night, it’s important to note that most of those players have been on campus since last spring.

We wondered how many of those studs were “early enrollees,” meaning they graduated from high school a semester early so they can start college early for the purpose of taking part in spring practice and the spring game. So the crack research department here got to work and found this: According to, 16 of the 26 Crimson Tide freshmen, including quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, enrolled early. Heck, Tagovailoa starred for ’Bama in the spring game in April.

Apparently, the practice of early enrollment has been popular at big-time schools for years now. So when you the TV talkers say “true freshmen,” understand that the “true” part isn’t as “true” as you may think.