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January 22, 2014

UNH hockey is one of '603 Reasons' people say N.H. is special

'603 Reasons'

The University of New Hampshire hockey team is aiming for the Frozen Four again this season, but it’s already one of “603 Reasons” people say the state is special.

The Wildcats are, year in and year out, among the elite of college hockey.

Coach Dick Umile said it’s great people regard UNH hockey as one of the “603 Reasons” that New Hampshire is special and it doesn’t surprise him.

“I think it’s because of the university in general, its location, the community and the support hockey gets,” Umile said.

“It represents the state of New Hampshire on a national level,” he said.

Tickets regularly sell out the Whittemore Center on the Durham campus, but fans will travel to games in Manchester at the Verizon Wireless Arena and throughout the country.

“We get a great following. Our fan base travels where our team goes,” Umile said.

Derry native Paul Thompson was a Hobey Baker finalist while at UNH. He plays in the American Hockey League now for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, a minor league affiliate of the Pittsbugh Penguins.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Thompson said.

“I think the community has always had a lot of support for UNH hockey. UNH is the state school and hockey is the biggest sport there,” he said.

“The fans have been great supporting the program year after year,” Thompson said.

Laura Scott, UNH Class of ‘96 and Windham’s community development director, recalls her undergraduate days and how it didn’t matter where the ‘Cats were playing.

“You just went. It was never an option,” Scott said.

Fans like Scott will tell you about those UNH traditions, like tossing the fish on the ice after the first goal or the sieve chant when the opposing goalie lets one into the net.

Come to The Whit on a Friday or Saturday night, or follow the ‘Cats on the road, and you will see for yourself why UNH hockey is special.

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