April 8, 2011

Men's Hockey's Thompson and Kessel tabbed as AHCA All-Americans

Paul Thompson
Blake Kessel

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Senior Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) and junior defenseman Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) of the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team were selected to the Division I RBK All-America team on Friday night as chosen by the American Hockey Coaches Association at the Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Both Kessel and Thompson were named as first team All-America selections.

Kessel becomes the first Wildcat since Brian Yandle (2005, 2006), and seventh in program history to earn All-America twice in his career. Yandle, Colin Hemingway (2002, 2003), Ty Conklin (2000, 2001), Jason Krog (1997, 1999), Ralph Cox (1978, 1979) and Gordie Clark (1973, 1974) were also repeat honorees. Thompson becomes the first New Hampshire native to win All-America at UNH.

Thompson, who recently signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins, adds this to an already lengthy list of 2010-11 accomplishments: 2010-11 Hobey Baker top 10 finalist, 2010 Hockey East Player of the Year, Hockey East All-Star First Team, Hockey East Scoring Champion, Hockey East Three Stars Award winner, a New England All Star, Leonard Fowle Award winner (NE MVP) and Herb Gallagher Award winner (NE's best forward).

Thompson was a two-time Hockey East's Athletic Republic Player of the Month (Nov. and Jan.) and a three-time Hockey East's Athletic Republic Player of the Week. He ranks second in the nation in both power-play goals (12) and game-winning goals (seven) as well as ninth in points per game (1.37) and sixth in goals per game (0.74). Thompson lead Hockey East in points (52), goals (28), power-play goals and game-winning goals, and ranked third in power-play points (22) and ninth in assists (24).

Kessel, a 2010-11 Hockey East First-Team All-Star, continued to backbone the UNH defense in his junior season. The blueliner ranks 18th in the nation for defensemen scoring with 0.69 points per game and was named a 2011 Walter Brown Award semifinalist for his efforts.  He was even more impressive in Hockey East play, ranking second in defensemen scoring (27 points), 13th in assists (22) and 18th in power play points (14). The junior chipped in at least 20 assists for the second-straight season and led all UNH blueliners with 27 points.

These honorees and the rest of Wildcats finished the 2010-11 campaign with a 22-11-6 overall record and qualified for the NCAAs for the 10th consecutive year. The 'Cats advanced to the Regional Finals for the third straight season, becoming the only team in the nation with postseason wins in each of the last three years.

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