DURHAM, N.H. – Junior defenseman Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) of the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team has decided to forego his senior season to play professionally. Kessel was a sixth-round pick of the New York Islanders in the 2007 National Hockey League entry draft.
Kessel became the first Wildcat since Brian Yandle (2005, 2006), and seventh in program history, to earn All-America honors twice in his career. Kessel, a 2010-11 Hockey East First-Team All-Star, continued to backbone the UNH defense in his junior season. The blueliner ranked 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. Kessel finishes his career with 78 points on 21 goals and 57 assists in 114 games played.
Kessel and the Wildcats finished the 2010-11 season with a 22-11-6 overall record and qualified for the NCAAs for the 10th consecutive season. The 'Cats advanced to the Regional Finals for the third straight season, becoming the only team in the nation with tournament wins in each of the last three years.