UNH Library
Milne Special Collections and Archives


Read about the traditions of UNH ice hockey in new book

By Lori Gula
UNH News Bureau

February 21, 2003

DURHAM, N.H. -- "Warm up the bus" is often heard in the Whittemore Center when University of New Hampshire ice hockey teams handedly defeat their opponents. In the 1920s, you would have heard, "Go Bulls!"

1914 UNH Hockey Team
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Before the UNH Wildcats became the Wildcats, ice hockey fans rooted for "da Bulls." This tidbit of UNH ice hockey history is just one of many interesting facts readers will find in the new book, Wildcat Hockey: Ice Hockey at the University of New Hampshire, by Elizabeth Slomba, university archivist, and Bill Ross, head of the Milne Special Collections and Archives at the Dimond Library.

"We learned many surprising facts about the men's and women's teams. For example, while researching we would run across mentions of rivalries with many different teams, but never Maine but then we learned that we never played against Maine until December 1979," Slomba said.

The book, recently released by Arcadia Publishing, is filled with photographs and facts that tell the story of UNH ice hockey, its birth in the early 1900s, rise to Division I, journey through the Charlie Holt era, and transition to the Whittemore Center.

In an account of the first game played, a story from The New Hampshire reproduced in the book, reads in part, "The New Hampshire team was outplayed from the start and their lack of practice was show by the poor team play. Neither team displayed any wonderful playtime, but brilliant dashes down the rink were pulled off several times..."

UNH lost 1-5. The team disbanded the next year.

Before the Zamboni, UNH used truck-drawn ice scrapers to
create slick surfaces for its skaters.
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In 1924, UNH hockey was here to stay, even though World War II forced a four-year sabbatical because many players left to fight, according to the book. The Bulls changed their name to the Wildcats in 1927 -- a wildcat is "small and aggressive" while a bull is "sluggish and more appropriate for a larger school," The New Hampshire said. And as the authors point out, the players also were practical in that a live wildcat was more portable than a bull.

During one season, 11 games were cancelled because of weather. That prompted Harry Batchelder, Class of 1913, to give UNH a hand in creating artificial ice. In 1955, Batchelder Rink was named after him.

The book goes on to document extensively with photos the arrival of the first Canadian to play for the Wildcats (Ken McKinnon), the birth of Lively Snively, the arrival of coach Charlie Holt and the only men's ice hockey ECAC championship, the arrival in 1977 of the women's ice hockey team and a 15-0-0 first season, the beginning of the Coach Dick Umile era with men's hockey, the crowning of the women's hockey team as the 1998 national champions, and the move to the Whitt.

"We've always felt that our hockey collections would be interesting to fans of UNH hockey. We have early team reports, rosters, programs, memorabilia, and photographs. Arcadia Publishing contacted us about doing a history of UNH hockey, and we thought it would be a perfect way to share this special history with fans," Slomba said.

Wildcat Hockey: Ice Hockey at the University of New Hampshire is available through the Friends of Hockey, Town and Campus and other stores in downtown Durham, the UNH Bookstore, and Special Collections in the library. The book also is available in bookstores in Fox Run Mall and through Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. The Friends of Hockey and Special Collections are receiving proceeds from copies that each sells.

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