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Recap: Minutemen Dominate AIC In 7-1 Victory

In my game preview I said that the strategy for the Minutemen to make sure AIC didn’t get confident and steal another victory at the Mullins Center was to “score early and score often”.  Massachusetts hockey fans who attended Friday’s game were treated to just that. Dennis Kravchenko extended his goal streak to three games with a goal just 57 seconds into the game on an odd man rush with Troy Power.  The Minutemen would score regularly throughout the first 20 minutes and at the end of the first period the score was 4-0.  UMass did not look back from that point and got the win by a final score of 7-1, getting revenge and then some for the embarrassing 3-2 loss to the Yellow Jackets last season.

Whereas last year UMass needed 59 shots against AIC in order to get their 2 goals, on Friday they got their lucky 7 on just 29.  So what was the difference between the 3.4% shot percentage last year and the 24.1%? t wasn’t the goaltender.  Alex Murray was one of the hottest goaltenders so far on this season coming into the game.  He gave up 5 goals on 22 shots.  Hunter Leisner who was the star in net last year came in to relieve Murray and allowed two goals on five shots.  So was it shot selection then?  Yes, but only kind of.  It more had to do with with strategy and UMass using their skill to their advantage.  If I remember correctly a lot of the shots last year against Leisner were set shots from the point or top of the circles.  He had great positioning but at the same time UMass didn’t do too much to challenge him and make him uncomfortable.  That was not the same game they played on Friday.  They overcame the goaltender by creating odd man advantages over and over and over.  The AIC goaltenders didn’t have a chance because UMass was constantly coming in on the rush and making the most of cross ice passes.

As a result, UMass had its best offensive output since 2011.  I won’t go through each goal since there’s so many of them and there don’t appear to be full highlights available so I don’t want to rely on my memory.  It was a total team effort on offense however as the first five goals were scored by five different Minutemen.  One of the positives to come out of the sweep by Maine was that Kravchenko and Frank Vatrano got going offensively.  It was good to see that continue to Friday.  As already mentioned, Kravchenko got the game started with his goal less than a minute in and would later add an assist.  Vatrano would have two goals and an assist against the team his older brother once captained.  Zack LaRue continued his strong senior season with two goals as well.  Steven Iacobellis’ had a goal and two assists on the night.  Stephen Guzzo had a very strong night centering the line with LaRue and Dominic Trento, assisting on both of the LaRue goals and winning 9 of 13 faceoffs.  Marc Hetnik also had a multi-point output, getting assists on the first two goals of the game.  In the first five games of the season UMass was scoring just 2.4 goals per game.  Since Coach Micheletto changed up the lines going into the Maine series they’re scoring 4.7 goals per game with Kravchenko and Vatrano both finding their offensive game.

Defensively UMass did exactly what they needed to do.  The Yellow Jackets were held to just 18 shots on the night as the Minutemen dominated puck possession.  Freshman Henry Dill put in another solid night, giving up just the one goal on an AIC power play.  With the shutout bid over, Alex Wakaluk came in in relief and stopped all four shots he faced.

It’s probably easy to look at UMass’ 7-1 win and say they did exactly what everyone expected them to do.  But that’s unfair to probably both UMass and AIC.  Last year’s result proved that the Yellow Jackets do have talent and cannot just be dismissed.  At the same time it’s a bit of a guessing game what to expect from this UMass team any given night.  What they did is come out and shut down most AIC chances while putting constant pressure on the Yellow Jacket net.  Fans probably shouldn’t get overly excited about this one result, but it did show that two key trends are continuing from the past few weeks.  First, the team is finding scoring despite all the goalscorers lost to graduation last year.  And, Kravchenko and Vatrano continue to build confidence as the season is going along.  With those two starting to click, the hope is that the November results are much different than the October results.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Zack LaRue
Vatrano and Iacobellis had great games and were also worthy of POTG, but I’m giving it to LaRue since he was actually close to having a hat trick.  His first second goal of the night was called back due to a player in the crease (although I didn’t see anyone actually interfering with the AIC goaltender and thought it should’ve counted).  LaRue is putting together a hell of a senior season,  He had just three career goals coming into the year but already has four so far.

Press Conference and some highlights from UMass’ 7-1 win

Here’s the Collegian’s recap of the win plus a feature on the team getting their first home victory of the season.

Here’s the USCHO recap.

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Weekend Recap: UMass Loses Two Stunners In Orono

When the season schedule was announced in August it only took about a half a second to realize that the Massachusetts hockey team was facing a pretty big challenge to start things off.  This three week, three state, four opponent road trip is not really what you want to embark upon with an inexperienced team with just one game under their belt, a game they ended up losing 8-1.  Through the first two weekends of the trip though I think Minuteman fans were pretty content with the results.  A split with Michigan State in Lansing was followed with a win at Northeastern and a hard fought loss at Boston College.  The defense and goaltending, a question mark going into the season, seemed to be improving with each game.  So with the team playing fairly well, they headed north to Orono to play a struggling Maine team and try to pick up some key Hockey East points.  Instead the team lost two heartbreakers in totally different fashions and got swept at the hands of the Black Bears.

I wasn’t able to watch either game so my observations on the weekend are strictly based on what I was able to hear from the radio broadcasts, box scores, and goal highlights.  On Friday all those gains on the defensive end disappeared as Maine scored three goals in the first 22 minutes of the game to jump out to the 3-0 lead with all three goals coming on rebounds after Henry Dill made the initial save.  Only the first came on the Black Bear power play.  The rest of the goals on the night would come at even strength.  Coach Micheletto in an attempt to get things going for Frank Vatrano, Dennis Kravchenko, and Troy Power changed up the lines going into the game.  The switch saw immediate results for Kravchenko who would score the first and second goals of his career in the second period while now centering Patrick Lee and Troy Power.  They both came on excellent individual efforts (highlights below).  The Minutemen would tie the game at 3-3 on a Ray Pigozzi goal late in the second only to have one of those dreaded end of period goals give Maine the 4-3 lead with 20 seconds left in the second.  The goal came on a wrap around that Dill misplayed, coming directly off a Troy Power turnover in his own zone.  Just an awful sequence to close out a period.

Maine extended to the lead to 5-3 early in the third.  But as we’ve seen ever since the third period debacle against Boston University is that this UMass team will continue to battle.  And sure enough they clawed themselves right back into the game with a Patrick Lee goal with six minutes left to cut it to a 5-4 Maine lead.  Power made up for his earlier mistake with the nice heads up center pass to Lee who was set up in the slot.  And in one of the more unlikely heroic sequences Mike Busillo found the puck trickle through some Maine defenders to his stick and netted his first career goal to tie the game up with just under two minutes to go in the game.  The comeback would be for naught however as Black Bear Brian Morgan got the winner in overtime in an extremely sloppy sequence that resulted in a four on two for Maine.

The positives coming out of the Friday game was that the new line combinations definitely produced offensive results immediately, especially with Dennis Kravchenko and Troy Power, who accumulated two assists on the night.  It was nice to see someone the unheralded Busillo get his first goal in dramatic fashion.  But there were a lot of negatives.  All the goals came from bad rebounds given up by Dill, bad defensive coverage, or poor turnovers.  Or some combination of all three.  The Minutemen also got beat badly in the faceoff circle, 20 to 41.  It would’ve been helpful to at least get a point out of Friday’s’ effort.  To come back from a three goal deficit and then a two goal deficit with nothing to show for it was pretty tough to swallow.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Dennis Kravchenko
Pretty obvious choice here with his two consecutive goals to help kickstart the comeback.  He also grabbed an assist on the Lee goal.  Without Kravcheko’s two highlight reel goals to get things going this game could’ve just been a total blowout.

Highlights from Friday’s 6-5 OT loss

Well if you like to mix it up when it comes to experiencing heartbreaking games, then you’re a happy person this weekend.  Saturday’s game was not the barn burner shootout of Friday, but just as devastating at the end.  UMass would pour 18 shots on net in the first but the teams would go into the locker room scoreless after the first period.  The goaltenders, including Steve Mastalerz in net for the Minutemen, would continue to keep their opponents off the scoreboard for most of the second period as well.  But towards the end of the period the new line combinations would produce results again with Kravchenko getting his third goal of the weekend, putting home a loose puck with Black Bear goaltender Sean Romeo already down on the ice.  Just over a minute later Frank Vatrano would score his first goal of his collegiate career from the top of the left circle and the Minutemen had a 2-0 lead with going into the third period.

That final period would belong to Maine however as they Black Bears would outshoot UMass 15-6.  The first goal would be scored seven minutes in on a Devin Shore tip in of a Mark Hamilton wrister.  Liam Pecararo would be allowed to skate into the top of the slot and tie the game up with a wrister with under eight minutes left.  The Black Bears completed the comeback and the sweep on a flukey impossible angle shot that, possibly after hitting a UMass defender, trickled past Mastalerz.  That was it.  UMass was unable to find any late game heroics this game and climbed onto the bus without any Hockey East points on the weekend.

To be so close to potentially four points and end up with none hurts.  It probably seems a little early to worry about the on just the second day of November, but the fact is that UMass has already played 23% of their conference schedule so far.  Their two points puts them in a tie with 6th, but all other Hockey East teams have played less games than the Minutemen and eight of them have played two conference games or less so far.  Hockey East points will be tough to come by this month with games scheduled against Boston College and Vermont, both ranked in the top 15 currently.  Three weekends and at least three splits would’ve been a pretty good accomplishment for this team and something to build off.  Unfortunately in the competitive Hockey East this weekend’s falters means they’ll have to learn how to win against the top teams in the league if they don’t want to fall behind in the standings.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steve Mastalerz
I didn’t see the game so it’s tough to know how everyone played, but Mastalerz seemed to do his part in getting 35 saves in this game.  It’s tough to fault him on any of the goals except for maybe the second.  Dill playing poorly and Mastalerz playing well this weekend means we’ll likely see these two continue to get starts sporadically until one of them is clearly the better netminder.

Highlights from UMass’ 3-2 Saturday loss

USCHO recaps:  Friday and Saturday

Last month it was reported that UMass was one of the schools interested in BU transfer Sam Kurker.  Kurker announced he’ll be attending Northeastern.

Saturday Recap: Penalties Hurt UMass in 4-1 Loss To BC

If the Massachusetts hockey team had been able to stay out of the box, the outcome of this game may have been very different than the final 4-1 win by #6 Boston College.  To the surprise of many (or me at least), this game started out as a defensive struggle.  Both teams did really well in minimizing their opponents chances and preventing shots from getting to their respective goaltenders, Henry Dill for UMass and Thatcher Demko for BC.  At the end of the period the shots were only 6-3 in BC’s favor.  That represented a dramatic improvement for the UMass defense which had allowed 14 first period shots and 42 total to the Northeastern Huskies on the prior night.

Unfortunately circumstances changed in the second and the game slowly started to get away from UMass at that point.  What was a physical game in the first turned into a chippy game in the second in what I thought was mostly initiated by the more experienced and well, larger Eagle players.  The Minutemen tried to respond in kind and unfortunately were unable to do so without crossing the line and picking up a host of penalties.  The festivities started six minutes in when UMass’s Anthony Petrella and BC’s Ryan Fitzgerald went back and forth with a hook and slash.  Steven Iacobellis and Alex Tuch got a couple of roughing penalties about a minute later.  The positive from this sequence was that UMass looked to be the better team four on four.  BC would pick up their first goal while at even strength at 14:15 from Tuch, which was followed shortly after by an interference call on Emerson Auvenshine.  On the subsequent penalty kill Jake Horton took an unnecessary slashing penalty and BC would capitalize with a five on three goal from Adam Gilmour .  UMass was never really able to get back in the game after that.

In the third things continued to get heated with a lot of activity after the whistle and UMass appeared to be thrown off rhythm by it.  A little over ten minutes in Troy Power went into the boards on Matt Gaudreau and received a five minute major and game misconduct for an elbowing penalty.  Horton would again take another bad penalty on the subsequent penalty kill, this time a high stick, and Gilmour had his second two man advantage goal of the night to put the Eagles up 3-0. Spending so much time on the penalty kill prevented the Minutemen from getting in sync on offense in the final period though and they didn’t end up getting on the scoreboard until 17:48 in on a Shane Walsh power play goal.  BC would add the empty net goal to seal their win shortly after.

There were some definite positives to take from the game.  The team defense played early on was very impressive for a defensive unit that includes just two upperclassmen, three underclassmen and a converted forward in Auvenshine.  UMass fans should also feel good that the team battled.  They fought for themselves, they fought for their teammates, and did not allow themselves to get pushed around by a bigger, veteran BC squad.  If the inexperienced UMass team was intimidated, it didn’t show.  Still, going forward the team will have to learn how to be physical but not put yourself at a disadvantage.  Some of the roughing type of penalties can be tolerable in a game like last night.  Two stick infractions to give the opponent a couple five on three opportunities is not however.  If the game turns into a learning opportunity, then I don’t think the loss will mean a lot in the long run.  Sure it’s never enjoyable to sit through another loss at Conte Forum, but that disappointed feeling was nothing a couple of post game beers at Publick House couldn’t cure.  Two weekend road trips, two states, two splits.  I’ll take it.  Up next, Orono.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Shane Walsh
Not only did Walsh have the lone goal for the Minutemen but he was a team best 11 for 17 in the faceoff circle.

Recap from SBN Nation College Hockey.

USCHO recap.

Goal by goal BC point of view from BC Interruption, including the Walsh goal.

Friday Recap: Dill Shines For UMass In 3-2 Win Over Northeastern

The theme of this young season is that the Massachusetts hockey team continues to progress, finding ways to overcome challenges, and stays competitive.  Last night the Minutemen made strides in keeping their opponents off the scoreboard in a 3-2 win over Northeastern.  The main reason for this was the play of freshman goaltender Henry Dill who stopped 42 of 44 shots in just his second collegiate shot but that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a team effort.

Northeastern got on the board first 3:46 into the game when Zach Aston-Reese made a nice move on Jake Horton to skate into the slot and got the puck to Torin Snyderman who shot past Dill.  Horton would make up for it just two and a half minutes later by shooting on Derek Roy, who was a surprise starter in net for NU.  Zack LaRue got his stick on Horton’s shot for his second goal of the season, tying the game at a goal apiece.  The Minutemen would take the lead later in the first on a power play goal from Ray Pigozzi, who followed up a three assist game last Saturday with his first goal of the season.  The Huskies tied it shortly after when Dill was unable to cover up a loose puck in front of him and Dalen Hedges jumped on it and put it into the net.

At the end of the first with four goals on the board and 25 total shots it seemed like the game would end up being a barnburner, but the goaltenders would settle in and only one goal was scored the rest of the game.  That goal came off the stick of Emerson Auvenshine who was inserted into the lineup at defense with Maddison Smiley and Ben Gallacher banged up.  The gamewinner came from a great cross ice pass on the rush from LaRue to Auvenshine who one timed it over Roy’s shoulder.  Dill kept the Huskies off the board for the final 11 minutes and UMass picked up their first Hockey East win of the season.

Dill will rightly get the accolades from the win for his 42 save effort, but the guys in front of him deserve credit as well.  Dill probably let up more rebounds than he and the coaching staff would like, but the defense and forwards were quick to clear the loose pucks and minimize potential second chances.  The team killed all seven of the Huskies’ power play chances and have now killed 15 of 16 opponent power plays on the season.  One area of improvement will be to not allow so many shots on net, but for a defensive unit that is pretty thin and now starting forwards, I thought last night was pretty good on the defensive end.

It won’t get any easier though as they face a Boston College team that put up six goals on Colorado College last night.    It should be interesting to see who gets the start in net as Steve Mastalerz has had some of the best games of his career against the Eagles, but Dill proved himself as a legitimate Hockey East goaltender last night.  Either way, it’s good to have options in net.  I couldn’t help but notice that when the buzzer sounded Mastalerz was the first guy off the bench to congratulate Dill on his win.  I think the bigger question going into tonight though is when we’ll see something from the top line.  While it’s been excellent that UMass has been able to win two in a row based solely on production from their second and third lines, if the Minutemen have any chance of upsetting the 6th ranked Eagles they absolutely have to get something from the line of Vatrano/Kravchenko/Power.


Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Henry Dill
Obviously.  The highlights below include some of Dill’s better saves as well as the goals.

UMass Wins 3-2; Dill Saves 42

The performances by Dill and Auvenshine are the focus on this Boston Herald recap.

Northeastern coach Jim Madigan blames the lack of puck luck for his team’s loss in the USCHO recap.

Weekend Recap: Massachusetts Splits With Michigan State

Coming off last weekend’s 8-1 loss where the young Massachusetts team collapsed in the third period when faced with adversity, what I was hoping to see in this weekend’s series with Michigan State was an ability to battle and stay in the game.  I think you can safely say that was accomplished as the team fought hard all weekend on the way to a split with the Spartans.  The Minutemen got exactly what they needed if they want to be successful this season; a lot of contributions from the freshmen and sophomores.

I was only able to listen to both games, so I won’t be able to get too deep in my analysis.  On Friday the Minutemen lost 5-3.  After a first period that saw MSU take a 2-0 lead and UMass defenseman Ben Gallacher get seriously injured after a check from behind, one had to wonder how UMass would respond in the second.  It was an early test to see if the team had learned anything from the third period against BU.  And it didn’t take long for them to show that in this case they would choose to battle rather than fold.  They scored two quick goals to start the second frame, the first a was off the stick of Keith Burchett after a nice cross-ice pass (or shot?) from Shane Walsh.  Just a few minutes after that Zack LaRue tied the game on a shorthanded goal after a nice feed from Dennis Kravchenko.  Michigan State regained the lead midway through the period on a power play goal.  Being down a defenseman started to take its toll however and Michigan State would extend its lead to 5-2 after a couple goals early in the third.  Again UMass hung in there and Burchett would score again on a wrister, again off a pass from Shane Walsh, 13 minutes into the period.

That would do it though and Michigan State picked up the win.  Judging from the radio commentary UMass continued to show lapses in their own defensive end and got a shaky performance from Steve Mastalerz in net.  Still, they had to play with five defensemen the whole game so that certainly had an effect on how the defense fared.  The Gallacher injury is a tough one since UMass is only carrying seven defensemen on the roster until Brandon Montour is due to arrive in December.

There were some key positives on Friday despite the loss.  Certainly the play of Burchett and his linemate Walsh were the most obvious.  But I think just the fact that most of the game was give and take with both teams trading scores showed that the young UMass team is maturing and learning how to handle the different situations that come up during the game.  While there were breakdowns, the team played hard for all sixty minutes and they were never really out of the game.  And it put them in a good jumping off point for Saturday.

FTT Player of the Game (Friday) – Keith Burchett
This is an easy one.  Some of the other freshman forwards had the great reputations as forwards, but it ends up being Burchett to have the first breakout game among the group.  Good things happen when you attack the net, and that’s exactly what he did in his first goal when Walsh found him from the other side of the ice.

The theme of the weekend was battle, and that’s exactly what Saturday’s game was.  A battle.  Luckily for the Minutemen they got the last punch in just before the bell.  Patrick Lee’s first collegiate goal with 9.9 seconds left gave UMass its first win of the season with a 4-3 final score.  The game was dominated by the underclassemen with freshmen and sophomores accounting for all four goals and 11 of the 12 points in the game.  On the other end of the ice freshman Henry Dill got a win in his first start, finishing with 28 saves.

The teams were held scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the game and then quickly saw three goals scored in the last five minutes of the period.  Steven Iacobellis got the scoring started only to have Spartan Matt Berry answer just over a minute later.  Jake Horton then picked up his second goal of the season to give the Minutemen the lead going into the second period.  Berry would pick up the lone goal of the second period and then take the 3-2 lead just seconds into the third.  It stayed that way for most of the third until Iacobellis picked up his second with four and a half minutes left in the game to tie it.  Michigan State would make a critical mistake with four minutes left in the game when Justin Hoomainian got a game misconduct for a contact to the head penalty, allowing UMass to play the balance of regulation with an extra man.  With 9.9 seconds left Lee got the game winner and UMass comes home to Amherst with the split.

There were a lot of positives to take away from last night’s game.  Obviously freshmen Lee and Dill playing big roles in the win is one of them.  Horton is living up to his reputation as an offensive threat with his second goal on the young season.  The biggest thing last night was how well sophomore forwards Iacobellis and Ray Pigozzi played.  After being held scoreless in the first two games of the season Iacobellis had the two goals to go with two assists.  Pigozzi had three assists on the night.  There are still a few things to be concerned about however.  The depth at defense could be an issue if Gallacher is out for a while.  UMass fans are also wondering when they’ll hear from Frank Vatrano and Dennis Kravchenko.  The two are first and second on the team in shots on goal but have only combined for one point through the first three games, an assist by Kravchenko.   Freshman Anthony Petrella was also expected to be an offensive threat after leading prep powerhouse Shattuck-St Mary’s in goals last season but through three games hasn’t registered a shot on net.

The split was a success from my standpoint as the team made strides in shaking off the poor performance against BU last week.  The freshmen showed that they can be counted on to contribute and did not seem to be intimidated by playing on the road.  That’s key considering next weekend they’ll be playing in their first league road games at Boston College and Northeastern.

FTT Player of the Game (Saturday) – Steven Iacobellis
Lee was the hero and Dill did well in his first start but two goals and two assists, including on the game winner, gets Iacobellis the nod.

Friday’s recap and Saturday’s recap from UMass Athletics.

USCHO’s game story from Friday.

There wasn’t much other coverage of the series to share.

BU Recap

Through the first two periods Friday’s game against BU was going pretty much like I expected.  UMass got out to a pretty good start, dominating play for the first five minutes of the game.  But the Terriers were the better team for the final 15 minutes of the period and went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Robbie Baillargeon.

The second period was more balanced in terms of play and scoring.  BU gained a two goal lead when Nikolas Olsson scored his first collegiate goal.  Late in the second UMass was having a tough time getting the puck past freshman goaltender Connor LaCouvee who was a surprise starter when junior Matt O’Connor got hurt in practice earlier in the week.  It seemed as though the momentum shifted towards the Minutemen when Jake Horton scored his first collegiate goal with just :47 seconds to play in the second period.  During the same sequence BU’s John MacLeod took his third penalty of the night, putting the Minutemen on the power play.  They didn’t score in the final seconds of the period, but with the penalty carrying over into the third the Minutemen had a great chance at tying the game and battling for the win in the third.

Instead fans were treated to one of the worst periods of UMass hockey in recent memory.  The Minutemen failed to get a shot on net in the 1:13 of power play time to start the period.  Forty seconds later phenom Jack Eichel got his first goal of his (likely short) college career.  I’d like to think that the swing in momentum shook the inexperienced team and panic set in.  I hope that’s what it was.  Because that’s better than the alternative that they just gave up.  Things got ugly quick and six minutes into the period UMass found themselves down 5-1.  By the end of the game the final score was an embarrassing 8-1.  Steve Mastalerz gave up six of the goals, but honestly there was probably only one, maybe two, that I would pin on him.  He got no help in front of him.  Most of the goals consisted of BU rushing in between the circles and shooting at will.  Dill came in to relieve Mastalerz and got a similar level of support, giving up two goals on four shots.

Obviously my game preview couldn’t have been more wrong.  I thought the teams were facing similar challenges and would be evenly matched.  Instead what we got was the widest margin of defeat in a season opener in the modern era of UMass hockey, the previous being a 6-0 loss to Boston College in 2002.  I honestly have no idea what happened to the team in the third period .  When facing adversity they folded like a cheap card table.  Could it have been the youth?  Perhaps.  But as I mentioned in my season preview, this class was supposed to be full of proven winners.  Not to mention the fact that the BU was also just as inexperienced. They even started a freshman in net.  Inexperience doesn’t explain why some of the veterans played so poorly either.  Oleg Yevenko who was supposed to anchor the defense this year was on the ice for five of the Terrier goals.

Were there any positives?  A few.  The final score will mask the fact that the team played well enough to be in the game for two periods.  Jake Horton played well again, scoring his first goal.  UMass dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 40 of 63.  Steven Iacobellis alone won 13 of 17.  And the last positive is that UMass is in the early lead for the Charlie Holt Sportsmanship Award after taking zero penalties in the game.

I thought there could be games like the one we witnessed last night during this season, just because of the large amount of roster turnover.  I didn’t really expect it on opening night at home.  It was how they lost that worries me.  Once BU got that third goal there was very little effort or execution from the team, at least on defense.  The players must dedicate themselves to playing good defense going forward.  The rushes that led to the goals were inexcusable.  Things don’t get easy for the Minutemen as they now embark on a three week road trip that spans from Michigan to Maine.  Hopefully the trips will give the team a chance to bond and figure out how to avoid performances like last night.  At the very least, it can’t get much worse.

FTT Player of the Game
Not a lot of options for this one.  Either Iacobellis for his faceoff work or Horton for scoring the goal.  I’ll go with Horton for providing the lone highlight on the night.  It was a hell of a shot.

Gazette Recap
Collegian Game Story
More Collegian coverage on the talent difference between the teams’ top lines.

Former Minuteman Kevin Boyle got the 5-2 win over Boston College in his debut for Lowell.

Exhibition Recap

As I wrote in my preview of the exhibition game, I was most interested in seeing how the large freshmen class fared yesterday.  Needless to say, I and the other Minuteman fans walked out of the Mullins Center pretty happy after the freshmen spurred UMass to a 5-2 win over Dalhousie.  The Minutemen just dominated this game from the outset.  In fact at the end of the first period the score was already 3-0 with UMass outshooting the Tigers 23-1.

The freshmen forwards all looked pretty good and seemed to have a good understanding of the offense.  Standing out the most was Dennis Kravchenko who scored two goals.  The first came from a great feed from Troy Power ahead to Kravcheko who was streaking into the slot and put the puck behind the goaltender.  The second came on a wrister  at the top of the slot on the power play.  Coach Micheletto had him playing the point on the power play, also having a forward Frank Vatrano at the point on the other PP unit as well.  Dominic Trento was the other freshman forward to score a goal, getting the last by collecting a loose puck in front of the net and scoring.  Keith Burchett assisted on one of Kravchenko’s goals.  Though he didn’t show up on the score sheet I thought Patrick Lee played extremely well making some great passes.

Jake Horton was the lone freshman to dress on defense as Maddison Smiley was reported to be ill.  Horton gave the fans plenty to watch all by himself though, scoring the first goal of the game on a wrist shot after collecting a loose puck at the top of the slot.  Horton had many more shots after that, finishing the game with an astonishing 12 shots.  Vatrano also had a dozen shots on net, converting on one of them and also assisting on a Kravchenko goal.  Vatrano played very well and looks to be ready to start the season as a key piece for the Minutemen.

The goaltenders each played a period each, though Steve Mastalerz only saw one shot during his 20 minutes.  Freshman Henry Dill had one of the highlights of the night with a flashy glove on a breakaways early on in the second.  Alex Wakaluk played solid, only giving up a garbage goal late I in the game.  Goaltending and defense looked strong, though UMass controlled the puck so much they were rarely tested.  UMass ended up outshooting the Tigers 55-21 during the game, a very encouraging stat to say the least.

All in all it was a very successful exhibition.  The freshman looked poised and were able to move the puck and generate shots on net.  There didn’t look to be any glaring deficiencies on defense or in net.  And it didn’t appear anyone got hurt.  A positive experience to build on ahead of Friday’s opener.

Official recap and highlights from the exhibition.

The Collegian has their recap focusing in on the performance of the freshmen.

UConn, picked to finish just behind UMass, beat this same Dalhousie squad 3-1 this afternoon.  Shots were 31-23 for the Huskies.

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