Weekend Games Postponed

For those who may have missed it, both of this weekend’s Massachusetts hockey games have been rescheduled due to the impending snowstorm.  Tomorrow night’s game against Northeastern has been postponed until Tuesday, February 19th at 7pm.  This gives those of us who travel from out of town the excuse to take the entire day off and enjoy a four day weekend. Saturday afternoon’s game at Merrimack has been pushed back to Sunday at 4pm.  The game was originally scheduled to be broadcast on NESN but that will no longer be the case, thereby robbing UMass of their one chance to be shown on regional/national TV this year.  Maybe next year Hockey East will be nice enough to give UMass a rare televised home game.

I hope everyone stays safe and has plenty of beer in stock in preparation of the incoming blizzard.

In some alumni news, Kevin Moore who dressed for an ECHL game in an emergency situation last month has been signed for the league’s Evansville Icemen.  There he’ll be in the familiar position of playing alongside Paul Dainton, who was assigned there recently from the Springfield Falcons.

Mike Marcou has been promoted to San Antonio of the AHL after a strong season at the ECHL that saw him make the All-Star squad.

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Doherty Leaves Team

Freshman defenseman Connor Doherty has left the Massachusetts hockey team and has already joined up with his former junior team, the Junior Bruins.  Indeed, Doherty’s name no longer appears on the official roster.  He had not appeared in any games this season and was a late addition to this year’s freshman class, committing just weeks before former coach Toot Cahoon parted ways with the school.  He’ll play the rest of the season with the Junior Bruins, where he was an EJHL All-Star last season.  Good luck to him wherever he ends up continuing his hockey career.

This weekend’s opponent, Boston College, moved up a spot to #2 in the rankings despite splitting their series with New Hampshire this past weekend.  BC did announce that that the celebration of Jerry York’s historic win recently that was due to take place during Friday’s game has been postponed until he recovers from recent eye surgery.

No Minutemen were named Top Performers by the conference this past week, not even Darren Rowe after his three point night on Friday.

February 9th’s game at Merrimack, which will be televised on NESN, has been moved to 4pm to accommodate the Bruins broadcast that day.  I missed the fact that the game was ever moved from 7pm to 3:30 in the first place.

Yale Preview; Gillespie Decommits

Massachusetts Minutemen 5-8-2 (4-6-1)  T-5th Hockey East

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#15 Yale Bulldogs 6-3-2 (3-3-1)  T-5th ECAC

Massachusetts will look for a quick rebound from what was a completely wasted weekend with a rare non-Thanksgiving week Tuesday affair against #18 Yale.  The Minutemen are not the only team motivated to show they’re better than their most recent games however.  The Bulldogs surprisingly maintained their #15 ranking despite only gaining one point in this past weekend’s play as they got pounded by RPI 6-1 on Friday and tied Union 2-2 the next night.  Both teams will be looking to go into the winter break on a high note.

Prior to this last weekend’s struggles the Bulldogs were rolling on the season, with the highlight being a couple overtime wins out in the Centennial State against Denver and Colorado College.  They’ve been pretty balanced between offense and defense so far this year.  The Minuteman defense will have to look much better tomorrow if they want to shut down the likes Antoine Laganiere.  The senior forward has eight goals and six assists in just 11 games so far on the season, finding himself fourth in the country in goals per game.  UMass will also have to limit the chances of Kenny Agostino who has added six goals and seven assists on the  year.  The Yale power play has been converting at a rate of 17.5%.

Jeff Malcolm has been the better Bulldog goaltender so far this season, starting eight of 11 games and compiling a 2.45 GAA and .922 save percentage.  He did play both nights this past weekend so it’s unknown if he’d play again tomorrow.  Though he did not play the entire game on Friday as he was pulled after giving up five goals.  Yale may look to fellow senior Nick Maricic who has had a GAA of 3.91 and saved .855 percent of shots against in four games instead.  Yale does have a young defensive squad with only a single senior and junior among their regular defensemen.  Their penalty kill has been respectable, stopping 84% of their opponents extra man chances.

For UMass they’ll have to play much better in every aspect of the game if they want to pull off the upset.  And even that may not guarantee a win against a ranked team playing in their home barn.  I honestly don’t know what to say beyond that.  There’s way to much to address based on this past weekend’s performance to go into specifics.  This team absolutely needs to go into the break with a win.  Long term aspirations for this team get dimmer with each loss.  The third defeat in five days will make for a less than merry holidays for UMass players and fans alike.

Beer The Triangle
I had originally planned to make the trek down 95 to watch the team tomorrow, but sadly I’ll admit that their recent performances has made it tough to climb into the car mid-week to spend half a day on the road with a good chance of disappointment at the end.  However, for those who are making the trip, here are a couple places sure to add cheer to the visit to New Haven.  There are basically two beer bars I recommend around Yale.  Delaney’s Taproom is located on the northwest outskirts of New Haven.  I recommend trying some local City Steam if you haven’t before.  What I would consider the better of the two options is Prime 16, located right downtown and not too far from the Whale.  Get the Allagash Yakuza, you won’t be disappointed, and make sure to wash it down with one of their burgers.

So I recently learned that Kenny Gillespie, who first committed to UMass over two years ago, will not be coming to Amherst as planned next fall.  I don’t have any details to relay, however Chris Heisenberg’s recruiting site does confirm this information.  I wish Kenny luck wherever he ends up.

With Gillespie’s news UMass has now lost a player and a recruit within a week.  Honestly, I’m not too shocked by this as any coaching change will bring about attrition when it comes to the roster.  I’m honestly a little surprised it’s taken this long however.

The Republican has their preview of tomorrow’s game.  Interesting to note how rare this past weekend’s sweep was.  Maine was the last team to come in and take two from the Minutemen back in 2001.  Including that instance, UMass has only dropped two games at home in a single weekend four times since 2000.

Boston College has regained the top spot in this week’s USCHO poll, which has four different teams receiving first place votes.

No Minutemen were honored in this week’s Hockey East release, but you probably already guessed that.

Tegeler Leaves UMass

News came out of British Columbia today that sophomore Andrew Tegeler has left the UMass hockey team and signed on to play with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL.  Not surprisingly, the article says that Tegeler is moving on from the Minutemen in search of regular playing time.  Tegeler leaves UMass scoring a goal, coming in a loss at Boston College last year, in six total games.  He’d only played in one game this season.

I’m disappointed to see him leave.  Certainly his size and skating ability were two key components of what seemed like a pretty good overall skill set.  He did very well in the EJHL and I thought he would turn into a productive member of the Minutemen.  Unfortunately that did not turn out to be the case.  I heard he was a hard worker in practice and I personally thought he played OK when he dressed for games, but that happened very infrequently under both Toot Cahoon and John Micheletto.  In the end I don’t blame him at all for moving on to somewhere he can spend more time on the ice.  I certainly wish him luck in his hockey career from here on and will be rooting for him to find success wherever that is.

Boston University lost a player as well this week in the form of Yasin Cisse.

The Red Sox are planning another Frozen Fenway event for 2014.  Hopefully this will give the remaining Hockey East teams who haven’t participated in a game there yet, Providence, Merrimack, and Lowell, an opportunity to do so.

Recruit Update

Last week’s odd schedule of games on Sunday, Tuesday, and Saturday along with a major holiday in the middle prevented me from posting a recruit update last week.  So there’s a lot of catching up to do.  Be sure to scroll down to an interesting article on Patrick Lee.

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
5 GP / 1 G / 0 A / 1 Pts / 30 PIM / –2
I now understand why Ohio State fans were worried about Gallacher’s penchant for taking a lot of penalties.  Gallacher, injured to start the season, played just two games before being hit with an eight game suspension by the USHL for an infraction.  He comes back and then three games later is now suspended another eight games for a cross-check.  Certainly this type of play is something that hopefully he learns from and gets away from before he ever gets to Amherst.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
19 GP / 5 G / 3 A / 8 Pts / 35 PIM / -1
Gillespie has been pretty quiet since we last checked in with him, only one assist in his last five games.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Salisbury is scheduled to play their first game this week.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Malden Catholic’s first game is on 12/15

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
19 GP / 10 G / 11 A / 21 Pts / 28 PIM / +5
Kravchenko continues to contribute regularly for his team, grabbing two goals, including a shorthander, and two assists in his last five games.  He’s currently 11th in the league in goals and 8th in points.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2014
24GP / 10 G / 12 A / 22 Pts / 6 PIM / 0
Lee has had a goal and two assists in his last five games.  This article from the end of October regarding Lee trying out for the Canada West junior team gives us a little more info about his recruitment.  It seems UMass beat out Ohio State and Minnesota State for his services.  It also mentions that Lee is a 2014 recruit, not a 2013 as originally thought.  Lee did not end up making the roster for this year’s junior championships however.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
KUA plays its first game this week.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
8 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 4 PIM
No points for Smith in his recent games

Frank Vatrano– LW/C – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2013
11 GP / 8 G / 4 A / 12 Pts / 12 PIM
Vatrano had three goals and two assists in his last three games.  He’s leading the Junior Bruins in goals despite only having played a little more than half as many games as the rest of the roster.

Branden Gracel was named a UMass Co-Player of the Week, shared with football’s Rob Blanchflower.

The Collegian has this feature on former Minuteman captain T.J. Syner and how he’s faring in the pros.  Syner was one of the more exciting players in recent UMass history and it’s great to see him get a chance to play AHL hockey and perhaps beyond (if Gary Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs ever decide we get to have NHL hockey again).

A couple videos to share.  First here’s a look at what the UMass hockey team members are thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Personally, I’m thankful that Joel Hanley is thankful for Dunkin’ Donuts, because so am I.

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You can see that a lot of players are thankful for their mustaches.  Here’s why:

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Be sure to support Coach Mick this Movember to help battle prostate cancer.

Up To The Minute 10/31

Happy Halloween UMass hockey fans!  I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday and is not in some kind of diabetic coma by this point.  Any Minuteman hockey related costumes out there?  One spotted at this past weekend’s game were some diehard student fans dressed as a “Rowe Boat”.

Sorry, no View From Section U again this week.  Frankly, I just haven’t found a subject to inspire me since last time’s You Can Play piece.  I have a couple ideas rattling around in my head that hopefully I’ll be able to transform into an actual column sometime soon.  However there is enough out there in the cyberspace related to UMass hockey that it’s worth posting something tonight.

Matt Vautour of the Gazette has his piece on the Frank Vatrano committing to UMass.  As Matt details, and some readers have asked about, a lot depends on if Vatrano can get a waiver from the NCAA to consider this current fall semester as one of the two he’ll have to sit out as a transfer.  Since he was enrolled at BC he’s technically considered a member of the Eagle hockey team this semester despite not even practicing with the team.  He’ll need the NCAA to overrule that status, otherwise he wouldn’t be eligible to play at UMass until January of 2014 at the earliest.  There’s a chance that he may opt to play in the Q rather than wait that long if he’s unable to secure the necessary waiver.  In both the article in the Gazette and the Republican Vatrano seems confident that the NCAA clearinghouse issues were just a misunderstanding.  It’s still unknown if this means the issue is therefore resolved, but I’ll do my best to find out if that’s the case.

Nick Canelas of the Collegian has his Vatrano to UMass story for the student paper.  He also has this excellent piece on co-captain Rocco Carzo.  Canelas  is doing a great job following a tradition of talented student writers covering the Minuteman hockey team.  College Hockey News’ Michael King and Joe Meloni are part of that tradition as is current Boston Herald Patriots beat writer Jeff Howe.  Nice to see him get a opportunity with CHN this year in addition to his Collegian duties.

Another in that tradition of UMass hockey writers, Andrew Merritt, writes the Vatrano to UMass story for New England Hockey Journal.

Richard Murray is delivering regular profiles of Minutemen for Hockey’s Future.  This time it’s Joel Hanley who get the profile piece.  Hanley has had an up and down start to the season, thrown off a bit by his early exit in the game against Boston College.  But I still think he’s on the verge of a breakout season within Hockey East.

Being 0-3-0 in the conference drops UMass a spot in CHN’s Hockey East power rankings.

Boston University Preview; Patrick Lee Commits

#13 Boston University Terriers 1-1-0 (1-1-0) T-3rd Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 1-1-0 (0-1-0) T-7th Hockey East

This will be a key weekend for Massachusetts who looks to bounce back from a very disappointing performance last Friday that saw them drop a game to Boston College despite having a two goal lead late. This is more than just trying to gain some momentum and confidence however. UMass must pick up points this weekend to avoid finding themselves near or at the bottom of the standings just three games into the conference schedule. It won’t be easy though as they’ll have two games against #13 Boston University, including one at Agganis Arena where the Minutemen have traditionally struggled.

BU has a win and a loss on the early season, topping Providence 4-2 in the season opener but losing 4-1 in Durham last week to UNH. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in net for the Terriers this weekend. Freshman Matt O’Connor started the first game and did well only allowing the two goals. Last week against UNH fellow freshman Sean Maguire got the nod but was pulled after 32 mins and four goals. O’Connor came in to relieve him and was perfect for the remainder of the game.

So far the Terriers are getting their scoring from all around as their five goals have been scored by five different players. A couple of those names aren’t unexpected, like Wade Megan and Garrett Noonan. But they’ve also gotten some good production from a couple of sophomores like Evan Rodrigues who has three assists so far and Carson Hohmann who as a goal and a couple assists as well. None of their heralded freshman class has tallied a goal to this point, but it’s probably only time until someone like Sam Kurker or Danny O’Regan puts one in th enet. BU will look to improve upon their power play and by improve I mean score. So far the Terriers are an uncharacteristic 0 for 7 on the season with the extra man.

UMass on the other hand will look to continue their impressive work on special teams. They’ve scored three power play goals on 13 chances thus far on the season, good for 23.1% and second among Hockey East teams. On the other side of things they’ve killed 11 of 12 of their opponents’ power play chances. That’s an excellent start for a team that struggled mightily on the penalty kill last year.

There shouldn’t be a lot of adjustments for the team to make as they’re playing pretty good hockey so far. They looked a bit rusty against UConn but played well enough to get the easy win. And they dominated the defending national champion for 40 minutes last week before a shortened bench caught up to them at the end. Even in that third period the team didn’t necessarily play poorly, BC just had a step on the Minutemen who simply ran out of gas. The one glaring thing the team will need to change from the first two games is the amount of penalties they’re taking. Double digit penalties like occurred against UConn absolutely cannot happen and losing Joel Hanley to an early misconduct ultimately became the difference maker last year.

While UMass has usually not done well at Agganis they did upset the then top ranked Terriers there last year. The veterans will look to rekindle whatever drove them to the win there tomorrow night before coming home to what should be another good crowd on Saturday. Not to sound like a broken record but it is imperative for UMass to scratch and claw for any points they can get early in the season. It doesn’t get any easier after this weekend as next week brings a white hot UNH team to town and an early season rematch with the Eagles. Two or three points against a good BU team would pay dividends in the long run for the Minutemen.

Beer The Triangle
No trip to Agganis is complete without a visit to mini-Sunset across the street. Last year we were lucky enough to be able to celebrate UMass’ big win with Alchemist Heady Toppers there. Now I’m lucky enough to be drinking a Heady as I write this preview. A look at Sunset’s menu shows a rarely seen Anderson Valley Cerveza Crema, a Green Flash/St Feullians collaboration, and a Southern Tier 2X Milk Stout. Saturday I plan to deviate from the usual pregame plans at the Hangar and hangout with friends and alumni for Homecoming festivities. Part of those festivities will be drinking some Bell’s Brewing that the legendary Flag Guy, veteran of the UMass student section, will be bootlegging from Pennsylvania.

As first relayed by Matt Vautour this afternoon, UMass picked up a commitment from forward Patrick Lee. Lee is currently playing for the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The 5’9” 155lb Lee is a native of Calgary. So far this year for Brooks he has eight goals and seven assists in just 13 games, that’s good for 17th in the league for goals and 20th for overall points. He’s already well ahead of his pace of last year when he scored nine goals to go with 23 assists in 51 games with Brooks. UMass has had luck with forwards coming out of the AJHL before, the most recent being Branden Gracel.

Here’s a goal of his last season, complete with Chelsea Dagger:

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Lee has already been picked AJHL Player of the Week once this year. Lee was also recently invited to the selection camp to represent Canada West at the World Junior Championships. No word on when Lee is coming to Amherst, but one would have to think it’d be for 2014 since there are already five and perhaps six player committed for next fall.

Matty V previews the game and adds that Mike Pereira is 100% good to go.

Harry Plumer has his game preview where Coach Mick says fatigue is not a worry, despite last week’s late game collapse. Plumer also had this feature on Gracel and Stephen Guzzo earlier in the week.

Michael King of College Hockey News has this story on the team trying to bounce back from last week’s loss. CHN also has their look at the weekend ahead as well as their Hockey East power rankings with UMass sticking at #7.

NESN has a preview of the home and home with BU where they predict Kevin Boyle will start on Friday.

The Collegian had this look at the student fan support in last week’s game.

Coach Mick was a guest on the Slap Schotts podcast this week, which provides excellent coverage of the ECAC.

Hockey’s Future has this profile of Conor Sheary.

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