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Winter Is Coming…

Yes, Fear The Triangle is back in business and you can thank Game of Thrones for that.  Really.  First, let’s back up a bit to about 21 months ago when I first announced the blog going on permanent hiatus.  With impending fatherhood and homeownership on the horizon I figured I would have a tough time just following the team much less watching games and then trying to keep other fans up to date.  I was partly right.

In April I bought a house on the South Shore and a couple months later my beautiful daughter arrived, punctually arriving on her due date to the overwhelming joy of myself and my wife.  I thought the baby and the house would encompass every last minute of my life, and they kind of do, but at the same time you still can juggle stuff around for some free time or just incorporate them into the rest of your life as best you can.  So there were many times last season when I sat with my infant daughter on my lap while watching UMass hockey streaming on my computer.  But other times I was able to sneak away for a few hours and make the trip out to Amherst to see the team in person.  And a couple times my wife and I took the baby to the game where she saw a win in her very first game and didn’t even cry when she met creepy gray Sam.  Not surprisingly, my 15 month old daughter already recognizes and points out the UMass logo wherever she finds it.  As for the house I quickly learned that I’m incapable of doing even basic maintenance so mostly I keep myself busy as a homeowner by complaining and waiting for the next bill to come in for all the stuff that goes wrong.

So while I was able to keep up with the team and how the season fared last year there’s still no way I would’ve been able to keep up with the blog.   In retrospect, I’m very glad I shut it down, even if only for just one year.  There were just too many midnight wake ups, constant feedings, crying (sometimes by me, sometimes by the baby), soothing, rocking, and a hundred other things going on to prevent me from logging on and spending hours writing about hockey.  But, things got better.  Soon the baby realized how to use her fingers and was able to start feeding herself.  Sleeping through the nights luckily started early on and regular naptimes soon followed.  Towards the very end of the hockey season I was soon finding I had some free time each night after the girl’s bedtime.

That newfound spare time was filled in the Spring when my wife and I squashed all four seasons of Game of Thrones into a month’s worth of binge watching.  Once that was completed I was hooked on the series and the characters and moved right on to reading the Song of Ice and Fire book series the show was based on.  That kept me busy all summer.  A couple weeks ago with only a few chapters left I started to wonder what I’d do to keep myself busy going forward.  I’ve never been one to spend my nights in front of the TV watching NCIS:Cleveland or whatever so it led me back here. So yes, Game of Thrones helped me realize that I had enough time to do this blog again.

I’m looking forward to writing about UMass hockey again and doing what I can to help other fans follow the team.  I’ll actually start writing about the team itself in the coming days, but it should be an interesting season to follow.  There are a ton of new players to get to know.  With those new players Coach Micheletto has a roster made up of players better suited to play his style of hockey.  UMass has a new Hockey East“rival” in UConn.  And there are a lot of interesting storylines within the conference itself, as evidenced by the fact that Providence is the team to beat.

One thing to keep in mind is that sequels, even the good ones, are rarely as good as the original.  That’s likely going to be the case with FTT 2.0.  While I do have some free time, I definitely won’t be able to put as much into this as I did during the first few years.  I wouldn’t get back into this if I didn’t think I’d be able to put enough into it to keep everyone informed and offer some insight.  But I still won’t be able to get to all the games, home and away, like I used to.  The previews and recaps may not be quite as long.  I might not have a weekly column every week.  But, I still think this will be the place for UMass hockey fans to come to know what’s going on with their team.  Especially since no other UMass hockey fan sites popped up in the last year and a half to fill the void anyway (looking at you Fight Mass boys).

I plan on keeping the format roughly the same:

  • Mondays:  Polls & Awards
  • Tuesdays:  Recruit Updates
  • Wednesday:  View From Section U Semi-Regular Column
  • Thursday/Friday:  Weekend Preview
  • Saturday/Sunday:  Weekend Recap

In the immediate future I plan to do a Hockey East preview, write a “what to watch for” ahead of this Saturday’s exhibition, write about the newcomers to the team, and of course write a season preview for the team itself.

So I guess that’s it.  I want to thank all the Minuteman fans out there who continued to tell me how much they enjoyed, and then missed, the blog.  You kept FTT at the forefront of my mind and helped me realize the tremendous reach this blog.  Hopefully FTT continues to be a place for the diehard fans to keep up with the team.  What I would really love is for the program to start to ascend in the Hockey East standings and FTT ends up being where all the bandwagon UMass fans come to learn the details and history of their newest favorite team.  Let’s hope the wheels on that bandwagon start rolling next Friday against Boston University.

Go UMass!

It was a bit surprising to find UMass in the Also Receiving Votes list of the first USCHO poll of the season, but that’s great recognition going into the season.

That wasn’t the case with the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll however.

Here are the details of this Saturday’s exhibition against Dalhousie from the CIS.  To my knowledge this will be the first time the exhibition game will be held in the Mullins Center.  Also, if you’re unable to make it the game will be broadcast on WHMP as well.

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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.

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.

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