Preview ▲ Minutemen Look To Stay Perfect As They Open League Play Against UNH

New Hampshire Wildcats 1-2-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East


Massachusetts Minutemen 3-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team has found early success in their non-conference schedule, starting out the year 3-0-0.  They’ll look to carry over that early momentum as they kick off their Hockey East schedule at home against the New Hampshire Wildcats.  After starting their season against a rebuilding Colorado College program and Atlantic Hockey’s Sacred Heart, UNH, a team picked to finish 6th in the league, should prove to a step up in terms of competition for the Minutemen.

UNH is hoping to rebound from a disappointing weekend at home where they dropped a couple one goal games to the North Country teams of Clarkson and St Lawrence.  The trip to the Mullins Center on Friday will be the first game away from Durham for UNH after they opened the season with a dominant home win against AIC by the score of 7-3.

UNH’s problem so far seems to be goaltending.  Danny Tirone joined the Wildcats in mid-season last year and ended up being one of the prominent storylines for the team.  He went 9-4-0 in the second half of last season with a .924 save percentage.  Through three games this season though he’s made 78 saves on 88 shots on net, just a .886 save percentage.  Even in the AIC game he allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for a sub-.900 save percentage.  If Tirone is unable to get the job done in net for the ‘Cats, they’ll have to turn to freshman Adam Clark who had a .894 save percentage in 21 games last season.

Though the AIC game skews their statistics somewhat, UNH has been getting the job done offensively, averaging 4 goals per game so far.  They have matched their opponents in terms of shots on goal per game with 29.3, right around the national average.  It’s no surprise that Tyler Kelleher is among the top scorers so far for the Wildcats as he’s one of the best forwards in the league.  Kelleher led his team in points last year with 42 in 39 games and so far has 2 goals and 2 assists in their four games.  It is a little strange though to see senior Maxim Gaudreault as the top goal-scorer for UNH as the 3 goals already scored so far this season matches the amount he scored in 30 games last season.

There has been a lot of talk about the quality of UMass’ 3-0-0 start this week.  Some people have pointed to their easy schedule.  Others have said that their high shooting percentage (16.9%) or shots attempted differential (-67) shows that they’ve been “lucky” and that once they play tougher opponents their fortunes will turn.  It’s true that their shooting percentage will come down and they need to do a better job of possessing the puck, but I would argue there are other reasons why they’re winning.

They’ve gotten some solid individual efforts from the likes of Dennis Kravchenko, Austin Plevy, and Shane Walsh.  Those three have accounted for 11 of UMass’ 26 goals so far.  The team has also done a great job at converting their power play opportunities.  Their 33% power play conversion is tied for 5th best in the country so far.  Lastly, while UMass has allowed opponents to attempt a good number of shots, they’ve gotten very solid goaltending on the other end of those shots.  Nic Renyard and Henry Dill have an identical .938 save percentage so far this season, which is good for 17th best in the country.

UMass will probably have to do a better job in terms of possessing the puck against a talented, yet struggling UNH team this weekend.  But aside from that, I’m not sure I’d do too much differently if I were Coach Micheletto.  The team is playing extremely well right now and their success so far should allow them to play confidently in their league opener.  With the game at home a 4-0-0 start is within their grasp.  But in the long run starting off Hockey East with a 1-0-0 record may be more important.

Beer The Triangle
The merger of the Hangar and Amherst Brewing Company has not only made it a little easier to find a table and enjoy some wings pre or post-game, but it has helped relaunch ABC brewing.  After kicking off the new era with a very good IPA, Jess, the most recent addition to the ABC lineup is an aromatic wet hop brew, Chelsea.  Definitely worth a try.

Preview From UMass Athletics.

The Collegian has their preview of Friday’s game as well as this interesting piece on sophomore Dominic Trento and his start so far.

The Gazette has their preview.

For a UNH viewpoint, here’s the preview from the Foster’s Daily Democrat.

To get you psyched up for Friday’s matchup, here’s the UMass hockey intro video:

Recruit Update ▲ Bear And Nachtigall Continue To Provide Offense For Brooks

Time to check in with the future Minutemen.

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Weekend Wrap-around ▲Kravchenko Named Hockey East Player Of The Week

Two weeks.  Two hat tricks.  Two honors for Massachusetts hockey players.  Austin Plevy’s opening night hat trick gained him last week’s Hockey East Rookie of the Week.  After his own hat trick this past Friday in UMass’ win over Sacred Heart, sophomore Dennis Kravchenko was named Hockey East Player of the Week.  It’s his first POTW honor after being named Rookie of the Week once last year.  In addition to the three goals Kravchenko also assisted on Dominic Trento’s goal in the game against the Pioneers.  Plevy was named a Top Performer for his two assist effort against Sacred Heart.

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Recap ▲ Minutemen Stay Undefeated With 5-2 Win Over Sacred Heart

The Massachusetts hockey team improved to 3-0-0 on the young season with a 5-2 win over the Sacred Heart Pioneers in the team’s home opener.  For the second Friday night in a row the game featured a Minuteman hat trick.  While freshman Austin Plevy had a three goal effort in the season opener at Colorado College, it was sophomore Dennis Kravcheno with the hat trick, the first of his collegiate career, this past Friday.

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Preview ▲ Minutemen Return Home To Open Mullins Slate Against Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Pioneers 0-0-1 (0-0-0) T-2nd Atlantic Hockey


Massachusetts Minutemen 2-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team will look to build off a very successful trip west where they gained two wins when they play their first home game on Friday against the Sacred Heart Pioneers.  The Minutemen swept the Colorado College Tigers in Colorado Springs last week thanks to offense outbursts from freshman Austin Plevy and senior Shane Walsh as well as some solid goaltending from the duo of Henry Dill and Nic Renyard.  UMass will look to stay undefeated on the young season against a Sacred Heart team that’s a little tough to read.

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Recruit Update ▲ Nachtigall, Makar Combine For 4 Goals, 7 points In Two Bandit Wins

It’s Tuesday so time to take a look around the continent and see how the future Minutemen are doing.

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Weekend Wrap-around ▲ Plevy Named Hockey East Co-Rookie Of The Week

For his role in helping the Massachusetts hockey program gain an opening weekend sweep in Colorado Springs Minuteman freshman Austin Plevy was named Hockey East Co-Rookie of the Week today.  He shares the honor with UConn’s Max Letunov who, like Plevy, also had a hat trick in his collegiate debut.  In addition to the 3 goals and one assist in Friday night’s 6-3 win Plevy also scored the game-winner on Saturday.  Plevy and Mercyhurt’s Taylor Best, who has played one more game than Plevy, are tied for the national lead in goals.  Shane Walsh (3G, 2A) and Nic Renyard (45 saves) were named Top Performers by the league this week for their efforts this weekend.

graphic by Hockey East

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Recap ▲ UMass Opens Season With A Sweep of Colorado College

The Massachusetts hockey program is off to its best start since 2009-10 with an opening weekend sweep of the Colorado College Tigers of the NCHC in Colorado Springs.  The Minutemen kicked off the season with a 6-3 victory on Friday night, highlighted by freshman Austin Plevy scoring a hat trick in his UMass debut.  On Saturday Plevy would score the game-winner in a wild game that saw the team score 4 goals in the 3rd period to comeback from an earlier 3-0 deficit.

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Weekend Preview ▲ Minutemen Head West To Open Season Against Colorado College

Colorado College Tigers 0-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st NCHC


Massachusetts Minutemen 0-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey program travels to the foot of the Rockies to open the 2015-16 season.  The Minutemen taking on the Colorado College Tigers to kick off the season won’t be seen as one of the marquee opening weekend matchups, but it is a very interesting one.  And while I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying whatever happens this weekend will be a precursor to the entire season, it should at least give UMass fans a glimpse of what the team may be capable of in the early going.

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Recruit Update ▲ Conzo Off To A Hot Start In The BCHL

This week’s recruit update was pushed back a day so I could get my season preview out last night.  Here’s how the future Minutemen did this past week.

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