Time to hand out some hardware (if I actually had real hardware and it wouldn’t be considered some kind of booster violation by the NCAA to hand it out).
▲ Fear The Triangle Player of the Year
I try to make this one simple. Win or lose I pick a player of the game when I write my recaps. Sometime it’s an obvious choice, sometimes not so much. Sometimes it’s dictated by stats, sometimes it could be something intangible I saw. Sometimes it’s for a specific play or sometimes it’s for the entire effort. For my Player of the Year Award I add up each of those individual Player of the Game awards and that’s the winner. Luckily in the four years I’ve been doing this I’ve never had to break a tie. And that’s the case this year as senior co-captain Rocco Carzo led all other players with five POTG honors.
As I mentioned in my post for the seniors, Carzo’s career at UMass has come full circle. This season he was able to make huge contributions on offense while also playing the same solid defense that we saw the last two years. His nine goals were 4th best on the team and also tied for 4th in terms of total points. Those nine goals also matched the amount he had scored in his previous three years combined. But it was his consistent two way play that really helped the Minutemen this year, regularly having to go up against the best opposing players.
Here was the final count of the 2012-13 Player of the Game selections:
▲ Fear The Triangle Newcomer of the Year
My preseason pick for this award was K.J. Tiefenwerth given his production in the EJHL. But junior league performance isn’t always the best judge of how a player will do in college and the fact that I’m choosing Shane Walsh for this award shows that. It was unknown just what kind of impact Walsh would have when he got to UMass. He didn’t put up a ton of points in the USHL (28 in 72 games) and it appeared that guys like Tiefenwerth and Evan Stack would be more likely to contribute right away. But that wasn’t the case. When Walsh hit the ice in the Fall he immediately looked like he belonged out there. He got his first goal against Boston University in just his third game and the next time out assisted on Darren Rowe’s game winning goal versus New Hampshire. He missed most of the games in November due to injury and even at that early point in his career his presence in the lineup was missed. By the end of the year he was a key part of the power play and noticeably improved along the way. All in all Walsh ended the year with three goals and eight assists, numbers he’ll be expected to build upon during his sophomore year.
▲ Fear The Triangle Breakout Player of the Year
Branden Gracel had already been an integral part of the UMass offense through his first two years, totaling 11 goals and 23 assists. However I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted the type of season he was going to have this past year. He led the team in goals (14), assists (20), plus/minus (+7), game winning goals (3), and shots (104). His total points were 6th best among Hockey East players and he was 9th in goal scoring. And then we get to probably his best skill; faceoffs. While his 59.5% faceoff winning percentage was technically second in the conference behind UNH’s John Henrion, Gracel was at the dot 682 times compared to Henrion’s 153. Gracel’s 406 faceoff wins was 10th best in the country. Gracel’s season was nothing short of spectacular and is the favorite to be named MVP when team awards are handed out next month.
I won’t be doing any more recruit updates as I want to concentrate on my season recap posts. However I did want to point out something I noticed on Chris Heisenberg’s recruiting site. All four of the recruits who committed to former coach Toot Cahoon are now designated to come to Amherst in 2014 or 2015. Mark Hamilton and Mike Iovanna were previously designated on the site to arrive next fall while Willy Smith and Casey Miller were designated for 2014. Obviously when a coaching change takes place the status of the recruits is put into flux. I have heard that one recruit had his scholarship offer withdrawn and was invited to walk-on. I’m not sure if that’s what is happening here with everyone and the players are being given time to decide if they want to take that option or go elsewhere. Or they could be asked to play a year of juniors to prove themselves before the scholarship is confirmed. We’ll see. Also changing on the site is Dennis Kravchenko is now due in Amherst this fall. Previously it said 2013 or 2014.
Dick Baker had this feature in the Republican on Holyoke’s Kevin Czepiel ending his UMass career.