The roster is out and updated. I’ve done my best to quantify the potential impact of this year’s freshmen. So I figure it’s time to speculate on potential lines we’ll see this coming season. To be honest, it’s incredibly hard to guess what the lines will be. First, I have no idea what sort of combinations Coach Micheletto will want to use. When I projected lines last Spring I projected them to what I thought we would see based on Coach Cahoon’s history and tendencies. I have no idea what Coach Mick’s tendencies are. Does he like to split up his stars like Cahoon did or make one top power line? Does he always like to put right-handed shots on the left wing and vice versa or does he just put the best players together? I have no idea. We’ll find out. The second thing that makes it so hard is the fast that the roster is so large. There will be 17 forwards trying to be one of 12 that dress, nine defensemen for six slots on the blueline, and three contenders to start in net. Third, not only are the freshmen a big question mark, due to lack of playing time last year, a lot of the sophomore forwards are as well. Can an Andrew Telgeler or Zack LaRue come in and have a break out season? Definitely. I just can’t predict if it happens or who it may be. So with all that said here we go:
When I was playing around with potential lines last Spring I had Rocco Carzo and Branden Gracel on the top line with Conor Sheary. This was driven by the fact that I thought Cahoon would continue to want two equally deep lines and therefore would split Sheary and Pereira, as he did in the second half of last season However, no longer having to project to the thoughts of Cahoon, I’m putting together the lines as I would. And I like the idea of those two together. I have Guzzo at center because I thought he was on the same page as Pereira quite a bit last year. This allows me to move Gracel down and pair him up with the senior Carzo where the two of them will help provide some experience to a line that also features freshman K.J. Tiefenwerth. This line will be successful only if Carzo evolves his game a little more offensively, going back somewhat to what we saw earlier in his career after having a solid season on the third line last year. Overall the first line above scored 39 of UMass’ 114 goals last year while Gracel and Carzo contributed 9 and Tiefenwerth netting 30 in juniors.
Pat Kiley and Troy Power stay on the third line with Eric Filiou replacing Carzo at center. However, given how he improved during the year, we could see Power on the second line this coming season as well. This line had 8 goals last year. For the fourth line I have Eddie Olczyk returning to an everyday role, never fully understanding why he went from 21 games his freshman year to just 16 last year, Kevin “Holyoke” Czepiel returns to center, while Andrew Tegeler will get the last wing spot. I think Tegeler has tremendous upside between his size and the skills he showed at times, but the fact is all these players, especially those on the bottom lines, will have to practice hard to get in the lineup. In no particular order Zack LaRue, Evan Stack, Shane Walsh, Peter DeAngelo, and Emerson Auvenshine will all be gunning to dress everyday as well. The fourth line of Olczyk-Czepiel-Tegeler had four goals last year. The returning players I have on the bench scored three goals, all by DeAngelo.
For defensemen I believe getting three solid pairings with players who compliment each other is the best methodology. Joel Hanley and Adam Phillips should be able to play decent defense, but at the same time both move the puck well and would be a significant scoring threat. Now befing on the first pairing would require Phillips to bounce back from a tough sophomore season that saw him miss a number of games as a healthy scratch. This pairing was a combined +10 last year. The second pairing of Conor Allen and Oleg Yevenko would be a bruising one and I think this would be a beneficial matchup of Allen, who at times was the anchor of the UMass defense last season, with the still developing potential of Yevenko. These two combined for a –2 last season. Lastly I have Colin Shea and Anthony Raiola in the last pairing, finished even combined last year, however truth be told it could also be Mike Busillo, freshman Connor Doherty, or Darren Rowe here. No matter who it is next to him, Shea’s consistency should help solidify the third pairing.
Just as last year, UMass fans have no idea who will be in net on opening night. Kevin Boyle had the best season statistically and ended up starting both playoff games against Boston College, doing fairly well both nights. Steve Mastalerz had a number of good games as well, including a shutout of #1 BC in January. I think the goaltending job will come down to one of these two and frankly I have no idea what the new coach’s thoughts are on goaltender rotations so it may be both. However, don’t be surprised if junior Jeff Teglia is in the mix again as well. It probably doesn’t hurt that he had his best games last season against Vermont and his now coaching staff.
That’s my guess for lines, feel free to share how you’d put them all together in the comment section.
The coaching staff is now complete as Dan Lupi will serve as Goaltending Coach this coming season. Lupi works with former goalie coach Mike Buckley at Buckley’s GDS Goaltender school. Lupi played in net for Assumption College, holding school records in a number of categories.
The Athletic Department posted this video with Mike Pereira and Conor Allen on their pre-season activities as they prepare for the season. The more I see of Allen the more I think he may become a candidate to be a captain or assistant this coming season:
There are a couple jersey number changes reflected on the roster. Andrew Tegeler will go from #23 last year to #14 with T.J. Syner graduating while Troy Power takes #22 instead of #20. As for the freshmen, Shane Walsh will be #15, Evan Stack #20, Connor Doherty is #23, and K.J. Tiefenwerth goes with #28.
Not a big surprise but Danny Hobbs did officially sign with the Connecticut Whale, AHL team to the Rangers who held his draft rights. Hobbs’ hand injury suffered in the playoffs last year prevented him from joining the Whale after the season ended.
More details came out late last week surrounding the report on Boston University’s hockey program. I understand that there are similar problems like this that occur on campuses all across the country, but some of the quotes in that article are appalling. One of the players saying, “you don’t ask [permission for sex] when you are drunk” and a female student describing being groped without permission as “that’s just what [BU hockey players] do,” is, frankly, disgusting. I really hope this sort of stuff doesn’t go on with the UMass hockey team. While I totally realize at the end of the day these guys are college students and will do a lot of the same stuff we all did as college students, a lot of what is described in the BU report goes above and beyond the usual campus craziness. Say what you will about Toot Cahoon’s time here, but for the most part UMass has avoided this kind of negative press because he recruited character in addition to skill.
As most thought, Hockey East will be moving to a playoff format in the future that will have all conference teams making the playoffs. This will start next season when Notre Dame joins the league. I’m pretty neutral about this. I personally thought the current format makes the regular season that much more important and made for some excitement at the bottom of the standings down the stretch. But at the same time there’s nothing wrong with more hockey on more campuses come March.
Lastly, when I’m not trying to plan my next FTT post during the fall I’m usually planning tailgates. Some fellow loyal UMass fans and I have being doing our best to have the best tailgate at the football games. Or, at the very least, the tailgate with the best beer selection. So it was very cool to have our tailgate (and my homebrew) featured with others by Matt Vautour on Saturday when the Minutemen made their FBS debut. The Republican even gave us some pictorial love. Understandably, it will take a few years for the product on the field to reach the FBS level, but the action in the parking lots outside the stadium is already well on its way. I highly recommend catching a game or two this season if you aren’t already planning to.