About these ads

Saturday Recap

There’s honestly not too much to post about regarding last night’s game at Providence.  The Massachusetts defense looked much better than the night before, when they gave up five goals.  Perhaps some of that was due to an increased focus with Steve Mastalerz getting the start.  He played very well and it was good to see him back healthy and performing well.  But I think after Friday some kind of message had to be sent to the defense and changing from Kevin Boyle, who hadn’t really played poorly, was the way to do it.

However, even with the defense having aa better than average game, it didn’t matter.  UMass generated 44 shots on the night and yet could not get any of them past Friar goaltender John Gillies.  The popular opinion will be that the Minutemen did the best they could and just “ran into a hot goalie”.  From someone who was there I would say their shot selection wasn’t the best it could be, but in the end Gillies did play extremely well and led his team to a win.  UMass got four behind him on Friday but couldn’t get any in the net on Saturday.

I was happy that defensively UMass played much, much better last night.  After allowing Providence to skate in the offensive zone at will, the Minutemen did a great job shutting down the Friars, limiting them to just 12 shots through the first two periods and 24 overall.  But, UMass lost the game and got swept on the weekend.  The two losses are going to hurt very much in the long run.  They needed to play with desperation last night and they didn’t.  The Minutemen could not build off the momentum of winning the Ledyard Classic and kicked off the second half of the Hockey East season by losing two games a team they could’ve been battling for home ice.  Now they’re all alone in 8th place, just one point ahead of Northeastern in 9th, and home ice is nothing but a dream, seven points ahead of them in the standings.  If they’re unable to gain any points from a home and home with Providence it’s tough to imagine they’ll be successful against Boston College next weekend or two games at 7th place Vermont the week after.  This weekend was, quite frankly, a disaster.  We’ll see if they can pick up wins during the balance of the season to make up for it.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Conor Allen
As said the defense looked much improve this game.  On the blueline Allen looked in good shape, playing good D, blocking a couple shots, and even getting five shots on net.

Coach Micheletto says the team could not have played better according to the Republican’s recap.

Similar comments in the Collegian game story.

Here’s how the game looked for the Herald.

About these ads

Providence Preview

Providence College Friars 7-8-3 (5-4-2) 4th Hockey East (12 pts)

vs

Massachusetts Minutemen 7-9-2 (4-6-1) 7th Hockey East (9 pts)

Massachusetts and Providence will close out their season series with a home and home this weekend starting with a game tomorrow night at the Mullins.  The teams met last in the beginning of November in what I thought was UMass’ most complete game so far this season as they shutout the Friars 4-0.  In that game the Minutemen had a sizable edge in shots, 32-17, and scored their goals even strength, on the power play, and even shorthanded.  When the Minutemen play this weekend the team will, most likely, still be missing one of the key components of that win in the form of Troy Power, who had a goal, an assist, and finished +3 in that previous game against the Friars.

The loss against UMass put the Friars at .500 on the season and they’ve struggled to be any better than that since.  They’ve only won three games since losing to the Minutemen and last gained a win in late November, a 4-3 overtime victory against Merrimack.  They come into the game 0-2-3 in their last five, though one of those ties came against Boston College.  Last weekend they travelled out to Minnesota State and dropped both weekend games, one in overtime.

Offensively the Friars are fourth among Hockey East teams, tied with the Minutemen scoring 2.78 goals per game.  Unlike UMass though they gain most of their goals at even strength, as their power play is next to last in the league at just 12.7%.  The Friars have spread the scoring around with five players having at least four goals on the season but no one has more than six.  Junior Derek Army is tops in goals and total points with six goals  and 12 points respectively.  Sophomore Ross Mauermann is one of the few Frairs who has had power play success with three of his five goals coming with the extra man.  Freshman star Mark Jankowski (4G, 4A) has missed the last four games with a hip injury and his status for this weekend is unknown.

While Providence is scoring the same as UMass, they’re giving up considerably less goals.  Their 2.44 goals per game is 3rd best in the league (UMass is last with 3.06).  A good deal of those goals though have come a man down as PC is only killing only 80% of power play chances, worst in the league.  The Friar defense is led by seniors Alex Velischek and Myles Harvey.  Freshman goaltender Jon Gilles will be returning to the Friars after being part of the gold winning Team USA effort at the World Juniors.  It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to jump right in and play without having to readjust  as he has not seen much game action recently as he was relegated to backup duty overseas.  Before he left though he was playing wonderfully, putting up a GAA of 1.95 and .928 save percentage.  Both of those puts him at 2nd in the league behind UNH’s Casey DeSmith.

For UMass it’s all about carrying over what they established up in Hanover.  They certainly played poorly in that first period against Bemidji State.  But from then on they were the better team during the entire tournament. Against the Beavers they surpassed with skill.  Against Dartmouth, due to the interfering officiating, they just made the most of what they were given and took the hardware.  UMass will have some momentum to start the second half but it’s less than what they would’ve had if they didn’t have last week off.  As a UMass fan you’re happy to give guys like Steve Mastalerz and Troy Power an extra week to get healthy but you also would’ve rather the team picked up right where they left off when they were grabbing the trophy up in Hanover.  Will they be able to recapture momentum?

Certainly it seems like UMass would do well to make the most of their power play.  On paper that’s the biggest advantage seen in the statistics.  Providence is dead last on the penalty kill while UMass is second best at 20.6%.  UMass will also have to rely on their stars.  Going into the season most Minuteman fans thought it would be Mike Pereira or Conor Sheary doing  most of the work for the team but so far it’s been Branden Gracel who’s been the MVP.  Now that the has the attention upon him can he continue to produce at the rate he has thus far?

The Minutemen have a tremendous opportunity in front of them.  Despite some struggles in the first half of the year they still find themselves in 7th place in Hockey East and with some luck and a couple of wins they can vault themselves into home ice position this weekend with a sweep.  But they’ll have to play like they did in Hanover, with a bit of desperation and a whole lot of effort, versus how they did against Yale or Colgate to end the year where they look lackadaisical. The hope was the trip and the challenge in Hanover woke up this team.  These two games against the Friars will tell us if that’s the case.

Beer The Triangle
The Hanger has Café Racer 15.  That is all.

Sorry, can’t find any previews for this weekend as everyone is busy with basketball.

Here’s CHN’s look at the Hockey East weekend that shall be.

Providence Preview

Providence Friars 4-3-1 (3-2-0) T-4th Hockey East

at

Massachusetts Minutemen 2-4-0 (1-4-0) 8th Hockey East

Tomorrow will be an interesting game for the Minutemen.  To date they’ve faced a daunting Hockey East schedule and it has resulted in an unfortunate result of 1-4-0 in the conference so far.   But on Friday it gets, perhaps, not quite as intimidating.  To date the Hockey East teams that UMass has played have been traditional Hockey East powers currently ranked in the top 15 in the polls, not to mention teams that have a lot of recent success over UMass.  Providence does not fall into those categories.  But that’s not to say that the Friars should be overlooked.  However the point I’m trying to make is that few UMass fans thought the team would be competing with the likes of Boston College, Boston University, or New Hampshire this year.  Instead they thought or at least hoped it would be teams like the Friars, picked to finish in the middle of the conference, that would be the ones UMass could have to beat consistently to be successful.

That’s not to say it’ll be easy though.  It didn’t take Nate Leaman long to improve the Providence program, leading the Friars to the TD Garden last spring.  So far they’ve done about what you can expect from a talented, but young team.  They narrowly lost at BU, got a tie from Miami followed by a loss, swept Maine, and split with a surprising Vermont team.  Probably not the start to the season that the Friar team was hoping for, but not entirely unexpected.

This Friar team is young.  Of the nine players leading in points only two of them are juniors or seniors, and both of those are defensemen.  The team has been led by sophomore Ross Mauermann who has four goals and two assists so far this season.  A lot of attention has been paid upon freshman and first round draft pick Mark Jankowski who has three goals on the season, though two of those came in the season opener against Sacred Heart.  Providence has also gotten some good production from sophomore Shane Luke and freshman Paul De Jersey who have a couple of goals apiece.

The defensemen have also contributed on offense as senior defenseman Myles Harvey is averaging almost an assist a game so far.  Freshman blueliner John Gilmour has had two goals to go with three assists to date.  The Minutemen will also still have to deal with senior talent Alex Velischek on defense for the Friars.  In net UMass will get their first look at John Gilles, the Northeastern Husky recruit turned Friar goaltender.  Though it’s still early on the season he’s already been named Hockey East Rookie of the Week twice and garnered Defensive Player of the Week honors as well.  Those accolades are not a surprise when you consider the fact that he has a 1.80 goals against average thus far to go with a .932 save percentage.

The good news for UMass when facing Gilles is that the goaltender who is ahead of him statistically so far is Casey DeSmith, the backstop the Minutemen beat last weekend for their first Hockey East win.  Still, beating the Friars will not be easy.  They don’t have a ton of experience, but they believe in themselves and their coach.  But for the Minutemen, this is a bit of a referendum (apologies for the political terminology, I’m sure we’re all enjoying our respite from the negative ads).  UMass has a poor record so far in conference, but they’ve been in almost all the game against top notch opponents and nearly pulled off a number of high profile upsets.  If they’ve been *this close* from beating the likes of BU and BC, this veteran UMass squad should be able to beat an inexperienced Friar team at home, right?  We’ll see.

When first looking at the schedule I perhaps overestimated Providence and was initially very worried about this game.  Perhaps I put too much into how the Friars finished last year without accounting for just how many underclassmen they have to rely on to win this year.  But overall, those underclassmen have come through so far.  If anything you have to wonder where the production is from the likes of Tim Schaller (1G, 2A) and Derek Army (1G, 2A).  Point being, UMass cannot overlook this team.

For the Minutemen, they just have to build off what has gone right for them so far.  There has been a lot of switching of lines to find the right mix, but I thought the line combinations are starting to come together.  The Steven Guzzo/Rocco Carzo/Conor Sheary grouping looked very good last week and helped to get Sheary his first goal.  The other top line of Mike Pereira/Branden Gracel/Troy Power did very well with Power putting up a multi-point night against BC and Pereira getting his first point of the season.  On the other end of the ice the defense has looked very solid, when not fatigued, and the team may have found their starting goaltender in Kevin Boyle.

Honestly, this is a huge game for the Minutemen.  It’s their only chance at points on the weekend and they really can’t afford to fall any further behind in the league.  Add in the fact that this game is at home against a young team that has only one win away from Rhode Island and UMass should be expected to be victorious tomorrow night.  Let’s see if they can turn narrow losses against elite teams into decisive victories against the not quite as experienced teams in Hockey East.

Beer The Triangle
The Hangar is supposed to be having a mini Lagunitas takeover.  It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was sitting at the bar at the Lagunitas brewery in Petaluma while on my NoCal beercation.  According to Stoney they’re expected to have the Pale Ale, Pils, Maximus, and their session Daytime IPA.  Seems like a good way to cap off a decent week of Lagunitas for me after grabbing some of their luxurious Brown Shugga on Sunday while pregaming at Publick House ahead of the BC game and even finding a Little Sumpin’ at Stars in Hingham before that.

USCHO’s Hockey East piece features Providence’s talented youth as well as the almost, but not quite, season for UMass so far.

The Gazette’s preview notes that Mike Pereira had a hat trick the last time he faced the Frairs.

UMass is focused on closing games says the Republican preview.

Providence’s Mark Jankowski is the focus of the preview out of the Collegian.

Via the UMass Athletics website is UMass Hockey: Behind the Scenes hosted by senior Eddie Olczyk.  “Pillows are for those people that are weak.”

UMass Hockey Behind The Scenes

 

Good luck to the Minutewomen Field Hockey team as they take on #1 Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA tournament this weekend.  Go UMass!

Polls & Awards

So this first Polls & Awards post of the season can pretty much be titled “Why Polls Are Stupid”.  Last week UMass had enough votes in the USCHO poll to be de facto 28th and ahead of fellow Hockey East teams Northeastern and Providence.  In this week’s poll UMass received zero votes, no doubt because of their lackluster performance this past weekend against…er…UMass.  Providence and Northeastern played as many real games as UMass this past week, zero, yet still received votes.  Just another lesson that the polls are only as valuable as the people that are chosen to vote in them.

We have a split poll this week as Boston College is #1 for USCHO but Minnesota is tops in the USA Hockey/USA Today poll.

All Black Bears and Warriors in this week’s Hockey East awards, since they’re the only ones who played.

UMass is flip-flopping a home and home with Providence in January.  The teams will play at the Mullins on Friday, January 11th and then at Schneider the next night.

New England Hockey Journal has their preview of Hockey East.  They also have this in-depth feature on Jerry York, claiming he’s the best coach in college hockey.  Yes, yes he is.

Starting to wrap-up preview mode here at FTT.  Tomorrow I’ll unveil my pick for Newcomer of the Year, Wednesday will be the annual way too long season preview for the Minutemen, and then Thursday will take a look at Friday’s opener against the UConn Huskies.

UMass To Scrimmage On Saturday; Hockey East Preview: #5 Providence Friars

As I tweeted over the weekend, UMass will in fact hold their maroon and white scrimmage this coming Saturday at 4pm at the practice rink. The event is free but they will be accepting donations for the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund, the charity started by former Minuteman Peter Trovato to benefit the children of Bay State soldiers lost overseas. I do plan on being in attendance and will share my observations with a post on Sunday. With that, back to the previews.

Hockey East Preview: #5 Providence Friars

2011-12 Storyline: In his first season at the helm, Nate Leaman leads the Friars back to the Garden for the first time since 2001

2012-13 Storyline: Leaman got it done on the ice last season, but his work on the recruiting trail will payoff for Providence this coming year

Player To Watch: Tim Schaller F (14-7-21)

Player Missed Most: Alex Beaudry G (13-19-4, 3.04, .896)

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Mark Jankowski F

Random Fact: Freshman Mark Jankowski is the 3rd Friar to be picked in the 1st Round of the NHL Draft. The others were Joey Hulbig and Tom Fitzgerald.

Beer The Triangle Favorite Local Brew: Apparently there’s Revival Brewing out of Providence that I must try. Which is good because I’m not overly impressed with the rest of the beer that comes out of the state.

Team Outlook:

Most college hockey fans were pretty impressed when Providence landed Nate Leaman during their offseason coaching search last spring and knew that it was probably only a matter of time until he’d have the Friars succeeding in Hockey East. I bet few though thought he’d bring them to the conference semi-finals in his very first year. But after knocking off second seeded Lowell, that’s exactly what happened. This season Leaman will try to follow-up on that success immediately thanks to a strong recruiting class.

The Friars return their top four goal scorers from a year ago, led by senior Tim Schaller and junior Derek Army. Schaller seemed to be the key for the team a year ago. Hindered by injury, the Friars were 12-11-3 when he suited up and just 2-9-1 with him out of the lineup. He still managed to scored 14 goals in the 26 games he dressed. Army, surprisingly, flourished without his father as coach, putting up double digits in goals and assists. Added to the mix at forward will be Mark Jankowski who the Calgary Flames chose in the first round of this past June’s draft.

The Friars return most of their key defensemen, including senior Alex Velischek who had a solid season returning to Providence after a year in the USHL. He’ll be aided by senior Myles Harvey and junior Steven Shamanski. It’ll be interesting to see if Buffalo pick Mark Adams will be able to get on the ice more this season after only playing in 19 games last year.

The big question mark will be in net where the team graduated long term starter Alex Beaudry and his backup Justin Gates. However Leaman got a potential answer for his goaltender situation when Jon Gillies decided to back out of his commitment to Northeastern in late March. The Huskies loss is the Friars gain as Gillies, one of the top goaltenders in the USHL and a 3rd round NHL Draft pick, is seen as one of the top freshmen in the league.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: Gillies takes longer than expected to transition to college play and Jankowski’s lack of high level junior experience slows his development

They’ll Finish Higher Because: A healthy Schaller becomes one of the top goal scorers in the league

Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
1. ??
2. ??
3. ??
4. ??
5. Providence Friars
6. Maine Black Bears
7. Massachusetts Minutemen (preview upcoming)
8. Merrimack Warriors
9. Northeastern Huskies
10. Vermont Catamounts

UMass received votes in the pre-season USCHO poll, ending up as the de facto 28th team in the country. That puts them ahead of Northeastern and Providence among Hockey East teams receiving votes. To the surprise of no one Boston College gets the top slot in the poll. Lowell is picked 7th while Boston University was chosen 13th and Maine came in at 15th. Merrimack and New Hampshire also received votes.

New England Hockey Journal highlights UMass as one of five teams in the conference facing questions in net.

Beanpot Forum picks UMass to finish 6th.

Husky Hockey News has the Minutemen finishing 9th.

Here is the USHL’s press release on Dennis Kravchenko’s commitment to Massachusetts.

This Worcester Telegram story on UMass PA announcer Matt “Matty G” Goldstein is worthy of a Noise Meter.

UMass Hockey To Be Broadcast on WHMP

Well, aside from the freshmen arriving on campus and the ice to actually be laid down in the Mullins and practice rink, the final pieces are falling into place for the upcoming hockey season.  Today it was announced that Massachusetts hockey can be found on WHMP next season.  WHMP, which carried hockey previously, can be found on the valley on 96.9 FM out of Williamsburg, 1400 AM Northampton, and 1240 AM Greenfield.  Here’s a map from their website that shows their coverage area.  On Twitter, Brock Hines  mentioned that the 1600 AM station in Longmeadow is a daytime station only, so will not be used for broadcasts.  Games will be streamed live on WHMP.com.

As of right now there is no ability to stream the station through iPhones (and therefore I’m assuming other smart phones), though a friend mentioned that the company that provides WHMP’s streaming service, Liquid Compass, does have an app for iPhone and Android.  However WHMP would have to opt-in to that service in order to become available on it.  Hopefully this is something the Athletic Department is addressing as part of the agreement.  But besides that the deal seems like good news for the program, though it’s a little worrisome that it appears to be just a one year contract versus the five year contract the school signed with other area stations.  It’s also a little disappointing the broadcasts will not be available to the entire valley, as Springfield is out of range and they would have to stream as well.  One thing to note is that the release says not only will coaches shows be available via podcast as they were before, but the games will be as well.  I’ve already been in contact with Brock Hines to suggest he set up some kind of cross-promotion with this show that airs weekly on the station.

With today’s release and the season approaching I think we can finally put this tumultuous offseason behind us.  As FTT reader “George” noted earlier today, “Amazing how the lack of a release 2+ months ago changed the UMass hockey landscape”, citing the news that WEEI Springfield was becoming the Flagship home for UMass Sports, as long as those sports were football and basketball.  Things got ugly quickly immediately following, but no matter now.  The boys are on campus, the staff is in place, and for those who cannot get out to the Mullins for every game, you can now follow the Minutemen from afar.

A name UMass hockey fans should keep an eye on, or at least one I will be keeping an eye on, is Dennis Kravchenko.  Kravchenko decommitted from Vermont yesterday citing the turnover in coaching staff as his primary reason.  This blog post from the Burlington Free Press mentions he established close ties with new UMass assistant Joey Gasparini during the recruiting process.  Kravchenko is a former teammate of current Minuteman Steve Mastalerz when they played at Kimball Union, where he also would’ve played with 2014 recruit Casey Miller.  Kravchenko, a California native, is due to play for Sioux Falls in the USHL this coming season.  At the time he committed to Vermont he was also being recruited by Denver, Maine, Northeastern, RPI, and St Cloud.

As I mentioned yesterday, Providence will be undertaking a significant renovation of Schneider Arena (renderings start around 2:15):

.

Providence Recap

If you had told me that after three games UMass would have the third best offense of Hockey East teams at 4 goals a game and the second best power play I’d have been pretty happy.  However, UMass has not been able to make the most of their offensive production and through two games against teams they’ll likely be battling in the standings UMass has been able to capture just one point.  Despite another four goal game last night, two coming on the power play, UMass got the loss because defense and more specifically goaltending let them down against Providence.

If there are positives last night it is that the team kept battling to get back into the game throughout and that the top line of Danny Hobbs, Mike Pereira, and T.J. Syner continues to put up a ton of numbers, accounting for two goals and four assists last night.  With some average goaltending UMass likely gets the win and the two points last night.  I believe I wrote earlier in the week that with Jeff Teglia over the flu, it seemed like a logical decision to have Kevin Boyle make his home debut Friday and put Teglia in last night because he was at least familiar with the rink, one where UMass has struggled in recent years.  How that scenario would’ve turned out, we don’t know.  But what we do know is that Jeff Teglia looked solid and stopped all 8 shots in relief of Boyle and that Boyle let in a number of goals that he shouldn’t have.  At least three of them.  And let’s face it, his defense made some key mistakes that led to some of the other goals as well.  And speaking of defense, where is Anthony Raiola who played so well at the end of last season?

It wasn’t just the bad goals that hurt, the timing of them hurt immensely and killed any momentum UMass was generating.  After going down 2-0 in the first, Danny Hobbs put the Minutemen on the board just 1:15 into the second.  But 45 seconds later an inexcusable shorthanded goal gave the Friars the two goal lead back again.  Later in the period a power play goal by Hobbs cut the PC lead to 4 to 3, but again a soft goal was let in just a minute later that gave the Friars a two goal lead again.  That goal ended Boyle’s night.  Unfortunately UMass was unable to get their offense going until late in the 3rd when Conor Sheary scored with under 5 minutes left and never got that elusive tying goal.

Am I worried about Boyle’s performance?  Not really.  At least not any more than I am about Teglia’s or Steve Mastalerz.  He played very well at Northeastern and played well enough Friday against Bentley to get his first win.  But it does show that a quick resolution to the team’s goaltending issues is not going to happen.  That’s why I think it’s important over the next few months to give each goaltender a shot at games and not stick with one for more than a couple.  That means getting Teglia in in a game like last night and getting Mastalerz some time when he returns from injury in a few weeks.

As much as it would’ve pained me, I wish if UMass dropped a game this weekend it would’ve been Friday’s.  Losing to an Atlantic Hockey team is never good for the program, but UMass really could’ve used 2 to 3 points out of these early games against Northeastern and Providence.  Instead they only got one.  Now begins probably their toughest stretch of the season.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Danny Hobbs
Not only did Hobbs score a couple goals last night, both were at critical times in the game that, however briefly, gave UMass a shot a comeback.  Five points in two games.  Not a bad start to the senior season.

Here’s the recap from the Republican.

I guess the good news for UNH is that they actually scored a goal against Boston College, their first of the season.  The bad news is they lost 5-1 and are now 0-3 to start the season.  Elsewhere Merrimack got a bit of a scare from Army but won 3-2.  BU rebounded from Friday’s loss to Providence by beating #3 Denver.  Maine tied North Dakota while Lowell completed a sweep of Minnesota State out west.

About these ads
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,856 other followers