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Friday Recap; Recruiting News

Well for a good portion of the game I was worried that this would be a UMass team unable to adapt to a smaller ice surface but luckily they got things going late and came away from the Coffin with a hard-fought 5-3 win.  First off, let me say that I was very impressed by how Providence played.  I frankly did not expect anything out of this team this season and instead they have two or three solid lines of kids who can skate and can especially pass well.

I though the Friars carried the play in the first and even held their own well in the second despite being outshot.  But it was very impressive of this UMass club who could have easily given up twice going down a goal on the road, but instead they stuck with their game and didn’t let up on their effort and came away with the win.  For a good part of the game the offense just didn’t flow for the Minutemen, probably partly because of the smaller ice and partly because Providence was playing that well.  The early Casey Wellman goal came on a very nice backhand shot into an open net as Alex Beaudry was slow to move to cover.  A little odd to see Irwin score a goal that didn’t come from one of his big ole slapshots but he continues to be one of the top offensive defensemen in the league.  The game tying goal was an excellent play by all three wingers involved as Rocco Carzo got the puck up to Will Ortiz on the rush who went into shoot only to pass to Martin Nolet at the last second.  I didn’t really get a good look at the Keane game-winner.  Just looked like the crashed the net and fought to get the puck in.  The empty-netter by James Marcou was a nice backhand from a tough angle but the credit is due to a great poke check by Syner who was able to get the puck out to center ice before getting hauled down.  After being so-so for most of the game the defense really stepped up their play in the 3rd and allowed UMass to come back to win the game.

I expect to see the team opening things up a little more on the larger home ice tonight.  However I hope they don’t get too complacent on the heels of the win as Providence could come out angry after going toe-to-toe with UMass for most of the game last night only to lose their grip on the game at the end.  I also really hope to see some improvement on faceoffs as UMass lost at the circle 43-21.  Hopefully we’ll see a good crowd for the game, especially from the student section where whomever has the best costume will be going home with a new IPod.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Casey Wellman
Casey started things off well with the first goal of the game and played well throughout.  I especially like to see that he had 6 shots on net.  This award almost went to Will Ortiz for his excellent effort through the entire game and his strong two way play.  His pass on the game tying goal was key.

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Matt Vautour has a short recap in the Gazette.  The Republican continues to disappoint with their staff reports crap.

That’s about it for real game stories.  I’m surprised to see the Providence Journal has a story on the Brown game and none on the PC game. 

Elsewhere last night BC had to battle for a 4-3 win at home against Merrimack while Maine topped Vermont 4-1UNH lost 4-1 also to Wisconsin out in Madison.  Meanwhile out in the CCHA here’s reason number 1,953 why I don’t like shootouts.

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Lowell was two for three yesterday.  They did drop their much anticipated home game to BU in overtime but the school signed the agreement to buy the Tsongas Arena during the game and also picked up a committment from goaltender Chris Eiserman.  According to USHR Eiserman had also taken a visit to UMass but it’s not surprising to see him commit to the River Hawks as it will give him a chance to play with his older brother Bill who committed there earlier in the year.  Eiserman is currently a teammate of UMass recruit Peter DeAngelo with the NH Monarchs of the EJHL.

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John Parker scored a goal in Team USA’s exhibition win over Canada West as they prepare for this week’s Junior Tournament.

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This article out of Wisconsin mentions UMass’ trip out there as part of the 10-11 schedule.

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Providence Preview

Providence Friars 4-1-0, (Hockey East 0-0-0 T-6th)
vs
Massachusetts Minutemen 3-0-0, (Hockey East 2-0-0 T-1st)

Providence Friars Official Site

Even if Massachusetts did not start the season 3-0-0 I still think most fans would’ve come into this home and home series against Providence thinking that it should be an easy four points.  Well UMass has surpassed their early season expectations and still I think a fan would be foolish to expect the Minutemen to roll over this Providence team starting tonight in Providence. 

Going into the season there were some people that thought that Maine would be led by Gustav Nyquist to some success.  I know a lot of people thought that Joe Cannata plus some additional goal scorers would help Merrimack move up the Hockey East ladder.  However I think very few would’ve thought Providence would have four wins on the season at this point, much less a W against then #7 Notre Dame on their home ice.  But it’s not just about who they’ve beaten so far, but how.  Granted the Bowling Green program isn’t very strong right now but Providence going out to Ohio and outscoring the Falcons 11-3  in a two game sweep is pretty impressive. 

But they’re not just doing it with goalscoring.  Alex Beaudry who made a splash initially after joining the Friars mid-season last year only to fall off as the year closed has been stellar so far with a 1.76 GAA and save percentage of nearly .940.  Offensively Providence has been led by Matt Bergland, this past week’s Hockey East Player of the Week, who has four goals and two assists in five games.  They’ve also gotten quite a boost from freshman forward Aaron Jamnick who is averaging a point a game.  Defensively they’ve been led by Mark Fayne and freshman NHL draft pick Alex Velischeck has given them some good minutes early in the season as well.  If there’s one thing that Providence needs to work on it would be their power play which is only clicking at a rate of 10.5% so far this season.

That is not the case with the Minutemen however as they have a Hockey East best power play conversion of 29.2%.  Considering the endless stretches between extra man goals last year the early success so far this season is amazing.  Unfortunately they’ve been giving up almost 24% on the PK, so that is certainly something to work on.  Defensive work by the forwards needs to improve somewhat anyway.  You certainly have guys like Brett Watson, Eddie Olczyk and T.J. Syner doing a lot but it would be good to see the other guys get back  and defend as well.

Other than that I’m just going to go with the “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” approach.  I would hope that all of the lines stay intact as they really seem to be clicking thus far.  Certainly I would not split up the defensive pairings who have done much better than expected, especially the guys who have taken on bigger roles like Mike Marcou, Dan Kublin, and freshman Mike Donnellan.

As this is the team’s first away game it’ll be interesting to see how they react to the away locale.  The Mullins Center ice is perfect to spread things out and use the team’s superior speed to its advantage.  That’s going to be a lot tougher to do on the smaller ice of Schneider Arena.  If this team is to be succesful the entire season it will require them to adjust their game accordingly to the bandbox rinks like Schneider and Merrimack’s Lawler Arena, places where UMass has struggled quite a bit in recent years.  Friday will certainly be a struggle against a newly motivated team but at the very least I expect UMass to come out flying on Saturday in front of what should be an energized student crowd on Halloween Saturday.  Hopefully they’ll be in for a treat that night instead of a trick.

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Matt Vautour has his preview in the Gazette.  Mentioned is that Mike Lecomte is expected back soon but Chase Langeraap will be out for another two to four weeks.  I hope the fact he isn’t mentioned as injured means that Rocco Carzo was only slightly banged up after the Maine game and is good to go tonight.

Here are the game notes from the Providence side of things.

USCHO not surprisingly spends most of their Hockey East column talking about their favorite teams that are struggling (BU, Northeastern, BC, UVM) versus the teams off to good starts (UMass, Lowell, Providence, Merrimack).  Hey guys, there’s actually ten (10) whole teams in Hockey East.  Not just four or five.

The Republican has a great feature on local product on Kevin Czepiel.  I didn’t realize until mentioned in this story that Czepiel won 5 of 7 faceoffs in his debut last week.  That skill could be key as the season moves along as someone needs to fill the faceoff role Cory Quirk has played the last few years.   Toot says that Kevin will be dressed tonight in Providence.

The Collegian has a preview of the series as well as a focus on the goaltending matchup this weekend.

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The big series this weekend in Hockey East is the rematch of last year’s league championship game between BU and Lowell.  This is a key early season test for the River Hawks to show if they can truly be the team to beat this season.  For BU they’ll have to figure out a way to win without Nick Bonino who will be sidelined for the next month with injury.

Update:  It appears the guys over at The Ice Is Life are fed up with being oppressed by the powers that be in Hockey East.  I don’t blame them.   Good luck to them and their revolution this weekend.

New Hampshire meanwhile travels to Wisconsin for a two game series against the 19th ranked Badgers.

Alumni Updates; Voting Irregularities; Rivalry Weekends;

Greg Mauldin is featured in this New England Hockey Journal piece on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  Mauldin talks about his drive to make it back to the NHL.  His reasons for leaving UMass early were complicated and probably justified but I still wonder if his pro career would’ve turned out differently if he had stayed in school for his senior season.  Hopefully his is a tale known to any college kids thinking about leaving college early.

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Meanwhile John Wessbecker will be teammates again with David Leaderer on the Trenton Devils of the ECHL.

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INCH discusses the ridculousness of the first place votes in the last three weeks’ rankings in their latest edition of First Shift.

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Matt Vautour had a blog over the weekend discussing the possibility of “Rivaly Weekends” where the CAA and Hockey East will work together to have the teams that play hockey and football in the conferences (UMass, Maine, UNH, Northeastern, Boston U) play each other in both sports at one of the schools’ locales in a given weekend.  Sounds like a good idea to me since I wander the countryside to go to both and would love to consolidate trips.  Plus it’s a lot of fun when both games fall on a Saturday and the day is filled with a pre-football tailgate, a football game, a post football/pre-hockey tailgate, and then the hockey game.  There is one of those coming up on 11/14 when James Madison is at McGuirk and UNH comes into the Mullins.

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UMass actually has two undefeated hockey teams on campus as the men’s club team is currently 9-0-0 on the season.

PC Notes; The College Choice; Lowell To Annex The Tsongas; The Pond Club

Not too much in terms of UMass related news out there, though the hockey office is hard at work this week and already has the game notes up for this weekend’s series with Providence.

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I stumbled across this piece in the Buffalo News advocating that young players who can should choose to go the college route over major junior.  Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff agrees and wishes he had that option growing up.

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The guys over at Ice Is Life detail a deal whereas Lowell will be taking over ownership of the Tsongas and making some significant upgrades to the facility.  Hell, I thought they couldn’t possibly make any further improvements beyond serving beer but the changes listed sound like good ones.  At the very least it’ll be good to see the school, as they put up half the funding for construction, get priority over the tenant Devils.

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Soapbox time!  If you’re reading this blog then you’re likely to be a pretty loyal UMass fan.  If so, you really should consider joining the Pond Club.  The Pond Club is the official non-profit booster organization for UMass hockey.  Not only are you able to enjoy some of the benefits that come with Pond Club membership, such as access to the Massachusetts Room in between periods, but you’re helping to contribute to the success of UMass hockey.  Past projects that the Pond Club has helped fund is the refurbishment of the locker room and helping the team purchase video equipment.  The Pond Club is also a good place to connect with others who share the same passion and love for UMass and the sport of hockey as a whole.  You can find the Pond Club’s official website here, but the membership levels have changed from what you see on there.  They now have three membership tiers; Crease, Faceoff, and Power Play.  A Crease Membership will get you access to the Massachusetts Room and email reports from Coach Cahoon (hmm, seems someone is trying to compete with FTT).  The Faceoff Membership will get you same as the Crease plus a membership gift, ticket to the end of season banquet, and a priority opportunity to purchase postseason tickets.  The Power Play Membership gets you all that plus select pre-game receptions, and an invitation to a reception at Coach Cahoon’s house.  A Pond Club membership is a must for UMass hockey fans. 

Click here for the Pond Club information and membership form.

Polls

From now on I’ll be posting each Monday night (when possible) to update everyone on the weekly polls and Hockey East awards if applicable.

UMass makes its first appearance in the USCHO poll, checking in at #17.  The Minutemen are still on the outside looking in of the USA Today/USA Hockey poll as they’re currently second in the also receiving votes category.

The team will be facing the Hockey East POTW this coming weekend as Friar forward Matt Bergland won the honor with his four goal weekend.  Justin Braun and James Marcou are both listed as Top Performers while David Boehm, Mike Marcou, and Matt Irwin are all named in the milestones section.

Weekend Recap; Power Rankings; Quick Signs Extension

Well nothing too out of the ordinary occurred in Hockey East in the Saturday/Sunday games.  Lowell beat Northeastern while Maine lost their second game of the weekend, to UNH this time.  Providence completed their sweep of Bowling Green and now coming into this weekend series against UMass with a surprising 4-1-0 record.  BU stopped their two game losing streak by defeating Michigan at home while Merrimack is still undefeated at home at 4-0 with a win over UConn.

Nationally both the #1 and #2 ranked teams fell this weekend as Miami lost to Michigan State while Alaska-Anchorage beat North Dakota.

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Here’s a recap of Friday’s game from the Collegian with a really odd picture.

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INCH’s power rankings are out with UMass moving up two spots to #16.

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Jon Quick was rewarded for this strong play to start the season with a three year extension, though his coach Terry Murray says he wants to talk to him about his lack of concentration.

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I’ve added my recommendations for those heading to Amherst from out of town to my Road Trip page.

Shemansky Update

I don’t have enough time to do a full blog today (Patriots kickoff in less than an hour) but I did want to let people know that Maine freshman Adam Shemansky who was taken off the Mullins ice on a stretcher Friday night has recovered from his injuries and is doing fine.  In fact, he played last night in Maine’s 5-2 loss to UNH.

Maine Recap; Fenton Overseas

Bunyon hockey.  It mystifies me how this guy is allowed to officiate Hockey East games since when he’s not missing calls right in front of him he’s completely losing control of games resulting in the mess that we saw last night.  The sad thing is it wasn’t even one of his worst nights, that honor goes to a game a few years back in Orono where there was a combined 13 guys in the penalty box at one point.  Regardless it was good to see the Minutemen get the win and improve to 3-0-0 on the season as they’ve now taken eight straight from the Black Bears in Amherst.

Maine just could not handle the Marcous as James had a goal and three assists and helped set up his brother for his first collegiate goal on an impressive play where James was able to hold the puck in the slot for what seemed like forever before finally dishing it to a streaking Mike who put it home.  Mike also continued his solid play on defense last night and has certainly earned his spot as a regular defenseman.  I thought David Boehm and Kevin “Holyoke” Czepiel both played well in their debuts with Boehm picking up an assist on a Martin Nolet goal.  Czepiel has  good vision and it was easy to see how he led the EJHL in assists last season.  Matt Irwin could not extend his goal scoring streak but was able to contribute a couple of assists to the effort.  Rocco Carzo did not play the third with an upper body injury however I’m not sure how serious it is or if it will keep him out next week.

Obviously this game will be remembered for the Nolet hit on Maine freshman Adam Shemansky and the ugliness that followed.  I’ll be honest and say that I did not see the hit itself (I was watching to see if the Minuteman in the box would be coming off the ice or not) but those around me said it was probably deserving of a penalty.  Toot says as much in today’s Gazette.  The word on Shemansky is that he was stable and was moving his arms and legs but had some neck pain.  Hopefully it won’t be anything too serious and he’ll be able to get back on the ice soon.  There’s nothing worse in sports than seeing a player leave the ice/field on a stretcher.

What amazed me most though was with 12 minutes left in the game and Maine playing well and only down by a couple goals their team decided to give up on trying to get the tie or win and decided to get revenge on Nolet and the Minutemen for what they thought was a dirty hit instead.  Wouldn’t the best way to stand up for Shemansky be to come back and win?  Well, not according to Joey Diamond who decided to hit Nolet after the whistle and essentially ended the game for Maine right there and then.  He should’ve taken a clue from Nolet who as they both stood in the penalty box after the scuffle pointed to the scoreboard to remind Diamond what he should’ve been focused on, the fact that his team was losing.  What followed was pure and complete ugliness as Maine players continued to go after the Minutemen after the whistle, even with Nolet firmly planted in the box for the rest of the game, and the UMass players trying to stand up for themselves.  All the while Bunyon and Fyrer sent people off without ever really trying to reestablish control.  There are very few games, especially with UMass leading, that I can’t wait to end.  Last night’s was one of them.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – James Marcou
A goal and three assists last night now puts Marcou tied for 4th nationally in points, but I bet he’s happier about setting up his brother’s first UMass goal.

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Here’s the recap from the Gazette where Toot discusses the Nolet penalty and Matt talks to Jim Marcou, James and Mike’s father about their night.

I’m very disappointed to see the Republican didn’t even send a reporter to  he Mullins.  Who do they think they are?  The Herald or Globe?  I’m not even bothering with their “staff reports” recap.

Here’s a lengthy recap from USCHO.

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Last week I expressed surprise at how far Vermont had risen in the polls despite the fact that they had a loss, well they were taken back down to earth last night by Merrimack who beat them 5-2 at Lawler.  UNH beat Northeastern in the only other Hockey East game while Lowell came from behind with three third period goals to beat Colgate 5-3.  Boston College and Notre Dame played their usual matchup before their football teams meet today with BC taking the game 3-2.  Providence exploded for eight goals over Bowling Green.  Wow.

Denver looks like the real deal as they beat Minnesota and now have two shutouts in three games.

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The Republican has a feature on P.J. Fenton now playing overseas in Germany.

Maine Previews; Marcou’s Waterloo; Irwin Chats

Maine Black Bears
1-3-0, Hockey East 0-0 T-3rd

at

Massachusetts Minutemen
2-0, Hockey East 1-0 T-1st

Official Maine hockey website

Tonight is the first real test for this year’s Minutemen squad.  Sure, a lot of people would’ve thought that last week’s game against defending champion BU was the first real test, but that was a test of skill.  We already know that the recent UMass teams can compete with the best on any given night, after all they’ve proven it again and again.  No, the real challenge is for the team to give the same kind of effort they show against elite teams when they play everyone else.  So last Friday was great, I hope the players celebrated and cherished the victory, but it’s time to get back to business and I’m sure Maine will come into the Mullins not caring about who UMass beat last week.

 The Black Bears are trying to see if they can transform the momentum of their first win of the season, a 5-3 win over Michigan State in Orono, into their first Hockey East points of the year.  The season has not gotten off to the best start for the embattled coach Tim Whitehead as his team got swept in their opening two game series at Union and gave up 10 goals in the process.  The split from Michigan State was good but it’s still tough to gauge just how good the Spartans are after their surprisingly disappointing season last year.

While the Black Bear team has struggled you cannot say as much for Gustav Nyquist.  The sophomore forward has already put up four goals and two assists in just four games, three of those goals coming on the power play.  UMass will have to be wary of the Maine power play as they’ve converted at a rate of 25% so far this season.  Freshman Adam Shemansky has seen some good success on the extra man advantage as well with two power play goals so far.  Surprisingly Joey Diamond, another of their heralded freshmen, has gone pointless on the season thus far.   Kevin Swallow is a senior who provides good leadership and solid play.

Maine’s defense is not their strong point, they return some veterans but really no one that stands out too much.  I’m surprised freshman Nick Pryor, who played very well last year, has only played one game so far.  In net I would suspect UMass will see Scott Darling tonight.  Darling missed the Union series with another suspension due to off ice issues but he is the better of the two goaltenders.  Plus student crowd favorite Dave Wilson hasn’t exactly had a lot of success against UMass in the past so I’d be shocked if Whitehead went with him.  Actually the entire team has really struggled in the Mullins in recent times as the Minutemen have posted a 7-0-0 record in Amherst (though, the record is nearly flipped at Alfond).  Whoever is in net will have to improve their play though as both goaltenders currently have goals against averages of over 4.00.

For UMass it’s all about keep doing what you’re doing.  Toot has very specifically recruited a certain type of player with a huge emphasis on speed and stickhandling.  I think UMass was able to leverage that advantage very effectively against BU, though there is a give and take with that strategy defensively as the Terriers put a lot of shots on Paul Dainton.  I think this is something we may see a lot of this season but having the other team shoot a lot isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s the type of shots they get that counts.  And for the most part I thought the team was able to keep BU and RPI to low percentage shots so far.  If Dainton is able to stay on his toes and be consisitent I think he’ll be successful as will the team. 

I’m interested to see if Toot keeps the lineup the same as the past couple weeks.  Interestingly he went with seven defensemen last week, choosing to dress Darren Rowe in place of injured Mike Lecomte.  Against BU that was probably a good idea to put another blueliner in the lineup but it may not be needed against Maine where another forward could equal more scoring.  Therefore keep an eye out to see if someone like Ryan Leary, David Boehm, or Kevin Czepiel make their debuts tonight, especially given the late news that Chase Langeraap will not dress tonight due to injury.

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Matt Vautour breaks the news that Langeraap will join Mike Lecomte on the sidelines with an injury in his game preview.

USCHO actually has something nice to say about UMass.  Nice to see that Toot and the players are saying all the right things after their 2-0 start.  I’m also glad to see Toot compliment the play of Rocco Carzo and especially Danny Hobbs.  It’s great to see Hobbs performing like the player we envisioned when he first got on campus.

My main man Ron Chimelis has a preview on tonight’s Maine game complete with a very cool picture of Will Ortiz battling through a couple of UNH defenders.

Andrew Merritt has his Hockey East report from the New England Hockey Journal.  It includes a good feature on Merrimack frosh sensation Stephane De Costa where former Minuteman assistant Mark Dennehy makes the comparison between him and James Marcou.

The Daily Collegian checks in with a preview on tonight’s game as well as a perspective on UMass’ start in Hockey East this season.

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The Waterloo Blackhawks did a “Where Are They Now?” feature on James Marcou where he talks about playing with his brother, Cedar Rapids-like rivalries, and his expectations on the season.

Marcou wasn’t the only one doing Q&A as Matt Irwin did an online chat with fans yesterday on UMassathletics.

Looking Towards Maine; Recruit & Alumni Updates

(Note: Having some technical issues this morning.  This post went up earlier and then mysteriously disappeared for a while.)

Here’s a very good preview of Maine’s weekend from their student paper discussing how the Black Bears may fare on the big ice of the Mullins and the even bigger ice of UNH’s Lake Whitt.

Channel 22 in Springfield says UMass is being disrespected by not getting into the national rankings but Toot and the team aren’t worried.  I’ve noticed the Springfield media seem to like to get quotes from local product T.J Syner for their stories.  This is probably a pretty good idea to help establish a connection between Hamden County and UMass hockey.

Matt Irwin will be doing an online chat on UMassathletics.com this morning at 11am.

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A couple of blurbs about recruits today.  US Hockey Report had this to say about a recent game where they saw Colin Shea play;

“We also liked ’91 LD Colin Shea, a 6’2”, 170 lb. UMass recruit who has a good stick, a long stride, and poise.”

Yikes, 6’2″ 170lbs?  Someone send Colin some D.P. Dough!  Stat!

And Kevin Boyle is featured on the front page of the Atlantic Junior Hockey website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Erik Ersberg is in Terry Murray’s doghouse which means Jon Quick will be getting all the starts in net for the Kings for the forseeable future.  Quick is currently on the front page of Inside College Hockey but unfortunately the link for the Fast NHL Starts item they wrote is not working as of right now.

This story is a bit dated but Greg Mauldin must have been pretty psyched to score two goals against his old team, the Binghamton Senators, including the overtime winner.  Though he wishes he could have done it in the Sens home arena.

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