Maine Previews; Marcou’s Waterloo; Irwin Chats

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


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.


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.


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.