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#18 Union College Dutchmen 8-3-5 (ECAC 4-0-3 T-3rd)
Official Union College Hockey Site
Union Hockey Blog

Union has been one of the more pleasant surprises in college hockey this season and comes into this afternoon’s game ranked 18th in the country.  After finishing 8th in the ECAC last year the Dutchmen started the season strong with a two game sweep of Maine.  They’ve only lost three games on the season and are one of only two teams so far with five ties.  Against common opponents of the Minutemen Union has so far split a pair of games with RPI and tied Yale in addition to the games against Maine.

The Dutchmen have been getting it done with offense.  They come into the game 10th in the country in scoring offense at 3.50 goals per game.  Their power play has been solid at 21.2%.  The team is an experienced team led by their upperclassmen as the top five scorers are all seniors or juniors.  Senior Mario Valery-Trabucco is tops in goals (10) and points (21) with senior Jason Walters and Adam Presizniuk behind him.  Defenseman Mike Schreiber has added some scoring punch from the blueline.  Sophomore Kelly Zajac, whose brother plays for the New Jersey Devils, has also played well so far this season.  Thus far on the season they’ve split goaltending duties equally between Keith Kinkaid and Corey Milan with both faring about the same.

An advantage for UMass in this game will be their power play.  Union comes into the game with one of the worst penalty kills in college at 72.4%.  Unfortunately they do a pretty good job staying out of the box.  If UMass can use their speed to their advantage and draw some penalties from Union skaters not being able to keep up, they’ll have a good chance to win.


Bentley University Falcons 6-7-3 (AHA 5-4-2 6th)
Official Bentley University Hockey Site

Bentley has sputtered a bit this year compared to last year when they won a program best 19 games.  To date none of their wins are against strong teams, although they did push Qunnipiac to overtime where they ultimately lost.  Bentley will be playing UConn in the second semifinal tonight.

Bentley has been doing a pretty good job of getting the puck in the net at 2.75 goals per game, but their defense is where they’ve been struggling most giving up almost a goal more.  Their special teams are ok and about at the average nationally.  Offensively they are led by senior Marc Menzione who has scored 8 goals to go with 9 assists.  But the two players to keep an eye on are freshmen Joe Campanelli and Dan Koudys.  Campanelli is one of the highest ranked recruits to play for Bentley and was a prospect for last year’s NHL Draft.  So far the two have combined for 7 goals and 20 points on the season.  Senior Bobby Preece leads the Bentley blueliners.

It’s always easy to dismiss an Atlantic Hockey team, but Bentley looks to have some young talent.  They also have some key seniors that are experienced winners at their school and will help direct the younger players.  Bentley’s biggest weakness appears to be in net where starter Kyle Rank has put up horrible numbers so far on the season. 

Connecticut Huskies 62-12-2 (AHA 2-8-2 8th)
Official UConn Hockey Site

One of these years UConn is going to figure out a way to syphon off some of that basketball and football money and put it towards their hockey program and actually win something in Atlantic Hockey for once.  But it’s not going to be this year as once again UConn finds itself as one of the worst hockey teams in the country. 

To date they’ve only put up two wins on the season and both of those came at home to AIC.  The Huskies have allowed five or more goals five times so far and have been shutout four times.  They come into their tournament with the worst offense in the country, only finding a way to score 1.5 goals per game, while they’ve allowed the 6th most at 3.88.  Their special teams are just as bad with a power play of 12.2% and kill off 77.9% of penalties.  They’ve done all this despite playing pretty much no teams of significance thus far.

I guess the lone bright spot for the Huskies is that they’re getting production from their younger players so there might be hope for the future.  Freshmen Alex Gerke, a defenseman, and Sean Ambriose are tied with junior Andrew Olson with 8 points on the season.  Their defense looks to be experienced with a good number of upperclassmen among their ranks.  In net expect to see freshman Jeff Larson who is putting up a goals against average of 3.46 while getting peppered with 30 shots night in and night out.

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The Gazette talks about expectations at the start of the second half of the season and also mentions that David Boehm will be out for the tourney due to violation of team rules.

Here’s a tournament preview from the Bentley website.

The Republican has a preview of today’s game and discusses the role of Rocco Carzo, who is friends with the Union goaltender.

USCHO has a preview of the tourney.  Interestingly the Bentley-UConn game will be considered an Atlantic Hockey conference game.

USCHO attempts to rank the toughness of the various holiday schedules.  The UConn tourney is in the middle of the pack, which is probably the highest in its history.

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UMass hockey is mentioned in this look back at Western Mass sports this decade from the Republican.

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