Shane Walsh Commits To UMass; USA!

Considering they were idle, UMass had a pretty good night yesterday.  All the scores went their way with Maine beating Merrimack and UNH taking out Northeastern.  The key one will be this afternoon however as BU and Vermont play at 3pm on ESPNU.  I guess that will give me something to watch when the gold medal game is at commercial.

So for the time being UMass is still tied for 8th, owning the tiebreaker over UVM.  Merrimack is one point ahead while Northeastern and BU are two points ahead.


UMass picked up a committment from Shane Walsh, a 5’10 forward playing for the South Shore Kings in the EJHL.  So far this season he’s scored 22 goals and had 37 assists in 45 games.  That puts him at 6th in the league in total scoring.  Prior to the EJHL he played for Catholic Memorial.  Here’s an article from his time on CM last year.  Looks like his game is that of a skilled power forward who can grind but pass and score as well.

He’s scheduled to come to Amherst in 2011 after another year in juniors.

I’ll have more on Walsh in the days to come.


Of course the big game today is not in Burlington but in Vancouver where Jon Quick and Team USA meet Canada for the gold medal. Good luck to Quick and USA!

Jon Quick (photo by Karen Winger)

Speaking of Olympic hockey, I want to thank Kelli Stack of the women’s hockey team for giving the Fear The Triangle symbol during the medal ceremony a few days ago.  Great to see that even BC players are fans.


BC Recap

Paul Dainton (photo by Karen Winger)

Well I have to hand it to the UMass hockey team.  They have been reeling this month and had to go play one of the hottest teams in all of hockey that had beaten their previous two opponents by a combined score of 14-1.  Yet, UMass travelled east and went toe-to-toe with them before falling just short in overtime.  While there are really no moral victories in hockey, especially this late in the season when every point is so important, it was very satisfying to see that this team decided not to mail it in for the balance of the schedule.  Yesterday I asked if they would be able to play if only motivated by pride and I think we saw that they will.

The game featured a brilliant goaltender duel between Paul Dainton and Parker Milner, both of whom made some spectacular saves to keep the goals at one apiece for regulation.  In the end it was a couple of the talented BC freshmen, Pat Mullane and Chris Kreider, that were able to be difference makers in the game as they flew into the UMass zone with Kreider putting home the game-winner. 

Dainton and the defense certainly came to play and were able to limit BC’s chances and then make big plays when needed.  The offense still had trouble getting on the board but I thought looked improved compared to the last 10 games or so.  James Marcou looked close to his old self, though I wish he’d still look to shoot a little more right now with those around him struggling.  Casey Wellman still looks very disconnected from the rest of the offense and I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get him going again.  Guys like T.J. Syner, Will Ortiz, and Danny Hobbs all had very strong games on offense.  And of course I have to mention the offensive star of the game, Brett Watson, who scored his first goal in the last 82 games.  Toot Cahoon experimented with Justin Braun at forward on the power play with Marcou and Wellman.  I thought it created some good chances and hopefully will be used next weekend.

Unfortunately the late goal for BC wasn’t the only bad break for UMass.  Every other result in Hockey East last night hurt the Minutemen’s chances to make the playoffs.  Lowell’s win over Providence puts them two points ahead of UMass and into a fourth place tie with BU and Northeastern, which got one point last night.  Merrimack’s win over Maine leap-frogged them over the Minutemen and into 7th place.  UVM’s drubbing of BU pulled them into a tie with UMass for 8th place.  UMass owns the tie-breaker with the Catamounts.  The problem is every team in the league save for BC have a game in hand on UMass which will be idle tonight and tomorrow.  UMass really needs Maine to beat Merrimack tonight and BU to take out UVM tomorrow afternoon.  Both those team will have to do so in the other teams’ arenas however.

Another year, another episode of scoreboard watching just to make the Hockey East playoffs.  How disappointing.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Paul Dainton
Watson made a strong case for the POTG with a rare goal, but if it weren’t for the play of Dainton, Brett’s score may have just been a lone goal in a dominating BC win.  Dainton came up with big saves throughout, especially in a 10 minute stretch in the first when the Eagles were controlling play and made a bid to break the game open early.  Dainton’s 31 save effort was his best game in a couple months.


Dick Baker of the Republican calls the game a heartbreaker.

The bottom line is a loss is a loss according to Toot in the Gazette recap.

Here’s the game story from USCHO.

The Herald has a game story focused on the BC win. 4,827 at Conte last night?  Riiiiiiiiiiight…..


Boston College Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 16 -15-0, (Hockey East 11 -13-0 T-6th)
#7 Boston College Eagles 19 -10-2, (Hockey East 14- 8 -2 2nd)  

Official Boston College Hockey Site

BC Interruption Blog

UMass has lost 7 of their last 8 games.  They’ve defied the triangle and are plummeting in the Hockey East standings and are now in danger of missing the playoffs altogether.  They are in the utmost desperation for a win.  So of course they have to head to Conte Forum to play the second place team in the conference, winners of 7 of their last 9 games, including their last 5 at home.  Oh, did I mention that BC just played the team that swept UMass last weekend and beat them 7-0?  In fact they’ve outscored their opponents 14-1 in the last two games.

Did I also mention that BC boasts the top scoring offense, scoring defense, and penalty kill in the league?  Their power plays isn’t too shabby at 21.4%.  Quite frankly this is the worst time to be playing this team.  While inexperienced a bit at the beginning of the year I really thought that they were talented enough to likely be the best team in the league at this point.  Sure enough, it appears they may be.  Of course the beginning of the month wasn’t a good time to play them either as the Eagles won that game played at the Mullins by the score of 7-1, despite having some major injuries on defense.

BC is led by sophomore Cam Atkinson who has 21 goals in their 31 games.  Helping to set him up is Brian Gibbons with 27 assists and Joe Whitney with 29 total points.  As expected the highly rated freshmen Steve Whitney, Pat Mullane, and Chris Kreider are making solid contributions as well.

On defense veteran Carl Sneep has helped out offensively but freshmen and Brian Dumoulin and Phil Samuelsson have the best plus/minus ratings of the team.  UMass will likely see John Muse in net as backup Parker Milner played against Merrimack on Tuesday.  Muse has done well coming off a tough year as well as off season surgery.  He has a goals against of 2.42 and save percentage of .911.

My how quickly things change since the last time these two teams met in a battle of 2nd place at the beginning of the month.  For UMass an NCAA at-large berth is likely dead and Hockey East home ice is probably out of reach.  It’s all about pride at this point.  To get as high as this team did and somehow miss the Hockey East playoffs would be tragic.  At the same time, they almost have nothing to lose.  They’ve certainly been playing tight lately and gripping the sticks to hard, but what’s done is done.  They’re out of the pairwise and are now fighting for their postseason lives.  I say go all out.  Forecheck the hell out of the Eagles.  Gamble when you can.  Be aggressive.  What’s the worst that can happen?  They’ve already been losing and losing big.  Relax and just stop playing conservative.  They’re supposed to lose this game anyway.  Who knows, maybe they can get a little momentum going into the playoffs.


Here’s the Republican’s Dick Baker with the preview.  Doug Kublin and Brian Keane are still out.  Toot Cahoon is not naming a starting goaltender for tonight at this point.

Matt Vautour says the team has gone from chasing a dream to fighting for their lives.

Here’s the preview from the Collegian.  I don’t want to single out Marc Concannon but it worries me when I see quotes like “We got James Marcou, Casey Wellman and Will Ortiz, they are a little cold right now, but as soon as they get going, everybody is going to follow them and if we score one, we’ll score five or six.”  How about if those guys are cold other players step up and try to score in their place?

Jeff Howe of INCH has a look at the Hockey East playoff picture with some quotes from Brett Watson.


James Marcou continues to fall on Inside Hockey’s Hobey Watch.


Alabama-Huntsville isn’t having a good year.  First they lose their conference and will have to make a go at it as an independent.  They could potentially lose their program altogether.  And of course there was the tragic shooting there in the past couple weeks.  That’s why it’s extremely cool to see the fans of UAH hockey get treated with a visit by the Stanley Cup.


Miscellaneous Thursday

Dick Baker has a short piece on how much UMass is missing Doug Kublin who is currently out recovering from mono.  I agree 100%, Kublin is one of the most unsung members of the team.

This article about a new junior hockey team on Cape Cod mentions how one of its stars, Shaun Gould, is hoping to play at UMass, Lowell, or UNH next season.  Gould previously played for the Walpole Express of the EJHL.  Tough to tell from the article how much interest there is from the schools themselves.  I’m having trouble finding out much more about Gould from the usual sources so Division I hockey may be a stretch for him.  I also have heard very little about the IJHL where he plays.

I came across a familiar name while doing some reading for the upcoming NHL Draft.  Thomas Pöck’s younger brother, Markus, is the 90th ranked European skater in the mid-term draft rankings.  Markus is a 6’2″ winger.  I have no idea if he has any plans to pursue college hockey.

Another Junior Bruin has committed to UMass…..kinda.  Petie von Rosenvinge, the goaltender for the Jr B’s Empire League team will be coming to Amherst to be a longpole for Greg Canella’s lacrosse team.  Sounds like he’s a pretty highly rated defenseman too.  I’ll enjoy watching him over at Garber Field.


FTT Hockey East All-Decade Team

Ok, so a reader a few weeks ago asked if I could share my Hockey East All-Decade picks and I thought it was a great idea, so here we go.  With the UMass ones said and done here’s what I think for all of Hockey East:


Brian Gionta, Boston College– This is an easy pick.  Gionta is the only Hockey East player to be named All-Conference for all four years of his career.  That in itself is amazing.

Patrick Eaves, Boston College – Eaves was twice an All-Conference selection and the Hockey East player of the year in 2005.  He also was twice an All-American.

Peter MacArthur, Boston University – Kind of the wildcard of these selections, MacArthur never got a lot of national hype but he was three times an All-Conference selection and always one of the most dependable producers for the BU Terriers.


Andrew Alberts, Boston College – Twice a first team All-American, he was also voted one of Hockey East’s top defensive defensemen during the 25th anniversary of the conference.

Matt Gilroy, Boston Univeristy – Gilroy won the Hobey Baker for 2008-2009 and was named to the All-Conference team three times.


John Curry, Boston University – I had a tough time with this one.  I almost put Jimmy Howard here, but in the end Johnny Curry was an All-American, three times All-Conference, and a Player of the Year.

Listen, it kills me that my entire All-Decade team is all BC and BU players.  It looks like a freaking All-Beanpot team.  But I couldn’t go against my gut just to screw over one of those teams who have been oh so dominant this decade.  Howard almost made it, as did Colin Hemingway, Darren Haydar and a couple other players.  But in the end this team just felt right.  The MacArthur pick can be openly bashed, I admit,  but I had a tough time putting people in front of him because of his consistency.  I wish I could’ve put Tommy Pöck on it but his first couple years at forward hurt him.  He still is the only UMass player to date to have more than one year as All-Hockey East and selected as first team All-American.   


This article seems to confirm that Quinnipiac will expectedly be returning a at the Mullins next year.  Strangely, it doesn’t look like Yale will reciprocate the game at their place from this year.  How very Harvard of them.

Other games reported or rumored so far for next year are seperate trips to Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as a game at Madison Square Garden against an unnamed opponent.


News; All-Decade Team; Recruit Update

The Daily Collegian recaps the woeful weekend that was.

They also have a piece on the seniors.

Dick Baker has some tidbits about attendance, declining tv games (excellent idea), Kevin Kessler, and lines.

The All-Decade Team was announced on Saturday.  It’s pretty close to my picks.  Here’s what I chose for for a first team as well as a second team.  The only difference was Matt Anderson and Casey Wellman ending up on the team over my picks of Tim Turner and Chris Capraro.  Anderson is a solid choice and I can’t really argue with that.  Wellman has had two solid seasons but I don’t think you can put up his contributions to those that Turner and Cappy made to the program over a longer span.  At the same time, as we saw in the ridiculous UMass All-Hockey East team last year, most of the voting seems to be done by people who just started following the team in the past couple of years so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.


According to this teaser from College Hockey 247, Joel Vienneau will make his final choice between Minnesota and Michigan.  I first posted about Vienneau last month.

Conor Sheary had an amazing past week for Cushing scoring six goals total in three games.  Sheary is currently 7th in prep hockey in scoring with 24 goals and 36 assists.  Not too far behind him is Mike Pereira, now tied for 11th in total points.

Peter DeAngleo had four assists in a couple games over the weekend as the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs clinched the North Division in the EJHL.


Polls & Awards

Well the voters have finally had enough and UMass no longer finds itself in the USCHO rankings for the first time since before Halloween.  In fact UMass is only receiving 7 total points.  Denver is your new top ranked team this week.

The Pioneers jump up to the top spot in the USA Today poll as well.

As mentioned over the weekend, UMass is no longer a team under consideration for the pairwise rankings.  Unfortunately Hockey East would only have two teams in if today was selection Sunday.

According to, UMass only has a 5% chance of making the tourney.

Amazingly UMass came into this month tied for second place in Hockey East.  Just three weeks later it’s mathematically impossible for them to even finish higher than 3rd.


Not surprisingly, no UMass player was anywhere near the Hockey East awards this week.  The weekly release does detail some of the awful statistics UMass is putting up currently.  One that stands out is that the team is somehow 2-4 this season when they have 40 or more shots on net.

Joe Cannata was named defensive player of the week.  How’s this for a stat.  Since the beginning of the calendar year the goaltender that goes up against UMass has a 50/50 chance of winning  HEA Defensive POTW honors.  That’s right, of the eight of those they’ve given in that time four were UMass opponents (and one of the times it wasn’t it was won by Paul Dainton).  UMass is making goaltenders look very good right now.


Saturday Recap

UMass played against the worst statistical defense in Hockey East for six periods and only managed one goal, scored on a 5 on 3. 

Again, UMass played against the worst statistical defense in Hockey East for six periods and only managed one goal, scored on a 5 on 3.

I could leave my recap at that and feel like I’ve said all that needed to be said.

Instead I’ll go on.  This team faced yet another “must-win” and seemed to play without any sense of desire or desperation.  If they did in fact feel either of those it did not translate to any form of execution.  This team showed little to no emotion on senior night, as five players likely said goodbye to the Mullins Center and the crowd that gathered within it.  And on a more personal note, this is the first team in four years that did not win on the night where the call for triangles was made.  That one hurts the most.

I do want to congratulate Joe Cannata who put together a very good weekend.  I’m sure he’ll likely end up Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week for the last two nights and he deserves it.  Do I think he was pushed to his limit?  Definitely not.  UMass may have generated a lot of shots but they generated very few real scoring chances.  However so much of goaltending is positioning and Cannata was exactly where he needed to be all weekend.

I don’t know what else to say.  Did I mention that UMass played against the worst statistical defense in Hockey East for six periods and only managed one goal, scored on a 5 on 3?

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Justin Braun
If Braun had been able to play forward UMass might’ve scored a goal.  This award almost went to Danny Meyers who played very and got exactly zero help from the rest of his team for the second straight game.


Dick Baker asks when will this end?  I wish I knew.  At this point it could all end March 6th in Orono.

Here’s the recap from the Gazette.

Perspective from the Merrimack side of things.

Adios pairwise rankings.  It was fun while it lasted!


Here’s a recruit that UMass missed out on.  Michael Voran will be playing for Notre Dame instead.  He was also interested in Michigan State.


Friday Recap; Calling All Triangles

It would be very cool if in one of these “must-win” games the team has been playing basically all month long that they actually play as if they concerned with the results and understand the consequences.  So far however, I haven’t seen it.  Where’s the desperation?

It wasn’t on display last night in North Andover as the Minutemen were once again unable to do anything meaningful on offense, managing just one goal against the conference’s worst defense.  And that lone score came on a two man advantage.  Down just two goals going into the third period and in desperate need of a win the Minutemen managed just four shots on goal.  One, two, three, four!  The defense?  Well let’s just say a guy not named DeCosta or Barton doubled his season total of goals with a hat trick last night.  The UMass blueline is very porous nowadays.

There were sparks of good play here and there.  A T.J. Syner breakaway.  Brett Watson with a poke check.  Kevin Kessler going down on the ice to disrupt a pass.  But overall the team looked like they wanted to be anywhere but at Lawler Rink tonight.  By the end of the game the good number of UMass fans in attendance felt the same.

You know what, I just can’t write about this game anymore.  If you’ve seen any number of the last 7 games, you saw what happened last night.  Mediocre effort, zero execution.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – James Marcou
James gave himself a nice birthday present with a goal last night, but I’m giving him the POTG award for something he did later on in the third.  In one sequence one of his linemates, Wellman I think, put the puck on net and it was stopped by the goaltender.  But then Marcou did something amazing.  With the puck sitting in front of the goaltender he skated directly towards the crease at full speed and tried to jam the puck into the net while it was just lying there.  It’s almost as if he “crashed” the net.  Crazy stuff.  I had heard about such things before but I had forgotten what it looked like.  He wasn’t succesful, but it was pretty remarkable.  I think the team should do more of it.


In the tradition of Paul Revere, Billy Dawes, and Samuel Prescott, I am officially alerting the Minuteman militias.  “The Triangles are coming!  The Triangles are coming!”

I’m sure many people have started reading the Fear The Triangle blog in the past year without really knowing what the phrase even means.  Well I guess it’s time to fill you in.  The triangle of course refers to the old pennant jerseys introduced by former coach Joe Mallen when the program was resurrected in 1993.  That year also marked my first year at UMass and when I first started following the team.  Many of the friends whom I watch the game with started following the team around the same time or a few years later, but we all remember those Mallen years vividly.  Or should I say we all remember those years, unfortunately.  That was some pretty bad hockey bad then.  Not only did UMass lose regularly, they lost in epic fashion at times.  It wasn’t easy being a UMass fan back then, but we had fun and stuck with the team anyway.  Flash forward to 2006.  The team had long since abandoned its triangle jerseys and somewhat abandoned it’s losing ways.  Kinda.  The 2006-2007 squad got out to a good start with a 6-1-1 record.  But then it all came apart.  The team proceeded to go 2-6-2 over the next 10 games, with the last being a 2-1 loss at, of all places, Lawler Arena at Merrimack.  Seeing UMass basically undo all they had accomplished earlier and reverting back to the form of the Mallen years, I had a desperate idea.  If the team was going to play like the team of old that wore triangles, then we were going to play the part as fans.  A call was put out to the hardcore group of fans; it was triangle time.  Our newish block logo UMass jerseys were put away and the old 90’s era jerseys were taken out of mothballs and worn to the very next game.  What do you know, a 4-2 win at home over Merrimack.  Well that was pretty cool, so we had to wear them again right?  UMass plastered Lowell 5-1.  In fact UMass would go 5-1-1 over the next 7 games.  The season was back on track and amazingly enough at end of it all UMass had its first NCAA berth and first tournament win.  In subsequent years, in trying times when the prospects of the season look dire and the team looked downright horrid, the triangles were brought out and for the most part the team would enjoy some success. 

Some teams have rally hats.  Some have rally towels.  Hell, some even have rally monkeys.  UMass, for whatever reason, has rally triangles.

Well, losers of 6 of 7 and being dominated by a 9th place Merrimack team by the score of 4-1 sure sounds like a triangle-clad team to me!  Therefore the gauntlet is being thrown down.  If you have a triangle buried somewhere in your closet or know someone who does, make sure to locate it and don it tonight.  At best whatever magic it contains may just help the team get out of its funk.  At worst, we’ll all be dressed appropriately for the level of play on the ice before us.  Who knows.  Maybe the team will in fact win.  Maybe they’ll go on a little run.  Maybe they secure a place in home ice and the pairwise to end the season.  Maybe UMass opponents will know what it means to fear the triangle.


In the Republican recap Toot Cahoon says recent performance is not related to the January swoons of years past. 

The Gazette game story mentions that Dan Meyers will in fact get the start on Senior Night.

The Eagle Tribune has the story of Stephane DeCosta’s father flying in from France to surprise his son last night.


Collegehockey247, a new college hockey Rivals site, has ranked the Top 50 players for the 2010 class.  Incoming recruit John Parker comes in at #44.


Merrimack Preview

Merrimack Warriors 11-15-1, (Hockey East 8-11-1 9th)
#18 Massachusetts Minutemen 16-13-0, (Hockey East 11-11-0 T-4th)  

Official Merrimack Hockey Site
Warrior Rink Rat Blog

What an awful time for the UMass hockey team to have to travel up 495 to Lawler Rink.  The Minutemen, losers of six of their last seven, are not only in desperate need of a win they really need a sweep this weekend.  In order to keep their home ice and NCAA at-large hope alive anything less than taking all four points is not an option.  But one game at a time I guess and tonight’s will be in a rink where UMass has lost four of their last five.  Whether it’s the (sub-par) facilities, the small ice, or the fact that Warrior coach and former UMass assistant Mark Dennehy knows how to shut down a Toot Cahoon team, I’m not sure.  But UMass has struggled when they make the trip to Merrimack.

This is a little different Merrimack team than those of the past few seasons who have had success against UMass.  Those teams were built primarily around defense.  No longer.  This Warrior squad can score and currently have the 5th best offense in Hockey East at 3.11 goals per game.  That’s better than UMass which comes into the game averaging 3 even.  Of course that newly found offense is led by freshman sensation Stephane DeCosta who has put up 13 goals and 22 assists in 25 games so far this season.  Two of those goals came last weekend as his team went up to Burlington and took three of four points from the Catamounts.  He also had the lone goal when UMass beat Merrimack 4-1 at the Mullins back before the winter break.  Right there with DeCosta for the Warriors is junior Chris Barton who has 17 goals and 14 assists.  Those two guys account for 36% of Merrimack’s goals and 28% of its total points.  Obviously the ability to limit the chances for those two could be the difference maker this weekend.

Defensively the Warriors have slipped from past years and have found themselves last in that category in the conference.  Probably with better D the team would likely be having the breakout season that many had predicted and would be in the thick of it in the race for home ice.  But that’s what happens when your goaltender, Joe Cannata, coming off a strong freshman campaign has a goals against of 3.35 and your veteran defenseman, Pat Bowen, is a -12 on the season.  Senior Andrew Braithwaite has seen nearly half of the time at goaltender as a result of Cannata’s but his numbers are only marginally better at 3.15 GAA and .900 save percentage.

Usually in this space I try to focus on how the UMass team has been trending and what they need to focus on to get the win.  I don’t know what to write here.  They quite frankly just need to play each game as if it’s their last.  The motivation should be there.  Despite this horrible losing streak they’re on, they still are in a good spot and can pretty much control their destiny from here on out and still get an NCAA berth.  But not if they just show up.  They need to work their asses off to get opportunities and then make sure to cash in on them.  I know that sounds really basic, but it’s time to get back to basics for this team.  Tonight there are two huge points up for grab on the road.  Tomorrow it’s senior night.  The seniors and their teammates can at the very least make sure that they get a W in their last game every played in the Mullins or they work hard to make sure it won’t be their last home game of the season.  Either way will be fine with me.


Dick Baker previews the weekend series for the Republican.

Toot calls on the seniors to help lead the team out of the rough patch in the Gazette preview.

USCHO of course celebrates the fact that the “Big Four” of Hockey East has regained their rightful place atop the Hockey East standings.  Spare me…

One of the better Hockey East writers (despite his annoying habit of hyphenating UMass), Mike McMahon of the Eagle Tribune, has a look at Merrimack’s playoff hopes as well as a feature on Stephane DeCosta.  Also check out McMahon’s blog listed up above in my preview.


The New York Times has an interesting piece detailing how Americans tend to shoot right-handed while those north of the border shoot left-handed.  Sure enough that’s true on the UMass roster.  10 of the 17 US skaters on the roster currently are right hand shots.  However all five Canadian Minutemen are lefties.  Weird.  I’m thinking  proximity to the magnetic north pole has something to do with it.  Maybe Canadians are born with a higher density of iron in their left arms and are naturally pulled that way.


As expected Jon Quick dressed for Team USA’s win over Norway yesterday, but did not see action as the Americans are expected to ride Ryan Miller all the way to the gold.  I wasn’t able to watch the broadcast but I guess the NBC announcer talked a bit about Quick and his time at UMass.  It probably didn’t hurt that that announcer’s name was Eddie Olczyk Sr.  I have not been successful in finding a picture of him in uniform as of yet since photographers for some reason don’t take pile of pictures of the backup goaltender opening the door on the bench.  But I’ll be sure to share one if I come across it, or if any readers beat me to it please share the link in the comments.