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Thank You Seniors; Looking Toward The Weekend

This Saturday will mark the last regular season game played in the Mullins Center for this year’s senior class.  There is no greater reason to make the trip out to the Bill on Satuday than to bid farewell these five individuals who have made great contributions to the UMass hockey program.  As freshmen they helped the school make its first ever NCAA tournament and now to close off their career they have they chance to return to the tourney.  Please come out this weekend and join me in thanking this year’s senior class.

(photo by Karen Winger)

#27 Justin Braun 

Braun may well leave UMass as the best two-way defenseman ever.  He was poised on defense even from his very first game as a freshman and he’s been that way ever since.  He never panics on defense and is always very good at being in the right place at the right time.  I’ll probably remember him most however for the numerous rushes he leads in almost every game.  He can skate and weave through defenses with the best of them and a lot of times it completely caught the opposition off guard leading to some key offensive opportunities.  I forsee a successful pro career in Braun’s future.  Hopefully one day soon he’ll be sporting some teal in the Golden State. 

(photo by Karen Winger)

  #33 Dan Meyers 

Frankly, it sucks to be a backup goaltender.  If the backup starts a game that the entire plays poorly in somehow that’s still the goaltender’s fault because the usual guy isn’t in there.  And that has happened too often to Meyers.  But if you look at his performances he has put together a career to be proud of and come up huge when called upon for the Minutemen.  How about his 6-0 shutout of RPI last year?  Or his 40 save effort in a win over #5 North Dakota.  Two times he was Hockey East Player of the Week and as always was ready and willing to take his turn in net. 

(photo by Karen Winger)

#2 Martin Nolet 

Ok, I’ll admit it, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Marty Nolet when he first started playing for UMass.  Sure he was highly touted and an L.A. Kings draft pick, but he seemed to make a lot of bonehead plays and take the worst penalties at the worst time.  My how things have changed.  Now in his senior year Nolet has developed into a key component of this UMass hockey team, excelling on defense, offense, and even adding a bit of grit to the game when needed.  He has likely been UMass’ most consistent defenseman this season.  And through it all the pre-med major has been the quintessential student-athlete annually making the Hockey East All-Academic team.  

(photo by Karen Winger)

#10 Will Ortiz

I think I’m going to miss Will Ortiz the most.  I just admire something about a player who doesn’t take a weekend, a game, or even a shift off and leaves everything they have in them on the ice every night.  He can score, backcheck, forecheck, slam someone against the boards, whatever was asked of him.  He has lived or died with every goal scored or goal allowed.  It’s tough to think of another player in the 16 years I’ve watched UMass hockey who can match Ortiz’s intensity. 

(photo by Karen Winger)

#26 Brett Watson

Unsung hero.  That team award, named after the late Jack Canniff, has found its way into the hands of Brett Watson for the past three years and will likely find its way there again this year.  Even when you’re one of the elite defensive forwards in the game it’s tough to find recognition in a sport that rewards goalscorers and elastic goaltenders.  No doubt those snipers and goalies appreciate a Watson when a well timed poke check or faceoff win makes their goal or save the difference in the game.  Hero is also what Watson has been off the ice as his charity work with the local Big Brother/Big Sister program has touched the lives of many Pioneer Valley children and gained him a nomination for hockey’s Humanitarian Award.  A two-year captain, Watson’s leadership on and off the ice will be missed. 

Thank you seniors! 

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The game notes are up for this weekend’s series against Merrimack. 

The Collegian has their previews of the weekend.  In the first Toot Cahoon says he’s focused on showing the team what they did well at the beginning of the season during practice.  The second piece says Paul Dainton will make the start tomorrow night but Cahoon has not yet decided who will be in net on Saturday. 

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Somewhere along the way I missed that Dan Meyers posted another chapter of his movie blog.  The theme of this one is sports movies.  I can’t really argue with Slapshot being best hockey movie, after all I went as far as to make it one of only two movies I put onto my iPhone.  I do have a real soft spot for Miracle though.  But Major League over The Natural for best baseball movie?  No way, Danny. 

Nice to see the hockey team supports the other sports teams on campus.  If we’re down a few players this weekend due to pneumonia, we now know why ;).  Thanks to Matt over at the Tri-Corner Blog for bringing this to my attention. 

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According to the Boston Globe, Jon Quick will in fact dress for today’s Olympic hockey game against Norway.

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