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Gracel Commits; Merch In The News

UMass received another committment for 2010 today in the form of Branden Gracel, a 5’9″ 165lb center from Calgary.  Garcel played this past season for the Fort McMurray Oil Barrons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.  Does Ft McMurray ring a bell?  It’s where the coaching staff found Paul Dainton.  Gracel was named the AJHL playoff MVP, putting up 27 points as the Oil Barrons fell in Game 7 of the championship series final.  He had 38 goals and 56 assists in 58 regular season games, 4th in the league. 

Here’s an article from earlier in the season following Gracel’s route to Ft McMurray while this article from a couple weeks ago gives a good profile of his skills as a player.  It looks like Nebraska-Omaha was also one of the schools in the mix for him. Once again Toot has stuck with a recruiting philosophy that has gotten him some success, go for undersized but extremely quick forwards. 

This looks like an huge Spring pick up for recruiting.  It certainly does a lot to alleviate the production lost from some of the early defections.  The team now has three legitimate offensive players coming in with Gracel, Troy Power, and Mike Pereira (and perhaps Conor Sheary).  Joel Hanley will likey be able to fill the shoes of Matt Irwin as a good two way defenseman.  Not just out of quantity, but quality may make this as one of the best recruiting classes ever.

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Former UMass hockey player and Pond Club President Mike Merchant was the feature of this interesting article in the Franklin Gazette.  Hockey seems like its always played a big role in Merch’s life and I know the team and the fans appreciate all the work he still does for the program.

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Teglia Wins USHL Honors; Kostka Called Up

Jeff Teglia picked up 2nd Team All-USHL honors this week.  Teglia and his teammate Troy Power are currently locked in a heated playoff battle with the Fargo Force (literally, as I type this they’re up 2-1 in an elimination game).

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With the Portland Pirates out of the AHL playoffs the Buffalo Sabres have called up a host of players from the team, including Mike Kostka.  It’s unlikely he’ll dress against the Bruins, but you never know.

Guzzo Continues On; USHL Playoffs; Mauldin Article

Just a few quick updates. 

Last week I talked about recruit Steven Guzzo’s Oakville Blades beating the CCHL champions.  Now they move onto the Candian Junior A Championships.  Here’s an article on Guzzo and his team’s continued run into the national playoffs.

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Jeff Teglia, Troy Power and the Omaha Lancers and John Parker and the Indiana Ice continue to battle in the USHL playoffs.  Omaha is facing the Fargo Force in the semifinals while the Ice are taking on the Green Bay Gamblers.  Teglia has a 1.99 GAA so far in the playoffs while Power has scored a goal and has two assists.  Parker has notched two assists for the Ice.

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The Stamford Advocate had this article on Greg Mauldin and how his leadership has helped get the Bridgeport Sound Tigers into the playoffs.

I also randomly came across this picture of Warren Norris who I’m guesing is playing well for the Graz 99ers if he’s getting his name in the paper.  You’ll notice the same blurb mentions Thomas Pöck as well.

Justin Braun Named USCHO First Team

Justin Braun has been named to the All-USCHO first team.  Braun is the only Hockey East blueliner named to either the first or second team.  Also representing Hockey East on the team is Maine’s Gustav Nyquist and UNH’s Bobby Butler.

Playoffs?!?!?

Playoffs are in full force for Minutemen of old and to be.

First, let’s start with the young’uns.  Jeff Teglia and Troy Power’s Omaha team advanced in the first round of the USHL playoffs as the Lancers beat Tri-City in three games.  Teglia allowed only 3 goals total in two of the nights while Power put up a goal and an assist in the series.  They’ll play the Fargo Force starting tomorrow.

John Parker and the defending champion Indiana Ice won in their first round series in 5 games.  Parker was a +1 for the series.

Chris DelMauro’s Lincoln team did not make the playoffs and Conor Allen wasn’t able to play for Sioux Falls due to injury.

North of the border the CCHL Newmarket Hurricanes and Joel Hanley took on OPJHL champion Oakville Blades and Steven Guzzo.  The Blades took the championship series 4-2 as Guzzo scored a hat trick in the clinching game to win the Buckland Cup.  Hanley had an assist in the series.

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Meanwhile, in just a few hours Jon Quick will make his playoff debut for the Kings on a nationally televised game against the Canucks.  This is the 2nd time a UMass player has made it to the playoffs as Thomas Pöck had three assists in 4 playoff games with the Rangers.  I just may have to pull out my Brad Norton LA Kings gameworn for this one.  Good luck, Jon!

Also for those who missed it, Casey Wellman scored his first NHL goal in the final game for the Wild.  The game featured American hockey legend Mike Modano saying farewell to his old Minnesota friends in an old North Stars jersey.

Goodbye, Fighting Sioux

You will find no bigger proponent of doing away with offensive nicknames than myself.  I would love to wake up one day and find the Redskins, Indians, and things like the Tomahawk Chop go the way of the dinosaur.  Dinosaurs themselves are ok as mascots in my book though, so no worries Toronto.  I find these crass monikers to be very offensive to Native Americans and do little to represent and honor the great people who once inhabited these lands in great numbers.  Instead they are relics of past racism and stereotypes.  I’m happy that my alma mater, the University of Massachusetts, did the right thing and got rid of their Redmen nickname long ago, replacing it instead with the Minutemen, a revered icon that uniquely represents our great Commonwealth.  Don’t get me started about former AD Ian McCaw’s infatuation with Grey Wolves.

That being said, I find last week’s news that the University of North Dakota is doing away with their Fighting Sioux nickname disappointing.  To me there’s a difference between terms like “Redskins” or “Indians” and tribe specific nicknames like “Chippewas” or “Utes”.  If done correctly this second set of names can  be a tool to honor and even educate people about the great tribes of old.  I personally don’t think the first set of names can truly do so, first because they’re based on stereotypes, secondly because they’re too general in their nature.  But if a school is true to the tribe in question, using historical symbols and dress to represent them, I personally see no problem with the names and think they’re a great way to remind everyone of the original Americans who were here before us.

I know many have made this argument before but if the NCAA is going to crack down on ethnic-based mascots, they’re going to have to be consistent.  That means you, Union College Dutchmen and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  As someone of Irish decent I’ve yet to be contacted by Notre Dame and as far as I know there has not been any kind of referendum in the 26 counties to give their consent to such a nickname as the NCAA dictated for the schools with tribe nicknames.  Personally, I have no problem with the Domers using the name, but I just want some consistency from the NCAA.  No seriously, stop laughing.

Obviously there will always be a segment of the population unhappy with keeping such nicknames, and I know that was the case with the Sioux.  But at the same time there was a good deal of support for it as well both from those in the tribe and not.  Plus from what I’ve read the university itself has done a lot to support the Sioux tribes in the state and try to give the young Sioux opportunities at the school.  That in itself is admirable and will likely continue even as the mascot becomes a memory.

There will always be people to complain.  Hell, there are still some out there (besides those in Waco, Texas) who want to do away with the Minutemen, claiming it offensive.  Sorry, but you only have a gripe if you happen to be British.  But UMass did the right thing way back when and put in place an honorable nickname to represent the state and its proud warriors of the past.  In my opinion, North Dakota is now abandoning a symbol that did the same.

Braun Named All-American

Congratulations to Justin Braun who was named a 2nd team ACHA All-American.  It’s been a good week for Braun who picked up 3 assists in his professional debut for the Worcester Sharks a few days ago.  James Marcou and Cory Quirk both scored goals in that game as well.

Braun wasn’t the only one named to an All-American team as Martin Nolet was named a Lowe’s Senior CLASS All-American which recognizes players’ contributions both on and off the ice.

Pereira & Teglia Make Final NHL Draft Rankings

The final rankings for the NHL Draft were released today by Central Scouting and incoming recruits Mike Pereira and Jeff Teglia made the list.  Pereira is ranked as the 63rd best North American skater, up from 77th in the Mid-Term rankings.  The improvement was enough to get Pereira and invite to the NHL Scouting Combine.

Jeff Teglia is ranked as the 24th best North American goaltender, up from 26th at the mid-term.  For those interested, Thomas Pöck’s little brother is the 88th best European skater in the rankings.

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New England Hockey Journal writer Andrew Merritt reported on his Twitter page that Greg Mauldin has been recalled by the Islanders and will play for them tomorrow against the Penguins.  Mauldin hasn’t appeared in the NHL since the six games he played for the Blue Jackets in 2004 after leaving UMass.

Casey Wellman mentioned his dramatic overtime game-winner against Boston College in this feature on the Wild’s college players.

Ortiz To The ECHL; 10-11 Schedule; Recruit Update

Congratulations to Will Ortiz who signed a pro contract with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.  Behind the bench helping guide Ortiz at Cincinnati will be former Minuteman captain and FTT favorite, Dean Stork.  Storker played 3 seasons for UMass from 1996 to 1999 and was named an assistant coach for the Cyclones in 2006.

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So all the rumors regarding next years non-conference schedule were confirmed at Friday’s Reverse Raffle.  UMass will be opening the season October 8th and 9th with a two game series at Minnesota.  Both Yale and Quinnipiac will be returning games at the Mullins Center and UMass will indeed play a yet undetermined opponent at Madison Square Garden.  The MSG game is not part of the BU-Cornell series that has taken place there.  UMass will end the 2010 calendar year with a two game series at Wisconsin.  I believe those dates will be mid-week, December 28th and 29th.  It will certainly be a hell of a challenge for a pretty inexperienced Minuteman squad.  However if it toughens them up for a strong effort from January on, I think it’ll be worth it.

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Congratulations to Joel Hanley and his Newmarket Hurricanes who took the inaugural CCHL championship last week.  Hanley had 4 goals and 9 assists in 19 playoff games.  Hanley and Newmarket are now taking on OPJHL champion Oakville Blades and future Minuteman Steven Guzzo.  Guzzo hasn’t played in the first two games of the series for some reason but he had 5 goals and 3 assists in 17 games as the Blades won the OPJHL.

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I apologize for lack of posting on here lately.  Frankly I was a little burnt out from the season (and the way it ended), plus I recently started a new job.  Oh yeah, and buying MLB: The Show probably didn’t help with having enough free time to post.  But I have a few ideas for some write-ups and will try to get those out in the next week of so.  Of course I’ll definitely be updating for any recruit commitments or other significant news.

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