Thank You Kevin Kessler; NHL Draft; Wicked Smaht

Wow, I think this is the third post of the week already. Ok, I admit it, I’ve pretty much been taken the last couple months off. Truthfully, the way the season ended was brutal, brutal, and by the end of it all I felt a little burnt out. But time has passed and the combination of some great off-season recruiting news plus interacting with the usual UMass hockey crew in addition to getting introduced to some additional members of the Minuteman hockey community at the Pond Club Golf Tournament this week has started the process of getting me back in hockey mode. With that I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to post a little at the same time so here we go.

Therefore, as we welcome in a towering defenseman to the UMass program yesterday, I want to make sure to thank a huge defenseman saying his goodbyes. I was able to get to this year’s Reverse Raffle following the season, a blast as always, but I didn’t make the season banquet the following day. If I had I would’ve noticed that Kevin Kessler was honored with the rest of this year’s seniors (as seen on the video available on and thus he will likely not be playing out his senior redshirt season. So since I didn’t mention him with the other seniors following the season , here we go. To be upfront I’ll readily own up to the fact that the first couple years when Kessler played sparingly for the Minutemen, I was not a fan. I just found him to be immobile and frankly a liability on the ice. Move ahead to this past season where quality defensemen was not something UMass had a readily supply of. Kessler was called upon to play in some key situations in very key games and frankly, he played well with no complaints from yours truly. As Many would admit he’s not the most athletically gifted player on the ice yet he made up for it with effort and playing smart hockey. He developed into a player that was knowledgable enough to be in the right place at the right time and especially noticeable towards the end of the season is that he had no problem getting on the ice when a shot needed to be blocked or he need to go the extra mile when called upon for some other sacrifice. On top of that he added a physical dimension to UMass’ game which was blatantly lacking with the graduation of Alex Berry and Scott Crowder last year. Thanks Kevin for your hard work and good luck to you in the future in your post-UMass days.


The Hockey East All-Academic Team was announced this week and UMass led the league with 13 players making the squad. Leading the way was redshirt defenseman Djan Lefebvre who posted a 3.88 goals against… grade point average for the year. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention captain Brett Watson and Dr. Martin Nolet who both posted a 3.0 in all four year careers at UMass.


The NHL Draft is a little more than a week away. Incoming recruit Mike Pereira will likely hear his name called on Saturday the 26th when the 2nd-7th rounds take place. Matchsticks & Gasoline, an excellently named Calgary Flames blog (love the logo as well), has done a lot of work to writeup profiles for many draft prospects, including Pereira. I’m happy to be just one of the sources they’ve used in their work.

Speaking of the draft, I have absolutely nothing to back this up from the people in the know, but I think that Branden Gracel may have an outside shot at getting picked up in one of the later rounds as well given what he’s accomplished so far in juniors. It also would’ve likely been a big weekend for Joel Hanely as well until he unfortunately broke his leg in the beginning of his last junior season. Whatever happens, it’ll be fun to watch (especially if the Bruins can end up with Taylor Hall).


The golf tourney brought together a good group of diverse UMass supporters. Besides the many former player in attendance I posted about earlier in the week also there was Versus/NESN Announcer/UNH alum Andy Brickley, Bruins radio announcer/Maine alum Bob Beers, and even Hockey East official Tim Bennedetto. Another player who I forgot to mention earlier in attendance was Scott Crowder, who this past February organized the first annual Pond Hockey Classic. This coming year he’s not satisfied with only taking over Lake Winnipesauke, NH he’s going bigger and bringing pond hockey to Lake Champlain, VT.