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Saunders Article, Berry Traded

The Ipswich Chonicle had a nice feature on Shawn Saunders this week.  He mentions that summer sessions in the weight room have been particularly hard.  I’ve heard the same elsewhere.  It could be an early sign that Coach Cahoon is very serious about making these players physically and mentally tough this year.  The article also details Shawn’s close relationships with his father, Bernie, and his Uncle, ESPN’s John Saunders, both former collegiate hockey players.

I’ve always liked Saunders.  I like him even more now that he’s claiming citizenship in Ipswich, the town where I spent a good deal of my childhood.  Go Tigers!

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The Maple Leafs have just announced that they’ve traded Alex Berry and one other prospect for former Bruin Matt Lashoff.  Berry will likely see most of his time with AHL Norfolk.

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Speaking of the minors, Justin Braun and Matt Irwin are mentioned in this news story on the upcoming Worcester Sharks season.

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Tommy Pöck’s little brother, Marcus, is CHL bound.

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Catching Up With The ’11 Recruits; Games Available On Cable

Now that we know who will be inbound to Amherst for the upcoming semester, let’s take a look at where the future recruits will be playing this coming season.

Goaltender Kevin Boyle is in British Columbia where training camp just opened up for the Westside Warriors of the BCHL.  The Warriors are coached by none other than Darren Yopyk who was a captain for Coach Cahoon at Princeton.  Yopyk then followed Cahoon to Amherst where he was a graduate assistant for the team and received a masters and PhD from UMass.  Before Westside he was an assistant coach to Mark Dennehy at Merrimack.  The BCHL will give Boyle a great chance to play with and against a much higher level of talent than the AtlJHL. 

I’m not exactly sure where Chris Del Mauro will be playing this upcoming season, but it doesn’t appear he’ll be returning to Lincoln of the USHL.  In fact this post from Lincoln Stars blog Black and Blue says he quit hockey and returned to New Jersey.  While stranger things have happened, I’d be a little surprised if he’s truly quit hockey.  More likely he decided that moving from New Jersey to the Midwest to play in the USHL wasn’t his thing.  Maybe he’ll return to his old team the Rockets next season or maybe try to catch on with the Hitmen of the EJHL.  I’ll pass along if I find out anymore information.

Last I heard Shane Walsh, who played with the South Shore Kings last year, was trying to decide between playing locally again or playing out west, either the USHL (Tri-City owns his rights) or even the BCHL.

John Parker appears to be on track to play for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in their inaugural season in the USHL.  Parker was selected in the expansion draft at the end of last season.

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Most all of this season’s home hockey games will be available on local Western Mass digital cable thanks to a partnership the school has signed with CBS 3.  The internet broadcasts will essentially be simulcast on CBS 3 Now, channel 293 on Comcast.  This is great and, while unlikely, I’d love to see this extended to the whole state.  But just remember, watching on TV is never the same as being there so make sure you get to the Mullins this season whenever possible.

Keeping An Eye On Eddie Nolan

An article in today’s Boston Globe on the recent Beantown Classic tournament in Marlborough had the following:

Eddie Nolan is hoping he made scouts take notice last week. A 6-foot defenseman who will skate for the Foxborough-based South Shore Kings of the EJHL this season, Nolan suited up in green and yellow for the Bombers team last week, and scored one goal in five games. He credited Bombers coach Paul Merritt, a scout for the Buffalo Sabres, for providing constructive criticism.

“Today during the game, he was pointing out mistakes I was making and told me how to correct them,’’ said Nolan, who graduated from Boston College High this spring and is looking to play at a Division 1 school, possibly the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Everyone here knows the game and knows what each player does well, but learning how to improve is important too.’’

The Globe also called Nolan a player to watch in the Catholic Conference last year.

He also made the MSHCA All-Star Game this past season.

Media Guide; NCAA vs OHL

The student writers over at the Daily Collegian are gearing up for the imminent start to the school year with an article on this year’s hockey schedule.  An interesting stat that Nick O’Malley points out is that UMass is 4-0-1 against BU when they play in the fall portion of the season.

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The athletic department released the Media Guide/Record Book this past week and I have to say it’s pretty impressive.  Like a lot of schools UMass has stopped actually publishing its media guide and instead just has it available electronically, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t put a lot of work into it.  What I noticed the most versus past editions is much more historical data on the program, from a historical timeline of UMass hockey going back to its founding in 1908 to historical rosters and stats dating back to the early 60s.  It also includes the stats for Minutemen that have played in the NHL and minors.  Overall, a great resource for UMass hockey fans in addition to the media.

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The recent defections of college or college-bound players to the major juniors recently has brought recent attention to this critical issue affecting NCAA hockey.  Indeed we’ve even seen it ourselves with the loss of UMass recruits to the OHL and QMJHL like Vladimir Nikiforov, Zach Phillips, and John Carlson.  It seems like the war of words is beginning to heat up between both sides and I thought I’d share a few links for those interested.

Here’s a Canadian perspective complaining that the CHL is being discredited.  Interesting how the Bob Nicholson of Hockey Canada flat out lies and says that bashing of college hockey by the Canadian leagues isn’t happening when it’s actually occurring quite regularly and even quite recently by London Knight Coach Dale Hunter when he snatched incoming Notre Dame recruit Jarred Tinordi.  Does the name ring a bell?  Hunter, who has a reputation for stealing college bound players, also convinced John Carlson to head north.  Of course what do you expect from a guy who cheap shots guys after goals.

And then from the NCAA side are a couple a great reads from bloggers Bruce Ciskie and his Ciskie Blog on the issues at play in the potential summit of the two sides and Chris Dilks of the Western College Hockey Blog who debunks some CHL claims.  Dilks also suggests the most simple of solutions.  Once a player commits to a US college, the major junior leagues agree not to go after him.  Easy enough, but I for one doubt there’s enough honor on the other side of the border to agree to such a quick fix.

New Radio Deal In Boston; Rookie Sharks

The school announced a new radio deal with Boston station WWZN “The Zone” 1510AM to broadcast UMass sporting events in the coming year, including hockey.  The deal calls for approximately 10 hockey games to be on air as well as a select number of coaches shows.  This sounds pretty good on paper but I’m not sure how they’ll figure out how to schedule the hockey games since the station also broadcasts all of the BU hockey games and there are very few instances when the two teams aren’t playing on the same nights, but we’ll see.

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San Jose announced their rookie team which will take part in the Young Stars Tournament on the eve of training camp.  It includes Justin Braun, James Marcou, and Matt Irwin.  The tournament takes place in Penticton, British Columbia.

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Last week I posted my five ideas to improve the UMass hockey experience, one of which being an upgrade to the compressor at the Mullins Center.  I’m happy to report that the Mullins did get new chillers and a cooling tower to the tune of $500K over the summer.  I’m not exactly sure what those things do but hopefully it means improved ice this coming year.

There’s also an unconfirmed rumor that a third jersey is in the works as well.

5 Ways To Improve The UMass Hockey Experience

Today happens to be the anniversary of the first ever post on Fear The Triangle.  A year ago I wrote that I wanted FTT to be a central place where UMass fans could go for news on the team, some commentary, a recruit database, and game previews and recaps.  I think I’ve fulfilled that goal.  I also wanted this place, through the comments section of the posts, to be a place where fans can discuss the team they love with me and other fans.  Personally, I’ve thought the interaction has been excellent and the readers have helped make this place the goto site for UMass hockey with their input on the topics as well as keeping me up to date of news that I may have missed.  I’m amazed to say that in the past year there have been over 85,000 views of the blog.

I’m really happy for all the positive feedback I’ve gotten in the past year for the blog and the people I’ve had the chance to meet and talk to that I probably otherwise wouldn’t have.  So as Fear The Triangle enters its second year and the season looms on the horizon, I’ll continue to do my best to keep everyone up to speed on the Minuteman hockey program.  While I think the format is pretty conducive to that purpose I’m also open to suggestions for ways to improve this place, so feel free to share if you have any ideas.  I know that the site is pretty minimalistic in terms of photographs and that’s something I’d like to work on this coming season, though I think I can sometimes pass for a writer but will defintely never make it as a shutterbug so we’ll see how that goes.  I also have a couple other ideas to try and make post game recaps and overall news reporting better so hopefully those things come to pass as well.

But most importantly on this anniversary I want to say two things specifically; thanks for reading and is it October yet?

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With the season just a couple months away, I was thinking recently about ways to make the UMass hockey experience at the Mullins better.  So here are just a few random thoughts:

5)  New Third Jersey – UMass had its first foray into the third jersey a few years back with the black alternate jersey.  While I wasn’t a big fan of the shine material used for the jersey itself, I really liked the design.  The black added a different color that still went well with the maroon that was part of the rest of the uniform.  Plus, many probably did not realize that the design itself was inspired by a jersey worn by the school back in the fifties as you can see in this photo from the Pond Club website:

I think a historically based third jersey would be preferable and while many readers probably assume I’m talking about the blog name inspiring pennant jerseys of the 1990s, that’s not the case.  The jersey I’d most like to see adapted into a third option for the team is the one UMass wore when they won the 1972 DII Championship.  It is essentially a maroon and white jersey with double stripes on the sleeves, a player number on the upper left front, and of course what is better known as the Chicago Blackhawk logo on the front.  Personally, I think this is a great design that would look good in today’s world while drawing on the programs past success and tradition.  Unfortunately, I have a feeling in the political correctness that dominates today’s world (where even the venerable Fighting Sioux mascot is being retired) there would be too many obstacles to introducing this alternate look for the Minutemen.  Although a few years back Lowell was able to bring back their old Lowell Chiefs jerseys for a couple games with success and as far as I know no controversy.

If the old Redmen jerseys wouldn’t work, I’d like to see a completely original look and and design.  Unfortunately I don’t really trust Addidas to come up with anything decent for the purpose.  They are the ones after all who produced the pinkish “maroon” hockey jerseys after they got the UMass contract a few years back and still seem to be unable to produce any decent licensed jerseys or apparel for hockey.  It would be nice to see them give it a try however.  Who knows, maybe this time around the team will actually do better on the scoreboard when wearing the thirds, something that didn’t seem to be the case with the blacks.

4)  Slice Is Nice – While I’m not advocating a return of the triangle jerseys for the team, I do think the school should bring back a different celebrated triangle from that same time period.  Bring back Mr. Slice.  Sure, Mr. Slice was just a promotional spokesperson pushing inferior pizza product back in the day, but he ended up being the unofficial UMass hockey mascot during his time.  A lot of this was due to the fact that the school could never seem to find a Sam the Minuteman who could skate so in the end Mr. Slice got much more exposure at the games.  There was just something captivating about watching people try to score on a giant slice of pizza in between periods.  One of the best taunts I ever heard come out of the UMass stands was a kid yelling “Mr. Slice OWNS you!” to his friend who had just been stonewalled by the loveable piece of pizza.  Nothing bruises the ego more than being bested in an athletic event by junk food.

3) No More Puddles – A new (or additional) ice compressor for the Mullins.  The one they have now just can’t handle two ice sheets for the arena and the practice rink.  I know compressors don’t grow on trees but poor ice is affecting game play and has specifically hurt the Minutemen as Toot continues to bring in speedier, more finesse players.  Maybe we can just pass the hat at the games.  Or perhaps the program’s half of the Chuck a Puck proceeds can go towards a new compressor “slush” fund!

2)  UMass Hockey: Est. 1908 –  This suggestion is actually for both sports played at the Mullins; fill the place with history.  UMass basketball has a long and well documented history.  UMass hockey has a long and somewhat undocumented history.  Yet, to walk to the sterile Mullins Center concourse you’d think neither program has any history.  Where are the trophies?  The pictures?  The memorabilia?  The past legends?  The athletic department has begun to tackle this issue with pictures up high along the sides of the concourse and the ones hanging on the light poles outside.  But there are cases filled with the treasures of past UMass conquests, from all sports,  sitting on the second floor of the Mullins that most Minuteman fans never get to see.  In addition to balls and nets from basketball’s haydays there are sticks, trophies, and even a Redmen jersey like I mentioned earlier in this post.  These things should be moved downstairs where people can learn about the rich history of UMass athletics.  I love walking through the old hockey barns in Burlington and Alfond, and even the new ones like Agganis, and seeing the foundations and celebrations of their programs on display.  Pictures of John Leclair in a Catamount jersey.  The listing of BU players on the 1980 Olympic team.  Doug Flutie’s hail mary ball…oh wait, the Collegian’s Jeff Howe proved that was fake.  How great would it be to see a display of memorabilia for the 1972 DII Champions before heading your seat?  Or see pictures of the UMass players who have played in the NHL while you kill time in between periods?  A lot of people think that UMass hockey doesn’t have any history or tradition.  This is simply untrue.  It’s just impossible right now to easily learn what that history is.

1) Fight Mass – The top way to improve the UMass hockey experience……..a hockey band.  A hockey band makes the college hockey experience complete.  Places like Cornell and Maine have excellent bands and are considered top places to watch a college hockey game.  It’s not coincidence.  Over the years the music played at the Mullins has been awful to excellent and anywhere in between, but even a so-so band is better than the best piped in music.  And UMass doesn’t have a so-so band program.  It has one of the best.  It has the Power and Class of New England.

A hockey band would make UMass hockey better in two ways, creating better atmosphere and addressing a common complaint.  There have been many discussions about student behavior at UMass games and how it sours the experience for home and visiting fans alike.  I’m not going to use this time to lecture the students or rehash those discussions, but I will make the point that I believe a hockey band will lessen what’s seen as negative behavior.  A hockey band allows for a more constructed environment and will work to better organize the student cheers so they don’t become mish-mash or worse, devolve into crass ugliness.  If the band worked together with the leaders of the student booster group it would also allow for collaboration for new songs/cheers that would finally help build a student cheer tradtion that has thus far barely existed at UMass.

Now, a lot has been made about reasons why the marching band program absolutely cannot field a band for hockey.  I’ve heard them all, including in discussions with George Parks himself.  They’re all false.  It’s grandstanding and people playing politics within the university.  The chief excuse is that the band would be too stretched out to cover hockey in addition to football, men’s hoops, and women’s hoops.  Ignoring the fact hat the women’s hoops band typically outnumbers the fans in attendance, this isn’t true.  First off, UMass is the ONLY school that does not have a hockey band (though to be truthful, Providence’s band has been missing in action for the last few games I’ve seen at the Coffin.  Providence fans may say the same about coaching).  Schools with limited resources like Lowell and Merrimack are able to get a band at every game, with the River Hawk band being my pick for most underrated of the conference foes.  UMass has the highest undergraduate population in the conference and the largest marching band.  Last year ground was broken on a much deserved and long overdue $5.7M marching band building with the majority of the funding coming from the university itself.  The bands at schools like Maine and UNH, with resources much less in terms of both funding and manpower, are able to have bands play for football, men’s and women’s hoopes, men’s hockey, and even women’s hockey.  It can be done.

The marching band program and hockey games, now the most heavily attending sports events by students on campus, should be an easy marriage.  It gives fans yet another chance to hear the amazing talent of one of the campus greatest sources of pride while allowing the marching band to extend their mission of supporting the school’s athletics program.  Too long have hockey games been without a band.  The time for finger pointing and excuses is over.  Hockey is seeing sustained strong numbers of attendees and interest.  The marching band is as good as ever and is about to embark on a new era in their state of the art building.  What better time to fuse these two stars of the campus together.

How would you improve the UMass hockey experience?

Catching Up

It’s been about a week since I last posted so I thought I’d pass along some links that caught my attention recently.

First was one passed along by the guys at UMassathletics regarding Jon Quick in his home state on Connecticut making an appearance at a community program for local kids.  He even brought along his silver medal for the kids to check out.

Also found on UMassathletics was this link regarding the signing of former Michigan standout John Madden means Casey Wellman will have to perform well to earn a spot out of Wild training camp.

Fear The Triangle favorite Obi Aduba will be returning to the Quad City Mallards of the CHL where he played last season.

In more general college hockey news a report last week says that Penn State is “close” to adding DI hockey.  Penn State has been a traditional power on the club level so it’s no surprise that they’d look into moving up.  It also helps that they have a wealthy alum willing to drop up to $80 million on an arena.  I think this is great news and really hopes it goes through.  College hockey needs more schools adding hockey as too many schools have dropped their programs over the past decade.  And with a football powered athletic department a program in State College would likely remain stable for years to come.  They also would likely have a strong conference to call home as a Penn State team would likely usher in the much discussed Big Ten Hockey Conference.  While the conference shakeup would be unnerving to those teams left in the Big Ten’s wake, it hopefully would allowed Alabama-Huntsville the opportunity to find a spot in the conference(s) that are formed afterwards.

It looks like freshman phenom Jerry D’Amigo will be leaving after only one year at RPI.  I’ve been following D’Amigo’s career for a number of years since he was recruited by Coach Cahoon to come to UMass and was thoroughly impressed by him when he made his college debut at the Mullins last fall, scoring a goal for the Engineers.  Sadly he’s yet another talented college player to leave school early this offseason. 

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Non-hockey related but I thought I’d pass along this list of “100 Things To Do Before You Graduate From UMass” list featured on the Alumni Association website.  I highly recommend numbers 2, 5, 31, 32, 44, 46, 57, 67, 80, 81, and 82.

Matheson Signs; Lucia Talking About UMass; Parker In Hospital

Just a few things to pass along today.

First, Mark Matheson has been signed by the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.  This could potentially reunite him with Matt Anderson who has been with the Wolves since his UMass career ended, though I’m not sure of Anderson’s contract status at this time.

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Secondly, College Hockey News had a lengthy interview with Minnesota head coach Don Lucia who is decidedly on the hot seat this coming season.  Lucia makes two mentions of UMass in the interview, one in pointing to former recruit John Carlson as one of the exceptions of players who have skipped out on the college route and had immediate success.  Can’t refute that.  The second reference is to Casey Wellman where Lucia is touting the benefits of how extra years of juniors can be helpful to late bloomers.  Maybe, maybe not.  I personally think players are coming into college at too late of an age and that it may be one of the contributing factors to players leaving early for the pros.  I’d like to see players play one year of post-grad only and only on rare occasions.  It would also be interesting to see if teams of similar prestige of UMass would have success in getting some of the elite players out from under the likes of BU and BC by allowing them to enter college right out of high school.  If given the chance to play right away and start their college careers earlier it would be interesting to see if more and more top level recruits would choose to play at places not known as traditional powers.  There has to be some way to crack the recruiting stranglehold the top schools have, especially over the local prospects.  I’d love to see if this would be a way to do it.

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Speaking of guys who get all of the good local recruits, the Boston Globe reported this afternoon that BU’s Jack Parker recently underwent bypass surgery.  He is expected to be good to go for the start of the coming season.  Obviously as a fan he’s a guy you love to hate, but that sort of thing ends on the ice.  As a coach you can’t help but respect everything he has accomplished and in general is a very upstanding guy if you ever have a chance to meet him.  So I know many in the UMass hockey community, including myself, wish Coach Parker a speedy recovery and look forward to his return to the bench in a few months as games against the Terriers wouldn’t be the same without him.  I only hope the Hockey East officials don’t feel sorry for him this coming season and give him and his team even more calls than they already get.

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