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Newcomer/Breakout Player Picks, Power & Olzcyk Out…?

Since I do my best to keep up on the recruiting side of things for the past few years in posts on UMasshoops.com and then last year on Fear The Triangle I’ve made my choice for which incoming recruit/transfer I thought would have the most impact on the team.  Sometimes I’ve been successful, like picking James Marcou in spite of a guy who runs a scouting service telling me he wasn’t Hockey East caliber.  Sometimes I miss, like last year when I picked Ryan Leary.  Oops.  But one bad pick won’t stop me.

On that note my pick for this year’s Newcomer of the Year is Mike Pereira.  Pereira certainly had the most exposure of any of the incoming freshman, pegged as a potential NHL draftee and even getting an invite to the NHL combine.  Of course, for reasons unknown (at least to me) his name wasn’t called on draft day.  But he still has the skills to come into school as a freshman and produce right away.

When I saw him play last year I found him to be an exception skater with good vision and, at least this one time, a precision shot.  Of course he’s already shown some of what Minuteman fans can expect of him by scoring a power play goal in this past weekend’s exhibition game.  How that will translate to the entire season is tough to tell.  Part of that is because we really have no idea what to expect of the entire team.  I do think most often than not you’ll see him on the top line.  On Saturday he was teamed up with Rocco Carzo and Darren Rowe.  I think come Friday Rowe will be shifted back and the top line will be Pereira with T.J. Syner and Carzo.  Other times in the season you may see an all freshman line of Branden Gracel, Troy Power, and Pereira.  Whichever the combinations end up being, Pereira must think offensively and act with confidence.  More than any other freshman he needs to step up and try to fill in some of the scoring need for this team.  He’ll certainly have the opportunity given the makeup of the team as it stands.  There are some very talented freshmen forwards in Hockey East this season, but in the end I think Pereira has a great chance to join guys like Charlie Coyle and Kevin Hayes on the all-rookie team.

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So the Newcomer choice I’ve been doing for years, but this season I wanted to add Breakthrough Player of the Year to my preseason picks.  Over the years we’ve seen a number of players have ok careers and then become a really important part of the team once they become upperclassmen.  Guys like Kevin Jarman and Mark Matheson come to mind.  This year I think a player on a similar path is Danny Hobbs.  Hobbs came to UMass with some high expectations, partly coming from being picked in the NHL Draft by the New York Rangers.  But his freshman year was a disappointment registering only a goal and an assist in 24 games.  He improved somewhat last year with 3 goals and 6 games playing in nearly every game and beginning to show flashes of the power forward player he was expected to be.

This year Hobbs comes into the season being selected by his coaches and teammates as an assistant captain.  That tells me that the potential I see in him is also seen by those directly around him as well.  He admitted to me that the selection was a bit unexpected and I think the added responsibility will also likely thrust him front and center and be more likely to shoulder the load out on the ice more rather than fall back in the shadows as he seemed to at times last year.  Like Pereira and a lot of the other players the loss of last year’s scorers means there’s a ton of ice time up for grabs.  When I spoke to him at media day he said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to step up and take on more minutes, especially on the power play.  He’ll certainly add a needed dimension to the team.  There are a lot of small, fast guys on this squad.  Hobbs has that same speed but his big frame will allow him to have more success in the corners and perhaps even camped out in front of the net.  He has all the tools to be a huge impact player.  I think his biggest problem in the last two years and the only thing holding him back has been his confidence and I think the selection as assistant captain may be just the spark he needs to have a breakout season.

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Bad news from the Republican as freshman Troy Power and Eddie Olzcyk will not be available for this weekend’s games, and it sounds like Eddie will actually be gone for longer.  This hurts to lose probably your defensive forward and Power who played very well and notched two assists.  However I am hearing that there may be an outside chance Power dresses, at least he’s going to do everything he can to.  But at the same time I’m also hearing there may be other availability issues before the puck drops on Friday.  Stay tuned.

Baker also compares the UMass and Gopher teams.

State of Hockey?  Only four people showed up to the Gopher’s media day.  Though in their defense the Twins are playing the Yankees in the playoffs tonight and the Vikings added a receiver/egomaniac to help their quarterback/narcissist.

New Brunswick knocked off RPI 4-1 last night.  The Engineers are similar to UMass in they had some key early defections over the summer.

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1 Comment

  1. Leeroy

     /  October 6, 2010

    here’s “leeroy’s” notes on minnesota:

    Jay Barriball is coming back for a 5th year after he received a medical redshirt. He was the leading scorer for the Gophers his 1st 2 seasons and should be back to full strength by now. If UMass can keep him and Mike Hoeffel off the board they could steal a win. Newcomer of the year for the gophers: Max Gardiner. His brother Jake was a first round pick in 2008 and is the captain of the Wisconsin Badgers this year. That is all.

    Like

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