Recruit Update

Ok, time to see how the future Minutemen fared.

John Parker had a goal over the weekend as his Muskegon Lumberjacks lost in overtime.

Shane Walsh was held off the scoresheet for his Tri-city Storm.

Kevin Boyle got a win for his Westside Warriors, giving up 3 goals on 20 shots in their only game of the weekend.  The Warriors just made a move for another goaltender so it’ll be interesting to see how this affects Boyle’s playing time going forward. 

A reader reminded me that Eddie Nolan, a potential recruiting target, is playing with the South Shore Kings of the EJHL.  So far Nolan has 4 assists and 14 PIM in 16 games for the Kings.

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Dick Baker has some insight from Coach Cahoon on what’s wrong with the power play.

Paul Dainton was named the UMass athlete of the week.

It looks like the athletic department will be providing a weekly update of UMass players in the pros.

Polls and Awards

Another week, another #1 team.  For just the 2nd time in school history Minnesota-Duluth is the top ranked team in the country.  Hockey East holds the 2nd and 3rd ranked spots as well as two other in the top ten.

Pretty much the same for the USA Hockey/USA Today poll.

Duluth also grabs the top spot in INCH’s Power Rankings.

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Paul Dainton was named one of the top performers in this week’s Hockey East awards.

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The Collegian has their recap of the weekend.

Dick Baker has captain Paul Dainton’s thoughts on Saturday’s game.  He also takes a look at the great game T.J. Syner had that night.

A couple people have asked me when the last time UMass was winless this far into the season.  That would be 1994-95, the second year of the program’s rebirth and its first year playing a true DI schedule and member of Hockey East.  That team started 0-13-1, not getting their first win until a New Year’s Eve tilt against Notre Dame, in overtime no less.  Included in that losing streak was a 4-0 loss at home to Princeton and then Tiger coach Toot Cahoon.

Saturday Recap

Listening to last night’s game I have to assume it was a much better effort than the night before.  The box scores are at least dramatically different.  I’m sure it pains the team a bit to be less than a minute from their first win and only come away with a tie.  Especially since one of UNH’s goals came with 7, yes 7, skaters on the ice.  I’ll have to look it up later, but I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules.  Yet, the game is something to build on and it’s back to the type of play we saw at the beginning of the season against the likes of Minnesota and BU.  What was encouraging was that the team was ready to compete from the moment the puck was dropped.  True, UNH got off to the early lead, but UMass put together one of their best first periods of the season last night.  That’s something that has to continue.

Yesterday I mentioned that Mike Pereira’s absence was a big factor in the loss on Friday and sure enough he comes back, has a good game, and scores what could’ve been the game winner with a minute left.  That goal was a putback on a T.J. Syner shot.  Syner had a very strong game, setting up the Pereira goal and scoring one himself on a heads up play picking up a loose puck on the forecheck and coming back in to the zone and blistering one past Digirolamo.  And of course it’s been a long time coming, only because he has looked so good on offense the entire season, but Branden Gracel picked up his first collegiate goal in the first.

There are still a lot of things to work on, the first being the power play which was horrible last night.  UMass had five power play opportunities and only managed one shot in that 4:41 of time.  The penalty kill improved a bit, only allowing 1 goal on 5 opportunities, an outing that will help their stats.  A lot of that came from strong goaltending in those periods.

The team now gets a week and a half off before taking on Vermont on the traditional Turkey Tuesday game.  Vermont got off the winless snide beating BC in Burlington yesterday.  This is an excellent chance to heal some bumps and bruises but also take a step back and adjust the game plan.  Hopefully the coaching staff is able to focus on whatever it’s going to take to get the special teams in order.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Paul Dainton
A career high 43 saves including 18 in the third period alone.  UNH is a great team and they completely poured it on in the third to try to get the win at home in the third and Dainton was there to deny them.  I wish I had been able to watch the game as some of them sounded downright amazing given the reactions of John and Brock.  Two nights, two excellent performances from the UMass goaltenders.  Goalie competition?  That’s usually not a bad thing.

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Elsewhere in Hockey East this weekend, BC and Vermont split as mentioned.  Merrimack and BU traded a couple home and home ties.  Maine swept Northeastern in Orono while Providence took two from Alabama-Huntsville down south.

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Dick Baker recounts UMass getting away with too many men on the ice for a goal from ten years ago, scored by the infamous Brad Nizwantowski.  He also has a recap from the game itself.

UNH, understandably, was not happy with how Pereira celebrated his go-ahead goal.  I’ve said from the beginning that Pereira seems to play with a chip on his shoulder, which I personally love.  But it’s all about time and place.

Here’s another recap from north of the border.

UNH Thoughts

No recap today since I didn’t get to watch or listen to the game. All in all I’m glad I was in Amherst watching a miraculous comeback by the basketball team. But I will share a few thoughts while I sit here tailgating before UMass takes on #1 Delaware.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that UMass could only muster 19 shots, including a ridiculous 2 in the first, with Mike Pereira out. Next to TJ Syner he’s the most important player on offense. Hopefully he’s back soon.

By all accounts Jeff Teglia had a great game. It’s easy to see why he was so highly thought of. It’ll be interesting to see the goaltending rotation from here on out.

Obviously special teams is killing this team. The penalty kill is absolutely horrid. If the team isn’t going to improve on the kill, which they haven’t, then they have to stay out of the box altogether. Not an easy proposition but there aren’t a lot of options at this point. I have no idea how a team can regularly generate so little shots on the power play. Just two shots in six power play chances last night. How does that happen?

Nice job by Gracel in the face-off circle last night going 8 for 11.

Where is Rocco Carzo? He hasn’t made himself as big a part of the offense as had hoped. Zero shots last night.

Fear The Triangle player of the game – Jeff Teglia

UNH Preview


#9 New Hampshire Wildcats 4-1-2 (2-0-1) T-4th Hockey East

vs

Massachusetts Minutemen 0-5-2 (0-2-2) T-9th Hockey East

The task to gain their first win likely could not be more daunting than what the Minutemen have in front of them this weekend.  UMass is heading in to play two games in a rink where they haven’t won in four years against the 9th best team in the country who hasn’t lost since the first weekend of the season and that is coming.  Oh, and did I mention that they’re facing a goaltender that was named player of the week by pretty much everyone who follows Hockey East and college hockey?

Since UNH dropped their first game of the season out at Miami they’ve been close to flawless, with some key wins over those same Redhawks, Cornell, and BC as well as ties to Michigan and Northeastern.  While the Wildcats have done well defensively, it has actually been their offense that has carried them through.  They’re averaging 3.57 goals a game, good for 2nd among Hockey East teams and 13th in the country.  Leading the charge offensively are a couple of sophomore forwards, Dalton Speelman and John Henrion.  Both have a team leading 7 points with four goals each.  They also are getting good production from their upperclassmen, namely Mike Sislo and Phil DeSimone.  While the team is scoring well, their power play hasn’t been dominant to date, but still dangerous at 17.9%.  Still, if UMass continues to take a lot of penalties as they have recently, it won’t matter what UNH’s conversion rate is, because it won’t take many to put the Minutemen away.

Defensively UNH has been led by guys like Matt Campanale and Connor Hardowa, who are both +6 for the season.  Of course another blueliner to keep an eye on is Blake Kessel, one of the better two way defensemen in all of college hockey.  In net for the Wildcats is Matt DiGirolamo.  Like Brian Foster, Kevin Regan, and other UNH goalies before him DiGirolamo has put in his time on the bench for a couple years and then come forward to play very solid goaltending in Durham.  After giving up only two goals total last weekend DiGirolamo was named Hockey East player of the week and national player of the week by INCH.  On the season he has a goals against average of 2.66 and save percentage of .921.

If there is a weakness for UNH so far it has been their penalty kill.  So far they’re preventing goals on just 75.9% of their opponent’s chances, second to last in Hockey East.  Last?  Unfortunately, UMass.  The UMass power play is going to have to be much improved to use it as a means to win.  Other than that I’m not too sure what UMass needs to do different.  Last weekend, they finished up their worst effort of the season against Army with a very good one against a talented Swedish National Team.  The fact that they were able to do so well and even overcome some mistakes in the exhibition win makes me wonder if the majority of their problems are mental.  Without the pressure of trying to go out there and have that first possible win hanging over their heads they were able to just that, handily.

Maybe that’s the trick.  Fair or not, those around Hockey East assume UMass is going to get destroyed by the Wildcats this weekend.  Certainly the UNH fans will be thinking that going in.  I think they’d be best just going out there, concentrating on what they’ve been stressing in practice, try to hit the open guys, and get back on defense.  Do that for 60 minutes then look up at the scoreboard and see what it says.  Maybe it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

Beer The Triangle
I will not be making the trip up to Durham this weekend for a couple reasons.  Namely, I will be attending Saturday’s big football game against Delaware and quite frankly I don’t enjoy watching games at Lake Whitt.  In fact, the main thing that was leading me to consider a trip north was a chance to head to Portsmouth Brewery.  Portsmouth Brewery is only about a 25 minute drive from the arena in, surprisingly, downtown Portsmouth.  Easily one of the best brewpubs in all of New England when it comes to quality beer.  Looking at their website they have the Winter Weizen on draft, which I recommend, and something called Dunkel Gose which looks intriguing.  If you try some, let me know how it is.  As for me I’ll be drinking some 21st Amendment Fireside Chat at what should be an epic last tailgate of the season.  Any beer that has FDR on the side can’t be bad.

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Coach Cahoon says he’s note sure who will be in net in this preview from the Collegian

Dick  Baker previews the weekend series as well.

Here’s a preview from the New Hampshire side of things.  As well as another.

USCHO has a feature on UNH goaltender Matt DiGirolamo.

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Greg Mauldin was recalled by the Avalanche yesterday. 

 

View From Section U: A Gift For Isenberg

As I mentioned when I first started my Wednesday View From Section U feature I wanted to write about more than just the UMass hockey program but subjects of interest relating to the university itself.  Last week the Sports Management department of the Isenberg School of Management announced that they received a monumental gift consisting of the archives of Mark McCormack.  Who is Mark McCormack?  He is seen as the father of the sports management industry.  His first client was none other than golf legend Arnold Palmer and with his representation of the golfer started the sports management firm IMG, the largest in the world.  IMG represents athletes, puts on sporting events around the world, and producer of sports TV.

For UMass to be chosen to host the archives of a pioneer of an entire industry is a huge honor and speaks to the elite stature of the school’s sports management program.  That program, in conjunction with the gift, will now be known as the McCormack Sports Management Program.  I personally was not part of the sports management program although there are certainly times when I wish I had been.  My graduate degree however is from the Isenberg School of Management and I did have the chance to take a class in sports marketing, which taught me more about marketing concepts than my core marketing classes.

The UMass sports management department has put out a staggering amount of alumni who are now in high level positions among all in sports.  I no longer am surprised when I hear that this MLB general manager, or that NBA league office executive, or some ESPN honcho holds a degree from UMass.   The McCormack papers doesn’t establish the department’s place among the elite in the nation, it merely solidifies it.  One would think all those well-placed alumni in various positions in sport would have to benefit the athletic programs back at the alma mater.  But that’s something that’s tough to measure.  Either way, as a fan of sport and an alum of UMass it was nice to see one of the jewels of the flagship campus get even that more of a shine to it with this tremendous gift made last week.

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Did I say something about alumni from the sports management program all over the country?  Oh yeah, recruit John Parker’s coach, Kevin Patrick, is one of them.  Patrick started his coaching career at Deerfield Academy and has been an assistant at Union, Bowling Green, and Wisconsin.

Speaking of recruits, today marked the beginning of the fall signing period.  Parker and Kevin Boyle have already signed theirs.  To my knowledge Shane Walsh has not as of yet.  This may also be a time when we learn of new committed recruits to the program.  Too bad Parker already signed his because his Lumberjacks had a clever fan event surrounding signing day.  Think UMass could have a similar event where we all gather around a fax machine and wait for LOIs to come in?

Dick Baker has a short blurb on UNH rounding out the corners of Lake Whitt.

Recruit Update

Let’s see how the recruits did over the weekend.

Shane Walsh scored his USHL first goal in the Tri-City Storm’s only game of the weekend, a 4-3 win over Fargo.  The achievement earned him a mention in the USHL’s weekly update.

John Parker had three assists over the weekend as his Muskegon Lumberjacks swept the Under-18 USA team.

Kevin Boyle split his the series for the Westside Warriors, giving up just two goals on 28 shots in the win but giving up 5 on 28 shots in the loss.

There are a few recruits out there that I’ve written about in previous posts that have been mentioned as considering UMass.

Defenseman Logan Roe’s season will be starting up soon.  Roe attends Kent Prep and his team will start play at the end of this month.  I suspect the same is true for Devin Tringale and Lawrence Academy.  Still trying to figure out if defenseman Eddie Nolan will be at BC High for another year or has moved on.

Mike Weaver has 10 goals and 2 assists in 17 games for the Junior Bruins in the Empire Junior Hockey League.

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Kevin Moore has a funny edition of his One Moore Minute following him and a few of his teammates trick or treating around Amherst and the dorms.

UMass and Vermont, the country’s only winless teams, are mentioned in INCH’s First Shift.  And yes, that is the goaltender that the Minutemen will face this weekend picked as national player of the week.

Polls and Awards

Hockey East has recaptured the top spot in the polls as the BU Terriers are the new #1 in this week’s USCHO rankings.  BU is also atop the USA Hockey/USA Today poll, which has four Hockey East teams in the top ten.

Here’s how INCH’s Power Rankings look.

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UMass’ next opponent, UNH, was named Hockey East’s team of the week with their goaltender, Matt Digirolamo the player of the week.

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The Collegian recaps the loss to Army and the role of bad penalties in the game.

Dick Baker covers Kevin Moore’s big moment during the game against Sweden.  He also talks about Mike Donnellan playing up front in the exhibition, complete with a picture showing how effective the tactic was.  As I mentioned in my recap of the game it’ll be interesting to see if this change takes hold as it would address a huge hole in the makeup of this team.

Sweden Recap

First thing first.  My hope going into yesterday’s exhibition game was that no one gets hurt.  That didn’t happened as Mike Pereira was hit into the boards, and had to be helped off the ice and immediately into the locker room.  It looked like a knee but from what I heard it sounds like it might just be a deep bruise.  Anything more serious would’ve put a huge damper on what was a good effort by the Minutemen who dominated the Swedes 5-1.

This game won’t count in the standings but hopefully it registers with the players’ confidence as they soundly defeated a very skilled, though perhaps a bit tired, Swedish team.  The Swedes were playing their fourth game in 6 days.  It was interesting to see guys like T.J. Syner and Mike Marcou in the lineup because in his post-game press conference Coach Cahoon specifically mentioned that those two would not be playing.  Perhaps the horrible loss to Army spurred him to reconsider and want his captains on the ice to try to inspire the rest of the team.  Whatever it was, it worked because this was the most sound effort that we’ve seen all season.

One highlights from the game is the fact that UMass killed all six Sweden power plays, limiting them to only four shots.  On the other side UMass went 1 for 4 on the power play generating 11 shots.  The power play goal was a great effort by Conor Sheary where he skated into the slot and roofed a shot just under the crossbar.  One of the better goals of the young season.  Sheary was assisted on the play by Chase Langeraap who had a huge game and made an excellent case that he should be getting playing time in the future.  In the end Langeraap had two goals, including one shorthanded, and an assist.  I don’t give out player of the games for exhibitions, but he’d obviously be it.  I thought Conor Allen played well, rebounding from some poor games as of late.  The box score has him only with an assist on one of the goals, the first where he made a nice cross ice pass to Langeraap on a two on one.  I could’ve sworn he assisted on the second Langeraap goal as well, but either way Allen’s play was improved.

Coach Cahoon used the game to experiment with some lines and other strategies.  One of the more interesting ones was putting Mike Donnellan out there taking shifts as a forward.  The idea behind it is like to add some physical play that has been lacking from the forward position so far this season.  He definitely has the checking ability to do so and skates well enough to be a forward.  If this is something Cahoon is going to implement going forward though it looks like it’ll take some more time in practice as there were a few times were Donnellan got crossed up with his linemates.  But overall I don’t think the idea is without merit and it would help fill a glaring need on this team currently.

Jeff Teglia saw the majority of the time in net, playing 50 minutes.  Overall I thought he played very solid and ended the game with 30 saves even with the shortened playtime.  He’s beginning to look much more comfortable in there and each game he seems to get a little better with his positioning before the initial shot and also knowing when to or not to come out and play the puck.  Dainton came in for a few minutes in relief and looked fine.  But one of the best moments of the afternoon was when Kevin Moore came in to play the last three and a half minutes to a loud cheer from the sparse, Mallen-like crowd in attendance.  He didn’t just play, he got tested and came up with what I thought were a couple tough saves.

It doesn’t count, but it’s something and hopefully gives the team a bit of a boost heading into this week’s practices.  Getting their first win will be a tough task with two games at #10 UNH on the slate, but if they can play defense like they did yesterday and have upperclassmen step up like Langeraap, they just may pull off the upset.

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Dick Baker has his recap of the game.

Providence’s success against Northeastern and UMass earlier this season does not appear to be a fluke as the Friars shutout Merrimack and tied Vermont this weekend and find themselves in second place.  Northeastern lost to another Atlantic Hockey team, their third this season, dropping a 4-1 decision to Niagara.  UNH got four points on the weekend with wins over BC and Lowell.

Army Recap: UMass Surrenders

Embarassed.  Pathetic. Selfish.  Not prepared to play.  Disappointed beyond measure.  All ways that Coach Cahoon described his team’s performance after they were beat 5-2 (FIVE – TWO) by Army.  I have to agree with him.  This had to be one of the more horrid performances I’ve seen from a UMass team in some time.  Think last year’s loss to Bentley was bad?  No way, at least that one was close. Losing to Holy Cross a few years ago?  Not nearly as bad.  One friend talked about the loss to Alabama-Huntsville out in Minnesota.  This is easily one of the worst UMass losses in the last ten years.  Easily.

And frankly, it all came down to effort.  Effort in the corners.  Effort in clearing the puck out from the front of the net.  Effort in making sure you’re in the right place on defense.  Effort in moving your skates and stick and not taking stupid penalties.  I was amazed at the complete inability to either clear the puck from in front of the net or get it out of the zone.  T.J. Syner admitted that his team was “outbattled”.  Yep.  Completely right.  From the opening drop of the puck Army wanted this game more and not only did they get a win, they got a dominant win.  Army was averaging 1.80 goals per game on the season coming in.  They scored FIVE.  The defense was horrid.  There is absolutely nothing positive I can say about the defensive effort.  It was all bad.  I guess maybe the lone exception is the play of Jeff Teglia who came in for Paul Dainton in the third and played well, giving up a lone goal that came on an Army breakaway.  I’m not exactly sure how you give up a power play breakaway, but UMass found a way.

Believe it or not, the offense wasn’t half bad at times.  But they need to get better shots off.  UMass attempted 66 total shots.  19 were blocked, 15 were off target.  That’s more than half of the shots right there that never get to Ryan Leets, the Army goaltender that dazzled in his college debut.  Seriously, his college debut.  But overall I can’t complain about the offense other than they just seem to be one second behind everything.  A step behind on passes.  Just late on putting home rebounds.  One timers going off the heels of the stick.  You would hope, please, that as the season goes along and the team plays more together that they can close the small gaps in timing that’s preventing them from putting the puck home.

Today’s game against Sweden should be interesting.  Matt Vautour of the Gazette asked Cahoon after the game if last night’s performance would cause him to play people that he originally didn’t plan to.  Cahoon said the opposite, he’s still planning on keeping key guys out (specifically mentioning Syner and Marcou) and he’s going to allow guys to play who haven’t seen a lot of action this season to basically try out for playing time. He said whoever does well will find themselves dressed because there were a lot of no-shows last night.

Sounds good to me.  After all, what’s the worst that can happen?  This team just got dominated at home by a lower tier Atlantic Hockey team.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Mike Pereira
There were a few bright spots in this one believe it or not.  Pereira was probably the brightest, scoring again and ending the night with a +2.  At times I felt Syner, Troy Power, Brian Keane, and Kevin Czepiel all looked good.

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Dick Baker calls the game a “horror show”.   Accurate.  And here’s his post game analysis.

Matt Vautour notes that the team has fallen behind 2-0 in five of the team’s seven games.