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Polls & Awards; Alumni Game; Demianiuk’s Biggest Battle

UMass’ next opponent, Merrimack, was the big mover in this week’s poll jumping five spots to #6 in the USCHO poll following their sweep of UNH.  Boston College remains at #1, UNH at #8, BU at #15, and Maine at #19.  The Terriers will likely fall after losing to four win Harvard in tonight’s Beanpot consolation game.  Merrimack cracks the top five of the USA Hockey/USA Today poll.

Same goes for the INCH Power Rankings.

Merrimack was also named the Hockey East Team of the Week.  No UMass players were named award winners or top performers, but Paul Dainton and Chase Langeraap were mentioned in the Milestones section.

Saturday afternoon a host of former Minutemen took the Mullins Center ice for the annual alumni game.  The game featured players going back to the 1970s teams.  Here’s an incomplete list of some of the players that were on the ice; Steve Sullivan, John Riley, Mike Merchant, “P.F”, Tiger Holland (one of my favorite players from the triangle era), R.J. Gates, Keith O’Connell, Jeff Lang, Peter Trovato, Mike Warner, Tim Warner (who played as a skater), Brett Watson, Matt Walsh, Topher Bevis, Jordan Virtue, and a bunch of others.  I realized what a huge difference the video boards makes in terms of getting to know the players because we now know what they all look like underneath the helmet.  Before then they were just names and numbers.  Dan Meyers was also there but didn’t play as he is still recovering from some surgery he had over the summer.  Tom Dougherty, also coming off surgery, mostly played the role of referee/master of ceremonies.  The goaltending matchup featured Mike Buckley, current goaltending coach, against one of the student managers whose name unfortunately I didn’t catch.  And last but not least I’m sure it surprises pretty much no one to know that Will Ortiz scored the game winning goal.  It also may be one of the few games I’ve watched where he didn’t end up in the penalty box.

It was great to see all those guys on the ice, having fun, and back to support their alma mater.  Most stuck around for the game and got a good hand from the crowd when they were introduced between the second and third periods. 

Another player who came back to campus and on the ice playing in the alumni game was Dusty Demianiuk.  Dusty came to UMass in 2001 and immediately was a huge physical presence on the ice but his overall defense was so-so to start with and he ended up only playing partial seasons for his first two years.  But he worked really hard while on his game and by the time he was a senior he not only was playing all the time but was one of the more reliable defensemen in the league, all while maintaining that physical play.  In my years of watching UMass hockey there are few players that have progressed so far as a player in their four years in Amherst as Dusty.  He went on to have a good career in the ECHL with the Phoenix Roadrunners before being selected as one of the winners on the NESN reality show “Be A Bruin”, gaining an invite to training camp with the Boston Bruins.

This past spring Dusty got his leg checked out, thinking he had an old hockey injury that had healed incorrectly.  Unfortunately it ended up being stage 2 soft tissue cancer and to make matters even worse the diagnosis came on his sister’s birthday of all days.  He spent the spring and summer enduring surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy, crediting his years of hockey with helping him endure through the adversity of battling cancer.  But endure he did.  He’s currently cancer free, returned to work in the fall, and even got married in October (he made sure to mention that his wife is also a UMass alum).  And on Saturday he returned to the ice for one of the first times since his battle with cancer.  He may have looked a little thinner than his time at UMass and of course wasn’t able to display that prowess for hard hits that we may remember since there wasn’t any checking, but it was still great to see him out there playing the solid defense we’d come to expect of him.

The Collegian has their weekend recap as well as a wise story about how it’s important for the team to shoot a lot and score ugly.

I meant to mention this is my recap yesterday, but Coach Cahoon acknowledged that the power play is broken in Saturday night’s postgame press conference and will work to change the overall power play strategy.  Dick Baker has the story and makes the case that Darren Rowe may be the solution to the extra man woes.

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