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View From Section U: Thank You Seniors; Busillo Commits

Another Senior Night is upon on which means it’s time to say goodbye and thank you to another class of players who have pulled on that UMass sweater for the past four years.  This graduating class was perhaps the first to hit campus with some pretty high expectations as UMass was just coming off their first NCAA appearance the spring before.  Unfortunately, the team hasn’t made it back there since.  And even more unfortunately this class has had to endure three losing seasons and one in which they finished .500.  However, despite the overall wins and losses, this set of seniors includes some who, in my opinion at least, can be considered among UMass’ best ever.  It also includes guys who truly give it their all each and every shift, guys who battled through injuries for the good of the team, and others who developed slowly but are now playing big roles as the squad tries to make something of this season coming into its final week.  The 2010-11 UMass Minutemen might be remembered more for their freshmen, specifically the sheer number of them, than anything else.  But the poise and progress that those young players have shown as of late is due in some part to these seniors and the leadership they’ve and the examples they’ve provided.  And with that, let’s remember each one of them who will take the Mullins ice for the last time on Saturday night.

#9 Shawn Saunders
Saunders played sparingly his freshman year but made a big splash in his debut when he scored the game-winning goal against UConn in what was a much closer game than it should’ve been.  From the start it was apparent that he possessed great speed and the inability to take a shift off.  I’ve seen very few players that give their all for an entire game like Saunders does.  And that dedication has made him a fan favorite among those who follow the team closely.  While he played a majority of games his junior season, he has only played in a handful this year which also saw him sit out with some medical issues along the way.  Personally, I’ve always thought he should’ve seen more ice time in his career here.  It always frustrated me to see him as a healthy scratch in the stands while “more talented” players were in uniform sleepwalking through their shifts on the ice.  Give me the effort guy who wants it more every time.  And that’s exactly what Shawn was in my eyes during his time here.

#15 Brian Keane
Keane came to campus with some high expectations after being a regular participant in a lot of the USA Hockey events while in juniors.  I think that always made it tough for him here because he wasn’t able to live up to what fans thought he would be, but at the same time maybe they’ve overlooked what he was doing to contribute all along.  This year however he has looked much more comfortable in his abilities and the role he was able to lend to the team.  That’s been one of a key defender who has also been able to throw the body around here and there during games, adding a physical dimension sorely lacking on this year’s squad.  He certainly had some highlights in his Minuteman career, like the overtime winner he tipped in against Maine his sophomore year just 11 seconds into the extra frame.  With such a large freshman class coming in I wondered at the beginning of the season if someone like Keane would see playing time.  But he’s made his case to be an integral part of the team and his effort on defense will be missed in the coming years.

#17 Chase Langeraap
Langeraap is another Minuteman who came to Amherst with high expectations.  But that’s what happens when you put up 60 goals in 98 junior games.  Unfortunately inconsistency and injury through the years didn’t allow him to put up those kind of numbers.  In fact he went without a goal in his junior year, his second season shortened by nagging injuries.  However, like Keane, he has probably saved his best season for last.  This year he has shown a lot of leadership, lifting the inexperienced Minutemen with key goals when needed.  His 8 goals this season matches the amount he had scored in his previous three seasons combined.  He has become a player that both fans and his teammates look to offensively and they’ll being doing the same this weekend against Maine.

#18 Doug Kublin
If this season has taught us anything it’s that freshmen will make freshman mistakes.  Especially on defense.  Adam Phillips, Joely Hanley, Colin Shea, and Conor Allen have all had their share of flubs, which isn’t a indictment on them specifically, it happens to all freshmen blueliners.  Except Doug Kublin.  From the first day he hit the ice as a Minuteman he’s been amazingly reliable.  I have no qualms in saying he’s one of the best pure defensive defensemen in UMass history.  Good defensemen are sometimes like referees, if they’re doing their job correctly you hardly ever notice they’re there.  And that’s certainly happened with Kublin who is surely taken for granted by the casual fan.  But every once in a while he’ll remind you of his constant presence with a key poke check, sacrificing his body in front of an opponent’s slapshot, or even playing goaltender when Paul Dainton is caught somewhere out of the net.  Though the team has been outscored greatly in his four years here he’ll be leaving with a very respectable +/- rating.  Also, it should be noted that UMass has never lost when Doug Kublin scores.  Here’s hoping he scores in every game he has left.  It’ll be strange not to see Dainton in the crease next year.  But it’ll be equally as strange not to see Kubby standing in front of it either.

#21 Marc Concannon
Concannon’s combination of speed and grit has played a key role in all four years he’s played here.  If the puck is caught up somewhere along the boards, he’s the player I want to see battling to get it free and out to a teammate.  Amazingly, my lasting memory of him will be one of skill though, rather than the grinder we’ve seen night in and night out for so long.  Coco hasn’t scored a lot of goals in his career, but surprisingly a number of them have been anything but the garbage goals you’d expect with his style of play.  The one that sticks out the most in my memory was in Providence his sophomore year when he skated in on the goaltender and roofed the prettiest wrist shot you’ve ever seen up into the top corner of the net.  The Friar goaltender had absolutely no chance and us UMass fans in attendance stood almost too dumbfounded to celebrate.  He has repeated those types of finesse plays in the years since to the point where we now know it’s not a fluke.

#25 Michael Lecomte
Unfortunately Lecomte’s story is one of what could’ve been.  He was well on his way to a good career at UMass after his two first years when injuries struck in his junior year, derailing him right when he was beginning to have a huge impact on the team’s results.  After missing this past fall recovering from surgery he appeared to be the missing ingredient on this year’s squad when he scored 2 goals in his first four games back.  But in the fifth game back he got banged up and unfortunately saw his last action as a Minuteman the next game against Vermont in Burlington during January.  Would this second half of the season have played out differently if Lecomte was still playing?  Most definitely.  For a team that has lost as many one goal games as this squad to have another guy who can find the back of the net could’ve been a difference maker.  Mike had one of his best games in what was probably the pinnacle for this senior class when he scored a goal and picked up an assist as UMass beat #4 Colorado College to win the Lightning College Classic in Tampa.

#31 Paul Dainton
What I personally want out of a goaltender is for them to go into every game and play well enough to give their team a chance to win.  Sure it’s nice to have a guy like Jon Quick who’s able to play well enough so you can win despite how good or bad the guys in front of him are playing.  But those Vezina candidate type guys don’t come around very often.  No, I just need a guy who is dependable, trustworthy, and keeps his team in the game.  In other words, I just want a Paul Dainton.  Dainton will leave campus playing in the most games, accumulating the most minutes, registering the most saves, winning the second most (or most?) games, and being behind only Quick for save percentage and goals against average in UMass history.  First or second in every major career goaltending record in UMass history.  Why?  Because he has gone out there every night, from his freshman year on, and been a damn solid and reliable goaltender.  Every.  Single.  Night.  What’s just as remarkable  as Paul Dainton the goaltender is Paul Dainton the person.  Last night on the radio show they remarked that they wanted him on the show since he just broke Brian Regan’s save record last weekend, but he couldn’t attend.  Why?  Oh yeah, he was busy teaching psychology.  In addition to his studies he has given back to the surrounding community by taking part in the Big Brother-Big Sister program, something that got him nominated for the Hockey Humanitarian Award this year.  The captain’s “C” can look a little out of place on a goaltender’s jersey during those rare times you see it in the sport of hockey.  But those who have watched Paul play and had the chance to hear him speak will tell on his jersey, it’s well deserved.

Ladies and gentlemen, those are your 2010-2011 UMass Minutemen seniors.  Please make sure you do whatever you can to get out to Amherst on Saturday to thank in person these fine student athletes who have sacrificed their time, energy, sweat, blood, and so much more representing our state university for the past four years.

UMass has gained a committment from Mike Busillo, a 6’2″ 195lb defenseman currently playing for the Junior Wolfpack in the AtlJHL.  He’s due to arrive in Amherst this fall.  In addition to his decent size, Busillo has been the top offensive blueliner for his team with 8 goals and 19 assists in 41 games.  Busillo made the AJHL All-Star Squad this season.  He’s considered a bit of a late bloomer because he ended up playing high school hockey for longer than you usually see.

Here’s the press release from his junior team on his committment.

This December edition of USA Junior Hockey magazine has a feature on him where one of his coaches calls him a diamond in the rough and mentions he was being recruited by some of the top DI schools in New England.

I also got an email from a friend of the hockey program today who has seen recruit Steve Mastalerz play and had some positive things to say about him   And I trust this person’s opinion very much on this matter.  So legitimately we may have a three way battle for the goaltending spot, or goaltending rotation, next season.  It should be interesting to say the least and I still think competition for the goaltending spot is only a good thing.  The person was also nice enough to share some of Mastalerz’s stats for the prep regular season; goals against average of 1.63 (uh, that’s pretty good, huh?) and save percentage of .923.  I’m still not sure of his exact record but I do know Kimball Union went 24-7-4 with Mastalerz in net for nearly all of those games.  KUA played Kent tonight in the first round of the prep playoffs.  No information on how they did as of yet.

I’m behind on updating the recruit page with Mastalerz and Busillo.  Bear with me!

Dick Baker has an interesting post on the Mullins Center staff getting their asses in gear for the game (OK, he says it nicer than that).  It certainly was frustrating that they couldn’t get the scoreboard working since many of us were counting down until Dainton broke the saves record, but Toot had more reason to be pissed since his players couldn’t see when penalties were expiring.  From scoreboard malfunctions, to bad ice, to security staff who do nothing, to dirty (seriously dirty) banners hanging from the rafters, the operation of the Mullins Center has always left something to be desired.  They’d be best to take it away from the third party operators and at least give it to Isenberg’s sport management department to run.

Baker also says Gustav Nyquist is worth the price of admission.  Agreed.

People in the past have argued that Merrimack should be kicked out of Hockey East since they played in the equivalent of an MDC rink.  That’s not the case anymore.  People in the past have argued they should be kicked out because they, frankly, suck.  That’s also not the case.  I think some people will still argue that they should be kicked out because of this God awful youtube video.  They might be onto something.

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4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  March 3, 2011

    nice write up rocks, cant believe already another senior night.

    wish it was a different weekend so i could appreciate watching nyquist this weekend.

    wonder what toot does sat, does he play all the seniors?

    really hope they somehow win friday night, and PC loses so sat will be stress free and the seniors can thoroughly enjoy senior night.

    Like

    • anonymous

       /  March 3, 2011

      Had a similar question…obviously there is a decent chance that Saturday’s game will be the most important game of the year for UMass…if it comes down to it will Toot still play all his seniors or will he play to win?

      Like

      • Well obviously Dainton, Kublin, Keane, and Chase have all been playing and you have to assume will continue to do so. Lecomte obviously will not due to injury, so that leaves Coco and Saunders. Coco played for most of the season but hasn’t since 2/18. I haven’t seen it reported but I’m fairly certain he’s battling an injury. If he’s healthy I’d expect to see him out there.

        It’s tough to know with Saunders who hasn’t played since January. I would hope he’d play. Is the team really worse off with him in the lineup instead of Kiley or DeAngelo? I don’t think so personally. Not for nothing but Saunders has played in two of the team’s six wins.

        Like

    • Agreed on a stress free senior night. Please see my response to the other commenter regarding seniors. Glad you liked the senior writeup. I enjoyed writing it.

      Like

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