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View From Section U: Line ‘em Up

With the coming season’s roster now released, I figure it’s time to start guessing at some possible lines.  Here’s my best shot.

Syner  Gracel  Hobbs
Pereira  LaRue  Sheary
Olczyk  Carzo  Power
Tegeler  Czepiel  Guzzo

Bench:  Filiou, Auvenshine, Kiley, DeAngelo

Shea  Marcou
Allen  Phillips
Yevenko  Hanley

Bench:  Raiola,  Busillo, Rowe

Teglia

Bench:  Boyle, Mastalerz, Moore

There you have it.  I think it’s important to keep the wings of Syner-Hobbs and Pereira-Sheary together from last season.  The centers for those lines changed quite a bit during the season, but I really think Branden Gracel fits well with the two senior captains.  From the little information out there, it does appear that LaRue played some center in juniors, so it sounds like he’ll have the talent to make it on the second line.  Obviously if he’s more of a wing Rocco Carzo, who really needs to bounceback from a disappointing season, would center Pereira and Sheary.  I see Olczyk as our shutdown defensive forward while Troy Power will continue to give some good two way minutes.  “Holyoke” had a very solid season last year and I see him playing every night.  Andrew Tegeler seems like a similar player to Power and could see regular minutes.  If LaRue isn’t able to play center, the lines could look like this:

Syner Gracel Hobbs
Pereira Carzo Sheary
LaRue Czepiel Power
Tegeler Filiou Olczyk

On defense I think it’s a good bet we’ll see Colin Shea, Mike Marcou, Conor Allen, Adam Phillips, and Joel Hanley in there every night.  I think the sixth spot will be rotated depending on the needs of the game.  If the team needs offense it’ll be Darren Rowe.  If the team is looking for a little muscle it’ll be Oleg Yevenko of Mike Busillo.  If Toot is just looking for a solid all around defenseman it’ll be Anthony Raiola who ended last season playing very well.

In net I’m defaulting to the upperclassman, just like Toot did when I asked him about the goaltending situation last week.  But after a couple weeks of practice, it could be anyone’s crease.

One of the FTT readers asked on the Fear The Triangle Facebook page if I have any information on the exhibition game.  I don’t.  Nothing is listed on the official schedule and a check of the schedules of the CIS (Canadian university) teams we usually play shows they’re already taking on other schools during the first weekend of October.  Who, when, or if UMass is playing an exhibition is a mystery to me but I’ll do some digging at tomorrow’s football game at Holy Cross.

Brock Hines, John Hennessy, and Adam Frenier will be broadcasting games on the UMass Radio Network again this season.  I’m actually a little surprised that Brock didn’t try to parlay last year’s honor as Hockey East’s Concannon Media Award winner into a Versus NHL gig, but it’ll be good to have him back.

Brett Watson is mentioned in this “Where are they now?” piece on his father, a former Flyer.  Brett is now working for JP Morgan.

Here’s the Collegian’s coverage of the Fenway announcement.

The Sporting News has one of the better college vs major junior pieces I’ve read.

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More Fenway Game Coverage

Just sharing some various links on yesterday’s Fenway game announcement.

Matt Vautour of the Gazette goes for the baseball angle, noting that Toot Cahoon was in attendance for Ted Williams’ final home run.

Joe Meloni has an in-depth story for College Hockey News.

Toot and T.J. Syner is quoted in the article from the Globe.

Here’s the view from UMass’ opponent for the games via the Burlington Free Press.

Cahoon’s going to church quote is relayed in the Herald article.

In addition to the honor of playing in the games, UMass and Maine will be compensated for giving up a home game for the event according to the Bangor Daily News.

Fenway Game Is Official, Schedule & Roster Released

The rumors became true today as a press conference took place at Fenway Park to announce Frozen Fenway 2012.  Where to start.  Well, I guess we’ll start with the basics.  UMass will be facing the Vermont Catamounts on January 7th at Fenway Park with a 4pm start.    Tickets will go one sale on September 13th.  Tickets will be on sale through the Red Sox website as well as through the individual schools.  There are potentially other events and even some community skating lined up, but the college hockey doubleheader between the four New England flagships is the pinnacle of the ice being laid down at Fenway.

I was lucky enough, thanks to Hockey East, to attend the press conference and I honestly can’t wait for this game to happen.  It was a little strange to be thinking about sitting outdoors bundled up for the frigid winter cold to watch hockey while melting in field box seats at Fenway.  But since this game will take place only a week after playing in sunny Fort Myers, maybe it won’t be the only time we’re thinking hockey while in sweltering temperatures.

The press conference was entertaining.  Tom Caron essentially MC’ed the event which featured Mayor Tom Menino (no huge speech bumbles but he did call us the  rarely used “University of Mass” a couple of times), Commissioner Joe Betagna, Red Sox exec Sam Kennedy, and the four respective coaches.  Everyone said….well pretty much what you’d expect them to say.  There was then some time for Q&A.  It was cool to hear what the different coaches and players (Co-captain T.J. Syner was there to represent UMass) thought about the upcoming games.  But it was also cool to just stand on the Fenway warning track in front of canvas alley.

Just a few thoughts coming out of today.  First, I love that we’re playing Vermont.  For those who have been reading all summer you’ll know that I did a whole thing on who is UMass’ rival.  While voters on the Fear The Triangle Facebook page picked Maine, my vote was for the Catamounts.  My reasoning for that choice was the long history that exists between the schools and the pure opportunity to build a rivalry that doesn’t really exist with other schools.  Well, today both Coach Cahoon and UVM Coach Kevin Sneddon specifically mentioned the historic rivalry that dates back decades between these schools.  Toot actually brought up the introduction of the Turkey Tuesday game when he became coach as a way to help build that relationship between the schools.  I love this matchup.  A thrilling game in January and we could be well on our way to having a real rival.

The other thing I wanted to mention is just to point out what a huge deal this is.  Dick Baker of the Republican asked a great question.  He asked, essentially, is this our Beanpot?  Toot came back and said players get four years to play for the Beanpot, this is a once in a lifetime event.  Totally true.  Who knows when or if something like this will happen again.  And he said the players were psyched.  T.J. Syner, a Massachusetts native, sounded excited about the opportunity.  Toot said fellow Co-captain Danny Hobbs called from Quebec and was also thrilled at the chance.  And I really hope the UMass fans and alumni treat it the same way.  Today UMass hockey was front and center on one of the biggest sports stages in the world.  Come January 7th, it’ll be there again.  I hope everyone who considers themselves a UMass fan, every alumni, any friend of the university, and any college hockey fan will make sure to be there when UMass takes the….field(?) in January.

Couple other tidbits from today.

UMass will be getting another new jersey this year according to Toot.  I’m guessing it’ll replace the third we saw last year, which I liked in general but thought the Sam on the jersey was a little too mini-Minuteman for my liking.  As part of the press conference highlights were shown of the Boston College-Boston University game at Fenway from a couple seasons ago where both teams wore unique, and frankly pretty stylish,  jerseys.  That got Toot thinking as to whether it’d be a possibility to do the same for UMass.  I suggested triangles.  No, I really did.

Sam the Minuteman, along with the pair of cats from UNH and UVM, fared well despite the heat on the Fenway field.  The same could not be said of Maine’s beloved mascot, Bananas, who passed out and was MIA when the press conference started.  Good news is he is alright and should be up and pushing around shopping carts full of rubber pucks in no time.

Caron made sure to mention that Toot was the best dressed of the four coaches, sporting a suit while the other wore polo shirts.  Toot kidded that he wore the suit because he went to church to thank God for the opportunity to play at Fenway.  Amen to that.

Lastly, I asked Toot if the game was played tonight who he’d put in net because, well isn’t that what everyone wants to know?  He said he’d have to go with his veteran (Jeff Teglia), but that there was a lot of time between now and the game.

At the press conference this year’s roster and official schedule was released.  No real surprises on the roster.  Mike Donnellan is not listed.  Donnellan struggled to get playing time, so it’s not unexpected to see him absent from the list.  I always thought that Donnellan played well enough during his limited time and really hoped he’d be used as a forward last year when the team was obviously lacking a physical element.  But it looks like the team and he have moved on.  Certainly good luck to him wherever his future takes him.  Other than that all the other players are returning and the expected  incoming freshmen are all listed as well.

Here is the final schedule that was distributed, which has evolved a bit over the summer.  All start times are 7pm unless noted:

Fri 10/7 at Northeastern
Fri 10/14 Bentley
Sat 10/15 at Providence
Fri 10/21 at Boston College
Fri 10/28 Boston University
Sat 10/29 at Boston University
Fri 11/4 at New Hampshire
Sat 11/5 Boston College
Fri 11/11 Holy Cross
Sat 11/12 Northeastern
Fri 11/18 Maine
Sat 11/19 at Lowell
Tue 11/22 at Vermont
Sat 11/26 at Quinnipiac (4pm)
Fri 12/2 Harvard
Wed 12/7 Yale
Thu 12/29 Cornell (time TBA) – Everblades Classic in Estero FL
Fri 12/30 Clarkson/Maine (time TBA) – Everblades Classic in Estero FL (Cornell/Maine/Clarkson)
Thu 1/5 at Providence
Sat 1/7 Vermont – Frozen Fenway 2012 (4pm)
Fri 1/13 Boston College
Fri 1/20 Vermont
Fri 1/27 Lowell
Sat 1/28 at Lowell
Fri 2/3 at Northeastern
Sat 2/4 Merrimack
Fri 2/10 at Boston University
Sat 2/11 Providence
Fri 2/17 at Maine
Sat 2/18 at Maine
Fri 2/24 New Hampshire
Sat 2/25 New Hampshire
Fri 3/2 Merrimack
Sat 3/3 at Merrimack

I find it a bit strange that the one Vermont game that will be at the Mullins (UMass is losing a home game for the Fenway matchup) is on a Friday instead of a Saturday.

I’ll have more thoughts on the schedule, roster, and projected lines in the weeks to come as we lead up to October.

Lastly, the obvious choice for my Beer The Triangle pick for the Fenway game is Beer Works, within stumbling distance of anyone’s overprice Red Sox seats..  However, I finally made it to Lower Depths, located on Comm Ave, today and I have to say I was quite impressed.  I had a very good farmhouse ale from Great Divide but was blown away by a tremendous Doppel Bock from Westephaner.  It was excellent, almost had a scotch ale flavor to it (which, by coincidence, is on deck for my BTT homebrewing).  Anyway, I think I might have to make a few more research trips to see if this will be my pregame pick for the Fenway game.

Here’s the official UMass release for the Fenway game.

Dick Baker does a great job describing today’s event.

In what makes a ton of sense, most, if not all, of the CCHA teams are merging with the WCHA.  Find a place for UAH and I think we can call it a day.

Finally, I’m too young to remember his UMass days, but I do remember former Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan as a Baltimore Oriole and I’m sorry to see a UMass legend go too soon

Fenway Announcement Coming Friday

The worst kept secret in recent college hockey memory will be revealed at a Friday afternoon press conference where Hockey East and the Red Sox will announce that UMass, Vermont, UNH, and Maine will participate in a doubleheader at Fenway Park on January 7th.

If the real world allows, I do plan on attending and look forward to providing coverage for FTT readers.

Matt Anderson re-signed with the Albany Devils, whom he represented as an AHL All-Star last year.

The remaining schools in the WCHA and CCHA continue to meet to discuss future options in the wake of the recent conference realignment announcements.

Sizing Up The Freshmen

This was a busy week for the UMass athletic department, what with football media day and such. So it doesn’t look like the shorthanded staff was able to update the hockey roster this week. Originally I was waiting see the final fall roster before starting in on previews but, probably like most of you, I’m chomping at the bit to start thinking about the upcoming season. So without knowing entirely who’s coming and who’s going, let’s start to take a look at this year’s roster. While most of the attention will be spent on the talented and deep sophomore class as well as the core group of returning captains as seniors, the freshmen will have a key role to play in this team’s success. Especially in perhaps the most important position of all, goaltender. So here’s a short introduction to the new players coming onto campus, what they bring to the team, and what holes they may potentially fill.

Forwards

Emerson Auvenshine
Auvenshine is the most recent player to commit to the Minutemen. He has spent the last two seasons with the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL, a Midwest junior league that seen as a step below the elite level USHL. With the Bobcats last year he put up 11 goals and 11 assists to go along with 106 PIM. The penalty minutes suggest he plays with grit, which is something that was definitely lacking with last year’s UMass team. The Michigan native seems to be a really hard worker, as Paul Teeple, broadcaster for the Bobcats, wrote about his perseverance in North Dakota that not only saw him make the team but become one of its assistant captains. Auvenshine will likely see some time on the third and fourth lines to help the Minutemen defensively and keep the other teams honest, but it’s always tough to know what to expect from players coming out of a mid-tier league like the NAHL. If he gets significant playing time, it’s likely because he’s working harder than everyone else in practice.

Zack LaRue
If LaRue isn’t seen as the highest profile freshman coming in, he at least is likely to make the most impact offensively. He’s seen as being one a strong skater, well-conditioned, can put up points (33 goals, 36 assists in 50 games with Markham of the OPJHL), and is also a top penalty killer. That description makes him sound a lot like co-captain T.J. Syner. The difference? LaRue is 6’2” and 195lbs. LaRue seems like the type of player who will be able to come in and immediately contribute to the scoring load, which is very important considering the team was 7th in Hockey East in goals, but at the same time able to withstand checks along the boards and maybe hand a few out. I see LaRue likely playing on the top two lines, mixing in with the likes of Syner, Danny Hobbs, Mike Pereira, and Conor Sheary.

Andrew Tegeler
Tegeler should also be able to provide some offensive punch when he hits Amherst in the fall, but for the most part seems like a solid two way player. Playing in the EJHL last year he had 19 goals and 21 assists in 44 games. Six of his goals were game winners which was good for second in the league. On the other side of the puck he ended up a +30. UMass has had good luck with two way players from the Junior Bruins before, such as Alex Berry. While not as big as Berry, it is reported that Tegeler is able to use his 6’1” frame to his advantage. I see the New Jersey native as getting solid minutes on the third line.

Defense

Mike Busillo
As mentioned before, physical play, or lack thereof, was a huge concern for the team last year. Busillo’s addition is another sign that the coaching staff moved quickly to address that deficiency. The 6’2” blueliner had 97 PIM for the Junior Wolfpack of the AJHL last year where he was an All-Star. He also proved to be pretty good with the puck as well, putting up 8 goals and 19 assists on the season. His 27 points led all defensemen on his team. Busillo adds depth to a solid, but young, defensive corp and while he might not be in the lineup every night, I do suspect he’ll play a fair share of games.

Oleg Yevenko
Again, size and toughness has been seen as a major area of concern for this team in recent years. Yevenko addresses both, in a big way. At 6’7 he becomes the tallest player ever for the program and will even have Adam Phillips looking up at him. As for toughness, playing for Fargo of the USHL he averaged just under 4 PIM a game and was second overall in the league. If anything, UMass fans are probably worried Yevenko might be spending too much time in the penalty box and his style of play may end up hurting the team. That remains to be seen. If you believe what Fargo beat writer Ryan S Clark has to say, Yevenko’s style of play will be an asset, even if it did draw multiple suspensions out west. I expect the big Belarusian to be in the lineup every night and having strong words with any opposing player who gets a little too aggressive with Syner, Sheary, or Kevin Czepiel.

Goaltender

Kevin Boyle
Boyle has been committed to UMass for a number of years now, which has allowed fans to get a pretty good feel for what type of player he may be. In fact I even got to see him play in person a couple of seasons ago. Boyle played well in the AJHL for a couple seasons, but last year went far from his home in New Jersey to play in British Columbia under the tutelage of former UMass grad assistant Darren Yopyk. While this couldn’t have been easy I think it was a great move to go against the higher competition of the BCHL. There, his play was, well, inconsistent (I know, I’m a terrible person for saying so). One night he’d get a shutout or give up a goal and the next he’d struggle to stay in the game. But overall he had a decent season going 20-16-1 with a GAA of 3.02 and save percentage of .902. In the playoffs he played even better but unfortunately an injury led to an early exit for him and his team. Still, he played well enough to be named to the BCHL All-Rookie team. With Paul Dainton gone and sophomore Jeff Teglia putting up OK but not great numbers last year the goaltender position is wide open. Boyle probably will be right there competing for the starting job.

Steve Mastalerz
Mastalerz but up stellar numbers for Kimball Union of the New England Prep League, going 24-6-4 with a miniscule 1.81 goals against and .931 save percentage. For all that USHR named him a prep All-Star. UMass has had pretty good success with goaltenders from the prep schools, with Jon Quick and Gabe Winer both coming from that route previously. Mastalerz already has a relationship with UMass goaltending coach Mike Buckley which should help him get acclimated to the school and college level quickly. He was pursued by multiple Hockey East schools before ultimately deciding on UMass. Frankly, the goaltender job is up for grabs. I don’t see any reason why he won’t contend for it.

While not a freshman another player to keep in mind is Stephen Guzzo, who injured his knee on the eve of last year’s opener and ended up being a medical redshirt. While he wasn’t able to skate again until spring, his familiarity with the system and his teammate should give him a step up this fall. Guzzo had 29 goals and 41 assists in 70 games in his last season in the OJHL, but will likely be used more as a defensive player. I expect him to get regular rotation on the 3rd and 4th lines.

So there you have it, your class of 2015. If anything, this class addresses immediate needs the team has to fill to be successful this season. Over the years the Minutemen have gotten smaller, quicker, more skilled. That has been a good thing when you see the production of guys like James Marcou and T.J. Syner. But at the same time strong defensive teams have found ways to limit how much damage those guys can inflict by being overly aggressive and using size to their advantage. That will not happen with this class. The team is bringing on skilled forwards who can score and move the puck, yet are over 6’. On defense UMass got bigger, a lot bigger, and will bring an edge to the squad that has not been seen since perhaps Steve Jacobs suited up for the Minutemen. In goal, the coaching staff have given themselves options. The goaltending situation will be the biggest story of the year. Fans will enjoy following how it progresses, even if it leads to some downright scary situations here and there. Still, if one guy isn’t getting it done in net, there are two others just as capable waiting in the wings. Some of the best goaltending for this squad just may take place during the week at practice as they fight for the top spot.

Nice to see Paul Dainton sign his first pro contract with the team just down the valley, the Springfield Falcons. Dainton did well for them during an ATO (Amateur Tryout) at the end of last season.

Stick tap to the reader who passed along the news that Darren Rowe and Troy Power, along with some other prominent college players such as BU’s Max Nicastro and Denver goaltender Beau Bennett, will be taking on alumni of the LA Kings this weekend. The game is a benefit for the Junior Kings squad, which Rowe, Power, and the other amateur players played for when they were younger. What? No Brad Norton?

Obi Aduba spent his summer playing in Australia.

Reports continue to come out that the Fenway game will be taking place.

Farewell, “Fighting Sioux”. I’m sorry the NCAA couldn’t see the difference between a name that honors and one that demeans (looking at you pro teams in Cleveland and Washington DC).

The selection committee has made a tweak to the common opponent part of the pairwise calculation.

Stuff The Ballot Box!

Normally I reserve my call to stuff the ballot box for occasions such as trying to help Jon Quick get on the All-Star Team (still say he got screwed) or making sure UMass’ All-Hockey East team had enough triangle representation (failed).  But today I’m going to be a little selfish and ask for your help for myself.  Or at least the blog.  Fear The Triangle is on the ballot for Boston’s Most Valuable Blogger of 2011.  I know of at least one reader who nominated me, reader/Twitter follower @amers1002 who is a hardcore hockey fan in her own right, and I thank her for that.

I’m under no illusions that I can win since I’m going up against some prominent Boston sports blogs like Boston Dirt Dogs, The Bruins Blog, and Stanley Cup of Chowder.  But I’m honored to be listed aside those guys as well as college hockey blogging colleagues like BCInteruption and SportsGirlKat.  Anyway, I’d love if I could at least make a good showing against such competition, so if you can spare a click and vote for FTT, I’d appreciate it.  You can vote once a day between now and September 9th.  Thanks!

Monday Links

There’s still not a lot news for UMass hockey at this point in the summer, however players started rolling into Amherst this past weekend so hopefully we’ll start seeing more coming out of the team soon.  In the meantime, here’s some relevant news from around the web.

First off, it appears that Joe Manno, who decommitted from UMass in the past month or so, is now committed to go to Northeastern according to his Twitter account.  Don’t get too excited yet Husky fans, as he’s still planning on attending training camp for the Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.  Remember when committed actually meant, well, committed?

Matty V of the Gazette says that the goaltender position will be key for the hockey team this season.  Yep, can’t argue with that.

Mike McMahon of the Eagle Tribune asks if outdoor games have jumped the shark.  I agree that with each one that takes place the uniqueness of an outdoor hockey game lessens.  He also asks what happens when someone puts together an outdoor college game and no one shows up.  Well, Mike, it already happened.  However, while these games will likely begin to fade at some point when the novelty wears off, as a fan of a team who will hopefully play in one of these games this season, I’m psyched.  It’s a pretty big deal every year when the UMass baseball team is given a chance to play on the hallowed grounds of Fenway.  To have the hockey team do the same will be another great memory of mine in following the program.  Now if they could just make it official.

There are no specific UMass mentions (other than as a Five College) but this article on the New England prep league from the New England Hockey Journal is an interesting read.

KAEO Alex Minter

According to the Salem News 5’11” 185lb forward Alex Minter will be visiting UMass along with Lowell and has already made trips to Providence, Brown, and Holy Cross.  Minter was recently named the “Top Pro Prospect” at the Hockey Night In Boston summer showcase.  Minter played with Governor’s Academy last year where he scored 18 goals and suited up for Malden Catholic prior to that.  Governor Dummer’s (as I’ll always know it) lost in the finals of the New England Prep School tournament.   Sounds like he may be a good late bloomer to add to the recruit list.

Hockey East has the UMass schedule up on their website.  Kinda.  It’s not right.  First it has UConn on the schedule and no sign of Holy Cross.  Secondly, UMass is playing both Providence and Vermont on January 7th (when the Fenway game is rumored to take place).  I like the depth on this team, but not enough to play two games in one day.

Former defenseman player Brian Corcoran is mentioned in this article by Matt Vautour regarding multi-sport athletes at UMass.  Corcoran was already at UMass playing football when the program was rebooted in 1993.

Around the rest of college hockey, the CCHA and WCHA are discussing a merger, which is actually what I thought would happen after the NCHC was formed.  Hopefully they can find a place at the table for UAH.  And Versus may soon be televising college hockey in addition to their NHL agreement.

The Globe weighs in on the NCAA vs Major Junior argument.

Manno Decommits

Sometime in recent weeks Joseph Manno backed out of his commitment to UMass. This isn’t a huge surprise as his original commitment seemed touch and go with conflicting reports about whether he was or was not coming through at that time. Then there were rumors at the beginning of the summer that Manno was facing problems qualifying academically due to issues regarding transfer of credits from his school in Canada to his prep school in Connecticut. I’m not sure if that drove this decision or something else, but either way Manno will not be suiting up this fall. Coach Cahoon still has a sizable freshman class coming in, so someone should be able to step up and fill the minutes he may have provided. This could open up some minutes for an Andrew Tegeler or Emerson Auvenshine.

Reportedly Manno is exploring either catching on with Providence or going the major junior route with Saint John of the QMJHL.

Eddie Olczyk, Darren Rowe, and Troy Power are spending part of their summer in Sin City playing in an amateur hockey league there. The No Dome MacTavish’s (obviously a reference to the former Lowell player who was the last NHLer to play without a helmet) is representing Western Mass with two UMass players and three from AIC.

Congratulations to former UMass radio commentator Donnie Moorhouse who was named Director of Strategic Sales for the Springfield Falcons. The job seems like a great fit for the Springfield native and former AIC goaltender.

Lastly, in the last couple days Fear The Triangle reached 200,000 total views. Thanks to everyone for reading and making this place the central place for UMass hockey fans on the internet.

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