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Northeastern Preview; UMass Preview Addendum

Massachusetts Minutemen 0-0-0 (0-0-0) Hockey East T-1st

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Northeastern Huskies 0-0-0 (0-0-0) Hockey East T-1st

Let the season begin!  Sitting here watching the Bruins Stanley Cup banner go up is a great way to get into the hockey mood on this college season opener eve.  It seems very long ago that us UMass fans shuffled out of Conte Forum after the Eagles eliminated the Minutemen.  It’s even longer ago, all the way back to the third week of January, since UMass fans got to celebrate a win and there weren’t many of us present in Burlington that night to see it.  So not only am I psyched and hungry to see some UMass hockey, but I am flat out starved for a win.  And that’s just me, a fan.  I can only imagine how the returning players feel.

This will probably be an abbreviated preview since there’s not too much more to say than I already did in either my Northeastern season preview or my UMass preview from last night.  There are a couple pieces of news on the Northeastern side.  First is that they’re actually coming off a loss, dropping their exhibition game to St Francis Xavier on Sunday by a score of 8 to 5.  I wouldn’t get too excited over that result however.  Six of the goals were given up by their third string goaltender Clay Witt.  Chris Rawlings, tomorrow’s starter, only gave up one goal on 11 shots.  The more significant news is that the Huskies have suspended two of their better forwards in Cody Ferriero and Steve Quailer for incidents dating back to last season.  They’ll also be without freshman Ludwig Karlsson who is having clearinghouse issues.

Having two talented forwards out is an advantage for the Minutemen, one they cannot let pass by.  As I mentioned in my season preview after these three initial games the Minutemen get straight into a grueling stretch of games where points may be hard to come by.  That gives them that much more motivation to get  on the board with a win from the get go.

No news out of the UMass team tonight.  Nope, I have no idea who will be in net.  Though if I were a betting man, I’d say Jeff Teglia, only because I think Toot may give his returner the first shot at winning the job.  I’m guessing Steve Mastalerz will still be kept out due to whatever minor injury he’s fighting.

Not sure what else to say that hasn’t already been said or written since last March.  Time to stop previewing, forecasting, prognosticating, guessing, and time to watch some UMass hockey!

Beer The Triangle

I’ve already lamented about the lack of a good beer snob bar immediately surrounding Matthews Arena and having to settle for Uno’s.  I’m hoping to get into the city early enough to hit Bukowski’s which isn’t too far away.  I haven’t been there before but I liked their sister bar, the Lower Depths, when I stopped in following the Frozen Fenway press conference over the summer.  Looking at their beer list it appears they have a couple Jack’s Abby beers on, one of the state’s newest breweries.  I’m also a fan of their house beer, The Buk, which is brewed by Wormtown.  If anyone is heading there keep in mind that it’s cash only!

Amazing that I forgot anything in the lengthy preview I wrote last night, but I did.  I talked all about the players, but I didn’t talk about the coaching.  For the first time in a long time there was a bit of a shakeup on the coaching staff as Red Gendron left Amherst to take an assistant job with Yale.  Replacing him is ex-Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald which means both assistants have DI head coaching experience as Len Quesnelle is the former coach at Princeton.  Certainly Red will be missed, in terms of his abilities to coach and knowledge of the game, the great job he did recruiting, and how well he interacted with fans and boosters.  But, maybe it’s a good thing there’s a bit of a shakeup on the coaching staff.

Hanging around and talking with other UMass fans this offseason I think it’s safe to say that a good majority have lost faith in Toot Cahoon’s coaching.  Few have any qualms with him as a person or the job he does in turning out great student athletes.  But the product on the ice since the team made the NCAAs in 2007 has fans very concerned and frustrated.  Some of the most talented players the program has ever seen have put on the maroon and white in the past few years with little to show for it in terms of wins.  Unhappiness with the status of the program has escalated from just murmurs after losses to more outspoken criticism and even calls for Cahoon to be replaced.  Personally, I understand the frustration.  Hell, I’m experiencing the frustration up close considering how much this team dominates my life.  However, I stand by what I said before last season, that Toot should be given a chance to bring this current sophomore class through and see what they can accomplish.  That said, if this team, no longer able to fall back on the “lots of freshmen” reasoning for coming up short, doesn’t show progress and get some significant wins this season, I would not be surprised if there is full out rebellion among the fan base going into next offseason.  The pressure is definitely on to win and shake this reputation of underachievers that we’ve seen since 2007.

Matty V covers the goaltending situation.

Dick Baker has a look at Brenden Gracel and Troy Power.

The trainers for the Portland Pirates “prevented tragedy” in regards to Alex Berry.

Providence will host a regional in 2013 as well as Manchester, NH, Toledo, and Grand Rapid, MI.

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