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Braun To Play For Team USA In IIHF Championships

With his Sharks eliminated in the first round of the NHL playoffs Justin Braun has been named to US National team that will compete at the IIHF World Championships in Sweden and Finland.  The US roster which features a lot of familiar names to UMass fans, like Jimmy Howard and Cam Atkinson, is almost entirely made up of former college players.  All of Team USA’s games will be televised on NBC Sports beginning this Friday.

Jon Quick and the Kings grabbed a win in the first game of their second round matchup with the St Louis Blues.  Quick made 28 saves and was outstanding at times according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

News came out that Adam Phillips went in for knee surgery this past week.  While I don’t know the severity of it, if he was trying to play through knee problems all year it could explain a lot of the struggles he had this past season.  Hopefully his recovery goes well and he’s ready to play come October.

So yesterday I was out in Amherst for the Spring Game at McGuirk Stadium.  Coach Charley Molnar added an entertaining twist to the annual game by have the current squad play against a team of alumni.  It was great to have the chance to watch players like Marcel Shipp don the maroon and white again.  The current players have a lot of work to do as they make the leap to the FBS level and the MAC, but it’s an exciting time to be a UMass fan.  I got to speak to Bob McGovern and Marc Bertrand for a while as they stopped by my tailgate and I just want to remind everyone to keep visiting their blog Maroon Musket to keep up with everything going on with UMass football.

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Quick Named A Vezina Finalist

I had originally planned to post last night after the Bruins game but I wasn’t really in the mood after seeing the hopes of back to back Stanley Cup Champions dashed in the first round.   At least us UMass/Bruin fans have a fallback team to root for through the rest of the playoffs in the Los Angeles Kings, who are backstopped by former Minuteman and Vezina Trophy finalist, Jon Quick.  Puck Daddy makes the case as to why Quick should win the award.  Also, thanks to a reader who passed along this excellent piece on Quick from Sportsnet, profiling how a gifted, but sleepy, goaltender from UMass is now one of the best and hardest working among his position in the NHL.

The Collegian has an article catching up on how T.J. Syner and Mike Marcou have been faring since the season ended.

Friend of FTT Ryan S Clark discusses UMass recruiting target Zach Doerring in this post from his Slightly Chilled blog.  I originally posted about Doerring last month.

The hockey program announced that this year’s Pond Club Golf Tournament will take place June 11th.  I’ll pass along registration and other information when it becomes available.

That’s it for now.  With the Bruins season done I’ll likely be starting up some semi-regular columns exploring topics surrounding UMass hockey now.  Coming up is an in-depth look at the freshman class and their performance this year.  Keep checking back.

Recruit Update

There are a lot more names on the list all of a sudden, but Kenny Gillespie is still the only player still playing.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2012 or 2013
35 GP / 5 G / 8 A / 13 Pts / 47 PIM / +1
Gillespie’s Lancers are tied at one game apiece with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the second round of the USHL playoffs.  So far Gillespie is scoreless with a +1.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
29 GP / 2 G / 7 A / 9 Pts
Hamilton was part of a solid defense for Salisbury. USHR ranked him as the 7th best junior during the year. Salisbury’s season ended in the first round of the prep championships.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
25 GP / 15 G / 27 A / 42 Pts
Iovanna was named an All-Star for his efforts this season. He capped of the year by scoring the game winning goal in the Super 8 title game to give the Lancers back to back championships.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union  (NE Prep) – 2014
31 GP / 18 G / 24 A / 42 Pts
Miller finished second on his team in goals, assists, and points as a junior.  USHR ranked him as the 26th best among his class.  His Wildcats won the New England prep championship for their level where Miller had a key takeaway and assist that led to the game winning goal.  He’s due to return to KUA next fall.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL/EmpJHL) – 2014
EJHL: 21 GP / 1 G / 1 A / 2 Pts / 28 PIM
Empire: 22 GP / 7 G / 18 A / 25 Pts / 24 PIM
Smith’s season is over as the Pics were eliminated in the Empire League playoffs. You can’t blame Smith though as he was the leading scorer for the Pics with a goal and three assists in the two playoff games.

K.J Tiefenwerth – C/W – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2012
43 GP / 30 G / 47 A / 77 Pts / 14 PIM
Tiefenwerth had the third most points and sixth most goals in the EJHL this year as captain of the Junior Bruins. He had a couple goals, including a game winner in four playoff games.

Shane Walsh – LW – South Shore Kings (EJHL) – 2012
Dubuque (USHL): 23 GP / 5 G / 7 A / 12 Pts / 0 PIM / –8
South Shore (EJHL): 9 GP / 7 G / 6 A / 13 Pts / 4 PIM
Walsh’s Kings were eliminated by the New Hampshire Monarchs in the EJHL semifinals. Walsh had 2 goals in six playoff games. Next stop for him: Amherst.

UMass alum Jonathan Quick led the Kings to an opening round upset of the President’s Trophy winner Canucks.  Quick bested former Boston College goaltender Cory Schneider in the first round and will take on another NCAA goaltender, Wisconsin’s Brian Elliot, next against the Blues.  Elliot’s Blues eliminated Justin Braun and the San Jose Sharks in the first round.

This site has Quick as the 3rd best hockey player from the southern Connecticut area.

Before the Sharks lost out to the Blues they did call up Matt Irwin as one of the “Black Aces” on the practice squad.  Irwin had a great season in the AHL, scoring 11 goals to go with 31 assists in 71 games.  He was also selected to the AHL All-Star Game.

USCHO takes a look at some of the issues that may come up at this week’s coaches’ meetings.  No word if Coach Cahoon, recovering from hip replacement, is well enough to attend in person.

Miscellaneousness

So for those loyal readers tuning in for the regular View From Section U feature usually run on Wednesdays, this isn’t it.  I have lots of ideas for View From Section U material and plan to write the weekly column  mostly regularly during the offseason while I can think of something to write about, but nothing tonight.  Tonight I’m focused on watching Jon Quick potentially sweep the Vancouver Canucks out of the playoffs.  I’d write tomorrow but I’ll be busy watching the Bruins.  So no weekly column this week.  I already have a topic for next week however.  While I have been writing View From Section U on Wednesdays, likely going forward I’ll try to update the blog on Mondays and Thursdays, though I’ll post whenever there is major news like new recruits or that sort of thing.  So continue to check back regularly.

There are a few things I’d like to pass along however.

First Mike Marcou has been released from his Amateur Tryout Agreement from the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL.  With their parent team, the Oilers, of course out of the playoffs (and somehow winning the draft lottery again) and sending all their available players down for the AHL playoffs, this isn’t a surprise.  I would guess Marcou is back in Amherst finishing off his degree.  Regardless, I’m sure he’ll have no problem getting a pro contract somewhere next fall.  It seems that Marcou made a positive impression in his only two games in OKC as Neal Livingston, who blogs about the Barons, had a lot of positive things to say about him on Twitter.

Bruce Landon the GM of the Springfield Falcons had some nice praise for the work of Paul Dainton this past season.

For some reason it just hit me that when UMass and Bemidji State meet in the Ledyard Bank Classic at Dartmouth in December it’ll mean David Boehm will be facing his former team.  Boehm didn’t exactly leave the school or his teammates on the best of circumstances so that’ll make for an interesting side story.  Of course next year’s seniors Rocco Carzo, Kevin Czepiel, Eddie Olczyk, and Darren Rowe are the only current players who played with him.

UMass goaltending coach Mike Buckley was mentioned in this article regarding his contributions to a local girls under 12 team winning the national championship.

With the hockey stuff out the way I just want to send a sticktap towards some other UMass teams.  The Gorillas of UMass lacrosse are sharing the top ranking in the country with Loyola, the highest ranking ever for the dominant New England lacrosse program.  I’m very psyched to see them play in UMass football’s future home, Gillette Stadium, this weekend.  Secondly, congrats to UMass baseball which is enjoying a resurgence right now and won the baseball Beanpot tonight with a win over Harvard.  At the same time women’s lacrosse, led by the nation’s leading scorer in Katie Ferris, is currently ranked #9 in the country.  What a great spring season for the Minutemen and Minutewomen around campus.

Lastly, I’ve taken the time to make sure everything is up to date here at Fear The Triangle.  The recruiting page reflects all known commitments.  I’ve updated the Road Trip page with all my various recommendations, with the Maine entry getting the most additions after an enjoyable trip to Orono this past season.  The Beer The Triangle page chronicling my homebrewing hobby is reflective of my latest brews.  Even the rinks on the About page shows every significant place I’ve ever watched hockey.

Recruit Update; Casey Miller Commits To UMass

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2012 or 2013
35 GP / 5 G / 8 A / 13 Pts / 47 PIM / +1
Gillespie made the most out of the last regular season weekend for the Lancers, scoring the game winning goal in the last game of the season and adding an assist to go with it.  Omaha has a bye in the first round.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School (NE Prep) – 2013
29 GP / 2 G / 7 A / 9 Pts

Hamilton was part of a solid defense for Salisbury.  USHR ranked him as the 7th best junior during the year.  Salisbury’s season ended in the first round of the prep championships.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
25 GP / 15 G / 27 A / 42 Pts
Iovanna was named an All-Star for his efforts this season.  He capped of the year by scoring the game winning goal in the Super 8 title game to give the Lancers back to back championships.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL/EmpJHL) – 2014
EJHL: 21 GP / 1 G / 1 A / 2 Pts / 28 PIM
Empire: 22 GP / 7 G / 18 A / 25 Pts / 24 PIM
Smith’s season is over as the Pics were eliminated in the Empire League playoffs. You can’t blame Smith though as he was the leading scorer for the Pics with a goal and three assists in the two playoff games.

K.J Tiefenwerth – C/W – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2012
43 GP / 30 G / 47 A / 77 Pts / 14 PIM
Tiefenwerth had the third most points and sixth most goals in the EJHL this year as captain of the Junior Bruins. He had a couple goals, including a game winner in four playoff games.

Shane Walsh – LW – South Shore Kings (EJHL) – 2012
Dubuque (USHL): 23 GP / 5 G / 7 A / 12 Pts / 0 PIM / –8
South Shore (EJHL): 9 GP / 7 G / 6 A / 13 Pts / 4 PIM
Walsh’s Kings were eliminated by the New Hampshire Monarchs in the EJHL semifinals. Walsh had 2 goals in six playoff games. Next stop for him: Amherst.

After complaining about the lack of recruits a couple months ago, they’re coming fast and furious now.  Over the weekend UMass picked up a commitment from Casey Miller, a 5’8” 165lb center who played this past year for Kimball Union (same prep school where Steve Mastalerz played).  Hockey is in the family for Casey.  His father Paul played at BU when Toot Cahoon was an assistant coach there, winning a national championship his freshman year.  His uncle Bob played at UNH and then went on to a pretty long pro career, including four seasons with the Bruins.  He even spent a season in Springfield with the Indians (precursor to the Falcons).

Casey had 18 goals and 24 assists in 31 games in his junior season for the Wildcats, finishing second on the team in goal, assists, and total points.  KUA won the the championship for their level of prep hockey with Miller forcing a turnover and assisting on the overtime game winner against Holderness for the title.  He just had a solid performance in the recent Beantown Classic showcase event that may have helped him land the scholarship offer from UMass.  According to USHR his hands and intelligence are his biggest assets, making up for his lack of size and quickness, and helped to consistently generate a lot of offense.  USHR ranked him as the 26th best junior this past season (Mark Hamilton was ranked #7).  The Billerica native will likely arrive in Amherst in 2014 after playing out his senior year at KUA and then a year in juniors.

So in case you missed it, Jon Quick and his Kings are on the verge of sweeping the President’s Trophy winning Canucks right out of the NHL Playoffs.  Last night Quick shutout the Canucks 1-0, his second career playoff shutout in 15 games.  In the last two games he’s made a total of 89 saves.  ‘The Quick and the Near Dead’ is the headline in the Vancouver Sun.  USA Today says he’s the #1 reason why Vancouver is on the brink of elimination. NHL.com cites Quick’s work ethic as why he has excelled.  What amazes me is how active he is in the crease compared to his UMass days.  He is constantly moving, trying to make sure he has the best positioning and a constant view of the puck.

Justin Braun in the playoffs with the Sharks got a nice left hand in against the St Louis Blues and then didn’t fare so well.

View From Section U: FTT UMail

Time for one last session of UMail before we completely move on to the offseason mindset.  I have to say I think this semi-regular Q&A with readers is probably the best additions to the blog this past year.  I hope you feel the same.

With that, let’s get started.

Liz From Greenfield asks so it seems that UMass is the only all Division I school in Hockey East to not have a women’s hockey program. We have the facilities to support both. So will it ever happen?

This is a great question and a topic I’ve come really close to writing an entire View From Section U about previously but there has always been something more pressing to address.  Frankly, I am 100% in support for a varsity women’s hockey team playing in Hockey East for a number of reasons.  First of all, as you mentioned,  the school as the facilities, UMass has both a top notch hockey facility in the Mullins Center and practice facility.  Honestly I’m ignorant as to whether the practice rink could be used for actual games, but at the very least I would think the various schedules of hockey and basketball could be juggled enough to get a women’s team the venue time they need.  Secondly, the UMass women’s club hockey team has already established a tradition of excellence on campus.  They are regularly among the top women’s club teams in the country and this past season ended up as the #3 team in the country.  Thirdly,the team would automatically have a chance to play in Hockey East which is a quality league in terms of talent and more importantly fully one committed to women’s hockey.  Now the trick is finding funding.  I was hoping that UMass would be like UConn (wait, did I actually say that?) and fund the additional scholarships to go FBS football by adding the equivalent scholarships towards women’s hockey.  That didn’t happen and instead the school is planning on adding scholarships to existing sports like rowing, track, and such.  I consider that a missed opportunity.  So therefore I’ll make a drastic suggestion and likely alienate a section of the UMass fanbase and advocate dropping women’s basketball in lieu of women’s hockey.  I know women’s hoops has a long history but honestly attendance is nil and they haven’t had success in forever.  Why not replace a mediocre to failing team in the so-so conference that is the Atlantic 10 for a hockey team playing in top notch Hockey East?  UMass men’s hockey is the only sport at the school that says it plays in an elite conference in the country, why not double that number?  I didn’t exactly answer your question Liz, because frankly I have no idea if it will happen.  But hopefully I helped make the case for UMass women’s hockey.

Josh asks what is a realistic five year goal for the program?

That’s a tough one.  Five years is a lifetime in sports, especially college where you’re turning over your roster every four years.  Here’s what I see laid out before UMass though.  Maybe it’s because I spent the last few weeks watching, either in person or on TV, every available NCAA tournament game, but I really think the tournament is where UMass should be next year.  Yeah, they lose some good players to graduation, but on a college hockey roster three players isn’t much.  And this past season they showed, when they wanted to, that they could play with anyone.  So I would hope that next year they’re more consistent when they play all levels of teams and can play into contention for home ice in Hockey East and an NCAA berth.  Now that’s what I think they’re capable of, not what I predict, because I’ve learned predicting UMass hockey results is impossible.  A year after next they’ll still lose very little and I would think that should definitely set them up for hopefully what would be a repeat NCAA berth.  When that senior class, now sophomores, graduate it’ll be interesting.  At that point it comes down to recruiting.  In the past couple days we’ve seen what I think are some quality recruiting additions but there is obviously a ton more work to be done to replace the huge sophomore class that is currently on the roster.  After that is a crap shoot.  If UMass does make the NCAAs in the next year or two they might drop back when the Pereiras and Shearys on the roster graduate, but who knows at that point.  The toughest part is to leverage the season where they have success by bringing in top notch recruits.  In the past that hasn’t happened and after 2004 and 2007 the team took a considerable step back from previous program highs.

John asks what type of season does the team need to have for Toot to keep his job?

Certainly an interesting question.  First thing to keep in mind is that Toot’s contract ends following the season so if the school decides to go another direction there is no money owed to him.  Like I touched on in the previous question, if it was up to me I would set the bar at home ice in Hockey East and an NCAA berth.  Next year Toot will get to guide the team that he assembled through his own recruiting; an extremely talented to be junior class, plus two very good sophomore goaltenders.  That group this past year already showed they can play with the best of them.  Next year they have to do it consistently.  To me that would translate to at least an NCAA at-large berth and I think, given the 5 year drought since UMass’ last tournament appearance, that should be the trigger to extend Toot.  That said, and this is pure speculation, it would not completely surprise me if the powers that be have slightly lower expectations and, if Toot wants it, he gets an extension despite falling short of the NCAAs next year.  Personally I think it should be NCAA or bust.  Toot’s a great coach and I admire him a ton but I’ve been following this team a long time and just a single NCAA appearance in coming up on 20 years of play isn’t enough.

John also asked what happens first: UMass football wins a bowl game or UMass hockey wins a conference championship (either regular season or tournament)?

Honestly, I can see a Motor City Bowl or something similar in the future for UMass football before hockey can grab some kind of Hockey East title.  The sort of recruiting that BC and BU are doing right now just makes it extremely tough to capture a league title over those guys.  They’re absolutely stocking up on the best talent and they’re able to do it because they win titles and recruits will settle for being a third line forward on a champion versus a first line guy somewhere else.  It all comes down to recruiting.  Recruiting wise I think football is off to a great start.  I’m not sure if they’ve won a ton of recruiting battles but as my buddies over at Maroon Musket have relayed, UMass has been battling top notch regional and national schools for recruits.  In time I think charismatic coach Charley Molnar will win some of those battles and football will be competitive sooner rather than later.

Will asks what is your prediction for how the goalie situation plays out? Even if Kevin Boyle emerges as the #1, how much time do you predict Jeff Teglia or Steve Mastalerz to get?

I think the starting goaltender job will be completely up for grabs when the team takes the ice in early fall.  Boyle definitely played the best down the stretch but not enough to claim the position for good.  Both him and Mastalerz had huge games at different times in the season.  The funny thing is if I talk to different people close to the program they’ll equally proclaim one or the other of freshman goaltenders to be the better of the two.  Personally I’m not yet sure of who is better.  Obviously Teglia is at a disadvantage since he played less games than the others.  I still think he has the potential to be the guy for the Minutemen, but so far in his career things have not gone his way.  But overall I think the initial competition will come down to Boyle and Mastalerz and whatever happens I hope someone emerges from those two relatively soon to start the season.

Carson says I gave my thoughts on potential lines for next year, I would love to hear yours, especially with Tiefenwerth in the mix now.

For those wondering Carson originally laid down his prospective lines in one of the season recap posts.  They’re good but they’re top heavy with all the talent in the first line.  I think Toot showed this past season that he didn’t want to put all the firepower on one line and I’m not sure if I’d argue with him given the results offensively overall.  So in keeping with the mindset of having two impactful lines, here’s what I’ve sketched together at this ridiculously early moment in time:

  Carzo-Gracel-Sheary
Pereira-Guzzo-Tiefenwerth
Kiley-DeAngelo-Power
Walsh-Czepiel-Tegeler

Hanley-Shea
Allen-Rowe/Busillo
Yevenko-Phillips

Boyle/Mastalerz

So there we are.  Obviously if I wanted to have one all powerful line I would’ve put Pereira up with Gracel and Sheary, but I don’t think Toot will do that and honestly I think we saw this year why you don’t want to put all your scorers on just one line.  It pained me to take Carzo off of the third line that played amazingly well together in the second half of the season, but I think his experience and leadership will do well on the first couple lines.  That said, I think DeAngelo had a solid year and would fill in well between Pat Kiley and Troy Power.  The fourth line is tough.  Certainly Eddie Olczyk could be there as well as Zack LaRue, but I still like what I saw of Tegeler in the little we saw and think he may have the biggest upside of all current freshmen forwards.

Defense is a crapshoot.  It’s impossible to try to matchup up pairings.  I think Rowe and Busillo would be swapped out depending on the opponent and whether UMass is looking for more of an offensive or defensive presence.  I thought both held their own in the past season in particular situations and deserve the chance to prove themselves.  Obviously I’m not taking a stand at goaltender at this point.

So that’s it for this round of FTT UMail.  Thank you to everyone for their questions.  Certainly when I started this blog it wasn’t really my intention to just drone on and on about my thoughts of UMass hockey.  By no means am I a hockey expert and I appreciate the regular input from readers.  The FTT UMail segment is a chance to get commenters more front and center on the blog. I definitely appreciate everyone’s feedback.  A bunch of commenters are personal friends and I’m glad for their contribution.  At the same time there are fans that comment on an everyday basis like Will, Carson, George, and dozens of anonymous people among others that I don’t know personally and I am really grateful for what they share.  Thanks to everyone for making this a place where I can share my thoughts but you bring your own opinion as well.  Maybe someday we can plan to all meet up at the Hangar for some kind of FTT social to get to know each other.

Here are pictures and a video of former UMass star Greg Mauldin throwing out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians game the other night.

Here is an interesting op-ed from a current Holy Cross player making the case for the Crusaders to join Hockey East.  I don’t think he adequately addresses the arena issue (Hart is too small, DCU is a dump) but overall it’s a good read.

Apparently if UConn were Hockey East they would automatically have Mike Pereira and Mike Busillo on their roster.  Something tells me those two would rather play in a hockey arena rather than a still warehouse filled with aluminum football bleachers surrounding bad ice, but who knows.

Again, please make sure to check back to FTT regularly.  This may be the offseason but I’ve posted for the last four days in a row and will continue to do so as long as there is UMass news or commentary to share.  The best way to keep up with FTT during the offseason is through the Twitter or Facebook pages.

Iovanna & Hamilton Commit To UMass for 2013

Mike McMahon reported today that UMass has received commitments from forward Mike Iovanna and defenseman Mark Hamilton for the start of the 2013 season.

Iovanna was a junior this past season at Malden Catholic where he was on a line with Brendan Collier (committed to BU) and Ryan Fitzgerald (one time UMass target committed to BC).  He had 15 goals and 27 assists for MC, but the biggest goal was his last of the season which gave the Lancers back to back Super Eight championships.  Video of the goal and his coach’s comments can be found here.  Here’s an article on the big goal.  The Herald named him a 2011-12 All Star.

A roster from early this past season has him at 5’8″ and 160lbs.  I spoke with UMass alum Jim Clark, writer of the Herald’s In The Slot blog covering Massachusetts High School hockey, and he had a lot of positive things to say about Iovanna.  He said he’s a good all around player who does well at all parts of the game.  It’s tough to project exactly what he’ll be able to do when he gets to UMass  since he’s only a junior, but he was confident that Iovanna is of Hockey East caliber.  Basically Iovanna is very talented but for the most part has been overshadowed by his linemates, both of whom are considered pretty elite prospects in the state.

Right now it looks like Iovanna will return to MC next year.  It does not appear that any USHL teams hold his rights.

Joining Iovanna in the class of 2017 is defenseman Mark Hamilton.  Hamilton is a native of Winthrop, Mass who played this past year for the Salisbury School in Connecticut.  He was not listed in the final rankings for the 2012 NHL Draft but he was listed as a player to watch earlier in the process.   He’s mentioned in this piece from NEHJ on the strength of the Salisbury defense.  Hamilton is 6’3” 215lbs and had 2 goals and 7 assists this past season.

USHR had him ranked as the 7th best junior this past year, higher than Doyle Somerby than recently picked BU over the Minutemen as well as one time UMass target Anthony Florentino.  The site touts him as being big, physical, and smart with the puck.  Like Iovanna it does not appear that Hamilton has been drafted in the USHL, it’s likely he’ll return to Salisbury where UMass has had good luck with players previously, the last being Will Ortiz.

Just a reminder to get your questions in for tomorrow FTT UMail.  You can leave your question as a comment to this post, email me, or post your question on the FTT Facebook Page. I’ll pick some of the more interesting questions and do my best to answer them.

Recruit Update; Submit Your Questions for FTT UMail

Weekly update on Kenny Gillespie who is the only UMass recruit still playing.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2012
33 GP / 4 G / 7 A / 11 Pts / 47 PIM / 0
Gillespie continues to contribute as the Lancers finish off the regular season, getting an assist in each of his last two games.  He has a good number of shots lately as well, 13 in his last 5 games.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL/EmpJHL) – 2014
EJHL: 21 GP / 1 G / 1 A / 2 Pts / 28 PIM
Empire: 22 GP / 7 G / 18 A / 25 Pts / 24 PIM
Smith’s season is over as the Pics were eliminated in the Empire League playoffs. You can’t blame Smith though as he was the leading scorer for the Pics with a goal and three assists in the two playoff games.

K.J Tiefenwerth – C/W – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2012
EJHL: 43 GP / 30 G / 47 A / 77 Pts / 14 PIM
Tiefenwerth had the third most points and sixth most goals in the EJHL this year as captain of the Junior Bruins. He had a couple goals, including a game winner in four playoff games.

Shane Walsh – LW – South Shore Kings (EJHL) – 2012
Dubuque (USHL): 23 GP / 5 G / 7 A / 12 Pts / 0 PIM / –8
South Shore (EJHL): 9 GP / 7 G / 6 A / 13 Pts / 4 PIM
Walsh’s Kings were eliminated by the New Hampshire Monarchs in the EJHL semifinals. Walsh had 2 goals in six playoff games. Next stop for him: Amherst.

The more I think about it the more I believe Kenny Gillespie may not be coming to campus until 2013.  I have not been able to confirm that as of yet, but it would make sense.  First of all, Gillespie just turned 18 this past December and (whether you agree with the practice or not) in college hockey it’s very rare that players come to campus that young.  It’s much more likely that he’d come in as a 19 year old.  Secondly, he has had a tough time (perhaps due to his age/development) making much of an impact on the Lancers this year.  I was told this was because Omaha is completely stacked with talent.  Perhaps another year out the USHL where he’d have a chance to slide into a spot on the top two lines would be best for him.  Again, this is pure speculation on my part.  Although in doing some internet searching I did come across this old release saying he was bound for Amherst in 2013.  I’ll do my best to confirm ASAP.

Speaking of recruits, the final rankings for the 2012 NHL Draft were released by NHL Central Scouting today.  There are no UMass players or players committed to UMass on it.  This means that it’s very likely that for the first time since the 1999-2000 season the Minuteman hockey team will be without any NHL draft picks on their roster when the season starts this fall.  Now on one hand I already highlighted the fact that half of the Frozen Four participants, in the form of Union and Ferris State, had exactly zero NHL draft picks.  But on the other hand this is a little concerning.  UMass has done well when they’ve had a mix of NHL draft picks (Jon Quick, Justin Braun, Greg Mauldin, Stephen Werner) mixed in with non-draft picks (James Marcou, Thomas Pöck, Chris Capraro, Nick Kuiper).  This will not be the case next year unless something surprising happens.  Here are the Hockey East committed players that made the list.  As you can see Providence, Northeastern, and Vermont, three teams UMass has been battling for positioning, all have players likely to be drafted.

One of the good things about not having a lot of NHL drafted players is you’re less likely to lose them.  With BC’s season over it’s likely the BC Hockey Blog is reporting that star juniors Brian Dumoulin and Chris Kreider are on their way to the pros.  Eagle senior forward Barry Almeida has also reportedly signed with the Washington Capitals where he’ll likely have a chance to play along side his cousin T.J. Syner in Hershey.

Here is a preview on Jon Quick and his Kings from NHL.com as they take on the #1 seed Canucks in the Western Conference playoffs.  He’ll need to be at his best to take down Vancouver.

Justin Braun and the San Jose Sharks meanwhile are the 7th seed in the West and will take on second seed St Louis.

As captain of the Lake Erie Monsters former UMass forward Greg Mauldin threw out the first pitch before tonight’s Cleveland Indians game.  I’ll try to post any video I find of the event.  Greg tweeted earlier that he hoped he didn’t end up on Sportscenter’s Not Top 10.

Well, UMass has had their end of season banquet and the team is beginning to get back to finishing the school year.  Meanwhile conference rival Boston College has been crowned champions in one of the more interesting collection of teams participating in the Frozen Four.  I figure the best way to wrap up the season that was would be to have one more session of FTT UMail, where readers can send in their questions and I’ll answer them.  Ask about anything; the season that was, thoughts on next season, road trip recaps from the past year, what type of beer I currently have fermenting in my laundry room.  Whatever.  I’ll likely be posting answers on Wednesday night, so before then you can leave your question as a comment to this post, email me, or post your question on the FTT Facebook Page.  I’ll pick some of the more interesting questions and do my best to answer them.  I hope there are some good ones!

I Want My Plate!

First off, a happy Easter and Passover to all the UMass fans out there.

Ok, here’s the deal, I need your help.  Well, at least help from most of you.  At the end of last week the Alumni Association launched the opportunity for Massachusetts residents to show their support of Your State U by driving around with this customized UMass license plate.

Now the UMAA tried a number of years ago to get a similar plate on the road but, due to a number of reasons, they were not able to get the minimum number of orders.  One of the reasons was they chose to put a banner in Section U of the Mullins Center where a bunch of jerks decided to stand in front of during every hockey game.  Anyway, I digress.  So this previous effort flopped.  That’s not going to happen this time.  Or should I say I’m not going to let that happen this time.  I want, no, need one of these license plates as I travel around New England supporting the Minutemen athletic teams.  And I plan to leverage Fear The Triangle to my full advantage to get one.  According to various website analytics sites I get about 900 regular visitors on a monthly basis from the state of Massachusetts.  Given that and adjusting for some duplicates and people who may be too young to have cars etc., I figure I should be able to guarantee the Alumni Association at least 500 plate applications from my readership.  That would go a long way toward the minimum needed for them to start production.

Listen, you’re not coming to this site, especially in the offseason, unless you’re a pretty hardcore UMass fan.  What a better way to display your pride and loyalty for the school than with this plate that ultimately helps fund scholarships for the university.  And at the same time you’ll be helping me personally, because I want one of these ASAP.  So get on it and get your application in.

Stick tap to Jerry York and the Boston College Eagles for winning their 5th National Championship last night in Tampa.  Was I rooting for the Eagles?  No.  But I respect what they were able to accomplish and at the very least am glad the sport’s ultimate prize resides in Hockey East, thus again proving that UMass plays in the most elite hockey conference in the country.

BC captain Tommy Cross credited UMass with helping getting the Eagles get ready for their championship run.  Honestly, when you look at it UMass played BC tougher during their 19 game win streak than probably any other team.  In the end UMass went 2-3-0 against the national champions, allowing the high flying Eagle offense a meager 2.2 goals per game.

Puck Daddy makes the case for Jon Quick winning the Vezina trophy.  Quick finished the year going 35-21-13.  He played in the 4th most games for goaltenders on the season.  His 10 shutouts led the league, he was second in goals against average with 1.95, his .929 save percentage was good for 5th, and is pretty much the only reason the Kings made the playoffs.

Andrew Merritt of the New England Hockey Journal has his take on a potential leap by UConn to Hockey East.

Alumni Update & Miscellaneous Notes

So while the Massachusetts hockey team has been done for weeks and Kenny Gillespie is the only committed recruit still playing, there are still plenty of UMass alumni out there who are still competing at some of the highest levels of hockey.

Most prominent would be Jon Quick who is leading the NHL in shutouts with 10, almost single handedly dragging the Kings into the playoffs, and whom at least one Hockey News writer thinks should be this year’s Vezina trophy winner.  Quick’s own teammates concur.

Justin Braun out in San Jose continues to play solid defense as the Sharks battle for a playoff spot.  He regularly plays 19 minutes a game and had a great night a couple weeks ago against the Avalanche where he registered an assist and went +3 for the game.

Lots of Minutemen in the AHL currently.  Mike Marcou has played a couple games for the OKC Barons, not registering any points yet.  His brother James sounds like he’s ready to go after missing the season with concussion and neck problems, but given the lateness of the season will start it up again next fall.  Still, great to hear he’s on his way back.  It’s tough to keep those Marcous down.

Congratulations to T.J. Syner who was named UMass Winter Scholar Athlete with swimming’s Michaela Butler.  Syner is still doing well with the Hersey Bears of the AHL.

Matt Irwin, a defensemen mind you, is second on the Worcester Sharks in points this season.  He has 10 goals and 29 assists in 65 games.  A stellar season for the AHL All-Star.

Greg Mauldin has had another strong AHL season, scoring 16 goals for the Lake Erie Monsters in 55 games.  Unfortunately he could not convert his good play into an NHL callup.

Mike Kostka has been part of history for the Norfolk Admirals who keep on winning.  Kostka is +20 on the season for the Admirals who have won an astounding 23 in a row (and counting).

Former UMass defenseman David Leaderer was just called up to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL after a solid season with Cincinnati of the ECHL.

Chase Langeraap is finishing off his first full year in the ECHL, scoring 6 goals in 60 games for the South Carolina Stingrays.

Lots of players are having strong seasons overseas like Thomas Pöck in Sweden, guys like P.J. Fenton, Cory Quick, Chris Capraro, and Doug Kublin in Germany, and Nick Kuiper in Ireland.

Here’s a good site that has extensive coverage of where UMass alumni are currently playing.

Not all players are are getting accolades from playing, some are doing it off the ice.  Scott Crowder was recently recognized by the university’s Isenberg School of Management for his contributions to the community.  It doesn’t even mention his tremendous job in putting together an annual pond hockey tournament on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Also on the alumni front, I had the opportunity to talk to Alex Berry’s dad, Bob, at this past weekend’s Reverse Raffle.  First of all Bob and his wife Shawn should be commended for their continued support of the Massachusetts hockey program, as displayed by their presence at the event.  A lot of parents’ support of the team stops when their son stops playing or moves on to the pros, but that’s not the case with the Berrys, among others.  Anyway, I’m glad to report that Alex continues to recover from the horrific injury he incurred while in training camp for the Portland Pirates.  Who knows what exactly his future will bring but it’s great to hear he’s trending towards being back on the ice playing sometime in the future.

UMass recruit K.J. Tiefenwerth was named team MVP for the Boston Junior Bruins.

Far be it for me to come to the aide of Lowell, but it’s a joke that River Hawk coach Norm Bazin was not named Spencer Penrose Award winner for national coach of the year.  Seriously.  I’m speechless.

So tomorrow marks the semifinals of the Frozen Four.  I did get two teams right from my original predictions.  But with my winner out, much to my chagrin, I’m going to have to pick Boston College to beat Union for yet another title under the tutelage of Jerry York.  I did realize something interesting today.  The last time college hockey was played in Tampa was 2007.  In that year the Lightning College Hockey Classic was played between UMass, Colorado College, RPI, and Notre Dame.  Or, a team from Hockey East,  the WCHA, ECAC, and CCHA.  This weekend those same conferences have a representative again in Tampa.  Of course Hockey East, in the form of UMass, took home the trophy in 2007 (seen above in the FTT header image).  Will BC do the same?  We’ll see.

UConn to Hockey East is a “done deal” according to….uh whoever this is.  Also the governor of Connecticut, who likely has better things to worry about, thinks all games should be played in Hartford.  Thus proving he’s an idiot.  UConn playing all games in Hartford is akin to UMass playing all games in Springfield during the Triangle Era.  It was bad enough as it was, can you imagine how much worse it could’ve been?

Lastly, I was extremely saddened to see the news that UMass softball coach Elaine Sortino is battling cancer.  For those who are not familiar with Sortino her accomplishments in her 33 years at the helm of the Minutewomen are nothing short than legendary.  She has built a softball powerhouse that’s able to compete with the national powers  in the sport while heading at a regional flagship university where it snows for a good portion of the season.  22 Atlantic 10 titles, 20 NCAA regional appearances, 3 NCAA College Word Series.  I, unfortunately, can’t say that I’ve had the chance to meet coach Sortino but I know enough of her strong reputation to know she’ll take on this challenge with the same determination she displays every day.  Certainly the thoughts of myself and the rest of UMass nation are with her as she battles.

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