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Up To The Minute–8/29

Time to get everyone up to date on the recent goings on surrounding UMass hockey and college hockey in general.  Look for previews of the coming season to start in earnest following the long weekend.

UMass made official the hiring of John Gobeil as Director of Hockey Operations.  Gobeil comes to Amherst from Vermont, where he had served in the same role for his alma mater during the past three years.  A full time Director of Hockey Ops is something that is commonplace across the rest of competitive college hockey and long overdue for the Minuteman program.  Welcome to the UMass family, John.  You’ll be out of the spotlight, but still making a significant contribution to the success of the team.

The official roster has been updated with incoming freshman K.J. Tiefenwerth, Evan Stack, Shane Walsh, and Connor Doherty.  I would point out that all other players are on the roster and expected to return.

Hockey’s Future had this excellent article regarding recent UMass alums making strides towards playing in the NHL.  Featured are Justin Braun, Matt Irwin, Casey Wellman, Paul Dainton, Mike Marcou, and his brother James Marcou.

Matt Vautour mentions hockey in this preview to the 2012-13 UMass athletic season.

Speaking of Matty V, I’ll be taking on him and other media members in a contest to correctly pick this season’s UMass and MAC football games.  The contest pits myself, Maroon Musket’s Bob McGovern, and UMass Football Blog’s Frank Smith against Matt, UMass hockey announcer Matt Goldstein, and the Republican’s Harry Plumer.  Looking at the first week’s picks I really need Northern Illinois to get the upset this week.  No worries though, Iowa always starts slow on the season.

Speaking of UMass football, I cannot wait to head to East Hartford tomorrow (have those words ever been written?) to watch the Minutemen kick off the FBS era against UConn.  I, and others, have been waiting a long time for this and still have vivid memories of UMass embarrassing the Huskies 62-20 in the last meeting.

Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy has been named an Associate Athletic Director in the wake of the school’s AD resigning for misconduct.

College Hockey Inc has a new leader.

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View From Section U: UMass Hockey–The Essentials

Yep, I totally ripped off this idea from Puck Daddy, my favorite hockey blog out there on the interwebs. For those two don’t read it they’ve spent the back half of the summer putting up posts summarizing The Essentials, from players to traditions, for each NHL franchise. Here’s The Essentials for the Bruins as an example. So without further ado, let’s get going on the things that make UMass hockey, well, UMass hockey.

Player: Thomas Pöck

(photo by Karen Winger)

I know Jon Quick is probably the popular choice right now, what with winning the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe and all. But Quick simply cannot come anywhere close to the accolades that Pöck accumulated during his time as a Minuteman. Hobey Baker Finalist. All-American. Inside College Hockey National Defenseman of the Year. First Team All-Hockey East. Olympian. Pöck still holds most of the scoring records for a defenseman, which is pretty impressive considering his first two years in Amherst were spent as a forward. But the most important part is that he accomplished all this during the time he and his teammates were bringing UMass from their perennial spot in the conference basement to within a toe’s length of the Hockey East championship. Pöck is, simply put, the best ever to don on the maroon and white in my opinion. Plus, he had a wicked hahd slap shawt.

Season: 2006-07

UMass fans weren’t overly optimistic coming into the fall of 2006 regarding their hockey team’s prospects. The Minutemen had gone 13-21-2 the prior year and were losing some key players to graduation like Stephen Werner, Marvin Degon, and goaltender Gabe Winer. But the Minutemen did have some veteran leadership returning in the form of Matt Anderson, Chris Capraro, Mark Matheson, and Kevin Jarman. They also would be handing over the goaltending reins fulltime to sophomore Jon Quick, who had split duty with Winer the previous year and had looked good or better than average at times despite a dismal 4-10-1 record. Quick ended up being better than better than average or even good. Instead, he put up the best statistical season in the history of UMass hockey. By March of 2007 Quick had 19 wins, a .929 save percentage, and a goals against average of 2.16. On the offensive side of things it was goal scoring by committee as had five different players with double digits in goals but no one gaining more than 13. But they didn’t have to. They got contributions from whoever, whenever they needed them, from the seniors to Cory Quirk to guys like the unheralded Matt Burto.

Chances for a successful season looked slim at the New Year when the team was coming off an embarrassing loss to Alabama-Huntsville in the 3rd place game of the Mariucci Classic. But they battled in the second half and then kicked off a stretch of six straight wins to end the season and start the playoffs, including four straight victories against Maine, before falling in double overtime to New Hampshire at the Garden in the conference semifinals. However hopes for the program to make its first ever NCAA Tournament as an at-large choice seemed dim following the loss to the Wildcats as the following night saw Quinnipiac go up 2-0 on Clarkson in the ECAC Championship. Such a result would’ve knocked UMass out of NCAA contention. But Clarkson would dominate in the third period of that game, ultimately win the ECAC title, and as a reward for their win they got to face the Minutemen in the first round as they made their NCAA debut. What followed was one of the most intense and nerve-racking of games as the teams traded zeroes on the scoreboard and went to overtime scoreless. But not too far into that extra frame Kevin Jarman would find a Jordan Virtue rebound sitting in front of Golden Knight goaltender David Leggio and the rest, as they say, is history. Sure the team was knocked off the next day, unable to beat the Black Bears for a fifth straight time during the month of March, but to this day 06-07 is the season all UMass fans cherish and fondly look back upon.

jarman goal

Game: UMass vs UNH 2004 Hockey East Semifinals

First of all, I so much wanted to choose the UMass vs Maine game from 1994 as this game. The triangle-clad warriors, playing their first full season as a DI team, was able to knock off the #1 Maine Black Bears just two years removed from their national championship. This was an upset of epic proportions. Unfortunately not too many were there to see it, including yours truly as I was back on the North Shore to do laundry at the parents’ house after watching Maine trounce UMass the previous night. Instead for best game I went with the team’s win over UNH in the 2004 Hockey East semifinals. A year earlier after UMass inexplicably swept Maine in Orono to advance to the Garden and UMass fans and probably players alike were probably just happy to be there after the lack of success in the program’s first decade since its rebirth in 1993. But in 2004 they were back in Boston with a purpose. However, achieving that goal did not come easy. The first challenge was the fact starting goaltender Gabe Winer went down the week before with a bad back. In stepped backup Tim Warner who led a sweep of Lowell in the Quarters. He then went on to the Garden and the Semis, performed admirably, giving up just a couple goals to the Wildcats, despite making only his third ever start.

Despite Warner’s play UMass went down 2-0 early in the game and entered the third period still trailing 2-1. But UMass owned that final period. UMass would get goals from unlikely sources to ultimately take the game. The first came from Peter Trovato following a couple of key penalty kills to tie the game at two apiece. Then it was time for the other Warner brother to take the spotlight. Mike Warner sent UMass ahead 3-2 by putting home a rebound past Wildcat goaltender Mike Ayers. Thomas Pöck would extend the lead to 4-2 on his 100th career point. Mike Warner would wrap things up with an empty-netter and send UMass to its first ever Hockey East Championship game. UNH scored the first two goals of the game, yet after that improbable hero Tim Warner shut down the Wildcats while the guys in front of him scored the next five in a row, including his own brother with two.

Goal: Chris Capraro versus Sean Fields, 12/6/2002

Before UMass made it to the NCAA tournament, before they made it to the Hockey East Championship, in fact before they made it out of the quarterfinals at all they were busy battling to prove that under newly hired coach Toot Cahoon they were not going to be the perennial doormat in Hockey East that they had been since the program rebooted in 1993. That message was delivered, the hockey program’s Battle of Concord Bridge if you will, on December 6th, 2002 when Chris Capraro streaked into the Boston University zone and scored an overtime gamewinner against Sean Fields and the vaunted Terriers. BU had absolutely owned the UMass hockey program to that point in time. And even during the game they displayed their dominance by taking a 4-1 lead to the dismay of the roughly 4000 Mullins faithful who had shown up. But the Minutemen chipped away at that lead and were able to tie it up thanks to a goal from freshman Marvin Degon. In overtime BU pressed the Minutemen defense but Gabe Winer stood tall and kept the score as it was. Then with under a minute to go in extra frame Chris Capraro took away the puck from Terrier defenseman Jekabs Redlihs and came in on Fields, just able to get away a shot despite being hauled down from behind. Five hole. Goal. Game over. Mullins Center goes absolutely wild.

Given BU’s historical record against UMass to that point and time, this was the Washington Generals taking down the Globetrotters. There have been some amazing wins and unbelievable upsets in UMass hockey history, many of which I’ve been lucky enough to attend in person. Over a decade later I can still remember the feeling when Cappy’s shot hit the back of the net better than any other moment as a UMass hockey fan, and I suspect it will stay with me for a long time to come. It probably doesn’t hurt that the point it time was captured well in photography with yours truly in the background so I can refer back to whenever I want and revisit my emotions of that time.

Unsung Hero: Doug Kublin

This was a tough one because honestly there are a ton of UMass players who have made huge contributions to the program while not getting a ton of recognition. Paul Dainton comes to mind, but I feel he did at least get the spotlight he deserved from the UMass fans, though not necessarily from the college hockey community as a whole. UMass has had a ton of important grinding, defensive-minded forwards like Peter Trovato or Brett Watson that could be this choice. But I’m going with Doug Kublin. Kublin did not evolve much from a freshman to a senior during his time playing for UMass hockey. Usually that’s not a good thing, but in Kublin’s case it was because he came onto campus and from day 1 was one of the best defensive defensemen UMass has ever known. He was solid and he was reliable. Being a good defensive minded defenseman isn’t very glorifying. It’s tough to measure your worth in terms of stats and and the casual fan will only notice a defenseman in their own zone when they do something bad, usually resulting in a scoring chance for the opposing team. If you do your job well, if you’re in the right position, if you get in that little poke check, or maybe block a shot, it still might not register with the crowd in the stands. Kublin was that guy who put himself in the right position, got in front of the shot, shut down the passing lanes. Every game. Without fail. From 2007 to 2011 it was that much harder to get the puck on net for UMass’ opponents thanks to the work of Doug Kublin.

Program Villain: Jimmy Howard

I entertained the notion of going with Lowell’s Jerramie Domish for this pick after his elbow in 2004 left Minuteman star Greg Mauldin unconscious, bleeding, and concussed. Even his own coach Blaise MacDonald said Domish “lacked integrity” for delivering the cheap hit which kept Mauldin out for weeks and could’ve had a serious impact on the Minutemen’s chances for success that year. Instead I went for the villain who ended UMass’ 2003-04 season, Jimmy Howard. There was actually a time in Howard’s career where he did not fair so well against the Minutemen and UMass hockey fans were glad to seen him in net instead of his goaltender counterpart, Frank Doyle. But that dynamic changed as Howard got better and developed into one of the best goaltenders in college hockey. By the time UMass met him in the 2004 Hockey East Championship game he was at the top of his game.

As heartbreaking as it is for UMass fans to remember, that game is one of the best in the history of college hockey. Both goaltenders were amazing throughout the game. Gabe Winer, returning from injury and following Tim Warner’s heroics against UNH, made 59 total saves in the 109+ minutes of play, allowing just two goals. Unfortunately Jimmy Howard was just that much better, saving 63 total and only allowing one goal in regulation, though an opening period goal by Greg Mauldin ended up being called back in Howard’s favor because a fraction of Kevin Jarman’s toe was in the crease when it was scored. Howard never really looked back after that. Mauldin would eventually put home a puck on the power play to even things up, but Howard was cruelly dominant. Memorable, not in a good way, is Howard just barely snowconing a Thomas Pöck slapshot in the first overtime in what UMass fans thought was their ticket to the program’s first even Hockey East Championship and NCAA Tournament. After Pöck’s rocket the puck remained secured in Howard’s glove. Eventually the teams would move onto a third overtime in what was truly painful to watch as players had to will themselves up and over the boards at each line change.

Maine’s Ben Murphy would finally get one past an exhausted Winer and UMass captains Pöck, Nick Kuiper, and Mike Warner would have the unfulfilling task of receiving the runner-up trophy at center ice. Something closer to a human effort by Howard and UMass wins this game, takes the championship, and perhaps would have seen more consistent success in the years that follow. But Howard stood tall, made miraculous saves, and will forever be hated by UMass fans for it.

Fighter: Brad Norton

Now on the Puck Daddy version of Essentials the call is for “Best Fight”. Since fights are rare in college hockey, I had a tough time remembering one specifically well enough to choose. But that’s not to say they didn’t happen. And most of the fights I remember in regards to UMass hockey involved Brad Norton. Norton was a lumbering defensemen who joined the squad just after the program as they were starting in with Hockey East play in 1994. These were of course challenging transitional times and UMass had to play to their strengths to gain whatever advantage they could find over foes that were way more talented. Those strengths some of the time involved beating the other teams into submission. Norton exceled at this. True fighting is rare in college hockey, but I have definitive memories of Norton peeling off his helmet and dropping the gloves semi-regularly in his college career. He’s probably the toughest UMass player to take the ice and it worked out for him as he went on to be a pro hockey enforcer that made it all the way to the highest level. The first ever UMass Minuteman to make it to the NHL, he suited up for the Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, and Los Angeles Kings in his career. Ironically, for an NHL enforcer, his most famous “fight” may be this one:

.

Still, he is one of our own, so we salute him. So much so that I made a “knock you on your ass” beer last year and named it Norty.

Coach: Jack Canniff

Despite those who think that UMass hockey got its start in 1993 when the Mullins Center was built and its history is limited to the years since, that couldn’t be more wrong. The beginnings of Massachusetts hockey can be traced back to 1908 when the team played its games on the Campus Pond. From then to now only one UMass coach can say he brought the program a championship, Jack Canniff. Canniff was the coach from the late 60’s until the program went dark following the 1979 season. During that time he made UMass a Division II powerhouse and in 1972 was behind the bench as they were crowned ECAC Champions, or defacto DII Champions. The team went 19-7-0 overall that year, but played a number of DI teams during that season and were talented enough to almost knock off DI royalty Boston University (who had some guy named Toot Cahoon skating for them) during that historic season. UMass would fall to the Terriers 6-4. Canniff was more than a great coach though, he was a great person. And I’m confident in saying such, despite not knowing him very well, since I’ve heard it from many of his former players as well as my own wife who would end up getting to know “Mr. Canniff” when she was coming through the South Hadley school system with him as a teacher. Coach Canniff passed away in 2009 but as long as the 1972 ECAC Champions banner hangs in the Mullins Center his impact on the program will always be apparent.

Canniffbanner

Coach Canniff watches the 1972 ECAC Champion banner be raised to the Mullins Center rafters.

Broadcaster: Brock Hines

I like to consider myself a pretty hardcore fan of the program as I’ve followed UMass hockey in some way shape or form going back to 1993. I have friends who are just as loyal and have put in tremendous effort in their fandom during those years. I also have to recognize former players from that Triangle Era and earlier who have remained loyal to the program and followed it closely. But I would seroiusly doubt anyone has watched as many UMass hockey games or knows as much about UMass hockey as Brock Hines. Since that first game against Vilanova in 1993, Brock Hines has not only been around UMass hockey but has worked hard to allow others to enjoy UMass hockey from afar. Hines, someone who didn’t even attended the University of Massachusetts, lives and breathes UMass hockey year round and in my opinion is a tremendous ambassador of the program and school. He estimates that he has probably missed a grand total of four games in the last 19 years. Four. Games. If it was up to me the school would extend him an honorary degree for his contributions to the University of Massachusetts considering his service over the years. For being one of the best at his profession he was awarded the Joe Concannon Hockey East Media Award in 2010 in recognition of his years a color analyst for UMass hockey. When I want to get a grounded opinion on the goings on of UMass hockey, am looking for insight into the current plight of the team, or want to jog my memory of some obscure play from some obscure game in some obscure year of UMass hockey, Brock Hines is where I go for such things.

Arena Behavior: You Suck

When I thought about the great tradition that sets the Mullinsmaniacs apart from the rest of Hockey East, I couldn’t really think of anything. Well anything good at least. When I asked my Section U cohorts what came to mind for Mullins tradtions the response I got was what I wrote above, “You Suck!”. Frankly, that’s a tame example of what happens in the Bill. Let’s be brutally honest, the UMass crowd, dominated by its sizable student contingent, lacks any real traditions. Pretty much UMass crowds are known for their passion, crassness, and vulgarity. From the “See you a$$hole” during an opponent penalty to the random “F#ck (insert name here)” chants inserted whenever, UMass is known for a rowdy, vocal, and profane student section. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. I still hold out hope that some season we’ll get a hockey band which will help focus the students’ energies into more original and witty chants and that we get some student leadership within the masses to develop some real traditions.

Arena Food: Baby Berk

I’ll be honest, outside of some free Goldfish or popcorn in the Massachusetts Room, I rarely eat at the Mullins Center, since I usually gorge myself on Hangar wings before ever setting foot into the arena on gamedays. So for an opinion of the best arena food at the Bill I went to a source that I knew would have extensive knowledge of the subject and one who I’d trust. I asked the guys from Fight Mass. Their answer was Baby Berk. It’s amazing to think that UMass now has one of the top ranked food options in the country considering I survived on nothing more than Smacks cereal and chicken pucks when I was a student. But times change and Baby Berk is all the rage around campus and the Mullins Center. I’m told that their burgers are the best choice, coming in five flavors appropriately named Black and Blue Wall, Worcester, Franklin, Hampshire, and Baby Berk, are the top choices. Given the reputation, I may have to limit myself to beer only during a pregame this season so I can partake in this culinary upgrade from the usual popcorn and dogs.

Swag: Triangle

Duh. There’s no better way to show off the fact that you’re a diehard UMass fan who has been around since before they ever saw 6th place, or at least honor that time period, than embracing the fact that UMass once had one of the more hideous sweaters ever in the history of college hockey. Cherish the Triangle. Fear The Triangle.

Good news on the radio broadcast front. It appears that initial reports were wrong and the Athletic Department has passed along the news that UMass hockey broadcasts as well as coaches shows will be available to stream via the Tunein app for iPhone and Android. As someone who is absolutely owned by his iPhone, this is excellent news.

Yesterday I mentioned former Vermont recruit Dennis Kravchenko being a potential target of the UMass coaching staff given the prior relationship when they were at Vermont. Today Kirk Luedeke, an excellent resource for amateur hockey and NHL draft information, tweeted the following:

Needless to say, I’ll be keeping a close eye on what transpires with Kravchenko. When I have a chance I’ll also do some more research into him and his talent level as a recruit.

So in case anyone missed it, the CHL, an entirely amateur league where players don’t get compensated anymore than education packages that few of them actually cash in on, is starting a players union. A union involving workers who are supposed to be amateur and supposedly are not paid to play? Yeah, that sounds plausible.

Lastly, I want to pass along this link to benefit the children of Major Thomas Kennedy, the former Army hockey player who was recently killed in action while serving in Afghanistan.

UMass Hockey To Be Broadcast on WHMP

Well, aside from the freshmen arriving on campus and the ice to actually be laid down in the Mullins and practice rink, the final pieces are falling into place for the upcoming hockey season.  Today it was announced that Massachusetts hockey can be found on WHMP next season.  WHMP, which carried hockey previously, can be found on the valley on 96.9 FM out of Williamsburg, 1400 AM Northampton, and 1240 AM Greenfield.  Here’s a map from their website that shows their coverage area.  On Twitter, Brock Hines  mentioned that the 1600 AM station in Longmeadow is a daytime station only, so will not be used for broadcasts.  Games will be streamed live on WHMP.com.

As of right now there is no ability to stream the station through iPhones (and therefore I’m assuming other smart phones), though a friend mentioned that the company that provides WHMP’s streaming service, Liquid Compass, does have an app for iPhone and Android.  However WHMP would have to opt-in to that service in order to become available on it.  Hopefully this is something the Athletic Department is addressing as part of the agreement.  But besides that the deal seems like good news for the program, though it’s a little worrisome that it appears to be just a one year contract versus the five year contract the school signed with other area stations.  It’s also a little disappointing the broadcasts will not be available to the entire valley, as Springfield is out of range and they would have to stream as well.  One thing to note is that the release says not only will coaches shows be available via podcast as they were before, but the games will be as well.  I’ve already been in contact with Brock Hines to suggest he set up some kind of cross-promotion with this show that airs weekly on the station.

With today’s release and the season approaching I think we can finally put this tumultuous offseason behind us.  As FTT reader “George” noted earlier today, “Amazing how the lack of a release 2+ months ago changed the UMass hockey landscape”, citing the news that WEEI Springfield was becoming the Flagship home for UMass Sports, as long as those sports were football and basketball.  Things got ugly quickly immediately following, but no matter now.  The boys are on campus, the staff is in place, and for those who cannot get out to the Mullins for every game, you can now follow the Minutemen from afar.

A name UMass hockey fans should keep an eye on, or at least one I will be keeping an eye on, is Dennis Kravchenko.  Kravchenko decommitted from Vermont yesterday citing the turnover in coaching staff as his primary reason.  This blog post from the Burlington Free Press mentions he established close ties with new UMass assistant Joey Gasparini during the recruiting process.  Kravchenko is a former teammate of current Minuteman Steve Mastalerz when they played at Kimball Union, where he also would’ve played with 2014 recruit Casey Miller.  Kravchenko, a California native, is due to play for Sioux Falls in the USHL this coming season.  At the time he committed to Vermont he was also being recruited by Denver, Maine, Northeastern, RPI, and St Cloud.

As I mentioned yesterday, Providence will be undertaking a significant renovation of Schneider Arena (renderings start around 2:15):

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Introducing the 2012 Freshmen

To start off previewing the 2012-13 season, it’d probably be a good idea to introduce Massachusetts hockey fans to the new faces they’ll see on the ice this year.  If you read FTT regularly the names are probably familiar as I’ve kept up with their recruiting and performance in juniors.  But even for those who read religiously, this should be a good refresher on who the incoming players are, what they’ve done already in their careers, and perhaps what we can expect from them in their debut season as Minutemen.  Let’s start with the forwards.

Evan Stack – RW – 6’1” 185lbs

Stack has played the last two years for the Merritt Centennials in the BCHL, the most recent season as the team’s captain.  He’s considered a bit of a late bloomer (he’ll come to campus already turning 21), but put up good numbers in juniors.  Last season he had 32 goals and 29 assists for 61 points in 60 regular season games.  He was 15th in the league in goal scoring.  He continued that production in the playoffs, scoring four goals and three assists in nine games.  He was named MVP for his team following the season and was BCHL Player of the Week once.  His age and maturity in itself should allow him to contribute right away.  It’s a bit unknown as to how his skill level matches up with the rest of Hockey East, as his age may have helped him put up numbers against younger kids in juniors.  Regardless, it sounds like he has good skills in front of the net and could give the team a physical presence in that regard.

K.J. Tiefenwerth – C/W – 5’9” 160lbs

Originally Tiefenwerth expected to be at Boston College this fall but the Eagles reneged on giving him an opportunity to play after offering him a scholarship and so began the string of events that have landed him in Amherst.  He had been recruited by Boston University and New Hampshire as well before committing to the Eagles.  Though small in stature his skills were enough to get him an invite to New York Islanders prospect camp during the last two summers.  He’s said to have great vision and hands and is equally adept at shooting and passing the puck.  Those attributes have made him one of the top players in the EJHL in the last two seasons while playing for the Junior Bruins.  This past year his 30 goals and 47 assists for 77 points in 43 regular season games was good for 3rd in the league in terms of scoring.  His goal total was good for 6th.  The previous season he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year after a campaign that saw him score 26 goals and register 31 assists.  He had five gamewinners that year.  Prior to the EJHL he played on a line with Mike Pereira at Avon Old Farms, helping the Winged Beavers win the New England Prep Championship.  Tiefenwerth is certainly the most highly regarded recruit in the class and hopefully will help the Minutemen make up for the loss of T.J. Syner.

Shane Walsh – LW  – 5’10” 170lbs

Walsh appears to be a talented two way forward who should be able to grind as well as put the puck in the net.  He has spent the last few years between playing with Tri-City and Dubuque of the USHL, helping the Saints to a league championship in 2010-11, and the South Shore Kings of the EJHL.  Last season in the USHL he had five goals and 7 assists in 23 games before coming back to play closer to home mid-season due to family matters.  He made the most of it as he scored eight goals to go with seven assists in his 10 games back.  In his previous season in the USHL he had nine goals in 49 games.  Walsh was also an all-star player for Catholic Memorial before heading to the juniors.

Connor Doherty – D – 6’2” 190lbs

Doherty is the only defenseman in the class, and a good sized one at that.  He was a teammate of Tiefenwerth’s on the Junior Bruins.  His solid performance for the Junior B’s gained him a place in the league’s All-Star game.  He had 4 goals and 14 assists this past season in 35 games.  UMass has had success with blueliners from the Bruins as Topher Bevis, David Leaderer, and current Minuteman Colin Shea were all Junior B defensemen.  Doherty will battle with the likes of Darren Rowe, Mike Busillo, and Anthony Raiola for the regular spot in the lineup that has opened up with Mike Marcou’s graduation.

So those are the new names you’ll be seeing on uniforms this coming season.  Like past seasons I also plan on doing some statistical comparisons between how these players did versus past Minutemen in their respective junior leagues.

Get to know UMass’ new addition to the coaching staff, Joey Gasparini, via this article by Harry Plumer.  Head coach John Micheletto cites Gasparini’s age, energy, and family pedigree as reasons that led him to offering him the position.

Merrimack has begun construction on their new practice rink.  When I keep writing that UMass has less and less of an advantage when it comes to facilities, this is what comes to mind.  Nearly every school has made significant upgrades in recent years to facilities.  UMass has not.  There are also rumors, which first popped up over the winter, that Providence is set to announce a major overhaul of Schneider Arena.  I’ll post details when the become available.

Colgate is also looking to build a new arena, but luckily not before UMass visits their current one, Starr Rink, next season.

Kevin Sneddon has filled the positions at Vermont that opened up when Micheletto and Gasparini headed south.  Ironically Kyle Wallack was considered a top candidate to fill the assistant position at UMass after Blaise MacDonald left but before Toot Cahoon stepped down.

Boston College is looking for a new Athletic Director.  Hopefully whoever it is knows enough to just let Jerry York do his thing with the hockey program.

FTT 2.0

Welcome to the new and improved Fear The Triangle.  Well, new in appearance at least.  Improved?  I can only hope.  At the very least welcome to the new and what I hope is the continually reliable Fear The Triangle?  As I mentioned in my last post I’ll be covering my fourth season of UMass hockey via this blog this winter and my 19th total as a UMass hockey fan.  FTT has certainly evolved and developed over its three years of existence and I knew at the end of last season I wanted to do something to spruce up the place before the start of this season.  In the end it seems fitting to re-image the blog at the same time Massachusetts Hockey is entering a new era with a new coach to hopefully lead them to a consistently successful future in Hockey East.  So anyway, I hope you enjoy the new digs.

All these changes come at the time that I’ll be kicking off my preview of the coming season.  I was looking back at some notes I had made of topics I hoped to write about during the offseason.  There were a number of interesting topics like an in-depth analysis of the freshman class and their contributions compared to previous first year classes at UMass.  I thought about writing about what I saw as the high water mark of the UMass hockey program and how it all went downhill from there.  I had hoped to continue my Where Are They Now series and still may try to get in touch with another alumni or two before the season.  One topic that popped up after some popular discussion was whether Jon Quick’s #29 should hang from the Mullins Center rafters.  Anyway, I had a lot of plans for offseason writing that was thrown out the window the second the school and Toot Cahoon decided to part ways.  What followed was the busiest time in the blog’s history between the fallout from Cahoon’s departure and the, uh, interesting coaching search that lasted throughout the height of the summer resulted in all those planned topics being shelved.  I spent a ton of time trying to be on top of the coaching situation and doing my best to keep the FTT readers informed.  By the time it ended I was physically and especially mentally exhausted and there was little chance I was going to be able to address the topics I had originally wanted to address in these months.  But maybe I’ll revisit them at some point in the future.

Regardless, it’s time to move on from 2011-12 or even 2006-07 seasons and start thinking about 2012-13.  Most of the players are back on campus and judging from the conversations I’ve had with a few people lately we can expect ALL returning players to be back in uniform this season.  From what I can tell there will be no roster turnover whatsoever, which is amazing considering all that went on during the summer as well as the fact that there are a number of hotly contested spots in the lineup, most prominently at goaltender.  But the return of all players will help give UMass an advantage in terms of depth and experience over other teams in Hockey East.  That hopefully will help them in a variety of ways, especially considering they’ll have to get used to a new coach and will be opening the schedule against some very challenging opponents early on.

So for the blog, here is some of the content you can look forward to in the coming weeks leading up to October:

  • Introduction to the incoming freshmen
  • Projected lines for the coming season (once the updated roster is made public)
  • Incoming freshmen comparison to past Minutemen
  • Team-by-Team preview of Hockey East opponents
  • FTT Newcomer Of The Year pick
  • In-depth UMass season preview

This is still meant to be a blog for the fans, by a fan though so if there’s any other topics you’re interested in reading about, please let me know by commenting or emailing.  In between all that I’ll be sure to keep you informed of any news that pops up or anything else related to UMass hockey.  Is it October yet?

UMass did make official the hiring of Joey Gasparini from Vermont as the second assistant coach under Coach Micheletto.  No mention of John Gobeil as Director of Hockey Operations.  We’ll have to keep an eye on that.

Jon Quick is rated the third best goaltender in EA Sports’ NHL 13.

Lastly, I’ve been working to confirm the destinations of UMass’ future recruits for this coming season.

It appears that Mike Iovanna will be heading back to Malden Catholic for another season.  Iovanna  has been spending this week playing at the Beantown Classic, a showcase for amateur players.  Iovanna is playing on a team with future teammate Casey Miller, who I’m assuming will be returning to Kimball Union but I need to confirm that.  Coach Micheletto has also been in attendance in Marlboro watching the recruits and perhaps some other future Minutemen.

Defenseman Mark Hamilton is also heading back to his prep school this fall, Salisbury School in Connecticut.  Kenny Gillespie will be back out at the USHL this season playing for Omaha.  The Lancers were very talented and deep last year and it’s expected he’ll play a much larger role for the team in his second season in Omaha this year.

I would assume Willy Smith will be staying local and playing for the Springfield Pics again this season, likely full-time for the EJHL club rather than splitting time with in the Empire league.  But I am working to confirm that.

Up To The Minute 8/13

There’s not a ton of news out there, but it has been a while since I posted about something other than beer so I thought I pass along the following links.

Jon Quick is on the mend after having minor surgery on his back.  He could be ready to go by training camp.  If there is a training camp…  (stupid owners)

We’re still under two months from the start of the season, but season previews are beginning to pop up.  Here’s the UMass preview from Northeastern’s student radio station.

Though not by Quick, the Stanley Cup did make an appearance in Western Mass this summer.

Sad news for Army Hockey as former player Major Tom Kennedy was killed in action in Afghanistan.   My thoughts are with his family and all those in the Army hockey community.

Quinnipiac made official the contract extension for Rand Pecknold that came about after he was offered, and turned down, the UMass coaching position.

Great to see the ECAC tournament returning to Lake Placid for 2014.  Seems like a fitting home for the league.

Oh no, the Canadian major junior leagues don’t ever pay players.  Right?

That’s it for now.  But the season is getting closer.  The players arrived back on campus yesterday and today.  Season ticket invoices have begun to arrive in people’s mailbox.  And all that means things will start to pick up here at Fear The Triangle as I transition from lazy summer mode to pre-season mode.  But before that it’s time to freshen things up around here.  FTT turned three years old over the weekend and the site is getting a little stale.  So, just as UMass hockey is moving into a new era, the blog will be too.  Look for the Fear The Triangle re-launch later this week.

Beer The Triangle: NorCal Edition

I think most UMass hockey fans are long past dissecting the 2011-12 season and the positives and negatives that came out of it.  The upheaval of the offseason with Toot Cahoon agreeing to step down, the drawn out coaching search that followed, and ultimate selection of John Micheletto to steer the program is now behind us and pretty much covered at this point.  Players do not report to campus until next week and it’s probably a little early before FTT typically gets intp season preview mode.  And, we’re still waiting on the last news of the season which will be the radio deal, though I do expect that to come any day.  So what is there to write about?  Well, if I don’t have anything to say about hockey, I might as well go to my other love; beer.

If you’re part of the FTT reader segment that doesn’t really enjoy the road trip page or my weekly Beer The Triangle features and are just here for hockey stuff, you’ll probably want to stop reading right about here.  There is nothing to do with UMass hockey from here on, so why not turn on the Olympics or something.  Don’t worry, I’m not offended.  Be sure to stop by soon for some new hockey content!  But if you enjoy the joining of water, barley, hops, and yeast please read on.

In recent years I’ve made beer and breweries a central focus of vacations.  It started with going places for various reasons and making sure to stop by the local breweries nearby when time allowed; like hitting Stone and Pizza Port on a trip to San Diego.  But somewhere along the way beer went from being a side attraction while on vacation to being the reason for going there in the first place.  First my wife and I completed the Vermont Brewery Passport during a couple long weekends up to the Green Mountain state.  Then we concocted our Volcano and Beer vacation to Oregon and Washington a couple years ago that saw us hit legendary breweries like Rogue and Deschutes while hanging out on the top of volcanoes and choking down Charbucks coffee.  Last year we took a trip down to the Mid-Atlantic to see the sites in the capital but also so I could visit Dogfish Head and complete my “Holy Trinity of American Breweries” (the others being Stone and Rogue).  In the middle somewhere we had some side trips like spending a weekend in Portland visiting Allagash, Geary’s, and even hitting Portsmouth brewery on the way home.  But this year, we outdid ourselves.

On our recent trip I’m happy to say we hit 15 different Northern California breweries in the eight days of well-earned vacation.  Honestly it’s really easy to hit those kind of numbers just driving basically in any direction in that area.  There’s a high quality brewery at off what seems like every exit on Highway 101 north of San Francisco.  As a prelude to the actual breweries, my wife and I kicked things off at Jack’s Cannery Bar in the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Fran.  There I had a Big Sky Moose Drool, a solid brown with one of the best names ever, and a Deschutes Obsidian Stout.  Deschutes is one of my favorite breweries, one I actually made sure was served at my wedding, but unfortunately they’re still just getting into the midwest and are virtually unheard of in New England.  From the quick lunch at Jack’s we had an enjoyable sail under the Golden Gate Bridge, but then it was time to get down to business:

Speakeasy Ales And Lagers
The Speakeasy Brewery was a fun place, though a little tough to get to, loacated in the industrial areas south of San Francisco.  It had a very laid back feel as the tap room was really just a bar and some chairs on the production floor of their brewery.  Open garage doors provided ventilation as patrons watched old Ren & Stimpy cartoons on the nearby TV.  Their beers were all quite good.  I enjoyed the Payback Porter but was really intrigued by the Pier 98 Rye Pale Ale.  One of the best beers I had on the trip.

21st Amendment
Of course out our way 21st Amendment is known for their Hell or High Watermelon, which is why it was appropriate to see whole watermelons when looking into the small brewhouse they still have on the premises of their original brewpub.  But they do a lot more as well.  There I had a couple beers named for musicians.  First was Devil’s Friend, a tribute beer for Jerry Garcia, then I followed it up an MCA.  The wife had a very intriguing beer while there, Mr. Poom’s Thai’d Ale.

Lagunitas Brewing
From San Fran it was time to head north on Highway 101, the yellow brick road of California brewing.  First stop was Petaluma and Lagunitas Brewing, which had an amazing beer garden filled with couches, picnic tables, sunshine, and live music.  While there I tried to have a few beers I’d never heard of, like their draft only Fusion series, but also wanted to hit some of the favorites I always enjoy like their Gnarlywine and The Kronic Censored.  Lagunitas puts out some great beer and that was definitely true while sitting at the source, but their beer garden was epic.

Russian River
From Petaluma we made a diversion into Napa Valley and Wine Country where we were thoroughly disappointed by fermented grapes.  So why not get back on track by drinking some of the most sought after beer in the country, Russian River.  Despite being a Monday night, this small pub in a downtown Santa Rosa was absolutely packed due to this crazy, mythological event they call “Happy Hour”.  I know, a foreign concept to us Massachusetts people.  Anyway, the beer there was extremely good.  They had 20 beers on tap and I’m happy to say I had a taste of all 20.  Best in my opinion was the Happy Hops, Supplication, Consecration, and of course one of the top IPAs and beers ever, Pliny the Elder.

Bear Republic
Another stop north on 101 was Healdsburg and Bear Republic.  Their brewpub, for a long time their only production facility, was probably the friendliest place of the trip.  That was mostly due to the bartender, Ryan, who claimed to have served the very first Racer 5 many years ago.  Of course I had to have one of those, but I was really impressed by some of their other beers too which do not make it east.  One was a sour Tartare, which was excellent.  The other was Double Aught, perhaps the best pilsner I’ve ever had.  Not sure how you can have so much flavor and still only be 4.2%, but it was very impressive.  What kept my attention at Bear Republic was the fact that their brewing facility, particularly their brew kettle and mash tun, were literally about 10 feet from the end of the bar and you could sit there and watch the next batch of beer being made before your eyes.  Now that’s a brewpub.

Ukiah Brewing
Further north on 101 was the town of Hopland, which used to be a major source of hops for the country in the mid 20th century, but now is just full of boring grapes.  Beyond there was Ukiah, an interesting little town with an equally interesting brewery.  First, it’s situated in a great looking building, complete with spire, right in the middle of town and some excellent space inside.  Second, it’s all organic.  I enjoyed their double porter, Palace Porter.  We hit this place in a sort of dead afternoon time but I loved the building itself and seems like it could be a vibrant place on weekend nights.

Anderson Valley Brewing
From Ukiah it was time to temporarily leave 101 and head towards the coast.  First stop was Anderson Valley Brewing.  I’ve been drinking their Winter and Summer Solstices and other distributed beers for years, but was really impressed by the immense and diverse selection on at the taproom at their brewery.  From ESBs to Pale Ales to Belgians, they had it all.  I enjoyed their barleywine, Horn of the Beer, but I think the one that stood out the most was their Wee Geech, a session APA with some amazing hop aroma.

North Coast Brewing
From there it was to the coast itself, Fort Bragg, and North Coast Brewing.  Before hitting their taproom and restaurant we hit a little dive pizza place the night before where I enjoyed an amazing beer from Deschutes in bottle, Hop Henge Experimental IPA.  Unbelievable.  I cannot say enough about Deschutes.  But I didn’t overdo it there because I was looking forward to North Coast and the prospect of getting some beers I love like Pranqster, Brother Thelonious, Old Coast Ale, and Old Rasputin on draft and straight from the source.  Needless to say, none of those disappointed.

Eel River Brewing
From there it was time to go back inland and see some Redwoods.  And just after emerging from the Avenue of the Giants was Eel River, probably the nicest surprise of the breweries hit on the trip.  Located in a semi-remote area this seemed to be a very popular place with the locals and for good reason.  I had an excellent choice of beers to choose from , some totally organic, to accompany my excellent tri-tip sandwich (ordered having no clue what the hell “tri-tip” was).  Their Kristall Weizen was an excellent crisp, yet tasteful beer but I really enjoyed the Triple Exultation and even grabbed a bottle to bring back in the suitcase (it survived along with a number of samples from Russian River and Anderson Valley).

Six Rivers Brewing
We continued north from Eel River seeking more magnificent Redwoods and an elusive beach made entirely of agate stones.  Along the way we talked to people and told them about our Beercation and those we talked to kept suggesting a brewery unknown to us and our research, Six River Brewing.  So as when we left Redwoods National Park in search of beer and some lunch we sought out the hilltop brewpub in McKinleyville.  Great decision.  My wife and I enjoyed a sampler of all their beers, most of which I considered top notch.  The two that stood out to me most were their Chile Pepper Ale, which absolutely set my mouth on fire but didn’t stop me from wanting more, and their Paradise Moon Porter, a double porter infused with Kona coffee.  Both were excellent.

Mad River Brewing
Next we continued our river themed breweries with Mad River Brewing in the tiny town of Blue Lake.  We sat down at their impressive taproom bar (constructed literally across the street) and were quickly joined by what seemed like the entire shift just getting off work from the brewery for beers and conversation.  I was familiar with Mad River after having some of their beers locally, but again enjoyed having the more rare brews most are unable to get back East.  Their Mad Belgian was excellent but I was really impressed by their Bourbon Steelhead Extra Stout.  I’ve had a lot of bourbon aged stouts and I’ll put this one up against any of them.

Sierra Nevada
From Blue Lake we crossed the mountains and went back inland to some extremely hot temperatures and some In-and-Out Burger which I’ve determined is inferior to Five Guys.  After spending a day exploring the active volcano of Mt Lassen we descended into Chico and the immense Sierra Nevada Brewing complex.  You know a place takes their brewing seriously when you park your car next to several acres of hop fields.  Sierra Nevada is probably the biggest brewery I’ve ever visited and it makes sense given their wide distribution but that doesn’t mean their beer is lacking in quality.  I really enjoyed imbibing their flagship Pale Ale with a draught-style twist that gives it a little more sweetness while making a little more of a session style.  They also had a number of their Beer Camp styles on, including an enjoyable Imperial Pilsner.  Sierra’s Beer Camp helped produce beer for and from two of my favorite beer hangouts, Union Brewhouse and Amherst Brewing, so it was cool to see their facilities.   I want to go to Beer Camp.  Those facilities are nothing short of spectacular with every brew kettle made of copper in total old german style.

Moylan’s Brewing
By this time our vacation was reaching its final stages and it was time to make our way back towards the San Francisco area for our impending Saturday night redeye back to Boston.  But for lunch that day we stopped off at Moylan’s, back on Highway 101, just north of the city.  Moylan’s was a brewery I’ve enjoyed at brewfests before and it was good to get to the source of their beer to try firsthand.  They’re best known for their Hopsickle, a triple IPA, but I found their double IPA very enjoyable.  Of course you can’t go to an Irish bar without trying their stout, and the Dragoons was quite good.  What I thought was the most interesting part of the bar was a blackboard they keep up where patrons can pre-pay for beers for other friends and regulars to cash in on at a later date.  Definitely something I’ll adopt in my planned Beer The Triangle brewpub whenever I win the lottery.

Drake’s Brewing
After stopping off in Berkeley to see the West Coast Amherst and the still being renovated Cal Memorial Stadium, we went off to find Drake’s.  Drake’s is not a brewery that was on my radar before I started researching for this trip, but when you do a google search for best breweries in Northern California , Drake’s always comes up.  That doesn’t mean it’s easy to find though.  The brewery is actually on the backside of a WalMart south of lovely Oakland.  Picturesque huh?  Well the beer made this one of our best stops on the vacation.  Like Speakeasy the taproom was a bar, some tables, and a big garage door at their brewery facility in an industrial area.  An unimpressive locale made special by some of the best beer I’ve ever had.  The wife had an Aroma Coma IPA which literally had you wanting to dip your nose into your beer.  They also had on draft a High Water Campfire Stout.  It was like the brewers took a Smores and put it into a stout.  It has a chocolate flavor attached to the stout itself, yet somehow has qualities of graham cracker and, yes, marshmallow.  I have no idea how they did it.  But it was incredibly impressive.  Not a beer I’d want to drink a six pack of, but worth drinking.  But my favorite at Drake’s was their Dark Duck.  It was a stout, fermented with wild yeast to give it a sour flavor, then aged in bourbon barrels.  Now I’ve had sour stouts and enjoyed them.  I’ve had many bourbon barrel stouts and liked them as well.  I’ve never seen a brewery do both and do so with amazing craftsmanship.  It’s not a beer for everyone, but it’s one of the best beers I’ve personally ever had.  I went to California looking forward to Russian River and left thinking about Drake’s.

Steelhead Brewery
So Drake’s was supposed to be the last brewery on the trip and as it turns out would been a great one to close things out on.  But, we were heading towards the airport, needed dinner, and stopped at this chain of brewpubs, Steelhead.  Mistake.  Awful water downed crap.  In no way did this constitute craft brewing.  I think I’m an OK to good homebrewer, but I make far better beer on my stovetop while fermenting in my laundry room than these guys do in real facilities.  I was psyched to see a Lord Stanley Stout on the beer list.  It ended up being black colored water.  Ugh.  After all the great breweries/brewpubs seen on vacation I was almost embarrassed to hit this place on the way out.  We at least made up for it somewhat by hitting the Anchor Steam bar in the airport terminal.  Due to their limited hours we weren’t able to hit the actual brewery in the city, though we wanted to, but it seemed fitting to have the last beer of the trip to be the granddaddy of craft brewing.

So that was Beercation 2012.  All in all an unforgettable mix of beer, natural beauty, great memories, and some incredibly friendly people.  I absolutely loved the conversations I had along the way at each stop.  The people I talked to during the trip were extremely hospitable and enjoyable, from the laid back surfer type guy at Russian River who surprisingly bought me a Pliny The Elder hat to the guy at the bar at Bear Republic who was contemplating starting a hop farm to bring back the industry that used to dominate that particular part of Highway 101.  But the beer and breweries is just a means to see some spectacular parts of the country that normally may be off the beaten path.  I do enjoy making and drinking beer but I equally enjoy the obscurely beautiful locales in America that my love of beer has led me to and the wonderful collection of people who inhabit those places.  I’m already starting to think what part of this great country I can explore in Beercation 2013.

UMass Coaching Staff Filled; Schedule Released

There are a few things to catch up on in the world of UMass hockey that took place while I was away on beercation to Northern California (more on that later this week).

Most important among the news was the fact that Coach Micheletto filled the remaining positions on his staff.  With assistant Len Quesnelle already slated to return as assistant for his 9th year in Amherst, he’ll be joined behind the bench by Joey Gasparini who coached with Micheletto in Burlington.  Gasparini played for the Catamounts, graduating in 2006.  Following that he worked in the USHL as a scout and at Achieve Sports.  He’s been at UVM since 2009.  He comes from a hockey family as his father was the long time head coach at North Dakota and his brother Tony is a scout for the LA Kings.

What’s a little more surprising is that also heading south from Catamount country to join up at UMass is John Gobeil.  It is reported that he’ll be in the same role at UMass as he was at UVM, which was Director of Hockey Operations.  If UMass has decided to make its Director of Hockey Ops role a full-time position, this is a change from before (and one I suggested in my last post).  Up until last year the role was part-time and was most recently performed (admirably) by Chris Hall, doing double duty with his grad assistant work.  If it is the case that Gobeil will run the administrative side of the program full-time it’s an excellent sign of support from the athletic department.  Gobeil is also a Vermont graduate, though did not play for the Catamounts.

Of course all this is still not official yet as the school has yet to put out any announcement.  Here are the reports covering the hirings however:

Republican coverage (having some problems with the link)

Story from the Gazette.

View from the Catamount side of things.

Now as a few people have pointed out, Vermont fans on the USCHO boards do not seem to be too disappointed over losing their entire support staff to the hockey team.  I can understand their frustration after two very disappointing years up in Burlington, but at the same time you can’t complain about the work done prior to that by these same people and that has to count for something.  I can’t say I know enough about Gasparini, Gobeil, or to a certain degree even Micheletto to start worrying about who is hired as assistant coaches at this point.  I’ll let the team’s performance help formulate my opinion.

The other big news while I was gone was the official announcement of this year’s schedule.  Of course the opponents have been known since mid-season and most of the dates had been reported since then.  Still, it’s nice to see it out there as it’s another sign that we’re that much closer to hockey.  I already wrote my thoughts on the out of conference portion of the schedule months ago.  As for how the schedule itself is laid out, I think it’s very beneficial for the team and Coach Mick.  For a team learning a new staff and perhaps a new system having 11 of the first 15 games at home will minimize travel and allow the presence of a home crowd to take a bit of the edge off of some potential growing pains.  Of course those games still have a number of challenges associated with them as the first five league games come against national champion Boston College (2), Boston University (2), and New Hampshire.  Trial by fire for the new coach.  The team will only have to play one home game during winter break without student support.  Down the stretch will be interesting as the last three weekends of play will have the Minutemen hosting Maine for two, at UNH for a weekend series, and then a home and a home with Merrimack to close out the season.

The Republican and Collegian both have coverage of the schedule and its release.

With the schedule official the school can now work on getting season ticket renewals as in most years that information has been distributed much earlier in the summer.

Those were the major announcements recently.  From what I hear things are progressing on a radio deal for the hockey broadcasts and news of that could potentially come soon.

Coach Micheletto has been making the media rounds since his hiring.  Here’s an interview done with Chantel McCabe of Hockey East and Springfield’s Channel 40:

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Micheletto also joined the guys on the Pipeline Show, a great radio show out of Canada covering amateur hockey, talking about his new position, his new players, and what UMass fans can expect from him and his teams.  It’s a good listen, I recommend everyone take 15 minutes to get to know the coach better.

Jonathan Quick had his day with the Cup at the end of July.  It included a number of events like an appearance at his goaltender camp, visiting around his hometown of Hamden, a trip to the beach, and then a celebration in Greenwich.

I’m sure there are a number of UMass fans disappointed that the greatest trophy in sport did not make an appearance in Amherst, but honestly I think to begin with there was a very small chance of happening.  And that chance probably went out the door with Toot Cahoon earlier in the summer.

It’ll be tough to repeat what he accomplished this past year says Pro Hockey Talk.

Paul Dainton checks in on what he’s up to this summer, which he’s spending on the North Shore in Beverly, not far from where I spent many of my formative years.  Hey Paul, I have four words of advice for you: Nick’s Famous Roast Beef.

Hockey East Commisioner Joe Bertagna will be around to complain about for a few more years.

The new structure of College Hockey Inc has been determined.

Lastly I want to thank everyone who clicked on the logo over to the right to express their interest in getting a UMass license plate.  Now it’s time to follow through.  License plates are a go, sign up now!  If you don’t I’m going to grown increasingly disgruntled and I promise the quality of FTT will suffer.

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