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Up To The Minute 10/31

Happy Halloween UMass hockey fans!  I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday and is not in some kind of diabetic coma by this point.  Any Minuteman hockey related costumes out there?  One spotted at this past weekend’s game were some diehard student fans dressed as a “Rowe Boat”.

Sorry, no View From Section U again this week.  Frankly, I just haven’t found a subject to inspire me since last time’s You Can Play piece.  I have a couple ideas rattling around in my head that hopefully I’ll be able to transform into an actual column sometime soon.  However there is enough out there in the cyberspace related to UMass hockey that it’s worth posting something tonight.

Matt Vautour of the Gazette has his piece on the Frank Vatrano committing to UMass.  As Matt details, and some readers have asked about, a lot depends on if Vatrano can get a waiver from the NCAA to consider this current fall semester as one of the two he’ll have to sit out as a transfer.  Since he was enrolled at BC he’s technically considered a member of the Eagle hockey team this semester despite not even practicing with the team.  He’ll need the NCAA to overrule that status, otherwise he wouldn’t be eligible to play at UMass until January of 2014 at the earliest.  There’s a chance that he may opt to play in the Q rather than wait that long if he’s unable to secure the necessary waiver.  In both the article in the Gazette and the Republican Vatrano seems confident that the NCAA clearinghouse issues were just a misunderstanding.  It’s still unknown if this means the issue is therefore resolved, but I’ll do my best to find out if that’s the case.

Nick Canelas of the Collegian has his Vatrano to UMass story for the student paper.  He also has this excellent piece on co-captain Rocco Carzo.  Canelas  is doing a great job following a tradition of talented student writers covering the Minuteman hockey team.  College Hockey News’ Michael King and Joe Meloni are part of that tradition as is current Boston Herald Patriots beat writer Jeff Howe.  Nice to see him get a opportunity with CHN this year in addition to his Collegian duties.

Another in that tradition of UMass hockey writers, Andrew Merritt, writes the Vatrano to UMass story for New England Hockey Journal.

Richard Murray is delivering regular profiles of Minutemen for Hockey’s Future.  This time it’s Joel Hanley who get the profile piece.  Hanley has had an up and down start to the season, thrown off a bit by his early exit in the game against Boston College.  But I still think he’s on the verge of a breakout season within Hockey East.

Being 0-3-0 in the conference drops UMass a spot in CHN’s Hockey East power rankings.

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Vatrano A Minuteman; Recruit Update

Former Boston College recruit Frank Vatrano announced via Twitter today that he has committed to play hockey at Massachusetts:

We’ll forgive him for using the A word.  Vatrano is a 5’10” 205lb forward from East Longmeadow.  He was considered to be BC’s top offensive freshman this season but left school after just a few weeks of classes.  It was reported that Vatrano ran into an issue with the NCAA Clearinghouse, which essentially certifies that a prospective student-athlete is eligible to participate in college athletics.  They verify a players academic qualifications as well as make sure he/she has maintained their amateur status.  This is important to note because it has yet to be reported if Vatrano has resolved the obstacle with the clearinghouse and the rumors that swirled after he left BC suggested that it’s a significant one.  So while he has committed to play at UMass, the NCAA Clearinghouse will have the last word on that.

Eligibility issues aside, there are no questions about Vatrano’s skills on the ice.  Vatrano has spent the last two seasons playing for the US National Development Program in Ann Arbor where he’s had 18 goals and 15 assists in 48 total games.  Vatrano is listed as as “Player To Watch” for next June’s NHL Draft.  Prior to heading out to the USNDTP he was part of the Junior Bruins program.  Since leaving BC earlier in the fall he’s been playing for the Junior Bruins again, scoring four goals to go with two assists in seven games, as well as playing on the US Under-18 team in exhibitions against college teams.

This is another win for coach John Micheletto who is living up to his reputation as a very good recruiter.  From talking to people behind the scenes UMass was the targeted destination for Vatrano very soon after he left Chestnut Hill.  Assuming he can get through his eligibility issues he’d likely be able to contribute right away when he arrives next fall.  Personally it always pains me to see Western Mass’ top hockey talent go elsewhere so, despite a bit of a convoluted route, I’m glad to see this valley native make his way to Amherst.

However, the fact that he is due in Amherst next fall raises another question.  How is UMass going to fit all those new names on the roster?  UMass currently has seven new players committed to play for the Minutemen for the 2013 season; Vatrano, transfer Rob Dongara, transfer Ben Gallacher, Kenny Gillespie, Mark Hamilton, Mike Iovanna, and Casey Miller.  It was also unknown if Dennis Kravchenko was supposed to arrive next fall or 2014.  However UMass is only graduating four seniors in Darren Rowe, Eddie Olczyk, Kevin Czepiel, and Rocco Carzo.  The roster is already sizable with 29 players fighting for 20 spots on the ice.  I doubt next year we’d see the roster increase to 32 players.  So that means either some of the players who committed under the former coaching staff will not be coming to Amherst or the current coaching staff is expecting some turnover of the current roster in the offseason.  We’ll have to see how it all shakes out.

Dick Baker has the Vatrano news for the Republican.  The Gazette is due to have something soon as well which I’ll post in my next FTT update.

Hockey East was able to post their full weekly release.  No Minutemen were named Top Performers but Shane Walsh was mentioned for scoring his first career goal.

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
2 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 15 PIM / -2
Gallacher is currently serving a 10 game suspension for attempting to injure. He should be back on the ice in mid-November.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
10 GP / 4 G / 1 A / 5 Pts / 11 PIM / -2
Gillespie made history this past weekend by scoring the first goal in the history of the Lancers’ new home, Ralston Arena.  The goal ended up being the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Des Moines.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Hamilton is due to return to Salisbury again this season. Prep hockey will start up at the end of November.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
All signs point toward Iovanna returning to Malden Catholic this year.

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
10 GP / 6 G / 6 A / 12 Pts / 21 PIM / +6
Kravechenko had a stellar weekend, scoring two goals to go with three assists in a couple wins for the Stampede.  Kravchenko now has the most goals and points for Sioux Falls on the season.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2013
15 GP / 9 G / 10 A / 19 Pts / 6 PIM / 0
Lee had a goal and three assists in this past weekend’s action, being named the game star for Friday’s game where he had a goal and a couple assists.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
It’s expected that Miller will return to KUA again after helping the Wildcats to a New England Prep championship last year.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
4 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 4 PIM
Smith did not play again this weekend, but is expected back soon.

Polls & Awards

First off I hope all the Massachusetts hockey fans out there are faring okay in this wicked weather.  I know FTT has loyal readers along the eastern seaboard from Annapolis to Maine so certainly I wish everyone the best in making it through the hurricane.  Triangle HQ held up pretty well considering I’m only a half mile off of the Atlantic, so no complaints here.  The beer is still cold, that’s really all I can ask for.

With today’s release of the USCHO poll UMass will be facing two top ten teams this coming weekend.  Boston College, who the Minutemen face Sunday afternoon, remain the top team in the country while undefeated New Hampshire moves into the top ten to #9.  With their sweep of the Minutemen Boston University moved up a spot to #12 while Lowell continues to fall in the poll and are currently at #14.  Northeastern remains at #15.  The Huskies do not make the top 15 cut in the USA Hockey/USA Today poll however.

Only a partial Hockey East Award release due to power issues at the office.  BC took top team honors for their sweep of Lowell.

Richard Murray has been writing a series of interesting profiles on UMass players for Hockey Future.  Kevin Boyle is the latest.

Saturday Recap

The worry that a challenging schedule would result in a slow start in Hockey East play for UMass is now a reality.  Through three games the team has three losses and finds itself tied with Maine for last place, already five points out of home ice.  More than the losses themselves though is how the team has lost.  In two of the games, last week against Boston College and last night against Boston University, UMass gave up a multiple goal lead at home and allowed their opponent to claim victory with a late score.  This team is falling apart in the third period of games.  Is it conditioning?  Is it conservative game planning?  Is it a lack of mental toughness?  It’s amazing to see that out of the 14 goals UMass have given up this season only one has come in the first period.  Nine however have come after the second period.

With the weekend sweep at the hands of the Terriers and last week’s defeat against BC UMass falls to 0-3-0 versus two teams that they went 3-2-1 against in the regular season last year.  Carrying over a theme from yesterday’s post, UMass’ experience was supposed to give them an advantage in games like this.  Instead they were defeated for the second straight night by a freshman goaltender, allowed freshman Danny O’Regan to have another multi-point game, and it was the Minutemen who looked inexperienced as they gave up another lead late.

There were some positives last night.  Shane Walsh moved up to a line with Mike Pereira and Brendan Gracel and picked up his first career goal by taking a Conor Sheary feed and getting it between Matt O’Connor and the post.  Walsh was probably the best all around player for the Minutemen this weekend in my opinion.  Overall I thought the new top lines which also included Rocco Carzo, Steven Guzzo, and Conor Sheary, played well together.  UMass generated 36 shots with last night’s lines.  Rocco Carzo had a very good game, more on that later.  Kevin Boyle played well, making his first start since the season opener.  He ended up with 32 saves and on the last two goals the guys in front of him allowed BU to skate in untouched.

UMass must spend this week finding whatever it is that will allow them to hold late leads.  Again, things do not get any easier for the Minutemen.  On Friday a New Hampshire team that has yet to lose this season visits the Mullins Center.  Despite a scoreless tie last night the Wildcats are still scoring 3.40 goals a game.  UMass will then have to visit Boston College on Sunday afternoon.  Who knows what will happen against two such formidable opponents next week but we do know that another pointless weekend will sink UMass further in the Hockey East standings.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Rocco Carzo
Carzo showed both aspects of his two way game early in the second period when he took the puck away from a Terrier at the blueline and streaked into the BU zone.  Coming in all alone on O’Connor Carzo would get tripped from behind by Garrett Noonan setting up a penalty shot.  He’d then make it look easy coming in and scoring on the Terrier goaltender.  That was the highlight of the night for Carzo but he played very well throughout, even leading the team with three blocked shots and four total shots.

Last night’s highlights from UMassAthletics.com

Dick Baker has the game story for the Republican, noting that Carzo’s penalty shot goal was the first for UMass since Jeff Turner scored one in 2000.  Here are Baker’s game notes.  Baker mentions that the UMass Marching Band was there to do the national anthem, which sounded great.  But of course then they left immediately afterward.  The fact that this program is not supported with a hockey band is mind-boggling to me.  Want to clean up the students’ chants?  A band is the first step to do so and will do a lot more than hanging posters on every door asking them to “Keep It Classy”.

The Collegian has their coverage of the sweep by BU.

Friday Recap

If Massachusetts fans thought that what they saw in the first two periods against Boston College was the new norm for this team and the third period collapse was only due to fatigue, that doesn’t appear to be the case.  A well-rested Minuteman team came into the Agganis Arena last night and just never looked like they were on the same page and thus, for the most part, was never in the game.

I thought the defense played pretty well, especially early on, and likely kept UMass in the game for much of the first half of the game.  Conor Allen played another strong game, though did make some costly mistakes at times.  Joel Hanley did well, netting his first goal of the season, but also struggled a bit during certain periods.  Colin Shea was probably the most consistent of the defensemen.  Adam Phillips was back in the lineup and I thought played well enough to dress again tonight.  Steve Mastalerz had another strong game in net and again has nothing to show for it.  Personally I would not fault him for any of the goals except for the fourth which trickled in after hitting his glove/pads.

Overall I would say the defense and goaltending looked solid.  The offense however looked totally disjointed throughout the game, despite outshooting the Terriers 30-25.  UMass was just never able to really establish any real possession in the offensive zone and were unable to properly cycle the puck around to get a decent shot only the impressive freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor.  Instead it was rush into the zone and just shoot from wherever they could.  Very rarely did they get to the rebounds for a second chance.  And usually within seconds BU had the puck back and were heading the other direction.  The offense last night looked simply terrible.

I don’t think it’s the main reason the offense struggled, but I personally did not like the new top line of Mike Pereira, Kevin Czepiel, and Conor Sheary.  Personally I thought Pereira and Sheary looked much better last week when they had Troy Power on their line.  Czepiel is a talented player and a key part of the team this year but I don’t think he’s the best type of center to put with those two guys.  Obviously it’s a concern that Pereira and Sheary, the team’s two best forwards, have yet to score a goal.  However I think trying Stephen Guzzo or Branden Gracel on their line would be a much better option than Czepiel.

Hopefully UMass will figure it out tonight as they’re faced with a possibility of being winless in the league through three games.  Only Maine, which is struggling mightily right now, has no points and they currently join UMass in last place.  It’s a tough schedule to start the season for the Minutemen, but they absolutely must capture the points up for grabs at home during this stretch no matter the opponent.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Shane Walsh
Allen, Hanley, and Gracel all played well enough to be considered for the POTG but I thought Shea and freshman Shane Walsh were the only players on the ice who played mistake free throughout.  Walsh continues to play with energy, has a physical edge to his game, and his five shots last night were a team high.  Personally I’m liking what I’m seeing so far from him.

This headline is telling from College Hockey News’ Takeaways from last night: “Freshmen Carry BU Past UMass”.  Now obviously BU has a very talented freshman class, probably the best incoming class of the conference.  But the fact that a young Terrier team can easily beat UMass is concerning.  One of UMass’ biggest asset is their experience as they have 18 upperclassmen on their roster, 19 if you count Guzzo, a redshirt sophomore.  This is a team of veterans, yet last night and even last week against BC they were beaten by younger, less experienced teams.  If UMass can’t figure out a way to make the most of their experience this season then they’re without what was thought to be a major advantage.

Mistakes cost the Minutemen says the Republican’s Harry Plumer. (By the way, that’s not John Micheletto in the picture that ran with the story)

Here’s a very BU-centric recap from the Herald.

Ditto for the Globe’s game story.

USCHO’s recap.

Boston University Preview; Patrick Lee Commits

#13 Boston University Terriers 1-1-0 (1-1-0) T-3rd Hockey East

vs

Massachusetts Minutemen 1-1-0 (0-1-0) T-7th Hockey East

This will be a key weekend for Massachusetts who looks to bounce back from a very disappointing performance last Friday that saw them drop a game to Boston College despite having a two goal lead late. This is more than just trying to gain some momentum and confidence however. UMass must pick up points this weekend to avoid finding themselves near or at the bottom of the standings just three games into the conference schedule. It won’t be easy though as they’ll have two games against #13 Boston University, including one at Agganis Arena where the Minutemen have traditionally struggled.

BU has a win and a loss on the early season, topping Providence 4-2 in the season opener but losing 4-1 in Durham last week to UNH. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in net for the Terriers this weekend. Freshman Matt O’Connor started the first game and did well only allowing the two goals. Last week against UNH fellow freshman Sean Maguire got the nod but was pulled after 32 mins and four goals. O’Connor came in to relieve him and was perfect for the remainder of the game.

So far the Terriers are getting their scoring from all around as their five goals have been scored by five different players. A couple of those names aren’t unexpected, like Wade Megan and Garrett Noonan. But they’ve also gotten some good production from a couple of sophomores like Evan Rodrigues who has three assists so far and Carson Hohmann who as a goal and a couple assists as well. None of their heralded freshman class has tallied a goal to this point, but it’s probably only time until someone like Sam Kurker or Danny O’Regan puts one in th enet. BU will look to improve upon their power play and by improve I mean score. So far the Terriers are an uncharacteristic 0 for 7 on the season with the extra man.

UMass on the other hand will look to continue their impressive work on special teams. They’ve scored three power play goals on 13 chances thus far on the season, good for 23.1% and second among Hockey East teams. On the other side of things they’ve killed 11 of 12 of their opponents’ power play chances. That’s an excellent start for a team that struggled mightily on the penalty kill last year.

There shouldn’t be a lot of adjustments for the team to make as they’re playing pretty good hockey so far. They looked a bit rusty against UConn but played well enough to get the easy win. And they dominated the defending national champion for 40 minutes last week before a shortened bench caught up to them at the end. Even in that third period the team didn’t necessarily play poorly, BC just had a step on the Minutemen who simply ran out of gas. The one glaring thing the team will need to change from the first two games is the amount of penalties they’re taking. Double digit penalties like occurred against UConn absolutely cannot happen and losing Joel Hanley to an early misconduct ultimately became the difference maker last year.

While UMass has usually not done well at Agganis they did upset the then top ranked Terriers there last year. The veterans will look to rekindle whatever drove them to the win there tomorrow night before coming home to what should be another good crowd on Saturday. Not to sound like a broken record but it is imperative for UMass to scratch and claw for any points they can get early in the season. It doesn’t get any easier after this weekend as next week brings a white hot UNH team to town and an early season rematch with the Eagles. Two or three points against a good BU team would pay dividends in the long run for the Minutemen.

Beer The Triangle
No trip to Agganis is complete without a visit to mini-Sunset across the street. Last year we were lucky enough to be able to celebrate UMass’ big win with Alchemist Heady Toppers there. Now I’m lucky enough to be drinking a Heady as I write this preview. A look at Sunset’s menu shows a rarely seen Anderson Valley Cerveza Crema, a Green Flash/St Feullians collaboration, and a Southern Tier 2X Milk Stout. Saturday I plan to deviate from the usual pregame plans at the Hangar and hangout with friends and alumni for Homecoming festivities. Part of those festivities will be drinking some Bell’s Brewing that the legendary Flag Guy, veteran of the UMass student section, will be bootlegging from Pennsylvania.

As first relayed by Matt Vautour this afternoon, UMass picked up a commitment from forward Patrick Lee. Lee is currently playing for the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The 5’9” 155lb Lee is a native of Calgary. So far this year for Brooks he has eight goals and seven assists in just 13 games, that’s good for 17th in the league for goals and 20th for overall points. He’s already well ahead of his pace of last year when he scored nine goals to go with 23 assists in 51 games with Brooks. UMass has had luck with forwards coming out of the AJHL before, the most recent being Branden Gracel.

Here’s a goal of his last season, complete with Chelsea Dagger:

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Lee has already been picked AJHL Player of the Week once this year. Lee was also recently invited to the selection camp to represent Canada West at the World Junior Championships. No word on when Lee is coming to Amherst, but one would have to think it’d be for 2014 since there are already five and perhaps six player committed for next fall.

Matty V previews the game and adds that Mike Pereira is 100% good to go.

Harry Plumer has his game preview where Coach Mick says fatigue is not a worry, despite last week’s late game collapse. Plumer also had this feature on Gracel and Stephen Guzzo earlier in the week.

Michael King of College Hockey News has this story on the team trying to bounce back from last week’s loss. CHN also has their look at the weekend ahead as well as their Hockey East power rankings with UMass sticking at #7.

NESN has a preview of the home and home with BU where they predict Kevin Boyle will start on Friday.

The Collegian had this look at the student fan support in last week’s game.

Coach Mick was a guest on the Slap Schotts podcast this week, which provides excellent coverage of the ECAC.

Hockey’s Future has this profile of Conor Sheary.

Recruit Update

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
2 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 15 PIM / -2
Gallacher is currently serving a 10 game suspension for attempting to injure.  He should be back on the ice in mid-November.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
7 GP / 3 G / 1 A / 4 Pts / 5 PIM / -1
Gillespie had two power play goals in an 8-3 win for the Lancers this past Friday over Tri-City, the first multi-goal game of his USHL career and giving him a mention in the weekly USHL release.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Hamilton is due to return to Salisbury again this season. Prep hockey will start up at the end of November.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
All signs point toward Iovanna returning to Malden Catholic this year.

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
8 GP / 3 G / 3 A / 7 Pts / 21 PIM / +1
Kravechenko had a goal over the weekend to go with 17 total PIM.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
It’s expected that Miller will return to KUA again after helping the Wildcats to a New England Prep championship last year.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
4 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 4 PIM
Smith did not play again this weekend, but I am told he’s expected back in the coming weeks.

Polls & Awards

Combined with Minnesota dropping a game, Boston College’s come from behind win at Amherst followed by their defeat of Northeastern in their home opener the next night was enough to put them back in the top spot in this week’s USCHO rankings.  UMass’ OT loss to the Eagles was enough to gain them a couple votes in the poll.  BC is the only Hockey East representative in the top ten but just outside are #11 Lowell, #12 New Hampshire, #13 Boston University, and #15 Northeastern.  BC returned to the top of the USA Hockey/USA Today rankings as well.

His game-winner on Friday helped BC’s Johnny Gaudreau gain Player of the Week honors for Hockey East this week.  Rocco Carzo was named a top performer for his two goal game.

The Washington Capitals have this interview of former Minuteman Alex Berry describing his road back to hockey after the horrific on-ice accident that almost ended his career and even his life last fall.  I’m ecstatic to see him back on the ice.  Berry, along with T.J. Syner, is playing with Reading of the ECHL to start the hockey season.

For those that may have missed it, Paul Dainton did make the opening night roster for the Springfield Falcons.

And look who’s back playing stateside, Thomas Pöck.  Pöck is playing with the Lake Erie Monsters this season.

Don’t forget that I’ve added a link to the top of the page to an offsite page where you can instantly find out where former Minutemen are currently playing.

Lastly I want to give a heartfelt thanks and farewell to Inside College Hockey, which announced yesterday that they’re packing it in.  Their coverage had slipped in recent years but many who have followed the sport closely for the last ten years or more know that INCH was once an excellent resource for rankings, news, and humor.  The site had some excellent writers over the years, including Jeff Howe who covered UMass hockey for the Collegian and now is the Patriots beat writer for the Herald.  I’ll always remember them giving the UMass triangle jersey the bronze medal in their ranking of all-time ugliest sweaters.  Stick salute to all current and past INCH writers.

Boston College Recap

For two periods Massachusetts absolutely dominated defending national champion Boston College on Friday night and went into the final period with a 3-0 lead.  But the defense which had played extremely well to that point, despite being down a man for the entire game, ran out of gas and were unable to do the little things that would’ve held off BC and given UMass the victory.  In the end the Eagles scored four goals in the 3rd and picked up the win in overtime on a Johnny Gaudreau score.

It looked like UMass had overcome the game misconduct for hitting from behind by Joel Hanley when they had killed off the resulting five minute major.  But that was only short term.  Long term the remaining five defensemen had to play extra minutes to try to keep the Eagles off the board, something they did superbly through two periods.  But all those extra shifts caught up to them in the third and they were unsuccessful in doing the little things like clearing the puck and putting a body on the Eagle forwards in front of the net.  This ultimately let BC back in the game and the chance to take the win in overtime.  In my opinion losing Hanley that was the difference in the game.  I’m not going to comment on the hit itself because I couldn’t see it from where I sit.  Either way, I think it was the turning point despite the Minutemen making the necessary adjustments early on.

There were some bright spots in what turned out to be a crushing loss.  As mentioned, for two periods Steve Mastalerz and the defense in front of him were dominant.  I cannot fault Mastalerz for this loss at all, as it was really breakdowns in front of him that led to most if not all of the goals.  Conor Allen had another strong game at defense and picked up a power play goal when pinching in from the blueline.  I thought Oleg Yevenko continues to look poised and his skating has improved noticeably.  Mike Busillo played in place of Adam Phillips and played probably his best game as a Minuteman.  He was solid at defense, showing good positioning, and picked up his first career point on a nice pass to setup Rocco Carzo.  Darren Rowe continues to make the most of his chance at defense, scoring his second goal in two games.  Colin Shea played very physical and had a team high five blocked shots.

I thought the top line of Mike Pereira, Troy Power, and Conor Sheary looked much better than last week, with Power and Sheary picking up assists during the game.  Shane Walsh made his debut as a Minuteman and provided good two way minutes.  The fourth line of Patrick Kiley, Kevin Czepiel, and Eddie Olczyk played very well and had a lot to do with BC’s early frustrations on offense.

So overall it was an extremely disappointing loss and a missed opportunity.  Kicking off the conference schedule with a win over the team picked to win the league would’ve done a lot to set the tone for the challenging next few weeks and the season in general.  Instead the reaction around the fanbase and the rest of college hockey is “typical UMass”.  Now I understand that the loss of Hanley early led to the third period breakdowns that ultimately lost UMass the game.  But good teams are able to find a way to win when they have a 3-0 third period lead or even a two goal lead with four minutes to go.  Friday showed that UMass still has a ways to go to be considered a good team.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Rocco Carzo
Earlier in the week Carzo was named Co-Captain of this year’s squad along with Kevin Czepiel.  On Friday he absolutely played like one, having his first multi-goal game of his career.  There was some debate as to whether Carzo would be able to transform to more of an offensive game this year after playing on the third line for most of last year.  So far so good for the senior.

Here’s the recap from the Gazette, including the note that Mike Pereira who was injured late is expected to be OK.

Carzo admits that panic set in when BC was able to get that first goal early in the third in the Republican game story.  Coach Mick still saw a lot of positives according to the game notebook.

The Collegian has their recap of the crushing loss.

The Boston Herald’s Stephen Harris was in Amherst to cover the game.

Here are the thoughts of the guys over at BC Interruption.

Nick Canelas has the game takeaways for College Hockey News.

Boston College Preview

#3 Boston College Eagles 0-1-0 (0-1-0) Hockey East T-5th

at

Massachusetts Minutemen 1-0-0 (0-0-0) Hockey East T-5th

Massachusetts will start the 2012-13 season against the team that gave them their highest of highs and lowest of lows in the last season.  The highs were the win over then #1 Boston College in November and a shutout of the Eagles in January.  The low was the same low we’ve seen for the last three years, with the season ending at the hands of BC sweep in Chestnut Hill in the Hockey East quarterfinals.

Surprisingly the Minutemen have a win to their name to start the season while the Eagles do not, having fallen to Northeastern 3-1 last weekend. BC spotted Northeastern a 2-0 lead early and couldn’t solve Chris Rawlings enough to get back in it, despite outshooting Northeastern overall.  One thing that stands out is that the Eagles must’ve spent a lot of time on the penalty kill as they took 8 penalties and gave the Huskies seven power plays, though they killed all seven.

BC’s lone goal in the game came from senior Steven Whitney.  He’s one of many experienced upperclassman forwards that can score for the Eagles, along with captain Pat Mullane, Kevin Hayes, and Bill Arnold.  But a lot of eyes this season will be on sophomore Johnny Gaudreau to see how he builds off the 21 goal, 23 assist performance as a freshman.  Gaudreau did get an assist last weekend.  Most of BC’s freshman talent is at defense this year but Brendan Silk out of the US National Development Program is someone to keep an eye on.

The Eagles will likely get as far as their defense takes them this year as it’s really the weakest area for them, if having young, but very skilled players can be considered a weakness.  Michael Matheson and Colin Sullivan are two blueline freshmen who will need to make the adjustment to the college level quickly if BC wants to stay ranked among the top teams in the country early on.  They do return a couple experienced defensemen that UMass will have to contend with in Patrick Wey and Patch Alber.  At goaltender the team returns Parker Milner who rattled off 19 wins in 19 straight games last spring cumulating with the national championship.

Last weekend’s game against UConn gave UMass fans a lot to like, like Kevin Boyle allowing just one goal, a strong performance by the defense, and putting up four goals.  But there was some stuff to work on too, namely the amount of penalties and the inability to finish shots.  Playing an Atlantic Hockey team allowed UMass to make up for some sloppy play at times and still get the win.  It’s unlikely that extended times of poor play will allow them to be victorious when playing a top five team in the country though.

Overall I thought the lines worked pretty well last week.  I’d be surprised if there were a lot of lineup changes tomorrow.  Darren Rowe played well enough on both ends that he’ll likely dress for that 6th spot at defense again.  Maybe Boyle will play two weeks in a row, but something tells me he won’t.  Personally I’d like to see how Steve Mastalerz does in there, if healthy.  He had probably the best goaltending performance of the season last year when he shut out this same BC program in January, only one of two goaltenders to keep the Eagles off the scoreboard all year.

The teams have changed somewhat since last year, but I took a look back at the five games they played and here’s what I found.  Honestly, there weren’t too many patterns to be gleaned from them.  UMass was outshot in both their wins (averaging just 21 shots total) but lost the two games where they had the shot advantage.  They won the two games despite going 1 for 12 on the power play and also went 1 for 12 in total during the three games they lost.  They gave up multiple power play goals in both wins and losses.  Basically, there’s no statistical pattern I can find between the losses and the wins.

Tomorrow will be a big challenge for the Minutemen and the new coaching staff.  You almost wish that the Eagles were coming in here after having beaten Northeastern.  Instead Coach York has had all week to make adjustments and coach up his freshmen.  So UMass must make the most out of the advantages they’re afforded.  One of those is likely to be a large and hopefully charged up Mullins Center crowd.  The Minutemen will have to do their best to feed off the energy of the fans.  Combine that with proven knowledge they can beat this team, as they did twice last year, and the desire for some revenge at how last season ended and you just might have the makings for an upset.

Beer The Triangle
It’ll be a muted Beer The Triangle day tomorrow as time at the Hangar will be limited due to the doors opening at 5:30pm for the game.  Postgame is out of the question as well with a 9am Homecoming tailgate at Gillette the next morning.  I’m interested to see what will be on tap at the Hangar in the place of the Sierra Beer Camps that are likely kicked.  A Lagunitas Pale Ale isn’t a bad fallback just in case though.

Beating Milner is key tomorrow so says the Collegian.

The Republican preview says Coach Mick is thinking big picture.

The Gazette has their BC preview as well as the details of Micheletto’s contract.  His base salary will be $210K with the ability to make another $58K if he reaches all his bonuses that range from APR scores to winning the national championship.  Former coach Toot Cahoon had a base salary of $247K and received about $4K in bonuses in 2011.

College Hockey News takes a look at the weekend ahead in Hockey East.

Missed this last week but Inside College Hockey picked UMass to finish dead last this season.

Last week I mentioned that I was growing increasingly frustrated with people posting comments, especially critical ones, anonymously and had hoped that requiring people to post their name and submit their email would put an end to that.  Nope.  So starting today in order to post comments you’ll need to use your Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account to log in.  I didn’t want to do this and still would love to have people use the site to discuss the hockey program and FTT posts within the comment sections.  But hopefully now that discussion will be of a little higher quality.

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