Newcomer of the Year Selection; Recruit Update

So in an annual tradition going back to my days writing about hockey over on, I’m making by pick for Newcomer of the Year.  I’ve had some wins in the past, like seeing the potential in James Marcou and Mike Pereira, and some misses such as Ryan Leary.  This year I should have a a better chance than last season when I figured that one of the freshmen goaltenders would have the greatest impact on the squad but couldn’t figure out which one, so I went with Zack LaRue.

With that said, despite some strong showings by Evan Stack, Connor Doherty, and Shane Walsh at Saturday’s scrimmage, I’m going with K.J. Tiefenwerth.  Tiefenwerth, in my opinion, has the best chance to make an immediate impact on UMass’ fortunes this year.  Tiefenwerth was a bit of a surprise to come to Amherst since he was originally committed to Boston College.  But, for whatever reasons, Jerry York decided not to go forward with him at BC and the Eagles loss is UMass’ gain.

Tiefenwerth has spent the last two years as one of the top players in the EJHL for one of its elite teams, the Junior Bruins.  In the EJHL this past year he had 30 goals and 47 assists in 43 regular season games.  That put him at 3rd in the league in total points and 6th in goals.  In four playoff games he had two goals, including a game winner.  In his first year of Eastern Junior he had 26 goals and 31 assists in 44 games.  For that effort he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.  Prior to playing in the EJHL he was a linemate of current Minuteman Mike Pereira as they helped lead the Winged Beavers of Avon Old Farms to a New England Prep Championship.

The book on Tiefenwerth is that he has great vision on the ice.  He’s also known to have great hands that give him the ability to both pass and shoot the puck, and he does both well.  He’s said to be a good skater, something that was on display in Saturday’s scrimmage.  That skill package not only gained him the interest of multiple Hockey East teams but the New York Islanders who have brought the Long Island native to their prospect camp for the past two summers.

Tiefenwerth is a proven commodity from one of the better junior leagues in the country, a player thought highly of by the college and pro hockey communities, and has the type of game to fill a slot on one of UMass’ top lines.  For those reasons I’m picking him my Newcomer of the Year to make an immediate contribution to the team.

A pretty good week for the future Minutemen in this week’s Recruit Update:

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
4 GP / 1 G / 1 A / 2 Pts / 0 PIM / -2
Gillespie scored his first goal of the season, on the power play, to go with an assist in the Lancers game this past Friday.

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
4 GP / 2 G /2 A / 4 Pts / 2 PIM / 0
Kravechenko scored the game winning goal on Saturday for the Stampede while also adding a power play assist.

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 get on the scoresheet in his one game this past weekend.

Here’s a little something to get you psyched up for hockey on Friday.