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.