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Boston University Preview

#11 Boston University Terriers 13-9-1 (10-6-1) T-2nd Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 9-12-2 (6-9-1) 7th Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team will only have one game to focus on this weekend, which is a good thing because it’ll be a tough one but a win versus the Terriers is not outside the realm of possibility.  Boston University is still very talented and not easy to beat, the Minutemen know this with the weekend sweep at the hands of the Terriers in the beginning of the season.  But they’re not exactly untouchable either.  They’re just 1-2-1 in their last four and 3-4-1 since winter break.

Offensively these Terriers are pretty much what you’d expect.  Their 3.09 goals per game is good for third in the league, tied with Lowell and behind Boston College and New Hampshire.  Their power play is only middle-of-the-pack though, converting just over 16% of their chances.  BU has gotten production from all their classes, as shown from their leaders in goals scored so far.  Tops on the team is senior Wade Megan who has 12 goals on the season, tied for third best among Hockey East players.  Behind him is freshman Danny O’Regan who has 9 goals to go with 13 assists.  Those two both had two goals apiece against the Minutemen when the teams met for a home and home series in late October.

Defensively is where the Terriers, at least statistically, look a little more out of character.  However, I think that’s probably to be expected when you’re trying to break in two freshman goaltenders (see: UMass last year).  It’s important to note that Matt O’Connor and Sean Maguire haven’t done terribly in their debut seasons.  O’Connor has played more of the games, compiling a 2.90 goals against average and .910 save percentage.  Maguire has the better stats with a 2.34 GAA and .925 save percentage.  The two have been roughly alternating since early December and the Boston Hockey Blog reported on Twitter that Maguire would get the start.  BU has struggled on the penalty kill, sitting at 82% and 8th in the league.

Frankly, this is a vulnerable Terrier team.  It’s also a BU team could’ve been facing the prospect of losing a season series to the Minutemen tomorrow.  However in the last time these teams meet in the Mullins Center the Minutemen gave up a 2-0 lead and somehow could not find the back of the net despite 20 third period shots on O’Connor.  The result ended up being a 3-2 loss for UMass and now BU has a chance at a season sweep tomorrow night.  Hopefully pride and the fact that Vermont, Maine, and Northeastern are all breathing down their necks will give the Minutemen the motivation needed to upset the 11th ranked Terriers.  To do so they’ll need a consistent effort on offense.  The team as a whole has played good defense since winter break ended, with the exception of the Providence game at home when they gave up five goals.  But defensively UMass has been playing some of its best hockey of the season, even on special teams.  Scoring however has been hit or miss in that time.  They’ve been able to generate a lot of shots but some nights the puck finds the back of the net and the next opposing goaltenders look like world-beaters.  The finishers that are on the team, most specifically the first like of Branden Gracel, Mike Pereira, and Conor Sheary, will have to make sure Sean Maguire looks human tomorrow.

Beer The Triangle
Seems like a long time since I’ve been to the Hangar.  I wonder what they have on draft?  Since they tend to highlight Lagunitas I hope they have the Lagunitas Sucks on draft, one of the top beers from a favorite brewery.

A number of BU Twitter accounts have reported that BU will dress seven defensemen tomorrow night, with Ryan Ruikka in the lineup at forward.  The Boston Hockey Blog also tweeted that Evan Rodrigues will dress after missing last Saturday’s game against Providence due to injury.  Rodrigues has eight goals on the season.

The Republican has this profile on Darren Rowe as part of their preview of tomorrow.  Overall Rowe has been one of the better stories of the UMass season after getting very limited playing time last season.  While there are certainly still times on the ice where his defensive limitations prove frustrating for UMass fans, the fact is when he’s doing what he needs to on defense and combining it with offensive contributions he’s a very valuable part of the team.  And he’s done well in both aspects in recent games notching two goals and six assists in the last seven games while maintaining an even plus/minus rating.  I always thought Rowe’s skills weren’t totally maximized during his UMass career and continue to contend that he should’ve been moved to forward earlier in his career.  But he continues to do his best on defense while making the most of his offensive instincts during his senior season, shaking off a mid-season slump.  And the team has benefitted when he’s moving and shooting the puck well on the season.

Here’s some additional coverage of Matt Anderson, who picked up his first NHL point/assist tonight for the Devils.

Dick Baker had this article about Anderson’s accomplishments framed around the legacy of Springfield hockey legend Gary Dineen.

And Collegian alum Andrew Merritt wrote this enjoyable piece on Anderson for the New England Hockey Journal.  I know I mentioned it the other night but, like Mike Kostka, I’m thrilled to see Anderson get his shot in the NHL.  I have followed the program for almost two decades and there are few better representatives of the dear old alma mater and the Minuteman hockey program than those two.

Oh hey Casey Wellman was traded again and is now in his fourth NHL organization since the beginning of last season.  Maybe sometime between now and when I retire at the end of the season I’ll do a View From Section U column expressing what I really think about Wellman.

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Recruit Update; Anderson Makes NHL Debut

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
17 GP / 2 G / 6 A / 8 Pts / 34 PIM / +8
Gallacher didn’t play last weekend.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Hamilton is back playing with the Knights. I hope to have some updated stats soon.

Marc Hetnik – D – Vernon Vipers (BCHL) – 2013
39 GP / 1 G /7 A / 8 Pts / 34 PIM
Hetnik had an assist in his most recent game played.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
14 GP / 6 G /9 A /15 Pts
Iovanna continues to average over a point a game.

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
33 GP / 14 / 21 A / 35 Pts / 74 PIM / +11
Kravchenko had four assists in two games this past weekend.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2014
46 GP / 18 G / 24 A / 42 Pts / 20 PIM
Lee had a a couple assists last weekend.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
15 GP / 4 G / 12 A / 16 Pts
Will update the prep players when I can get my hands on up to date stats.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
26 GP / 3 G / 5 A / 6 Pts / 12 PIM
Smith had two goals in his last three games, including a shorthander.

Frank Vatrano– LW/C – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2013
19 GP / 13 G / 9 A / 22 Pts / 22 PIM
Vatrano will be on campus for Spring semester.

Matt Anderson made his NHL debut tonight as the Devils took on the Bruins and played well in his 6+ minutes of action.  Anderson was the captain of the 2007 Massachusetts team that upset Clarkson in the NCAA tournament.  He’s the third Minuteman to make his NHL debut this season, joining Mike Kostka, a teammate from that 2007 team, and Matt Irwin.  It’s been a long road for Anderson to the NHL, as he makes his first NHL roster at 30 years old.  But it was a tough road for him at UMass where he lost a season and a half to injury.  But all that hard work paid off when he took to the Garden ice tonight.

College Hockey News has UMass at #7 in their Hockey East power rankings.

No UMass players were recognized in this week’s Hockey East release.

Boston University comes into Friday’s game ranked #11 in the country.

Saturday Recap

Faced with an opportunity to put together a little win streak and take the weekend series from a struggling Vermont team, the UMass hockey team showed that the only thing consistent is their inconsistency.  Looking very much like the team that was swept by Providence just a couple weeks ago the Minutemen managed to generate 38 total shots but were pretty much shutdown by a freshman goaltender and a the defense in front of him.  Vermont came into the game with the worst penalty kill in the conference, stopping less than 80% of opponents chances but last night they were able to shutdown all six UMass power plays, limiting them to just six shots in over 10 minutes of power play time.

The 3-2 final score actually wasn’t really that close as the Catamounts opened up an early 2-0 lead that they were able to maintain until the final seconds when UMass scored with an extra attacker.  Goals were scored by Branden Gracel and Mike Pereira who continue to play well but last night they were the only players who were able finish.

That’s basically it as there’s not much more to delve into last night’s game.  The team had an excellent opportunity to distance themselves from the prospect of missing the playoffs and didn’t.  They also had a chance to gain ground on the Lowell River Hawks sitting in 6th place ahead of them and didn’t.  In fact with a tie and come from behind win by Lowell is now tied with Merrimack in 5th place, five points ahead of them.  Vermont meanwhile continues to be just behind the Minutemen while Northeastern and a suddenly hot Maine team are not far behind.  UMass had the chance to go up and play a bad Vermont team and gain four points.  That didn’t happen and now UMass will enter February, a month rarely kind of the program, with their chance of finishing any higher than 7th fading fast.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Branden Gracel
Gracel has not gone more than two games without registering a point all year. He’s currently 6th among Hockey East players in goals scored.

Republican game story.

Here’s the recap from the Burlington Free Press.

Better news on the alumni front.

Matt Irwin scored his first NHL goal.

Kevin Moore got to suit up for an ECHL game

Friday Recap

Last night the Massachusetts hockey team had one of those valuable, grind-it-out wins up in Vermont.  It was definitely needed and now sets up a chance to sweep the Catamounts for the weekend and the season series this evening.  The Minutemen jumped out to a 2-0 lead before UVM fought back to tie it late in the second.  However Conor Sheary’s power play goal in the third ended up giving the team the important 3-2 win.

I won’t comment too much on the game since I was only able to watch via the free video stream from Vermont.  However what I saw was another strong performance from Steve Mastalerz who started his third game in a row.  I would suspect we’ll see Kevin Boyle in net tonight however.  The defense in front of him had another strong game, a trend we’ve seen over the last month or so.  The Catamounts were limited to just 21 shots total and never hit double digits in any period.  Conor Allen again paced the defense, blocking four shots on the night.

Offensively UMass put continuous pressure on Catamount freshman goaltender Brady Hoffman, who played well despite the loss.  The team had 37 shots total.  Eric Filiou, filling in for an injured Stephen Guzzo, opened the scoring in the first and played overall in his first game since before winter break.  UMass’ two other goals were scored from the point on later power plays; one from Joel Hanley and one from Conor Sheary.  UMass ended the night 2 for 6 on the power play.  Darren Rowe, who has regained his offensive play going back to the Dartmouth tournament, had two assists on the night.  Adam Phillips also had a couple of assists.  Although he didn’t end up on the score sheet, Mike Pereira was very active in the offensive zone and led the Minutemen with six shots on net.

Overall the team played hard, bounced back from losing a two goal lead, and ended up with the win.  At this point in the season, that’s all I can ask for.  The only area I’d like to see them improve on from last night was penalties.  They took two penalties in the 3rd period that could’ve led to UVM getting back into the game.  The one that especially hurt was Joel Hanley’s slashing call with under two minutes left.  Hanley’s penalties taken this season is especially concerning as has 11 and they’ve come at the most inopportune times.

A win tonight would be the first three game winning streak for UMass on the season.  It also would create a five point cushion between themselves and the Cats who are sitting in 9th place and out of the playoffs.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Conor Sheary
Sheary’s power play goal five minutes into the third period ended up being the game-winner.  Sheary now has five points in his last five games, including three goals.

Here’s the Republican’s recap.

Special teams made the difference in the game says the Burlington Free Press.

The Herald had this piece on Branden Gracel in yesterday’s paper.

Vermont Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 8-11-2 (5-8-1) 7th Hockey East

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Vermont Catamounts 6-12-4 (3-8-4) T-8th Hockey East

If the Massachusetts hockey team wants to make a real run at something this season, it probably needs to start this weekend.  The last few weeks have been thrilling, yet maddening for Minuteman fans.  At the end of December the team went up to the Ledyard Classic and took the title in the tournament which featured two top ten teams.  They then went out in their next set of games and promptly got swept in a home and home with Providence.  Following that disappointment the team seemed to have little chance against #2 Boston College at Conte Forum, a place they hadn’t won since 2007.  So of course they beat the Eagles handily 5-2.  And that brings us to this coming weekend and two games in Burlington.  This weekend offers the Minutemen a chance to define which of the recent performances were a fluke.  The losses to Providence or the upset of BC.

Personally I think to be taken seriously UMass needs to take three points from the struggling Catamounts.  It’s teams like this the team should be beating regularly, even if the games are away.  Aside from winning their own holiday tournament, the Cats have been pretty terrible.  And they currently find themselves on a four game losing streak which included a 4-2 loss last weekend to Penn State which is in its first year of transitioning to DI.

Among Hockey East teams Vermont finds itself near the bottom in most statistical categories.  Offensively they are 9th in the league in goals scored with 2.23 and their power play is only converting on 13.7% of chances.  Senior Chris McCarthy and sophomore Jacob Fallon are the two Cats the Minutemen will have to keep an eye on as they both have a half dozen goals apiece.  Four of Fallon’s scores have come on the power play, making him the only player on the team with more than one PPG.  Oft injured star junior Connor Brickley missed a dozen games so far this season but is back and has registered two assists in three games since returning.

Vermont is 9th in the league when it comes to goals against as well, giving up 3.18 per game.  Their penalty kill is dead last stopping only 79.8% of their opponents’ chances.  Freshman goaltender Brody Hoffman has started every game for his team and comes into the weekend series with a goals against average of 3.00 and a save percentage of .900.

Again, UMass needs to win these games.  They are coming off one of their best games of the year where they got solid goaltending, strong performances from their defensemen, and timely scoring.  An offensive star has emerged in the form of Branden Gracel.  Guys like Mike Pereira, Conor Sheary, and Darren Rowe have emerged from rough patches earlier in the season and are now putting up points regularly.   Their special teams have clicked as of late, especially the penalty kill which is 20 for 22 over the last five games.  UMass is on the up swing it would seem while Vermont is not.  This weekend is a huge opportunity to climb up the Hockey East standings and more importantly create some distance between themselves and being out of the playoffs.  Let’s see if the UMass team is strong enough mentally and physically to make the most of that opportunity.

Beer The Triangle
Unfortunately I won’t be making the trip up to one of my beer meccas, Burlington.  But for those who are make sure to check out the Road Trip page for suggestions on where to go (one addition would be The Farmhouse).  On the way up to Burlington make sure to stop off at the Alchemist Cannery in Waterbury and pick up a case or two of Heady Topper if they have any left.  Also if you’re looking for a place to stop along the way for lunch and some good beer, I recommend the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier.  Hopefully they have a full supply of Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Hill Farmstead to drink.

The Republican preview focuses in on Coach Micheletto’s return to Vermont where he was a long time assistant.

Here’s a preview from the Catamount viewpoint.

The Collegian has their preview as well as an interesting look at Gracel and what motivates him.

CHN’s Joe Meloni had a piece talking about regular season upsets, like UMass’ over BC, are commonplace in Hockey East but rare once playoff time comes around.  Minuteman fans who have seen their team knock off top schools regularly but have experienced annual quarterfinal exits know this well.

Recruit Update

Time for the weekly look at the recruits:

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
17 GP / 2 G / 6 A / 8 Pts / 34 PIM / +8
Gallacher had an assist this past weekend and was a +5 over two games.  He also went the weekend without a penalty.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Hamilton is back playing with the Knights.  I hope to have some updated stats soon.

Marc Hetnik – D – Vernon Vipers (BCHL) – 2013
38 GP / 1 G /6 A / 7 Pts / 34 PIM
Hetnik had an assist this past weekend.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
12 GP / 5 G /7 A /12 Pts
Either Iovanna didn’t score in recent games of the Mass HS Hockey site hasn’t updated stats.

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
31 GP / 14 / 17 A / 31 Pts / 74 PIM / +8
Kravchenko did not play this past weekend.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2014
42 GP / 18 G / 22 A / 40 Pts / 18 PIM
Lee had a goal and four assists in his last three games as the Bandits improved to 40-2-2

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
15 GP / 4 G / 12 A / 16 Pts
Here’s an interesting look at KUA where Casey Miller is playing and where Steve Mastalerz played as well.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
23 GP / 1 G / 5 A / 6 Pts / 8 PIM
Smith had a couple assists in a game against the Junior Bruins.

Frank Vatrano– LW/C – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2013
19 GP / 13 G / 9 A / 22 Pts / 22 PIM
From all accounts Vatrano will be enrolled in UMass classes for Spring semester.

College Hockey News takes a look at UMass’ big win over the past weekend and what it may mean long term.

Here are a few quotes from Matt Irwin on playing in his first NHL game.  And here’s what defensive partner Dan Boyle had to say.

Mike Kostka, hopefully, will be one of a few AHL All-Stars who will be unable to play as they’re currently on NHL rosters.  Kostka picked up another assist yesterday and is already becoming a fan favorite up in Toronto.

Gracel Named Co-Player of the Week, UMass Named Team of the Week

Branden Gracel was named Hockey East Co-Player of the Week for his two goal, one assist effort against #2 Boston College on Friday.  This is the second time Gracel has been named POTW.  He has already matched his last year point total with 21 and his 10 goals is well above the 7 scored last season.

The Minutemen as a whole were named the conference’s Team of the Week for their performance this weekend.  Steve Mastalerz and K.J. Tiefenwerth were both named Top Performers.

Despite falling to unranked UMass BC only dropped a spot in this week’s polls, thanks in part to the 9-3 drubbing they put on Northeastern on Saturday.

Mike Kostka made his NHL debut on Saturday, gaining an assist in the game.  I watched a good part of the game and he looked solid, playing on a pairing with Dion Phaneuf.  The Toronto Sun has this article on his journey to his first NHL game.

Matt Irwin made his NHL debut yesterday for the Sharks, finishing a +1.

Boston College Recap

On October 19th UMass brought a 3-0 lead into the third period against Boston College.  After giving up a couple early goals in the final stanza Darren Rowe scored for the Minutemen to put them up 4-2 with just over 10 minutes left.  But a couple Eagle goals late sent the game into overtime where BC would eventually get the win.  A couple weeks later against the Eagles UMass had a 2-1 lead early in the third but again couldn’t hold on and fell 3-2.  Last night UMass went into the third with a 2-1 lead, looking for their first win at Conte Forum since 2007.  So when UMass brought another 2-1 lead into the final period last night many Minuteman fans were expecting to see BC come back to tie it up, which is exactly what happened just over four minutes in when Steve Whitney scored.  What wasn’t expected was with under seven minutes left UMass would score three goals in just over three minutes and shock the #2 Eagles by the score of 5-2.

At the beginning of the game you never would’ve thought it would end with UMass taking a three goal win.  In fact it looked like the Eagles could’ve been up three goals after the first few minutes alone.  The officiating crew of Tim Bennedetto and Kevin Keenan rewarded BC with 5 minutes of power play time in the first 9 minutes of the game, four straight penalties called against the Minutemen.  The Eagles used that opportunity to pepper Steve Mastalerz, making his second straight start, with nine shots on those early power plays and 11 overall during that time.  UMass only had two shots on goal in that crucial first nine minutes of the game but when that time period was over it was the Minutemen who had a 1-0 lead thanks to a shorthanded goal by Steven Guzzo after Rocco Carzo stole the puck in the BC zone.  Special teams would strike again at the very end of the period when Branden Gracel, clearly the star of the team this season, scored on the power play.

Mastalerz stood on his head to keep the Eagles off the board in the first, facing 14 shots total and turning them all away.  Many in spectacular fashion.  In the second and third periods the defense in front of him stepped up and were able to limit BC to just 9 shots total in those two periods.  But Parker Milner played well on the other end during that time and stopped all 12 UMass shots in that second period.  Things were tense after the game was tied in the third but when Mike Pereira scored the go ahead goal with seven minuets left it was all Minutemen thereafter.  K.J. Tiefenwerth would score shortly after, no doubt feeling pretty good about helping defeat the school who pulled his spot on their team.  Gracel’s second goal of the night finished things off.

Obviously there were of positives to talk about from last night’s game.  The defense and Mastalerz played well for the second straight game, withstanding the early power play barrage and limiting chances in the final two periods.  Colin Shea really struggled in that first game against Providence last weekend but looked noticeably better last night, even adding a couple of assists.  Conor Sheary assisted on both Gracel goals and now has six points in his last four games.  Gracel continues to be on fire lately, with five goals and eight assists in his last nine games.

Last night was great to witness as a fan but I am extremely happy for seniors Kevin Czepiel, Darren Rowe, Eddie Olczyk, and Rocco Carzo.  These four guys had been a part of many hard fought battles and heart breaking losses at Conte Forum but it took what could perhaps be their last visit to finally experience a win there.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steve Mastalerz
Obviously Gracel’s two goals and assist were huge for the Minutemen but the fact is if Mastalerz done not come up with those big saves and withstand the multiple BC power plays in those first nine minutes this game could’ve been a blowout by the end of the first.

Highlights from UMassAthletics.com

“Amazing Gracel” is the headline for the Herald’s recap.

Here’s the Republican’s game story.

The Collegian’s recap focuses in on the seniors.

College Hockey News’ recap highlights the line of Pereira, Gracel, and Sheary.

Here’s the Eagle point of view from BC Interruption.

A couple of former Minutemen will likely soon be making their NHL debuts.  Matt Irwin has made the opening roster for the Sharks.  And former UMass captain Mike Kostka will be dressed for the Maple Leafs in their first game.  The Toronto Globe and Mail has this great story about the 27 year old finally getting his shot in the NHL, with a few mentions of the alma mater.  Congrats to both!

Boston College Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 7-11-2 (4-8-1) 8th Hockey East

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#2 Boston College Eagles 13-4-2 (10-3-1) 1st Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team looked like they were going to turn over a new leaf at New Years as they won the Ledyard Classic against stiff competition.  But last week they got swept in a weekend series at the hands of Providence, a team they need to beat if they have any hopes of accomplishing something of significance this season.  Now, if they want to jumpstart their season they’ll have to face a wounded Boston College team in Chestnut Hill tomorrow night.

BC is struggling as of late.  Well, struggling for them.  Since the last day of November the Eagles are 3-3-2.  One of those losses came to rival Boston University.  One was an absolutely drubbing at the hands of Minnesota by the score of 8-1.  And then last weekend they ended up splitting a weekend series with New Hampshire.  Of course for the most recent games they were without coach Jerry York who is recovering from eye surgery, as he will be tomorrow.  As said, this is a wounded Eagle team.  They’re not playing up to the level they’re used to as they’re without their legendary coach and they’ve had to deal with some injuries (Patch Alber) and absence (Johnny Gaudreau).  However, BC struggling at this time of year is nothing new.  The scary part is this is usually right when they turn it all around and start a streak that carries them to the NCAA title.

Despite recent struggles the Eagles are still quite formidable on offense.  Their 3.42 goals per game is tops in the league, with Gaudreau the leader in both goals (12) and total points (26) despite missing a few games representing Team USA.  Not too far behind him in terms of goal scoring are seniors Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney, who has half of his 10 goals on the power play.  BC is far and away the best power play unit in the league at 25%.  UMass is second best converting 19.8% of their chances.

On defense the Eagles have been, well, mediocre.  Their 2.58 goals given up per game puts them in the middle of Hockey East.  Some of that is due to the youth of their defense.  Some has to do with losing guys like Alber to a soccer injury (no seriously).  Senior Parker Milner is still putting up solid numbers however with a 2.43 goals against and a .921 save percentage.  Though their blueliners can be young, Mike Matheson is certainly one to keep an eye on as he has four goals to go with 10 assists and is a +14 on the season.

UMass has already lost two games to BC this season but they did play the Eagles tough in both.  In fact they absolutely should have won the first, bringing a 3-0 lead into the third before ultimately falling 5-4 in overtime in just the second game of the season.  In early November at Chestnut Hill the Minutemen would again play well and again have a third period lead until losing when Patrick Brown scored with under four minutes left.  Between this season’s efforts and the fact that UMass took the regular season series from BC last season shows that the Minutemen are capable of playing with this team.  The question is if they can put it all together, play mistake fee, and play well on both sides of the puck to win.

Last weekend they did well offensively on Friday but played pretty horrible defense and ultimately could not complete a valiant effort at a comeback.  On Saturday they did well on defense, limiting Providence to minimal opportunities, but could not finish offensively despite over 40 shots on net.  The Eagles are young defensively but they’re not without talent.  With a veteran goaltender to back them up UMass will have to find a way to make the most of their offensive opportunities.  They’ll also have to play damn good defense.  If Gaudreau was jetlagged from the tip back from Russia he didn’t show it, scoring a goal to go with a couple assists in his first game back.  This team is extremely dangerous on offense but the Minutemen did find a way to hold this team to just three goals through five periods earlier this season.  They’ll need some of that tomorrow.

Beer The Triangle
I suspect that pre-game will find me at Cityside, which has a solid beer selection but probably is better known for their food and locale.  However no trip to BC is complete without a stop in at the Publick House.  Best beer bar in Boston?  Yeah, I’ll say so.  For some reason the Publick House has decided to give up on this crazy invention called the interwebs and no longer have a web page.  So I guess we’ll all be pleasantly surprised when we get there and find what they have on draft.

I want to send along some get well soon wishes to BC coach Jerry York.  I’m actually disappointed that I won’t be able to witness the celebration for his gaining of the win record.  There’s a lot to dislike about Boston College.  Jerry York is not one of those things.

The Republican preview centers on the on the fact that the senior Minutemen have never won at Chestnut Hill.

The boys over at BC Interruption are glad to start a soft spot of their schedule this weekend against the Minutemen.

Here’s the Hockey East weekend preview from College Hockey News.

I was ecstatic to hear the news tonight that the WCHA accepted Alabama-Huntsville to join their league next season.  UAH may be geographically challenged but they have a lot of tradition and certainly were worthy of a lifeline to keep their program going.  College hockey needs more teams not less and so glad that it appears the Chargers will be sticking around.

Lastly, I think it’s apparent that I have a soft spot for Minutemen players who hail from Western Mass.  I was neither born there nor live there currently but I consider Western Mass home and love to see the local hockey talent end up playing in the Mullins Center.  There have been a bunch to do so from Rob Bonneau to T.J. Syner.  But in the vein of celebrating the WMass players and WMass locales I somehow got into calling Kevin Czepiel “Holyoke” after his hometown during his freshman year.  I thought it was a fun way to celebrate the gritty, blue collar nature of the town with the gritty, blue collar nature of Czepiel’s play.  It has stuck, at least for me and the Section U crew, and so I wanted to make sure to share this video the athletic department put together of “Holyoke” showing UMass fans Holyoke:

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Recruit Update

A lot of substantial recruit news today, so let’s get to it.

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
15 GP / 2 G / 5 A / 7 Pts / 34 PIM / +3
Gallacher had an assist this past weekend.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Hamilton played his first game for Salisbury last night.  Not sure how he did but the big news for Hamilton today is that he was ranked 191st among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for their mid-term rankings.  That projects him as a late round draft pick this June.

Marc Hetnik – D – Vernon Vipers (BCHL) – 2013
35 GP / 1 G /5 A / 6 Pts / 32 PIM
Hetnik had an assist in his most recent game.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
9 GP / 5 G /7 A /12 Pts
Iovanna had a pretty good week.  First he had part in all of the Lancers’ scoring (G, 3A) in a loss to Catholic Memorial then had a couple goals in a tie over Xaverian.

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
31 GP / 14 / 17 A / 31 Pts / 74 PIM / +8
Kravchenko had the game winning goal this past Friday and added an assist too.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2014
39 GP / 17 G / 18 A / 35 Pts / 18 PIM
Lee had a goal this past weekend.  The Bandits lost another game though and now are only 37-2-2

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
15 GP / 4 G / 12 A / 16 Pts
Thanks to the FTT readers who have sent in prep stats.  Much appreciated from me and other UMass fans who are interested.  Obviously Miller is doing very well averaging over a point a game.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
21 GP / 1 G / 3 A / 4 Pts / 6 PIM
Smith got his first goal of the season, shorthanded, in a 8-3 win over the Apple Core.

Frank Vatrano– LW/C – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2013
19 GP / 13 G / 9 A / 22 Pts / 22 PIM
Vatrano did play in a Jr Bruins game this past weekend, but it sounds likely that he’ll be enrolled at UMass for Spring semester.  He was named to the EJHL All-Star team this week however.

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