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Defenseman Callum Fryer To Join UMass This Fall; Leonard To Play For US U18 Team

It may be July but Coach Micheletto and his staff are still on the road trying to improve the fortunes of the Massachusetts hockey team.  They’re doing so not just for future years, but this coming year as well.  UMass picked up a commitment from 6’2”, 185lb defenseman Callum Fryer for this fall.  The news was first reported by Over The Boards:

Fryer played this last season for the Aurora Tigers of the OJHL and is from Oakville, Ontario, the same hometown of Steven Guzzo.  Seen as more of a defensive oriented defenseman, he still had 4 goals and 12 assists in 41 games for the Tigers, as well as 20 PIM.  Like other recent commits, he’s a bit of a late bloomer but he impressed enough this past season that he was ranked #202 on NHL Central Scouting mid-season draft rankings.  He also was selected to play for the Canada East squad at the World Junior A Championships (fellow UMass recruits Kurt Keats, Carmine Buono, and Shane Bear all played for the Canada West team).  Fyrer played well enough during that he was named to the tournament All-Star team, the lone Canadian to do so.

Fryer has been invited by the Toronto Maple Leafs to participate in their upcoming Development Camp.

This article from January talks about Fryer’s rise to be including on the CSS rankings.

The staff has completely re-tooled the defense following a season where UMass gave up a league worst 4.22 goals per game.  Added as freshmen are defensive defensemen Lagesson and Fryer as well as two-way defensemen Buono and Ivan Chukarov.  Lagesson and Chukarov are NHL draft picks while the other two were ranked at some point by the NHL CSS last season.  There is a very good chance all four will be starters next season, joining senior Ben Gallacher and probably sophomore Jake Horton on the blueline.  Added to that mix will be Maddison Smiley, Marc Hetnik, and Brennan Baxandall who all split time at defense and forward.  And starting behind them all will likely be a freshman goaltender in Nic Renyard.  It’ll nearly be an entirely different crew in charge of keeping the puck out of the net this coming season.

The other big news story of the last few days was that recruit John Leonard was selected to play for Team USA in this August’s Ivan Hlinka Tournament.  Leonard was named to the U18 Select team after a strong showing at the USA Hockey Select 17 Development Camp this past week where he was tied for the lead in goals.  Justin Dixson also attended this camp this past week and recruits Brian Scoville and Colin Felix are due to attend the Select 16 Camp this coming week.

Leonard was also named the Western Mass Co-Male Athlete of the Year this week.

NHL Development Camps are in full swing.  Sophomore forward Dennis Kravchenko, a free agent invite to Anaheim camp, had a hell of a day going against the Ducks’ top prospects. In the camp’s final scrimmage Kravchenko had a hat trick!  This is exactly what UMass fans want to see this Summer from Kravchenko as he steps up to the main offensive role next year with Frank Vatrano and Brandon Montour leaving early.

The Oilers had this interesting profile of Lagesson as part of their development camp coverage.

Congrats to Conor Allen who signed a two-way deal with the Nashville Predators.

Brennan Baxandall is interning a Hockey Canada for the Summer.  Sounds like a tremendous opportunity for the sports management major.

Longtime FTT readers will know that for many years I was critical of former John McCutcheon’s mishandling of the UMass hockey program.  However, this was a subject rarely covered anywhere but this blog.  So it was interesting to see this exchange between McCutcheon and incoming UMass System President Marty Meehan in a recent profile in Business West magazine:

Returning to the subject of those hockey teams and the intense rivalry that has developed between them, Meehan related a conversation with UMass Amherst Athletic Director John McCutcheon, who was lamenting how his school has come up on the short end of many recent contests between the schools.

Meehan said he responded first with some sarcasm, then a challenge, wrapped in the form of a leadership philosophy.

“He [McCutcheon] said, ‘you guys at UMass Lowell have been beating us up the past few years,’” Meehan recalled. “I said, ‘the problem is, everyone has been, and you have to work at this — I want attendance up.’

“Sometimes, I get into a lot of various details, but there’s a reason,” he went on, explaining why he was dwelling on hockey. “I think good leaders need to say, ‘we want excellence in everything we do.’”

It took a while, but it’s nice to see McCutcheon’s incompetence finally getting some news coverage.  “Excellence in everything we do” wasn’t something McCutcheon seemed interested in.  The good news is with people like Meehan and new athletic director Ryan Bamford now bringing new energy and ideas to the athletic department hopefully the hockey program can get back on track.

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