Countdown: 24 Days ‘Til Dalhousie

In 24 days UMass will kick off their season with an exhibition game against the CIS’ Dalhousie Tigers.  So it’s time to take a look at #24 on the roster, Dennis Kravchenko.  Kravchenko is coming off a stellar freshman season for UMass and it was a given that he’d be a key to success for the team as a sophomore.  But when Frank Vatrano and Brandon Montour decided to leave school early for the pros Kravchenko’s status changed from being an important part of the team to probably the most important component.

It was against Dalhousie last year that UMass fans got their first glimpse of what was in store for Kravchenko during the season as he had 2 goals in the 5-2 win.  He’d score 10 goals during the season to go with 23 assists for a team-leading 33 points.  His 23 assists were the third most among Hockey East freshmen and his 33 points was 2nd only to Hobey Baker winner Jack Eichel among league newcomers.  Despite all that, Kravchenko was snubbed from the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, an act that hopefully can only add extra motivation to the sophomore skater.

A good portion of the Minutemen’s offense this season will likely run through Kravchenko.  It had to give the Southern California native confidence by spending some of the Summer at the Anaheim Ducks prospect camp where he was the star of the intrasquad scrimmage by scoring a hat trick.  No doubt about it, Kravchenko will play a big role in determining just how far UMass goes this season.

photo by Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics

Kravchenko was featured as part of the NCAA Ice Hockey focus on each DI team on Twitter today:

Also highlighted was Shane Walsh’s game-winner in the 5th overtime against Notre Dame this past March:

The students back on campus means the Collegian is back to covering hockey.  First up is this must read story by Jason Kates on Dominic Trento’s 500 mile bike ride from his Western New York home to New York City.  Trento compares the 7 day trip to the 5 overtime marathon against the Irish.  The endeavor showcases the character of Trento, who according to people around the team has already shown to be a positive influence on the ice and in the locker room.

Also in the Collegian is this piece on the early days of the Ryan Bamford era in the athletic department and a focus on his vision for UMass Athletics.

The updated roster is now live on the UMass Athletics website.  I’ve also linked to it in the menu at the top of the page.

The Carolina blog Cardiac Cane profiled UMass commit and Cane draft pick Jake Massie.

Posting will likely be minimal through the weekend as I’ll be busy living out a dream 24 years in the making.  I was never much of a college sports fans when I moved from the North Shore to Colorado ahead of my freshman year of high school.  But it was impossible to live in the Rockies at that time and not root for the Colorado Buffaloes, who dominated the Big 8 and all of college football then, winning the 1990 National Championship during my second year out there.  Right around the time the Buffs were knocking off Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl I started to look at schools myself and knew that UMass, who was just starting their upward trajectory in the college basketball world, would be a top choice.  Two dozen years and two degrees from UMass later, here I am a diehard Minuteman fan while still rooting hard for CU, the school that introduced me to the passion and pageantry of big time college football.

In all those years I always wished for the chance to see my two schools face each other at Folsom Field in the shadows of the Flatirons but with UMass playing FCS football for most of that time, the chances were slim to none.  For a long time the closest I got was when I would create my custom UMass team on EA Sports’ NCAA Football.  My wish is being granted this weekend though as the Minutemen are Boulder bound and I’m thrilled to be making the trip to watch them.  Minutemen versus Buffaloes.  Fight Mass versus Glory Colorado!  Maroon versus Gold! Sam versus Ralphie!  This is happening!

Anyway, for those reasons, plus the multitude of quality breweries in the Centennial State, I probably won’t be posting much.  If technology allows I should be able to continue my countdown from afar though.  Maybe even on the correct day!  If you want to follow my Mile High hijinks I’ll probably be keeping active on Twitter during my trip.

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