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Hockey East Coaches Pick UMass To Finish 12th

Today was Hockey East Media Day and, like the media members over the weekend, the league coaches also picked the Massachusetts hockey team to finish 12th in the 12 school league.  Again, not a big surprise given that the Minutemen are losing their top two players off a squad that finished 12th last year as well.  Will the dueling polls with UMass in last serve as motivation for the players and staff?  We’ll have to see.  Here’s the whole poll:

2015-2016 HOCKEY EAST PRESEASON COACHES POLL

Team (1st Place Votes) Pts. 1. Boston College (7) 115 2. Boston University (3) 107 3. Providence (2) 95 4. UMass Lowell 92 5. Northeastern 76 6. New Hampshire 74 7. Notre Dame 72 8. Vermont 57 9. UConn 34 10. Maine 29 11. Merrimack 27 12. Massachusetts 14 – See more at: http://hockeyeastonline.com/men/pres1516/201509/sep21mpp.php#sthash.G52Ulx2m.dpuf

2015-2016 HOCKEY EAST PRESEASON COACHES POLL

Team (1st Place Votes) Pts. 1. Boston College (7) 115 2. Boston University (3) 107 3. Providence (2) 95 4. UMass Lowell 92 5. Northeastern 76 6. New Hampshire 74 7. Notre Dame 72 8. Vermont 57 9. UConn 34 10. Maine 29 11. Merrimack 27 12. Massachusetts 14 – See more at: http://hockeyeastonline.com/men/pres1516/201509/sep21mpp.php#sthash.G52Ulx2m.dpuf

1. Boston College (7) 115
2. Boston University (3) 107
3. Providence (2) 95
4. UMass Lowell 92
5. Northeastern 76
6. New Hampshire 74
7. Notre Dame 72
8. Vermont 57
9. UConn 34
10. Maine 29
11. Merrimack 27
12. Massachusetts 14

So BC will be the team to beat this year if you believe either poll with BU sliding down a spot and the reigning national champions coming in 3rd.  UMass in last place was not unanimous as one or two coaches had them finishing higher.

Other news out of Media Day is that American Sports Network will be producing Hockey East games this year, though they’ll likely still air on NESN.  UMass’ February 12th game where they host Northeastern will be televised.

Another piece of news to come out today was that it looks like Donnie Moorhouse will be re-joining radio partner Brock Hines for the UMass broadcasts this season.  Moorhouse called the UMass games previously from 2002 until 2009.  A former American International College goaltender, Moorhouse is very involved in the Western Mass hockey scene.  He and Hines had a great rapport together in their previous stint and I’m excited at the prospect of them teaming up again, assuming all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed.

Moorhouse is getting a chance to come back to the broadcasts as last year’s play-by-play announcer Cody Chrusciel has moved onto to Princeton.  I thought Chrusciel did an excellent job after joining the team during the season last year and I wish him well down in New Jersey.

The Bruins played their first preseason game last night and newly acquired defenseman Matt Irwin made a big impression.  Irwin had both Bruins goals in a 2-0 win over the Devils.  Irwin even for an “A” for the game.  NESN says Irwin’s signing could be an underrated move for the Bruins this offseason. Frank Vatrano did not dress in the game which took place in Providence.

It was announced today that October 3rd’s football game against Florida International will have a kickoff of 3pm.  This works out really well for fans that want to catch that game, possible with some tailgating beforehand, and get to the hockey exhibition game that night against Dalhousie.

With 12 days to go until that game it’s time to take a look at this year’s #12, freshman forward Michael Iovanna.  Iovanna committed to UMass in Spring of 2012, just a few months before coach Toot Cahoon and the school parted ways.  At the time he was finishing up his junior year at Malden Catholic and it was thought he would come to Amherst the next fall.  It ended up taking him a couple extra years but he’ll finally start his UMass career in just a few weeks.

Iovanna had 15 goals and 27 assists during his junior year at MC, culminated by scoring the game-winning goal in the Super 8 championship (photo below).  The Boston Herald named him an All-Star that year.  He was named captain the following season and then once his high school career was finished headed off to the BCHL for the 2013-14 season.  Things didn’t go quite as hoped in Canadian juniors where he first played for Vernon before being traded to Prince George.  Then, later in that same season, he was traded to Bonnyville of the AJHL.  All that moving around didn’t help his performance on the ice.  He got off to a decent start with Bonnyville last season, but he returned to Massachusetts early in the year to be close to his family after his father passed away unexpectedly.  He then played briefly with the Junior Bruins before enrolling at UMass for Spring semester.

It’s a bit of an unknown what Iovanna can bring to this team since he hasn’t really had the opportunity to flourish anywhere the last two seasons.  Still, he has enough skill that both of the last two coaching staffs at UMass have offered him a spot on the team.  Plus, by enrolling early, it should give him a leg up on establishing relationships with his teammates and coaches.

photo by Jim Vaiknoras/Wicked Local

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