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Countdown ▲ 7 Days ‘Til Dalhousie

We are just a week away from the Massachusetts hockey team kicking off its season with the exhibition game against Dalhousie of the CIS.  Since I didn’t have a chance to post yesterday, we have a couple Minutemen to spotlight today.

First up is #8 Jake Horton.  With the team potentially dressing four freshman defensemen every night Jake Horton will be looked upon for leadership on the blueline despite being just a sophomore.  He enters his second year having played every one of UMass’ games last season.  Even with all of the struggles on defense last season, Horton was pretty steady.  His –1 rating was best among all Minuteman defensemen.

He contributed some key points on offense as well.  He scored 3 goals over his first 7 games and then later in the season registered 4 points over a 7 game period in the middle of the season too.  He finished the year with 4 goals and 4 assists, though his ability to move the puck and skillful shot from the point made him more involved in the offense than his numbers show.  The only real drawback from his season was too regularly taking bad penalties.  Despite that, Horton seems like a player who could potentially have a breakout year for the Minutemen.

photo by Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics

Dennis Kravchenko got a lot of the buzz among freshman forwards last season but #7 Patrick Lee had a solid year as well.  Lee finished the season with 20 points, 5th most on the team, on 5 goals and 15 assists.  He was a big part of UMass’ first victory of the season against Michigan State when he assisted on 2 goals before scoring the gamewinner with under 10 seconds remaining in the game.

The Minutemen had a winning record when Lee registered a point at 7-4-0.  He’ll be one of the players looked upon to build on last year’s numbers and help replace some of the scoring lost.  While he seems to excel as a setup man he’s shown enough scoring knack to shoulder some of the goalscoring load this season as well.

Some more updates from around NHL training camps:

Frank Vatrano scored during the shootout of the Bruins’ win the other night.

Here’s another story on Conor Sheary impressing at Penguins camp.

Oleg Yevenko is doing well enough with the Blue Jackets that they’re looking to sign him to a two-way contract (currently he only has a contract with Columbus’ AHL affiliate).

I joined Hockey East podcasters Eastern Bias last week to help preview the upcoming UMass season.

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