Normally FTT game previews are an in-depth look at the opponent, their strengths and weaknesses, and what the Massachusetts hockey will need to do to gain a win. For Saturday’s exhibition game against Dalhousie however I’m much more concerned with the Minutemen. I don’t really care if they get the win or not, as long as they play well. So let’s take a brief look at the Dalhousie Tigers, but focus more on a few things UMass fans should keep an eye out for with the Minutemen taking the ice for the first time this season.
Dalhousie plays in the CIS, sort of the Canadian version of the NCAA but with different eligibility requirements. They’ve played three preseason games so far and have lost all three by a combined score of 17-5. Last season they went 7-21-0. As we remember they came to Amherst last season for an exhibition game as well. UMass dominated that game, winning 5-2 and outshooting the Tigers 55-21. Dennis Kravchenko made quite an impression in his first time wearing the maroon and white, scoring two goals. Frank Vatrano, Dominic Trento, and Jake Horton were the other scorers. Henry Dill gave up one goal on 9 shots while Alex Wakaluk gave up the other goal on 11 shots. Tiger forward Steven Johnson who scored one of the goals last year is on the Dalhousie roster again this season.
Dalhousie has traditionally been a lower-tier CIS team and this weekend’s game should have a similar results to last year. Besides not getting injured the key to the game this weekend will be for the returning players to shake the rust off and provide the freshmen their first game action under a new coaching staff while giving them a feel for the Mullins Center ice.
With such a big freshman class coming in and given the high expectations for them, I think most UMass fans will be paying most attention to the new faces on the ice. It’s unknown how many of the veteran’s will even dress for tomorrow as Coach Micheletto will probably try to dress all the newcomers. Plus, it seems unlikely we’ll see Dennis Kravchenko as the Collegian’s Ross Gienieczko reported today that he did not practice due to injury. It unknown how serious the injury is but it doesn’t seem worthwhile to put him in as CIS teams have a reputation to play rough. At the same time it’s possible that Shane Walsh, Ben Gallacher, and Henry Dill may end up sitting some or all of the game due problems earlier in the week with the Amherst police and a loud party.
If Dill does end up playing he will be someone to watch closely. Dill had flashes of good play last year, but for the most part struggled as the season wore on. It’ll be interesting to see if his offseason work is apparent. When it comes to goaltending on Saturday though I think most people will be waiting to get their first look at Nic Renyard, who is coming to Amherst with very high expectations. CIS isn’t Hockey East but Saturday could give an indication to how ready Renyard is for college play.
In front of the net fans will likely be introduced to the four new defensemen whose performance could play a huge role in how successful the team is this season. The defense has struggled mightily under Micheletto’s watch but he took a significant step to rectify that problem by bringing in four blueliners who are all getting attention from the NHL. William Lagesson and Ivan Chukarov have already heard their names called on draft day (in the 4th and 7th rounds respectively). Carmine Buono out of the BCHL was named a player to watch for next year’s draft by the NHL’s scouting service earlier in the week. And Callum Fryer spent part of his summer in the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect camp.
At forward among the freshmen fans will get their first look at Austin Plevy and Kurt Keats who both put up big numbers in the AJHL and BCHL respectively. Those two are the early favorites to help make up for the points lost when Frank Vatrano and Brandon Montour jumped to the pros. Beyond the impact the freshmen could make this year, it’ll be important for last year’s large freshmen class to make strides as sophomores, so we’ll see how players like Horton, Trento, and Patrick Lee look against Dalhousie.
The game doesn’t count but it’ll be great just to be back in the Mullins Center again watching some hockey. Is it October yet? You bet your ass it is!
Beer The Triangle
Yes, Beer The Triangle is back, giving you the best suggestions for pregame or postgame beers and bars throughout the schedule. Saturday’s pregaming will actually take place much earlier in the day, as tailgating starts at 11am ahead of the football team’s game against Florida International kicking off at 3pm. My plan currently is to fill the cooler with a lot of decent Western Mass beers. Most likely they will include some People’s Pint, Berkshire Brewing, and Abandoned Building. However I’ve already been told to check out the IPA from Northampton’s newest brewery, BLDG8. So hopefully I can happen across some of that as well.
UMass Athletics has their preview of this year’s hockey squad.
Oleg Yevenko signed a one year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets today after participating in their training camp on a tryout basis. Yevenko will start the season with their AHL club.
Conor Sheary was sent down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by the Penguins, but he impressed enough during camp that he’ll likely get a call up at some point this season to make his NHL debut.
The Gazette had a lengthy feature on UMass recruit John Leonard and his brother, who also is an up and coming hockey player.
The NCAA announced the sites for the 2017 Regionals, including Providence and Manchester.