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News ▲ Brian Williams Commits To UMass; Minutemen Face Team USA Friday

The Massachusetts hockey team picked up a commitment from forward Brian Williams (insert exaggerating newscaster joke here) today.  The news was first reported by Over The Boards on Twitter:

Williams later took to Twitter to announce his commitment as well:

Williams, a 1996 birthdate, is currently in his third season with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL where he has 6 goals and 5 assists in 23 games.  In total for his USHL career the 5’9”, 180lb right shot has 22 goals and 29 assists in 140 games.  Prior to the USHL he played in the NAHL.  Williams is currently playing along side fellow UMass recruit Jake Massie in Omaha.

Williams had this highlight reel goal in his very first game as a Lancer:

Here is a profile on Williams from a year and a half ago on juniorhockeyplayers.com where he talks about what he’s looking for from playing college hockey.

And here’s a Q&A with Williams from Omaha.com from last February.

It’s tough sometimes to project what type of player a recruit will be solely based on their junior stats.  But the feeling I get looking at his career is he could be another Ryan Badger type.  Badger has played 14 games this season, his first with the Minutemen, scoring one goal.

There’s no word on when Williams is expected on campus, but he’ll turn 20 next month and has already played three years in the USHL so it seems likely he’d be coming in next fall.

 

USA Hockey

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Massachusetts Minutemen

The Massachusetts Minutemen take on the USA Junior National Team Friday night in an exhibition ahead of the World Junior Championships that start next week in Helsinki, Finland.  UMass does not have any representation on Team USA, but freshman defenseman William Lagesson is representing his native Sweden on their national team for the second year in a row.  The Minutemen will be taking on a team includes some of the very best under-20 players in the country.

Unfortunately it was announced today by US coach Ron Wilson that Auston Matthews, who is expected to go first overall in next year’s NHL draft, will not dress for the game.  Neither will Alex DeBrincat, who is projected to go in the first round.  It’s unknown if the fact that DeBrincat originally committed to play for coach John Micheletto at UMass before decommitting a year and a half ago and heading to the OHL had anything to do with his decision not to play in the game.

Here is the roster for Team USA via SBN College Hockey.  They have an entire section of coverage on Team USA and how the camp, being held at Boston University, has gone so far that I would recommend to anyone wanting to know more about the team.  NHL.com also has some pretty extensive coverage.

In last night’s post I talked about the tough road UMass has ahead of them during the second half of the season.  The good news is they will not face a team during that time more talented than the one across from them Friday night.  It will be a challenge for the Minutemen to keep pace with the team loaded with NHL-worthy talent.  That task could be even tougher due to the fact that UMass has been banged up a bit in the last couple weeks and may not have their full roster available, not even counting Lagesson who is already overseas.

For UMass the important things to get out of the game against Team USA is to treat it as a learning experience, have fun with it, and not to make the current injury situation any worse.  For the fans who can make it, you’ll be able to see some great hockey and say “I remember that time I saw 5 time NHL All-Star Auston Matthews on the Mullins ice…”  If you love the sport of hockey, I’d definitely recommend making this game.

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