This will be a mixed bag of a post since there’s a few things to catch up on. It makes sense to start off with this story that ran in the Collegian by Ross Gienieczko where he covers a lot of ground with Greg Carvel who has jumped into the everyday work of being the UMass hockey coach. In the article Carvel talks about filling in his staff, Toot Cahoon, and the fate of committed recruits.
In the article Carvel says he hopes to have his staff in place by the end of the month. There has been nothing officially announced yet but multiple reports as well as my own sources indicate that UMass’ assistant coaches will be Jared DeMichiel and Ben Barr. DeMichiel, a Connecticut native, was an assistant with Carvel at Saint Lawrence for the past two seasons. Prior to that he was was an assistant at Nazareth College in DIII hockey. If his name sounds familiar it’s because he was the starting goaltender for the RIT squad that surprised everyone by making it to the 2010 Frozen Four.
Barr is someone who is so highly regarded that some in college hockey lobbied for him to be considered for the head coaching position at UMass. Barr is considered by many to be one of the top up and coming young assistants in the game currently. The RPI graduate has worked under Seth Appert at his alma mater, Nate Leaman at both Union and Providence, and most recently for Andy Murray at Western Michigan. To land Carvel and Barr together, combined with DeMichiel who is also highly regarded, is really a huge coup for UMass.
I’ve also been able to confirm that the UMass Director of Hockey Operations will be Brennen McHugh who most recently held the same position at Cornell. McHugh worked under Carvel at SLU as video coordinator.
The Collegian article also mentions that Carvel hopes to have former coach Toot Cahoon involved in the program in some capacity. Gienieczko followed up with a tweet saying that nothing formal has been determined in terms of Cahoon’s role. But even getting Toot around the practices, at the games, and interacting with the fans and alumni again would be a big benefit. There are few more respected individuals in the history of the program than Toot. Just having him involved with the search process was a good step forward. It’d be great to see him as a sounding board for Carvel and advocate of the program going forward.
The last part of the article covers recruiting where Carvel acknowledges that the current group of players committed to UMass will likely change going forward and there’s a good chance we could see players who previously committed to Carvel while at SLU end up at UMass instead. Coaching changes are always toughest on the recruits and I certainly feel sorry for them being caught up in the tempest. But as Carvel says in the article, it’s just the way it goes.
With that said, let’s take a look at how the recruits are doing. As I said previously, until I hear that a recruit is no longer coming to UMass I’m going to assume they’re still committed.
The biggest piece of news out of the recruits this past week was that Matt Murray was ranked 25th among North American goaltenders in the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings for this June’s draft. He had been ranked 27th in the Mid-Season rankings.
On a related note current defenseman Callum Fryer dropped out of the rankings. He had been 202nd among North American skaters previously. Him falling out of the ranking has nothing to do with his play this past season, which was one of the few positives on an otherwise disastrous year. It has everything to do with the fact that he, like the rest of the UMass blueliners, were forced to play an insane defensive system under a bad coach. I hope that having to play for Micheletto doesn’t ultimately cost Fryer a chance of getting his name heard in June.
Anyway, onto the recruits.
Shane Bear – D – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2016 (NLI Signed)
44 GP / 11 G / 31 A / 42 Pts / 56 PIM
The Bandits are playing Murray’s Spruce Grove Saints for the AJHL championship. The final series starts on Friday. Bear has 7 assists in the 8 playoff games. He had a strong regular season where he was a finalist for AJHL Defenseman of the Year and is considered one of the top defensive blueliners in the league.
Troy Conzo – RW – Wenatchee Wild (BCHL) – 2016 or 2017
55 GP/ 13 G/ 21 A / 34 Pts / 18 PIM
Wenatchee’s season is over after they were eliminated in the 2nd round of the BCHL playoffs. Conzo had a goal and 3 assists in 10 playoff games. He was 7th on the Wild in points during the regular season and 9th in goals.
Kyler Nachtigall – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2016 (NLI Signed)
58 GP / 15 G / 24 A / 39 Pts / 66 PIM
Nachtigall has two assists in Brooks’ 8 playoff games.
Jake Massie – D – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2016 (NLI Signed)
44 GP / 4 G / 6 A / 10 Pts / 43 PIM / -18
The USHL regular season is over and unfortunately the Lancers did not make the playoffs.. Massie had a bit of bad luck before and during the season with injuries but still had a decent debut season in the USHL.
Jake McCarthy – D – South Shore Kings (USPHL) – 2016
26 GP / 0 G / 3 A / 3 Pts / 33 PIM
McCarthy went scoreless in his three playoff games for the Kings. The Kings’ season is over.
Brian Williams – C – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2016
51 GP / 11 G / 11 A / 22 pts / 32 PIM / +21
Williams ended the season on the injured list for the Lancers. He ended up tied for 5th on the team in goals.
Niko Hildenbrand – RW – Fargo Force (USHL) – 2016
46 GP / 10 G / 12 A / 21 pts / 46 PIM / +2
The season is over for the Force as well as they didn’t make the playoffs. Hildenbrand had 13 points in 24 games with Fargo after being traded from Waterloo midseason.
Justin Dixson – LW – Tri-City Storm (USHL) – 2017 (NLI Signed)
37 GP / 0 G / 6 A / 6 Pts / 10 PIM / -8
The Storm are the top seed in the Western Conference. Dixson had six assists during his first USHL regular season.
Colin Felix – D – St George’s (NE-Prep) – 2017
25 GP / 11 G / 20 A / 31 Pts
Felix ended the regular season with 31 points in 25 games, which was tops for defensemen in the Eberhardt division and 6th among all prep defensemen. He was named ISL 1st team. They ended up losing to St Mark’s in the prep playoff opener.
John Leonard – LW – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2017
48 GP / 5 G / 4 A / 9 Pts / 10 PIM / -1
The Gamblers are the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Leonard struggled in his first USHL season but did better towards the end of the season. He’ll look to bring that momentum into the playoffs.
Matt Murray – G – Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) – 2017
23-4-0 / .910 save pct / 2.60 GAA / 3 shutouts
As mentioned Murray’s team will be playing the three Minutebandits in the AJHL finals. He has been splitting time in net during the playoffs and is 5-0-0 with one shutout so far with a save percentage of .952, GAA of 1.40. He ended the regular season 5th in wins and goals against average and sixth in save percentage. He was presented with his Top Goaltender trophy (won last year by current Minuteman Nic Renyard) and Top Goaltender Team award for his performance.
Cale Makar– D – Brooks Bandits (BCHL) – 2018 (NLI Signed)
54 GP / 10 G / 45 A / 55 Pts / 28 PIM
Makar has 2 goals and 8 assists in the 8 playoff games. In the regular season he accumulated the second most points for a defenseman, despite it being his first year in the league. He was the co-winner of the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He was named to the division’s All League and All Rookie teams. Makar was recently interviewed as part of this local news piece on the large number of DI commits on the Bandits:
Brian Scoville – D – Winchendon (NE Prep) – 2018
28 GP / 3 G / 6 A / 9 Pts
Scoville finished the season with 9 points in 28 games. Winchendon did not make the playoffs.
The playoffs are starting in the NHL as well. UMass currently has three alumni on playoff rosters; Jon Quick on the Kings, Conor Sheary for the Penguins, and Justin Braun for the Sharks.
Frank Vatrano and Brandon Montour will both be active in the AHL playoffs. After both were named to the AHL All-Rookie team last week, both were also named AHL First All-Stars as well. Vatrano was the subject of a story today in the Boston Herald written by former Collegian Steve Hewitt.
Former UMass captain Troy Power was named the Mark Bavis Unsung Hero winner by the Manchester Monarchs in his first season with them.
In a reverse from this past year, Colorado College will travel to UMass to open the season on October 7th and 8th. I have some info on next year’s schedule that I’ll try to pass along in future posts. Is it October 7th yet?
With a coach in place and the recruits and staff soon to follow things are winding down quickly here at the ol’ Triangle. There will likely be posts here and there covering recruits in the playoffs, the schedule likely to slowly leak out, and I hope to write about Fryer being selected at the NHL draft. But for the most part FTT will be heading into offseason mode where posts will be infrequent as news is scarce.
This was a pretty bizarre season to follow and write about. A month into the season the team was defying all expectations and it seemed like we’d being seeing the first ranked Minuteman hockey squad in many years. But after Halloween the wins dried up and by January I was already writing about the many reasons why UMass needed to find a new leader for the program this offseason. Sure enough the morning after the season ended Micheletto was gone and now in April UMass fans eagerly await the first game with Greg Carvel at the helm. This is a time for optimism and enthusiasm for UMass hockey. We just have to make it through the doldrums of Summer first.
Will Fear The Triangle be there to chronicle the next era of UMass hockey? I don’t know. This blog is a rewarding hobby for me in many ways, but it’s still a huge time commitment. During the season I begin most mornings by battling Route 3 traffic before the sun even comes up and battle the same traffic later in the evening hours after putting in a full day of work at my job. My nights are spent with the two most important things in my life; my wife and my young daughter. Whatever time I have left is spent entirely on this blog. I owe it to myself and my family to reevaluate whether this is all worth it every offseason. So that’s what I’ll do again in the coming weeks and months.
The prospect of writing about positive goings-on in the program rather than its demise is certainly a big pull to get me to continue FTT into next season. Believe it or not I still have never been able to write about a winning season of UMass hockey. I would like to do that sometime, whether it’s next season or in some other future chapter.
Whether I write FTT I personally am still going to be keeping up on all the news surrounding the program, still going to be crunching the numbers, and keeping an eye on the recruits. It seems silly to do all that and not pass it along to you, the hardcore UMass hockey fans. But if I’m going to do it, I want to do it right. Not half-assed. Which means I need to make sure I’m all-in before I can commit to another year. Sometime in the coming months I’ll determine if that’s the case and if I want to do this for another year. In the meantime I’ll keep posting when there is something to post about. Given the state of the program I don’t think there’s a lot of us hardcore fans left but for those few who have followed along with me this trying season, I thank you for reading. Whether in person, in the comments, or on social media the interaction with other UMass fans is a big part of what makes FTT worth all the time and effort.
Enjoy your Summer and go UMass!