In last week’s post I mentioned that UMass coach Greg Carvel would likely name Ben Barr, Jared DeMichiel, and Brennen McHugh to his staff in the coming days. That day was today as the hiring of Barr and Demichiel as assistant coaches and McHugh as Director of Hockey Operations became official.
As mentioned last week this is a terrific staff that Carvel has assembled. Barr is someone who is seen as maybe the top young assistant coach in the college game today. DeMichiel quickly built a reputation as a solid recruiter and well-liked personality during his time at Saint Lawrence. And McHugh has gone from Video Coordinator at SLU, to Director of Hockey Ops at Cornell, to UMass in a very short time. The hiring of Carvel was a big win for UMass but to have him now supported by such a well-qualified staff enhances the suddenly improved stature of UMass hockey.
DeMichiel put a note up on Twitter thanking those who helped him get to this position. It’s good to see that he reached out to a number of UMass alums, specifically those with ties to Western New York where DeMichiel played in college, regarding coming to Amherst.
There was a lot of positive opinions expressed regarding the hires around social media. Here’s a taste:
This past Thursday coach Carvel was at the UMass Club in Boston to take part in the UMass Athletics alumni networking event. In addition to Carvel the event was also attended by men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg, Swimming/Diving coach Russ Yarworth, Field Hockey coach Carla Tagliente, newly hired women’s basketball coach Troy Verdi, and athletic director Ryan Bamford.
It was an enjoyable, well-attended event. Bamford continues to gets fans excited about the direction of the athletic department as a whole with his vision and energy. A number of hockey alumni attended the event and met with coach Carvel:
That’s coach Carvel with (from left to right) Colin Shea, Jordan Virtue, Craig MacDonald, James Marcou, and Mike Warner. It was great to talk with the former players that night. Like the rest of us fans they are just as enthused at Carvel’s hiring and seem excited to reengage with the program they gave so much to when they were student-athletes.
Time to take a look at the recruits. It is starting to sound like there will be a significant overhaul of the future classes with the new staff in place. There may also be some turnover of the current roster as well. But at this point nothing is fully known so I’m going to continue with updates of the recruiting classes as we currently know them.
Shane Bear – D – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2016 (NLI Signed)
44 GP / 11 G / 31 A / 42 Pts / 56 PIM
The Bandits currently have a 2-1 lead over Matt Murray’s Spruce Grove Saints in the AJHL Championship with all three games going to overtime. Bear has 7 assists in the 11 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 10 playoff games for the Bandits.
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 but Dixson has yet to play in the playoffs. 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 but Leonard has yet to score through two playoff games.. He has struggled in his first USHL season but did better towards the end of the season.
Matt Murray – G – Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) – 2017
23-4-0 / .910 save pct / 2.60 GAA / 3 shutouts
Murray is facing Bear, Nachtigall, and Makar in the AJHL finals. He has been splitting time in net during the playoffs and is 6-2-0 with one shutout so far with a save percentage of .948, GAA of 1.62. The Edmonton Journal has high praise for his playoff performance so far. 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 10 assists in the 11 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.
Frank Vatrano continues to accumulate the accolades for his first pro season. This past week Vatrano was named the AHL Co-Rookie of the Year, sharing the honor with Mikko Rantenan. It’s pretty amazing that Vatrano, undrafted and playing just one full season of college, is sharing the league’s top rookie award with a guy who was the 10th overall draft pick in last year’s draft. Vatrano also was also named the top goal scorer for the league with his 36 goals in 36 games, sharing the title with Chris Bourque.
The Bruins’ futility to end the season prevented Vatrano from making his NHL playoff debut, but that’s not the case for Conor Sheary (who is playing key minutes for the Penguins against the Rangers as I type this). Sheary already picked up his first playoff point. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had this article on Sheary and his first foray into playoff hockey.
Out west we have alums Jon Quick and Justin Braun facing each other in the Kings-Sharks series.
The Fire The Musket blog has the news that the athletic department will likely be finding a new vendor to run UMassathletics.com soon. Hopefully that will help address some of the streaming issues that have plagued the online broadcasts for hockey and other sports in recent years.
A couple hockey programs are exploring a move to Division I, including one north of the border.
Lastly former Minuteman Pat Kiley was recently in a very serious accident on the ski slopes. The good news is that after some scary moments he is on the road to recovery. Kiley was a scrapy player and his toughness and tenacity will be assets as he looks to return to normal life after this episode. If you’d like to help out Kiley and his fiancée here’s a link to do so.