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Countdown: 37 Days ‘Til Dalhousie

The countdown is on.  I know most sites would count down to the first regular season matchup, but that would create a lot of work in those last few days before the first game when I’ll be trying to focus posts on other topics.  Plus, it’s really the exhibition that will give fans the first real glimpse of the team to understand the full capabilities of this squad.  So when we countdown we ain’t talking about a game, not talking about a game, we’re talking about 37 days until practice. Practice.  Not talking ‘bout a game, talkin’ ‘bout practice.

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Recruit Update

Time for the first recruit update of the hockey season.  However, first I thought I should address a question that has been asked of me and frankly one I’ve been asking myself.  Where are all the recruits?  As of now, at least according to the few recruiting resources available, UMass only has two players lined up to come to Amherst next fall, Shane Walsh and Kenny Gillespie, and none for future years.  This is by far the lowest numbers around Hockey East.  For example, Boston College already has 14 committed recruits, 7 for next year and the other 7 for future years.  Lowell has the second lowest next to UMass with 4.  Are players shying away from the school?  Is this a product of losing Red Gendron to Yale?  Is the word out that UMass is dropping men’s hockey in favor of a coed sailing team?

There are a few factors to consider before panicking.  First is the fact that UMass, due to early defections and other reasons, now have very imbalanced classes.  Currently the breakout looks as follows; 4 seniors, 4 juniors, 13 sophomores, 8 freshmen.  So UMass only has 8 upperclassmen in the first place.  And one of those, Kevin Moore, will not need to be replaced as UMass already has 3 goaltenders under scholarship for the next three years.  So all in all UMass only has three slots to fill for next year and have already done so for two of those.

Still, all other Hockey East teams have more than one recruit lined up for 2013 or later.  Should we be worried that no one is lined up already for those four spots that open after the current juniors graduate?  Let’s take a look at when the current freshman class committed.  The earliest was Kevin Boyle, who first committed to UMass 30 months before he ended up on campus.  The least was Emerson Auvenshine who committed less than 4 months before his freshman year.  On average the freshmen committed 9 months before the start of their UMass career and actually Boyle’s 2+ years is driving most of that, because the second longest is Zack LaRue who committed last December.

Looking at last year’s freshman class, on average the players committed 13 months before their freshman year.  Eric Filiou committed the earliest, 29 months before coming to Amherst.  Adam Phillips was the shortest at less than three months.  Phillips of course was one of the bigger (no pun intended) impact players last year, which suggests that earlier commitments do not necessarily translate to success.  Mike Pereira who performed the best of the freshmen last year committed 21 months before putting on the maroon and white.

So recruiting wise, even though there are only two players in the fold, things still seem OK.  Walsh and Gillespie are two quality players lined up for next year, and we’re still 24 months from the start of the 2013 season, which is a much greater time period than the team usually take to get recruits to commit.  And when that happens, I’ll do my best to pass along the details.

Now onto the update for the current recruits.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL)
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 0 PIM
The USHL is still in the midst of their pre-season, but so far so good for Gillespie.  One game.  One shot.  One goal.

Shane Walsh – LW –  Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 0 PIM
The official stats say Walsh has 0 points in 2 games but this story says he has a goal.  Oh well, I guess it’s preseason for the official scorers as well.

Adam Phillips was featured on INCH’s A-Z.

Paul Dainton made his NHL Pre-season debut tonight when he started the 2nd period of the game between the Bluejackets and Thrashers Jets.  As I write this there are 12 minutes left in the third and Dainton has saved 14 of 15 shots with his Jackets up 5-1.

***Dainton ended up getting the win, saving 17 of 18 shots.  Congrats Paul!

Here’s a good read on Jon Quick’s status as the #1 goaltender for the Kings going into training camp.

The first preseason poll is out and RIT is picked to finish first in Atlantic Hockey.  RIT got more good news when it was announced they’ll be hosting both Michigan and Penn State in coming years.  Congratulations.  Getting the Wolverines to leave the friendly confines of Yost for a non-conference game is near impossible for any team, much less for an AHA team.

Tomorrow I’ll be starting my Hockey East previews.

Syner & Allen Off To Camp

I believe I said last week that the coverage of the development camps coming from the NHL teams themselves has frankly sucked.  Sure enough, despite the fact that they’re not on the official Washington Capitals Development Camp Roster, it turns out both T.J. Syner and Conor Allen are attending the camp.  Thankfully the Washington Post appears to be on top of things.

Sounds like Adam Phillips was on the receiving end of a cheap shot at Flyers camp.  (Flyers?!  Cheap shots?!?)  I’ve seen a few other recaps of his performance at camp but they all say the same thing:  “Plays well, needs to add weight”.  Nothing we didn’t already know.

I suspect a number of former Minutemen will be at the San Jose Sharks camp later this month, but for some reason in the past they’ve kept the goings on there, including the roster, from the general public.

Here’s a video found of 2012 recruit Kenny Gillespie (#19) scoring a goal for Shattuck St. Mary’s from this past February.  Nice to see him use his 6’2” frame to get in front of the net and then put the loose puck in the net off the backhand.

The Iron Mountain Daily News out of Michigan reports that Boston University and Boston College were both invited to the new hockey conference being formed out west, but said no.  I can’t imagine either school would seriously consider leaving the already strong Hockey East, with its natural rivalries and easier logistics, to be with a group of Midwest and Rocky Mountain schools they have little in common with.  The report also states that Notre Dame is looking for a league smaller than Hockey East’s 10 team league.  I wonder if Western Michigan coach Jeff Blashill, who turned the Broncos into an NCAA team this year, jumping to the Red Wings will hurt WMU’s chances of gaining an invite to the new league.

NHL Updates

A few NHL related UMass news to pass along tonight.

First, Mike Kostka has signed a one year deal with the Florida Panthers.  Hopefully playing in the Panthers system (not exactly tops in the NHL) will afford him a chance to make his NHL debut.

Secondly, sticktap to a FTT reader who informed me that T.J. Syner has received an invite to attend the Washington Capitals Development Camp.

Lastly, Adam Phillips has received an invitation to attend the Philadelphia Flyers camp.  Joining him there will be none other than former Notre Dame goaltender Brad Phillips, Adam’s brother.

Last minute addition to this post:

Recruit Kenny Gillespie was included on NHL Central Scouting’s watch list for the 2012 draft.  Gillespie is considered a “B” level prospect.

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