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Polls & Awards

Combined with Minnesota dropping a game, Boston College’s come from behind win at Amherst followed by their defeat of Northeastern in their home opener the next night was enough to put them back in the top spot in this week’s USCHO rankings.  UMass’ OT loss to the Eagles was enough to gain them a couple votes in the poll.  BC is the only Hockey East representative in the top ten but just outside are #11 Lowell, #12 New Hampshire, #13 Boston University, and #15 Northeastern.  BC returned to the top of the USA Hockey/USA Today rankings as well.

His game-winner on Friday helped BC’s Johnny Gaudreau gain Player of the Week honors for Hockey East this week.  Rocco Carzo was named a top performer for his two goal game.

The Washington Capitals have this interview of former Minuteman Alex Berry describing his road back to hockey after the horrific on-ice accident that almost ended his career and even his life last fall.  I’m ecstatic to see him back on the ice.  Berry, along with T.J. Syner, is playing with Reading of the ECHL to start the hockey season.

For those that may have missed it, Paul Dainton did make the opening night roster for the Springfield Falcons.

And look who’s back playing stateside, Thomas Pöck.  Pöck is playing with the Lake Erie Monsters this season.

Don’t forget that I’ve added a link to the top of the page to an offsite page where you can instantly find out where former Minutemen are currently playing.

Lastly I want to give a heartfelt thanks and farewell to Inside College Hockey, which announced yesterday that they’re packing it in.  Their coverage had slipped in recent years but many who have followed the sport closely for the last ten years or more know that INCH was once an excellent resource for rankings, news, and humor.  The site had some excellent writers over the years, including Jeff Howe who covered UMass hockey for the Collegian and now is the Patriots beat writer for the Herald.  I’ll always remember them giving the UMass triangle jersey the bronze medal in their ranking of all-time ugliest sweaters.  Stick salute to all current and past INCH writers.

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Northeastern Preview; UMass Preview Addendum

Massachusetts Minutemen 0-0-0 (0-0-0) Hockey East T-1st

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Northeastern Huskies 0-0-0 (0-0-0) Hockey East T-1st

Let the season begin!  Sitting here watching the Bruins Stanley Cup banner go up is a great way to get into the hockey mood on this college season opener eve.  It seems very long ago that us UMass fans shuffled out of Conte Forum after the Eagles eliminated the Minutemen.  It’s even longer ago, all the way back to the third week of January, since UMass fans got to celebrate a win and there weren’t many of us present in Burlington that night to see it.  So not only am I psyched and hungry to see some UMass hockey, but I am flat out starved for a win.  And that’s just me, a fan.  I can only imagine how the returning players feel.

This will probably be an abbreviated preview since there’s not too much more to say than I already did in either my Northeastern season preview or my UMass preview from last night.  There are a couple pieces of news on the Northeastern side.  First is that they’re actually coming off a loss, dropping their exhibition game to St Francis Xavier on Sunday by a score of 8 to 5.  I wouldn’t get too excited over that result however.  Six of the goals were given up by their third string goaltender Clay Witt.  Chris Rawlings, tomorrow’s starter, only gave up one goal on 11 shots.  The more significant news is that the Huskies have suspended two of their better forwards in Cody Ferriero and Steve Quailer for incidents dating back to last season.  They’ll also be without freshman Ludwig Karlsson who is having clearinghouse issues.

Having two talented forwards out is an advantage for the Minutemen, one they cannot let pass by.  As I mentioned in my season preview after these three initial games the Minutemen get straight into a grueling stretch of games where points may be hard to come by.  That gives them that much more motivation to get  on the board with a win from the get go.

No news out of the UMass team tonight.  Nope, I have no idea who will be in net.  Though if I were a betting man, I’d say Jeff Teglia, only because I think Toot may give his returner the first shot at winning the job.  I’m guessing Steve Mastalerz will still be kept out due to whatever minor injury he’s fighting.

Not sure what else to say that hasn’t already been said or written since last March.  Time to stop previewing, forecasting, prognosticating, guessing, and time to watch some UMass hockey!

Beer The Triangle

I’ve already lamented about the lack of a good beer snob bar immediately surrounding Matthews Arena and having to settle for Uno’s.  I’m hoping to get into the city early enough to hit Bukowski’s which isn’t too far away.  I haven’t been there before but I liked their sister bar, the Lower Depths, when I stopped in following the Frozen Fenway press conference over the summer.  Looking at their beer list it appears they have a couple Jack’s Abby beers on, one of the state’s newest breweries.  I’m also a fan of their house beer, The Buk, which is brewed by Wormtown.  If anyone is heading there keep in mind that it’s cash only!

Amazing that I forgot anything in the lengthy preview I wrote last night, but I did.  I talked all about the players, but I didn’t talk about the coaching.  For the first time in a long time there was a bit of a shakeup on the coaching staff as Red Gendron left Amherst to take an assistant job with Yale.  Replacing him is ex-Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald which means both assistants have DI head coaching experience as Len Quesnelle is the former coach at Princeton.  Certainly Red will be missed, in terms of his abilities to coach and knowledge of the game, the great job he did recruiting, and how well he interacted with fans and boosters.  But, maybe it’s a good thing there’s a bit of a shakeup on the coaching staff.

Hanging around and talking with other UMass fans this offseason I think it’s safe to say that a good majority have lost faith in Toot Cahoon’s coaching.  Few have any qualms with him as a person or the job he does in turning out great student athletes.  But the product on the ice since the team made the NCAAs in 2007 has fans very concerned and frustrated.  Some of the most talented players the program has ever seen have put on the maroon and white in the past few years with little to show for it in terms of wins.  Unhappiness with the status of the program has escalated from just murmurs after losses to more outspoken criticism and even calls for Cahoon to be replaced.  Personally, I understand the frustration.  Hell, I’m experiencing the frustration up close considering how much this team dominates my life.  However, I stand by what I said before last season, that Toot should be given a chance to bring this current sophomore class through and see what they can accomplish.  That said, if this team, no longer able to fall back on the “lots of freshmen” reasoning for coming up short, doesn’t show progress and get some significant wins this season, I would not be surprised if there is full out rebellion among the fan base going into next offseason.  The pressure is definitely on to win and shake this reputation of underachievers that we’ve seen since 2007.

Matty V covers the goaltending situation.

Dick Baker has a look at Brenden Gracel and Troy Power.

The trainers for the Portland Pirates “prevented tragedy” in regards to Alex Berry.

Providence will host a regional in 2013 as well as Manchester, NH, Toledo, and Grand Rapid, MI.

Preview: #1 Boston University


Hockey East Preview: #1 Boston University Terriers

2010-11 Storyline: The 2010-11 season sees BU go without a trip to the Garden or the NCAA tournament.

2011-12 Storyline: Is experience the edge that lifts BU back to the top of Hockey East?

Player To Watch: Alex Chiasson

Player Missed Most: David Warsofsky

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Cason Hohmann

Random Fact: The last time BU went three consecutive years without making the NCAA tournament was 1989.

Usual Beer The Triangle Pre-game Spot: Sunset Cantina (aka “Mini-Sunset”)

Experience.  Is Boston University the most talented squad in the league?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But they are experienced.  They bring back their entire roster save for two players.  Granted, those were two key players, Joe Pereira led the team in goals while David Warsofsky was one of the better defensemen in Hockey East, but the Terriers should be able to make up for their absence and then some.  Alex Chiasson will likely be one of the superstars of the league.  He and Chris Connolly will be expected to shoulder the scoring load while sophomores Matt Nieto and Charlie Coyle build off their strong freshman seasons last year.

Warsofsky leaving early to join the Bruins hurts somewhat but up and coming defensemen Garrett Noonan and Adam Clendening will help solidify the blueline which also includes the talented Max Nicastro.  In net Kieran Millan returns for his fourth year.  While I’ve always thought him to be somewhat overrated, his experience alone will help BU contend for the league title, especially with so many other teams going in with question marks in net.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: Millan is unable to replicate the numbers of the past few years.

They’ll Finish Higher Because: A typo in the standings puts them at 0.1.

Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
1. Boston University
2. Boston College
3. Merrimack Warriors
4. New Hampshire Wildcats
5. Maine Black Bears
6. Massachusetts Minutemen (preview 10/5)
7. Vermont Catamounts
8. Providence Friars
9. Northeastern Huskies
10. Lowell River Hawks

There you have it, my predictions for the season.  What do you think?  Solid?  Crazy?  The product of too many beers in front of the keyboard?  Look for my in-depth UMass preview on Wednesday.

USCHO has their Hockey East preview where UMass is picked to finish 6th and 9th, simultaneously.  Their team preview focuses on, you guessed it, goaltending.  For some reason they seem to have already come to the conclusion that Jeff Teglia will not even contend for the goaltending job since the success of the team lies in the hands of Steve Mastalerz and Kevin Boyle.  Hmm…you getting all that, Tegs?

INCH picks UMass 6th.

Dick Baker profiles freshman Zack LaRue.

Inside Hockey has some pictures from Saturday’s scrimmage.

Justin Braun will join Matt Irwin and James Marcou in Worcester to start the season.

However it appears that Mike Kostka has made the Florida Panthers roster out of training camp and will look to make his NHL debut.

I received some bad news about Alex Berry, who was in camp with the AHL’s Portland Pirates.  In practice on Saturday Berry sustained an injury that broke his arm and damaged his wrist.  The compound fracture of the bone ended up severing an artery and doing some nerve damage.  The good news is they got him sewn up and he has some metal in his arm to help him heal.  The bad news is it’ll likely be a lengthy recovery.  Certainly my thoughts go out to him and hope he heals quickly.

Monday Links; Dainton To Suit Up For Bluejackets

Dick Baker has the first of what will likely be many “Who’s in net for UMass?” articles.  This article centers on Jeff Teglia who hopes to build off last season and stay injury free to earn the spot in the crease.   He also spoke with redshirt freshman Steve Guzzo who missed all last season with a knee injury.

In alumni news, great to see Paul Dainton will be one of two goaltenders to dress for tomorrow’s preseason opener for the Columbus Bluejackets.

Greg Mauldin had a couple goals in an Avalanche intrasquad scrimmage.

Baker catches up with James Marcou who was unable to participate in Sharks camp as he is still recovering from a concussion dating back to last season.  I’m told he is pretty close to 100% though and hopefully will be cleared for full contact soon.

I did get an update on Alex Berry who was released by the Tampa Bay Lightning this spring.  He has gotten interest from other NHL teams but as of yet is still unsigned.  It is expected that he’ll catch on with an AHL training camp when they open.

UMass to Forgo Exhibition Game

So Dick Baker confirms what I speculated earlier in the week, that Toot Cahoon will be skipping an exhibition against a CIS team in lieu of an intra-squad scrimmage.  Hopefully said scrimmage will be open to the public as I mentioned in my last post.  I’d actually be a little disappointed without being able to watch some kind of game in the practice rink to start the season.  Watching the team there is a lot of fun.  You can stand and actually have something to lean against.  You’re at great risk for losing teeth, which adds excitement.  You can hear everything on the ice.  And, everyone on the ice can hear what you’re saying.  It’s satisfying to be able to watch Tim Benedetto laugh at whatever good-hearted ribbing you send his way.

Herald HS Hockey guru and UMass alum Jim Clark reports that new assistant coach Blaise MacDonald will be one of the featured speakers at the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association clinic.

FTT reader Amy pointed out that Chase Langeraap will be returning to the South Carolina Stingrays this season, the ECHL team that he signed with following the college season last year.  Pretty much all the UMass alumni you’d expect to sign or re-sign have, with the notable exception of Alex Berry.  How are AHL or NHL teams not clamoring for a guy who racked up 34 points and 150 PIM last year in the AHL?  Oh and he was also nominated for AHL Man of the Year for his work off the ice.

As a college hockey fan it’s incredibly sad and at the same time infuriating that with all the conference shuffling going on right now there’s no place at the table for Alabama-Huntsville and they may have to shut down their program.  Come on.  Somebody step up and do what’s best for college hockey in general.

History On UMass’ Side

Much was made of the youth that made up a good portion of this past season’s roster for the Minutemen.  All in all UMass had 13 freshmen on the roster, not counting Stephen Guzzo who didn’t suit up due to an injury that occurred on the eve of the opener against Minnesota.  But this wasn’t the first time in recent history that UMass has had such a large freshman class.  And if history is any guide, it just may mean UMass is in for a historic season starting this fall.

UMass had 12 freshmen come to Amherst in the fall of 2001, Coach Toot Cahoon’s first real recruiting class.  That class featured guys like Peter Trovato, Tim Vitek, and Greg Mauldin, who put up 12 goals and 12 assists that season, nearly identical numbers to what Mike Pereira did last year as a freshman.  Of course as one would imagine that inexperienced team struggled during the 2001-02 season and finished with an 8-24-2 record.  Though in another similarity to this past year’s squad, 10 of those losses came by a single goal.  That next year however those 12 freshmen become sophomores and history is made.  The 2002-03 Minutemen turned a lot of those close losses into close wins and enjoyed the most successful year of UMass hockey in Division I to that point in time..  With a year under their belts the freshmen turned sophomores rolled into Orono for the Hockey East Quarterfinals and did the unthinkable, sweeping Maine at Alfond to earn their first ever trip to the Garden (nee FleetCenter).  There they pushed UNH in the Semis before falling 5-4.

The sophomore class wasn’t alone in that run however, because that 2002-03 team also featured a whopping 13 freshmen, featuring guys like Gabe Winer, Chris Capraro, and Stephen Werner.  Grand total there were 24 freshmen and sophomores on the roster that year.  If the current UMass roster were to stay as is (unlikely) then when you add in the projected freshman class for this fall of 9 players then UMass would also feature 24 underclassmen.  Of course when those sizable, talented classes of the early 2000s got yet another year under their belt is when things really got interesting.  In 2003-04 with the Winer class now sophomores and the Mauldin class now juniors the UMass squad came a Jimmy Howard glove save away from being crowned Hockey East Champions and earning their first trip to the NCAAs.

There was another year in the last decade when UMass had a double digit sized freshman class and that was the 2005-06 season.  That freshman class couldn’t save UMass from a 13-21-2 season in their first go around.  But the next season, when those freshman became sophomores, it was their class that led the program to its high watermark.  It’s easy to point to sophomore Jon Quick as responsible for the the team making it to the NCAAs and a first round win over Clarkson, but lets not forget that fellow sophomore Cory Quirk also shared the team lead in goals that year with Mark Matheson.

So there have been three times in recent history when a large, impactful freshman class came into Amherst.  It’s tough to measure how much influence the 2003-04 class had since the class before it was equally large and talented.  But looking at the other two similar years to this past year, UMass had a dramatic increase in success as those large freshman classes become sophomores. From the 2001-02 season to the 2002-03 season the team went from 8 wins to 19 and improved from 9th place in Hockey East to 6th.  From the 2005-06 season to the 2006-07 season the team went from 13 wins to 21 wins and jumped from 8th place in Hockey East to 4th and home ice.

What does this mean for next year?  Well I think a strong and deep freshman class coming in could help in addition to the normal development of last year’s freshmen, especially since it seems to address some major needs like goaltender depth and the all-important size aspect.  Interestingly the squad that went on to win 19 games in 02-03 had a major question mark at goaltender just as the one that takes the ice this October has.  Mike Johnson graduated the prior year and the 02-03 squad featured rarely used sophomore Mike Warner with freshmen Mike Waidlich and Gabe Winer.  Not unsimilar to having sophomore Jeff Teglia fight for time with Kevin Boyle and Steve Mastalerz.  Of course Gabe Winer grabbed the reigns and played well enough to get to the Garden.  Will one of those three goaltenders do the same and we see history repeat itself?

Not too much other stuff going on out in UMasshockeyland.

Alex Berry was not extended a qualifying offer by the Tampa Bay Lightning which means he’ll be a free agent once the signing period starts on Friday.  He had an excellent season for the Norfolk Admirals so I’m sure he’ll hook on somewhere.

I meant to mention it in my Monday post but the draft day trade that sent Brent Burns from Minnesota to San Jose in exchange for a number of young players, including BU’s Charlie Coyle, is not good news for Justin Braun.  That’s another established blueliner that Braun (not to mention Matt Irwin) will have to battle against for ice time with the big club.

Likewise, the Wild acquiring Darroll Powe from the Flyers is another center for Casey Wellman to worry about in the system.  Wellman likely will have to make a legitimate case to be the Wild’s 2nd line center in order to see playing time in the Twin Cities.

Still looking for UMass players on NHL development camps but so far Danny Hobbs appears to be it.

Great to see former goaltender Dan Meyers has joined the coaching ranks, working with current UMass goaltending coach Mike Buckley.

Auvenshine Commits To UMass; Recruit Update

UMass has picked up a late commitment from 6’2”, 195lb  forward Emerson Auvenshine for this coming semester.  Auvenshine has spent the past two seasons playing for the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL.  This past season he had 11 goals and 11 assists in 54 games and had 106 PIM for the Bobcats.  He’s originally from Easton Rapids, MI.

I wasn’t able to find too much information out there on him, but Paul Teeple, the Bobcats’ Director of Broadcasting, was nice enough to pass along a few things.  Auvenshine initially did not make the Bobcats roster when he arrived in Bismarck a couple years ago, but stayed and town, continued to practice and work hard and eventually made the squad when another player left the team.  Obviously he stuck ever since eventually becoming an assistant captain for the team this past season.  Teeple called him a high energy guy who has the ability to score some clutch goals as well, like this series clincher from this year’s playoffs.  Auvenshine scores the gamewinner at about 1:10 into the video:

While the NAHL is not at the level of other leagues like the USHL and arguably the EJHL, UMass has had success with players from that league, such as Anthony Raiola who put in some quality minutes towards the end of this past season.

I’ll post more on Auvenshine as I come across it.  I also have to take a closer look at the roster, because I thought pretty much all the slots had been taken at this point.  This could signal that there will be some roster turnover now that students are done with classes.

Onto the regular recruit update.  Shane Walsh’s Dubuque Saints are currently tied 1-1 for the USHL championship against Sioux Falls.  Walsh got the assist on the game winning goal in game 2 of the best of five series.  Games 3 and 4 will take place this weekend.

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle’s team was eliminated in the second round of the BCHL playoffs after he got injured. He did pretty well in the playoffs going 6-6-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

Mike Busillo – D – Hartford Jr Wolfpack (AtlJHL)
41 GP / 8 G / 19 A / 27 Pts / 97 PIM
Busillo’s season is over as his Wolfpack were eliminated by Walpole in the first round of the AtlJHL playoffs. He had a goal in three playoff games.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
49 GP / 13 G / 42 A / 55 Pts / 76 PIM
Gillespie’s season is over after Shattuck won the Tier-I Under 18 National Championship earlier this month in Simsbury, CT. Gillespie was the 12th leading scorer in the tournament, netting two goals and three assists in the six games.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue’s season has come to a close as his Waxers lost in the first round of the playoffs. He had a goal and four assists in five playoff games, including a game winner and a shorthanded goal.

Joseph Manno – South Kent Cardinal (NE Prep)
24 GP / 16 G / 27 A / 43 Pts
South Kent was upset in the prep playoffs despite being the top seed.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union Wildcats (NE Prep)
35 GP / 24-7-4 / 1.63 GAA / .923 sv%
Mastalerz’s season is over after KUA lost in the first playoff game 4-3 in overtime.

Andrew Tegeler – F – Junior Bruins (EJHL)
44 GP / 19 G / 21 A / 40 Pts / 38 PIM
Tegeler’s Bruins were eliminated in the EJHL playoffs.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
49 GP / 9 G / 7 A / 16 Pts / 14 PIM
Walsh picked up his first point of the playoffs, a key one, this past weekend.

Oleg Yevenko -D – Fargo Force (USHL)
52 GP / 4 G / 4 A / 8 Pts / 197 PIM
Yevenko had 4 PIM and no points in his three playoff games. His Force were eliminated in the USHL playoffs by Walsh’s Saints.

A video tribute to the seniors is up at UMassAthletics.com.

Kind of odd that a kid from Danvers who played for the Junior Bruins will be rooting for the Lightning tonight.  But we’ll cut Alex Berry some slack since he does play for Tampa Bay’s affiliate in Norfolk.  Here’s a great recap of how Alex is faring in pro hockey from his local paper.  (By the way, brutal spelling of Amherst…)

Recruit & Alumni Update

And then there was one.  With Oleg Yevenko’s Fargo Force getting swept at the hands of Shane Walsh’s Duquesne Fighting Saints in the second round of the USHL playoffs, Walsh is now the only UMass recruit still playing this season.  Here’s hoping that Walsh and the Saints bring home the Clark Cup!

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle’s team was eliminated in the second round of the BCHL playoffs after he got injured. He did pretty well in the playoffs going 6-6-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

Mike Busillo – D – Hartford Jr Wolfpack (AtlJHL)
41 GP / 8 G / 19 A / 27 Pts / 97 PIM
Busillo’s season is over as his Wolfpack were eliminated by Walpole in the first round of the AtlJHL playoffs. He had a goal in three playoff games.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
49 GP / 13 G / 42 A / 55 Pts / 76 PIM
Gillespie’s season is over after Shattuck won the Tier-I Under 18 National Championship earlier this month in Simsbury, CT. Gillespie was the 12th leading scorer in the tournament, netting two goals and three assists in the six games.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue’s season has come to a close as his Waxers lost in the first round of the playoffs. He had a goal and four assists in five playoff games, including a game winner and a shorthanded goal.

Joseph Manno – South Kent Cardinal (NE Prep)
24 GP / 16 G / 27 A / 43 Pts
South Kent was upset in the prep playoffs despite being the top seed.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union Wildcats (NE Prep)
35 GP / 24-7-4 / 1.63 GAA / .923 sv%
Mastalerz’s season is over after KUA lost in the first playoff game 4-3 in overtime.

Andrew Tegeler – F – Junior Bruins (EJHL)
44 GP / 19 G / 21 A / 40 Pts / 38 PIM
Tegeler’s Bruins were eliminated in the EJHL playoffs.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
49 GP / 9 G / 7 A / 16 Pts / 14 PIM
Walsh went scoreless in the two playoff games in which he saw action.

Oleg Yevenko -D – Fargo Force (USHL)
52 GP / 4 G / 4 A / 8 Pts / 197 PIM
Yevenko had 4 PIM and no points in his three playoff games.

Very little UMass hockey or even general college hockey news as of late.  Greg Cronin was leaving Northeastern.  And then he wasn’t.  Meanwhile the man who took over at Princeton for Len Quesnelle, who took over for Toot Cahoon is now the first ever head coach for Penn State.

In alumni news, Jon Quick had some amazing games for his Kings, including a shutout and a 51 save effort, but he and his teammates were not able to overcome the 2nd seeded Sharks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Justin Braun saw one game of action for San Jose and hopefully will see more as the Sharks continue towards the cup.

In the AHL Casey Wellman’s Houston Aeros have moved onto the second round where they’ll take on the Milwaukee Admirals.  Wellman had a goal and assist in the first round.  David Leaderer is still on the roster for Milwaukee but didn’t see time in any playoff games so far.  Alex Berry’s Norfolk Admirals were eliminated by the W-B Penguins.

Dean Stork coached his Greensville Road Warriors to the 7th game of the second round of the ECHL playoffs, but they fell there to the Wheeling Nailers.  Still, this season represented an amazing start to Storker’s head coaching career.

Nothing hockey related, but there’s a ton of action on campus this weekend.  Everything starts with senior night for lacrosse tomorrow as Garber Field is illuminated for a rare night game.  Tailgating is being encouraged before the game (though, I didn’t really need the encouragement).  UMass softball will have the second of a key series against Fordham at noon on Saturday which will lead into another tailgating opportunity before that evening’s spring football game.  All are great opportunities to head back to the valley and hang with old and new college friends.

Pereira and Manno On Final Draft Rankings; Minutemen In The Playoffs

Hope everyone enjoyed Saturday’s National Championship game.  A game winner in overtime, it certainly doesn’t get anymore exciting that that.  Congratulations to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs for their victory!

The final rankings for the NHL Draft were released today by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service.  The Minutemen had two players on the list with Mike Pereira ranked 114th among North American skaters and incoming freshman Joseph Manno ranked 145th.  Pereira’s rank improved from a mid-season rating of 135th while Manno was previously unranked.  Pereira was ranked 63rd in last year’s final rankings, but went undrafted come draft day.  I’ve heard a couple different reasons as to why he wasn’t picked; one that he was injured and had to limit his participation when he went to the NHL combine and the other that teams were concerned with his strength.  Whatever the reason, I really hope he gets to hear his named called this year.  As a freshman he put up numbers as good or even better than BU’s Charlie Coyle, a first rounder at last year’s draft.  I’ve also heard that Pereira has put a lot of time in at the weight room, which hopefully together with how he performed on the ice will make the difference for him this year.

Zack Phillips, who committed to UMass before jumping to the QMJHL, was rated as the 15th best North American forward and will likely go towards the end of the first round.

It’s playoff time in pro hockey and a few Minutemen will be key parts of their teams’ postseason success.  UMass’ two NHL representatives will actually be facing each other in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as Jon Quick and the L.A. Kings will be taking on Justin Braun and the San Jose Sharks.  This will be Quick’s second NHL playoff appearance when he takes the net for the seventh seeded Kings.

In the AHL Greg Mauldin will be a part of the first ever playoff team for the Lake Erie Monsters, the second seed in the North Division, who will be taking on the Manitoba Moose.  Casey Wellman and the Houston Aeros will be taking on the Peoria Rivermen in the first round.  Alex Berry and the Norfolk Admirals will look to upset the East Division’s top seeded Wilkes-Barre Penguins.  Also, I missed this last week but David Leaderer was loaned from the Albany Devils to the Milwaukee Admirals and could see time with them in the playoffs.

No UMass players in the ECHL made the playoffs, but former Minuteman captain turned coach Dean Stork already has his Greenville Road Warriors in the second round in that league.

With my actual posting becoming less frequent make sure to follow Fear The Triangle on Twitter as well as like the Fear The Triangle Facebook page to keep up to date on all things UMass hockey.  I’ll be sharing any UMass and general hockey news through those mediums that may not necessarily be worth a full blog post.

Miscellaneous Monday

It has been a few days since my last post. I’ve been on a bit of a FTT sabbatical which ironically enough consisted of watching a lot of hockey and drinking some good beer. Time to catch up on what’s going on with UMass hockey and the rest of Hockey East.

Paul Dainton picked up his first professional win on Saturday night against the Worcester Sharks, stopping a 12 game winless streak for the Falcons.  Dainton had 39 saves and even picked up an assist in the effort.  He was able to keep former teammates Cory Quirk and Matt Irwin off the board and got the win over former Lowell goaltender Carter Hutton who got lit up for 4 goals in 11 shots before being yanked.

Chase Langeraap is writing a blog covering the beginning of his professional hockey career for the UMass Athletics site.

Alex Berry was named the Norfolk Admiral’s representative of the AHL Man of the Year.  Berry is being recognized for his participation in a variety of causes in the Norfolk area.  Truly he’s doing an excellent job carrying on the legacy of dedicated community involvement that we’ve seen develop in Amherst in recent seasons with the UMass program.  Berry is now up for the league-wide award for the AHL.  Congratulations to Alex, a great representative of the University of Massachusetts.

I likely would’ve been at Dainton’s first win in Worcester if I didn’t end up deciding to head up to Manchester for the Northeast Regional at the last minute.  I attended the games with my father, a Merrimack grad, who quite frankly has learned everything he knows about Warrior hockey from yours truly.  Still it was fun to bring him up there to watch his alma mater make their first NCAA appearance since 1988.  First off, we started the afternoon at the Strange Brew Tavern, which I recommend for those looking for a good place for a beer in Manchester.  They have an excellent selection of northern New England brews and I enjoyed some Smuttynose, Woodstock, and Trout River during my visit.  Saturday was my first visit to Verizon Wireless Arena, which I thought was a pretty nice minor league venue aside from what seemed like some narrow concourses.

I was certainly surprised by what occurred in the first game between UNH and Miami.  The Wildcats had a very solid year, but the way in which they shutdown a very talented Miami team was extremely impressive.  I had looked forward to seeing Hobey Baker finalists Carter Camper and Andy Miele for the Redhawks but they did not live up to their reputations that day.  Both showed good moves and hands but like the rest of their team were unable to put quality chances on net all night and UNH came away with the upset.

The stories of the second game was a great Merrimack crowd and how their team was killed by bad goals.  The Merrimack crowd was impressive, many sporting jerseys or specially made t-shirts.  They were spurred on all night by the University of Dayton hoop band which Merrimack had rented for the last three weekends.  They were energetic and entertaining but I found it sad that now even Atlantic 10 basketball foes can claim they have a better hockey band than UMass.  Anyway, onto the game, the Warriors played great.  Unfortunately Joe Cannata let in some soft goals as well as a couple flukes.  The softie from way out to cut Merrimack’s lead 3-2 was really the killer.  The game-winner in overtime was simply a great effort by Notre Dame.  I have no idea what Anders Lee thought would happen when he laid out and poked the puck towards the net, but it’s that kind of desperation and extra play that wins games.  Jeff Jackson’s timeout five minutes into an overtime period dominated by the Warriors was the smartest move I saw all day.

UNH could not continue their tough defense the next day against Notre Dame who moved onto the Frozen Four.  And with Boston College getting embarrassed in their first round game the Frozen Four will unfortunately be without any Hockey East representation after dominating the tournament for the last three years.

Hockey East has seen a flurry of early defections to join Maine’s Gustav Nyquist and BU’s David Warsofsky who signed with NHL teams last week.  Boston College will be without Paul Dainton’s newest teammate Cam Atkinson who signed with Columbus and Jimmy Hayes who signed on with the Blackhawks.  Eagle fans are likely worried that Chris Kreider may be leaving Chestnut Hill early as well.  Merrimack’s Stephane DaCosta has not signed as of yet, but  all reports say he’s on the verge of signing a free agent deal with any number of clubs and has already secured an agent.

Don’t forget, the Reverse Raffle is this Friday.  You cannot beat this event.  For $115 you and a friend can hang out with other fans, coaches, parents, and everyone else associated with the program, eat some good food, drink some good beer, win some cool prizes (I just kicked in a $50 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card myself), and maybe even walk away with $4,999.  Best of all, the program walks away with money too from this fundraising event.  Don’t you hate how BC, BU, UNH, and Maine always seem to have all the money and support in the conference?  Well here’s your chance to help level the playing field (ice?) for UMass hockey while having a good time as well.  Hope to see everyone there.

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