View From Section U: Right On Schedule

The first thing I do every year when the hockey schedule comes out is try to identify which stretch of games could be the biggest detriment to UMass’ chances of success (FYI, that’d be right now for this season).  But being a hardcore UMass football fan and season ticket holder, the second thing I do is see how the two schedules match up.  I also go through the same exercise a little bit later to see how the lacrosse schedule coincides since I also have Gorilla season tickets as well.

I look for any potential conflicts that is going to make me have to choose one or the other between football and hockey.  Most of the time I’ll choose football at home over hockey away, even if the hockey game may actually be taking place closer to my house out here in the Boston area.  Football only plays a handful of games a year and plus the Section U Tailgate has become a great gathering of friends that many now look forward to.  Plus, if the hockey away game is somewhere like BU or UNH, which for a variety of reasons like price and environment are no longer as appealing, it’s an easy decision.  Sometimes it has been possible, if the football game is early enough, to do both a home football game and away hockey.  That’s exactly what will be attempted come November 19th when football kicks off in Amherst at 1pm and hockey plays in Lowell at 7pm.  Sounds like an excellent opportunity to reacquaint myself with Route 2.   I also able to look for the prospect of a football game playing at UNH or URI and a nearby hockey game, like what happened a few years back when UMass played in the Icebreaker at BU when they visited the now defunct Northeastern football team.

But what I’m mostly looking for are those days when the stars align and UMass fans are treated to a football game along Stadium Drive in the afternoon followed by a home hockey game that night.  As someone who, due to mental illness or perhaps some kind of virus, cannot get enough UMass sports, I love when these type of days occur.  There’s nothing like rolling into the McGuirk lots mid-morning, setting up the gear, having some good food and some even better beer, hanging out with friends, and then heading into the stadium for the excitement of the game and sounds of the band.  Then, after the last refrains of “Twilight Shadows” are echoing off the sacred concrete of McGuirk, we head up to the Mullins for some action on the rink.  If you’ve read this blog a whole two or maybe even three times you know I love my pregaming.  I look forward to hanging out and watching the loyal UMass hockey fans pile into the Hangar while enjoying the amazing beer selection and even better wings.  But you cannot beat a good tailgate, followed by the fun and traditions of UMass football to best gear up for a night of hockey.

That’s why the scheduling gods gave us a treat this year.  On Saturday the UMass community will celebrate homecoming with an excellent football/hockey doubleheader (tripleheader technically if you’re into men’s soccer).  Football will host Villanova at 3:30 at McGuirk.  The athletic administration has yet to say exactly what happens to homecoming when the home of UMass football is 90 miles away, so this could be the last true football homecoming in a while.  And it’s being played against a team that UMass has been in some tough battles with over the years in the CAA and prior to that in the Yankee Conference.  When the football game wraps up it’s up to the Bill we go to watch hockey take on the top ranked team in the country, Boston College.  Last(ish) homecoming at McGuirk, forecasted amazing tailgating weather, traditional gridiron opponent, hockey immediately after, hated in-state foe in BC, and they’re #1 in the country to boot?  You simply cannot ask for anything better.  Seriously, if you’re going to get in the car and spend a day at the old alma mater just once this year, how could it not be Saturday?

NBC Sports (aka Versus)  announced today that they’ll televise a number of Notre Dame, ECAC, and Hockey East games this season.  And when I say Hockey East, I mean BU, BC, and Vermont.  Um, ok.  They’ll also carry the Hockey East tournament, but it sounds like New England fans will still see it on a local channel instead.  It sounds like the league is still trying to finalize their agreement with NESN.

A couple of Fenway Park notes today.  First, Biz Jacobs reported on Twitter yesterday that sources indicate Frozen Fenway is officially sold out.  Second, there are rumors out there that BC and Northeastern will move their January 14th game to the Fenway ice.  Sounds good to me, it seems like Northeastern deserves a chance to play in the famous ballpark just a long home run ball away from their campus.

Last January I reported that UMass was interested in British Columbia winger Alex Kerfoot.  I even heard unconfirmed reports that he may have been in Amherst on an unofficial visit last spring.  No matter, he has narrowed his choices down to BC, Harvard, and Yale.

What?  The Minutesharks may be moving?  That sucks.  In related news, keep an eye on Fear The Triangle in coming days to enjoy a special opportunity especially for FTT readers who want to see their former Minutemen in action.

Randomness

There’s not too much going on in the world of UMass hockey these days, but here are a few links and stories that UMass fans may find interesting.

San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson was specifically asked about Justin Braun and his role with the Sharks going forward and had some good things to say.

Casey Wellman and the Houston Aeros are tied with the Binghamton Senators at 1 game apiece in the AHL Finals.  Wellman has one goal so far in the series.

Alex Kerfoot, a ‘94 who is being recruited by the UMass coaching staff, will play next season for the Coquitlam Express of the BCHL.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is actually going for his second cup of season.  Shane Walsh and the Dubuque Fighting Saints, of which Chiarelli is a part owner, helped get him his first with the USHL’s Clark Cup.

Toot Cahoon, energy resource analyst.

Less than two weeks remain until the Pond Club Golf Outing.  There’s still plenty of time to sign up to play.  If you don’t or can’t play, you can always sponsor the tournament personally or through your business (or blog!) and still attend the cookout afterward and socialize with those associated with the hockey program.  Click on the image to the right for more information.  See you there!

The UMass community is remembering Bob Paquette after he passed away over the weekend.  A UMass alum, Bob built his radio career in the valley and will remembered by many as the host of Morning Edition on WFCR public radio.  He also was very active around UMass, from speaking at commencement to doing PA duties at hockey during those early triangle-era seasons.

Recruit Update; KAEO Alex Kerfoot

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
32 GP / 15-15-1 / 3.06 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle continues to have Jekyll and Hyde weekends, performing well the first night and imploding the next.  This last weekend he picked up a nice win, saving 37 of 40 shots, and then barely made it to the 2nd period the next night allowing 3 goals in this limited time.  Though facing 18 shots in just over 20 minutes of play it doesn’t exactly sound like his defense came to play either.  Boyle also took time last week to visit a local elementary school with teammates

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
33 GP / 9 G / 30 A /  39 Pts / 42 PIM
Gillespie had 7 assists in his last 5 games. 

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
45 GP / 30 G / 34 A / 64 Pts / 22 PIM
LaRue had 3 assists in his three games this past week.  Here is a good article I found recently regarding LaRue’s committment to UMass and his progression towards become a DI recruit.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
23 GP / 2 G / 5 A / 7 Pts / 8 PIM
Walsh played two games for the Saints this week and was held off the board.

I’ve learned that UMass is interested in Alex Kerfoot a 5’9″ 150lb ’94 forward playing for West Vancouver in the British Columbia Major Midget League.  He is currently leading the league in scoring with 28 goals and 55 assists in 30 games.  He also had a brief stint in the BCHL at the beginning of the season before dropping down to the MML.  He recently scored the game winning goal in the league’s All-Star Game.  He was also named the league’s player of the month for October.

He was a late round WHL (the western equivalent of the OHL or QMJHL) draft pick of the Seattle Thunderbirds.  Here’s what T-Birds blog “A Bird Brain” had to say about him when he attended their training camp this past spring:

“Pleasant surprise. Small but not afraid to battle, Quick, good skater. has a nose for the puck. usually makes the right decision. Hopefully he can get bigger but lack of size hasn’t been a deterrent.”

I have seen another site (which I now cannot find) say that he’d be a good fit for the NCAA. 

Dick Baker had an interesting post about Paul Dainton’s family being able to catch his games up in Vermont, something they haven’t been able to do much.  In fact a lot of the Minutemen from up north, like Branden Gracel and Mike Lecomte, had their families in attendance.  I say the Daintons fly down from the Arctic Circle each game if it’s going to result in a weekend GAA of 1.00.

Puck Daddy had Jon Quick as their #1 Star for his shutout of the Bruins last night.  Quick is already 4th in terms of career shutouts for the Kings with 13.

Justin Braun has been named to the AHL All-Star team as an injury replacement.  He’ll be joining Matt Anderson on the squad.