Boston College Recap

On October 19th UMass brought a 3-0 lead into the third period against Boston College.  After giving up a couple early goals in the final stanza Darren Rowe scored for the Minutemen to put them up 4-2 with just over 10 minutes left.  But a couple Eagle goals late sent the game into overtime where BC would eventually get the win.  A couple weeks later against the Eagles UMass had a 2-1 lead early in the third but again couldn’t hold on and fell 3-2.  Last night UMass went into the third with a 2-1 lead, looking for their first win at Conte Forum since 2007.  So when UMass brought another 2-1 lead into the final period last night many Minuteman fans were expecting to see BC come back to tie it up, which is exactly what happened just over four minutes in when Steve Whitney scored.  What wasn’t expected was with under seven minutes left UMass would score three goals in just over three minutes and shock the #2 Eagles by the score of 5-2.

At the beginning of the game you never would’ve thought it would end with UMass taking a three goal win.  In fact it looked like the Eagles could’ve been up three goals after the first few minutes alone.  The officiating crew of Tim Bennedetto and Kevin Keenan rewarded BC with 5 minutes of power play time in the first 9 minutes of the game, four straight penalties called against the Minutemen.  The Eagles used that opportunity to pepper Steve Mastalerz, making his second straight start, with nine shots on those early power plays and 11 overall during that time.  UMass only had two shots on goal in that crucial first nine minutes of the game but when that time period was over it was the Minutemen who had a 1-0 lead thanks to a shorthanded goal by Steven Guzzo after Rocco Carzo stole the puck in the BC zone.  Special teams would strike again at the very end of the period when Branden Gracel, clearly the star of the team this season, scored on the power play.

Mastalerz stood on his head to keep the Eagles off the board in the first, facing 14 shots total and turning them all away.  Many in spectacular fashion.  In the second and third periods the defense in front of him stepped up and were able to limit BC to just 9 shots total in those two periods.  But Parker Milner played well on the other end during that time and stopped all 12 UMass shots in that second period.  Things were tense after the game was tied in the third but when Mike Pereira scored the go ahead goal with seven minuets left it was all Minutemen thereafter.  K.J. Tiefenwerth would score shortly after, no doubt feeling pretty good about helping defeat the school who pulled his spot on their team.  Gracel’s second goal of the night finished things off.

Obviously there were of positives to talk about from last night’s game.  The defense and Mastalerz played well for the second straight game, withstanding the early power play barrage and limiting chances in the final two periods.  Colin Shea really struggled in that first game against Providence last weekend but looked noticeably better last night, even adding a couple of assists.  Conor Sheary assisted on both Gracel goals and now has six points in his last four games.  Gracel continues to be on fire lately, with five goals and eight assists in his last nine games.

Last night was great to witness as a fan but I am extremely happy for seniors Kevin Czepiel, Darren Rowe, Eddie Olczyk, and Rocco Carzo.  These four guys had been a part of many hard fought battles and heart breaking losses at Conte Forum but it took what could perhaps be their last visit to finally experience a win there.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steve Mastalerz
Obviously Gracel’s two goals and assist were huge for the Minutemen but the fact is if Mastalerz done not come up with those big saves and withstand the multiple BC power plays in those first nine minutes this game could’ve been a blowout by the end of the first.

Highlights from

“Amazing Gracel” is the headline for the Herald’s recap.

Here’s the Republican’s game story.

The Collegian’s recap focuses in on the seniors.

College Hockey News’ recap highlights the line of Pereira, Gracel, and Sheary.

Here’s the Eagle point of view from BC Interruption.

A couple of former Minutemen will likely soon be making their NHL debuts.  Matt Irwin has made the opening roster for the Sharks.  And former UMass captain Mike Kostka will be dressed for the Maple Leafs in their first game.  The Toronto Globe and Mail has this great story about the 27 year old finally getting his shot in the NHL, with a few mentions of the alma mater.  Congrats to both!

Boston College Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 7-11-2 (4-8-1) 8th Hockey East


#2 Boston College Eagles 13-4-2 (10-3-1) 1st Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team looked like they were going to turn over a new leaf at New Years as they won the Ledyard Classic against stiff competition.  But last week they got swept in a weekend series at the hands of Providence, a team they need to beat if they have any hopes of accomplishing something of significance this season.  Now, if they want to jumpstart their season they’ll have to face a wounded Boston College team in Chestnut Hill tomorrow night.

BC is struggling as of late.  Well, struggling for them.  Since the last day of November the Eagles are 3-3-2.  One of those losses came to rival Boston University.  One was an absolutely drubbing at the hands of Minnesota by the score of 8-1.  And then last weekend they ended up splitting a weekend series with New Hampshire.  Of course for the most recent games they were without coach Jerry York who is recovering from eye surgery, as he will be tomorrow.  As said, this is a wounded Eagle team.  They’re not playing up to the level they’re used to as they’re without their legendary coach and they’ve had to deal with some injuries (Patch Alber) and absence (Johnny Gaudreau).  However, BC struggling at this time of year is nothing new.  The scary part is this is usually right when they turn it all around and start a streak that carries them to the NCAA title.

Despite recent struggles the Eagles are still quite formidable on offense.  Their 3.42 goals per game is tops in the league, with Gaudreau the leader in both goals (12) and total points (26) despite missing a few games representing Team USA.  Not too far behind him in terms of goal scoring are seniors Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney, who has half of his 10 goals on the power play.  BC is far and away the best power play unit in the league at 25%.  UMass is second best converting 19.8% of their chances.

On defense the Eagles have been, well, mediocre.  Their 2.58 goals given up per game puts them in the middle of Hockey East.  Some of that is due to the youth of their defense.  Some has to do with losing guys like Alber to a soccer injury (no seriously).  Senior Parker Milner is still putting up solid numbers however with a 2.43 goals against and a .921 save percentage.  Though their blueliners can be young, Mike Matheson is certainly one to keep an eye on as he has four goals to go with 10 assists and is a +14 on the season.

UMass has already lost two games to BC this season but they did play the Eagles tough in both.  In fact they absolutely should have won the first, bringing a 3-0 lead into the third before ultimately falling 5-4 in overtime in just the second game of the season.  In early November at Chestnut Hill the Minutemen would again play well and again have a third period lead until losing when Patrick Brown scored with under four minutes left.  Between this season’s efforts and the fact that UMass took the regular season series from BC last season shows that the Minutemen are capable of playing with this team.  The question is if they can put it all together, play mistake fee, and play well on both sides of the puck to win.

Last weekend they did well offensively on Friday but played pretty horrible defense and ultimately could not complete a valiant effort at a comeback.  On Saturday they did well on defense, limiting Providence to minimal opportunities, but could not finish offensively despite over 40 shots on net.  The Eagles are young defensively but they’re not without talent.  With a veteran goaltender to back them up UMass will have to find a way to make the most of their offensive opportunities.  They’ll also have to play damn good defense.  If Gaudreau was jetlagged from the tip back from Russia he didn’t show it, scoring a goal to go with a couple assists in his first game back.  This team is extremely dangerous on offense but the Minutemen did find a way to hold this team to just three goals through five periods earlier this season.  They’ll need some of that tomorrow.

Beer The Triangle
I suspect that pre-game will find me at Cityside, which has a solid beer selection but probably is better known for their food and locale.  However no trip to BC is complete without a stop in at the Publick House.  Best beer bar in Boston?  Yeah, I’ll say so.  For some reason the Publick House has decided to give up on this crazy invention called the interwebs and no longer have a web page.  So I guess we’ll all be pleasantly surprised when we get there and find what they have on draft.

I want to send along some get well soon wishes to BC coach Jerry York.  I’m actually disappointed that I won’t be able to witness the celebration for his gaining of the win record.  There’s a lot to dislike about Boston College.  Jerry York is not one of those things.

The Republican preview centers on the on the fact that the senior Minutemen have never won at Chestnut Hill.

The boys over at BC Interruption are glad to start a soft spot of their schedule this weekend against the Minutemen.

Here’s the Hockey East weekend preview from College Hockey News.

I was ecstatic to hear the news tonight that the WCHA accepted Alabama-Huntsville to join their league next season.  UAH may be geographically challenged but they have a lot of tradition and certainly were worthy of a lifeline to keep their program going.  College hockey needs more teams not less and so glad that it appears the Chargers will be sticking around.

Lastly, I think it’s apparent that I have a soft spot for Minutemen players who hail from Western Mass.  I was neither born there nor live there currently but I consider Western Mass home and love to see the local hockey talent end up playing in the Mullins Center.  There have been a bunch to do so from Rob Bonneau to T.J. Syner.  But in the vein of celebrating the WMass players and WMass locales I somehow got into calling Kevin Czepiel “Holyoke” after his hometown during his freshman year.  I thought it was a fun way to celebrate the gritty, blue collar nature of the town with the gritty, blue collar nature of Czepiel’s play.  It has stuck, at least for me and the Section U crew, and so I wanted to make sure to share this video the athletic department put together of “Holyoke” showing UMass fans Holyoke:


Doherty Leaves Team

Freshman defenseman Connor Doherty has left the Massachusetts hockey team and has already joined up with his former junior team, the Junior Bruins.  Indeed, Doherty’s name no longer appears on the official roster.  He had not appeared in any games this season and was a late addition to this year’s freshman class, committing just weeks before former coach Toot Cahoon parted ways with the school.  He’ll play the rest of the season with the Junior Bruins, where he was an EJHL All-Star last season.  Good luck to him wherever he ends up continuing his hockey career.

This weekend’s opponent, Boston College, moved up a spot to #2 in the rankings despite splitting their series with New Hampshire this past weekend.  BC did announce that that the celebration of Jerry York’s historic win recently that was due to take place during Friday’s game has been postponed until he recovers from recent eye surgery.

No Minutemen were named Top Performers by the conference this past week, not even Darren Rowe after his three point night on Friday.

February 9th’s game at Merrimack, which will be televised on NESN, has been moved to 4pm to accommodate the Bruins broadcast that day.  I missed the fact that the game was ever moved from 7pm to 3:30 in the first place.

Sunday Recap

A couple weeks ago UMass dominated top ranked Boston College in Amherst and were able to take a 3-0 lead on the Eagles into the third period.  From there the wheels fell off and the Minutemen would ultimately fall 5-4 in overtime.  This afternoon’s game wasn’t quite the same as the teams battled each other hard for the first two periods and were tied at 1-1 going into the third.  UMass went ahead 2-1 with an early goal but the last half of the period was pretty much dominated by BC and with two goals in the final 11 minutes, BC took the game and the season series.

After the first late loss to BC I pretty much chalked it up to the team getting tired since they were playing with only five defensemen after Joel Hanley was given a misconduct just minutes into the game.  However when looking at that first loss to BC, losing a 2-0 lead at home to Boston University, and today’s loss I think it’s safe to say the team has a problem closing games.  Specifically, given what I’ve seen and how they’ve played in games, this team seems to have a significant issue with late game conditioning.  This team just looks dog tired right around ten minutes left in the third period.  Opponent forwards are still flying around the ice but it seems like a struggle just for UMass to clear pucks in front of the net and get an outlet pass out of the zone.  The Minutemen have now allowed 11 goals from the third period on and only 7 combined in the first and second.  Whether it really is conditioning or something else, UMass is going to have a tough time beating the better teams in Hockey East without finding a way to hold a late lead.

With that out of the way, as you can imagine when the team narrowly loses to the #1 team on their home ice, there was also a lot to be positive of.  Frankly the team looked a little flat to start but I was really impressed by how well they rebounded after BC scored a power play goal just a few minutes into the game.  From there it was both teams playing hard, skating up and down the ice in an entertaining, up-tempo game.  Steven Guzzo had a great game, scoring the first UMass goal and nearly scoring another later on but was turned away by a spectacular save by Parker Milner.  Troy Power had a multiple point game, helping setup Guzzo’s goal and then giving UMass the lead later on.  Except for the late goals the defense again played well.  Joel Hanley returned from injury and Mike Busillo stayed in the lineup with Adam Phillips sitting out.  Kevin Boyle did well and net and certainly looks like he might have an edge in the goaltender battle at this point.

Overall, there is a lot to build off from this game.  This was a tough opponent in a place where the Minutemen don’t have a lot of success, but they scored a couple goals and did a good job keeping the talented Eagles off the board in the first 50 minutes.  With their power play goal tonight UMass has the second best power play in the conference.  And again UMass can proudly say they can play toe to toe with the best team in the country…almost.  Good teams figure out a way to finish consistently.  Friday showed us they’re capable of stepping up and grabbing the win.  Today showed us that they aren’t quite to the point where they can do it as much as they need to.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Troy Power
I’ve thought Power has made solid contributions on offense while playing on the top two lines so far this year so it was good to see him have a breakout game with a goal and assist.  It’s only the second multiple point game of his college career.  His goal also resulted in the first point of the year for Mike Pereira so hopefully the two of them paired with Branden Gracel is a line that will benefit all three of them.

Coach Micheletto says in the Republican game story that he’s not worried about the pattern of losing late in games.

Weekend Preview

#9 New Hampshire Wildcats 4-0-1 (2-0-1) T-3rd Hockey East


Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-0 (0-3-0) T-9th Hockey East

Coming into the Mullins Center on Friday night will be a one of the hottest teams in college hockey so far this season in the form of the UNH Wildcats.  They’ve yet to lose a game.  They’ve beaten BU, swept St Cloud out west, and beaten Northeastern in addition to tying the Huskies in Boston last week.  The Cats are tops among Hockey East teams in terms of offense and defense early on in this season.

UNH is scoring almost three and a half goals a game.  That production is coming from both their forward and defensive positions.  At forward seniors John Henrion and Austin Block have gotten the job done with three goals apiece in UNH’s five games this season.  They’ve gotten help from the likes of juniors Nick Sorkin, Dalton Speelman, and Kevin Goumas who have all contributed to the Wildcat offense.  However they’ve also gotten good production from the blueline as well as defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk has three goals thus far while Connor Hardowa has a team high six assists.

Obviously their production has helped Van Riemsdyk and Hardowa put up impressive numbers overall on the Wildcat defense, but really sophomore Casey DeSmith has had the most impact for UNH.  DeSmith so far has a save percentage of .931 to go with a stingy goals against average of 1.77.

I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be a huge challenge for the Minutemen to find a way to beat this UNH team.  That seems a little strange coming off of games against Boston College and Boston University but but UNH seem to be playing great hockey in all phases during this early phase of the season and is a little more seasoned than the Eagles and the Terriers.

Therefore, it’s that much more important that UMass leverage the advantages it’s afforded in these games.  To me, those appear to be experience and home ice.  Experience is something that the Wildcats have, as everyone I’ve mentioned above except DeSmith and Van Riemsdyk are upperclassmen.  Yet, UMass can equal or surpass that experience with a fellow sophomore goaltender and the immense junior class which is supplemented by the leadership from this year’s seniors.  The other advantage as mentioned should be the crowd.  Through the first three games of the season the Mullins has been filled with three crowds greater than 7,000 fans.  That’s never happened in the history of UMass hockey.  So far that support and energy has only been able to help UMass to a win over lowly UConn, but assuming they have a similar crowd on Friday it’d be nice to see UMass let the crowd carry them through to the end of the game with a W.


Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-0 (0-3-0) T-9th Hockey East


#1 Boston College Eagles 4-1-0 (4-1-0) 1st Hockey East

Really, there’s not much to say in previewing UMass’ rematch with the Eagles.  Two weeks ago the Minutemen dominated the defending national champions for two full periods.  Going into the third period of the game two Fridays ago UMass had these guys beat.  Then, due to fatigue, lack of concentration, or disparity of talent, they failed to finish the job.  By the end of the third it was tied and in overtime BC’s Johnny Gaudreau grabbed a goal to give BC the game.  On one side I want the UMass team to look back upon that game to fill them with confidence that they can not only skate with a good team but outskate them.  But at the same time I want them to be out for revenge for the earlier loss the suffered at the hands of the Eagles.

BC has been led so far by the captain Pat Mullane, who had two goals to go with an assist against the Minutemen.  In total on the season he has three goals to go with five assists.  Johnny Gaudreau, the hero of the game against UMass, has continued his production with three goals and four assists.  Talented forwards Steven Whitney and Kevin Hayes join Mullane and Gaudreau with three goals apiece.

Helped by senior goaltender Parker Milner, the young but talented defense of BC has held up well.  BC has only allowed two goals a game on the season which is second best next to UNH.  Considering half of the defensive corps are made up of freshmen, that’s a pretty impressive stat.  In the game against UMass I thought Michael Matheson looked the best out of their freshman blueliners.  Matheson is a +4 on the season, tied with Patrick Wey for tops on the BC team for defensemen.  Milner has looked excellent thus far with a goals against of 1.98 and save percentage of .931%.

Hopefully UMass will use their last second loss to the Eagles a couple weeks back as motivation on Sunday.  It won’t be easy though.  UMass has not won at Chestnut Hill since fall of 2007.  We’ll see if that streak can end on Sunday.

Beer The Triangle
After a couple weeks away I’ll be happy to see what the Hangar has on the draft list tomorrow.  A rare Sunday afternoon game at Boston College likely means a trip to the Publick House.  Unfortunately their website is down so I have no idea what to expect when I get there.

UMass is not dwelling on the past according to the Republican’s preview of tomorrow.

The Gazette has a profile on Darren Rowe and the second chance he’s gotten in this his senior year.

Here’s a look at the weekend in Hockey East according to College Hockey News.

Hockey East is supposedly trying to address diving in the conference.  Good luck with that when it’s some of its highest profile teams that are the worst offenders when it comes to embellishment.  I’m going to guess that nothing happens.

Future regional sites were announced by the NCAA.

Boston College Recap

For two periods Massachusetts absolutely dominated defending national champion Boston College on Friday night and went into the final period with a 3-0 lead.  But the defense which had played extremely well to that point, despite being down a man for the entire game, ran out of gas and were unable to do the little things that would’ve held off BC and given UMass the victory.  In the end the Eagles scored four goals in the 3rd and picked up the win in overtime on a Johnny Gaudreau score.

It looked like UMass had overcome the game misconduct for hitting from behind by Joel Hanley when they had killed off the resulting five minute major.  But that was only short term.  Long term the remaining five defensemen had to play extra minutes to try to keep the Eagles off the board, something they did superbly through two periods.  But all those extra shifts caught up to them in the third and they were unsuccessful in doing the little things like clearing the puck and putting a body on the Eagle forwards in front of the net.  This ultimately let BC back in the game and the chance to take the win in overtime.  In my opinion losing Hanley that was the difference in the game.  I’m not going to comment on the hit itself because I couldn’t see it from where I sit.  Either way, I think it was the turning point despite the Minutemen making the necessary adjustments early on.

There were some bright spots in what turned out to be a crushing loss.  As mentioned, for two periods Steve Mastalerz and the defense in front of him were dominant.  I cannot fault Mastalerz for this loss at all, as it was really breakdowns in front of him that led to most if not all of the goals.  Conor Allen had another strong game at defense and picked up a power play goal when pinching in from the blueline.  I thought Oleg Yevenko continues to look poised and his skating has improved noticeably.  Mike Busillo played in place of Adam Phillips and played probably his best game as a Minuteman.  He was solid at defense, showing good positioning, and picked up his first career point on a nice pass to setup Rocco Carzo.  Darren Rowe continues to make the most of his chance at defense, scoring his second goal in two games.  Colin Shea played very physical and had a team high five blocked shots.

I thought the top line of Mike Pereira, Troy Power, and Conor Sheary looked much better than last week, with Power and Sheary picking up assists during the game.  Shane Walsh made his debut as a Minuteman and provided good two way minutes.  The fourth line of Patrick Kiley, Kevin Czepiel, and Eddie Olczyk played very well and had a lot to do with BC’s early frustrations on offense.

So overall it was an extremely disappointing loss and a missed opportunity.  Kicking off the conference schedule with a win over the team picked to win the league would’ve done a lot to set the tone for the challenging next few weeks and the season in general.  Instead the reaction around the fanbase and the rest of college hockey is “typical UMass”.  Now I understand that the loss of Hanley early led to the third period breakdowns that ultimately lost UMass the game.  But good teams are able to find a way to win when they have a 3-0 third period lead or even a two goal lead with four minutes to go.  Friday showed that UMass still has a ways to go to be considered a good team.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Rocco Carzo
Earlier in the week Carzo was named Co-Captain of this year’s squad along with Kevin Czepiel.  On Friday he absolutely played like one, having his first multi-goal game of his career.  There was some debate as to whether Carzo would be able to transform to more of an offensive game this year after playing on the third line for most of last year.  So far so good for the senior.

Here’s the recap from the Gazette, including the note that Mike Pereira who was injured late is expected to be OK.

Carzo admits that panic set in when BC was able to get that first goal early in the third in the Republican game story.  Coach Mick still saw a lot of positives according to the game notebook.

The Collegian has their recap of the crushing loss.

The Boston Herald’s Stephen Harris was in Amherst to cover the game.

Here are the thoughts of the guys over at BC Interruption.

Nick Canelas has the game takeaways for College Hockey News.

Boston College Preview

#3 Boston College Eagles 0-1-0 (0-1-0) Hockey East T-5th


Massachusetts Minutemen 1-0-0 (0-0-0) Hockey East T-5th

Massachusetts will start the 2012-13 season against the team that gave them their highest of highs and lowest of lows in the last season.  The highs were the win over then #1 Boston College in November and a shutout of the Eagles in January.  The low was the same low we’ve seen for the last three years, with the season ending at the hands of BC sweep in Chestnut Hill in the Hockey East quarterfinals.

Surprisingly the Minutemen have a win to their name to start the season while the Eagles do not, having fallen to Northeastern 3-1 last weekend. BC spotted Northeastern a 2-0 lead early and couldn’t solve Chris Rawlings enough to get back in it, despite outshooting Northeastern overall.  One thing that stands out is that the Eagles must’ve spent a lot of time on the penalty kill as they took 8 penalties and gave the Huskies seven power plays, though they killed all seven.

BC’s lone goal in the game came from senior Steven Whitney.  He’s one of many experienced upperclassman forwards that can score for the Eagles, along with captain Pat Mullane, Kevin Hayes, and Bill Arnold.  But a lot of eyes this season will be on sophomore Johnny Gaudreau to see how he builds off the 21 goal, 23 assist performance as a freshman.  Gaudreau did get an assist last weekend.  Most of BC’s freshman talent is at defense this year but Brendan Silk out of the US National Development Program is someone to keep an eye on.

The Eagles will likely get as far as their defense takes them this year as it’s really the weakest area for them, if having young, but very skilled players can be considered a weakness.  Michael Matheson and Colin Sullivan are two blueline freshmen who will need to make the adjustment to the college level quickly if BC wants to stay ranked among the top teams in the country early on.  They do return a couple experienced defensemen that UMass will have to contend with in Patrick Wey and Patch Alber.  At goaltender the team returns Parker Milner who rattled off 19 wins in 19 straight games last spring cumulating with the national championship.

Last weekend’s game against UConn gave UMass fans a lot to like, like Kevin Boyle allowing just one goal, a strong performance by the defense, and putting up four goals.  But there was some stuff to work on too, namely the amount of penalties and the inability to finish shots.  Playing an Atlantic Hockey team allowed UMass to make up for some sloppy play at times and still get the win.  It’s unlikely that extended times of poor play will allow them to be victorious when playing a top five team in the country though.

Overall I thought the lines worked pretty well last week.  I’d be surprised if there were a lot of lineup changes tomorrow.  Darren Rowe played well enough on both ends that he’ll likely dress for that 6th spot at defense again.  Maybe Boyle will play two weeks in a row, but something tells me he won’t.  Personally I’d like to see how Steve Mastalerz does in there, if healthy.  He had probably the best goaltending performance of the season last year when he shut out this same BC program in January, only one of two goaltenders to keep the Eagles off the scoreboard all year.

The teams have changed somewhat since last year, but I took a look back at the five games they played and here’s what I found.  Honestly, there weren’t too many patterns to be gleaned from them.  UMass was outshot in both their wins (averaging just 21 shots total) but lost the two games where they had the shot advantage.  They won the two games despite going 1 for 12 on the power play and also went 1 for 12 in total during the three games they lost.  They gave up multiple power play goals in both wins and losses.  Basically, there’s no statistical pattern I can find between the losses and the wins.

Tomorrow will be a big challenge for the Minutemen and the new coaching staff.  You almost wish that the Eagles were coming in here after having beaten Northeastern.  Instead Coach York has had all week to make adjustments and coach up his freshmen.  So UMass must make the most out of the advantages they’re afforded.  One of those is likely to be a large and hopefully charged up Mullins Center crowd.  The Minutemen will have to do their best to feed off the energy of the fans.  Combine that with proven knowledge they can beat this team, as they did twice last year, and the desire for some revenge at how last season ended and you just might have the makings for an upset.

Beer The Triangle
It’ll be a muted Beer The Triangle day tomorrow as time at the Hangar will be limited due to the doors opening at 5:30pm for the game.  Postgame is out of the question as well with a 9am Homecoming tailgate at Gillette the next morning.  I’m interested to see what will be on tap at the Hangar in the place of the Sierra Beer Camps that are likely kicked.  A Lagunitas Pale Ale isn’t a bad fallback just in case though.

Beating Milner is key tomorrow so says the Collegian.

The Republican preview says Coach Mick is thinking big picture.

The Gazette has their BC preview as well as the details of Micheletto’s contract.  His base salary will be $210K with the ability to make another $58K if he reaches all his bonuses that range from APR scores to winning the national championship.  Former coach Toot Cahoon had a base salary of $247K and received about $4K in bonuses in 2011.

College Hockey News takes a look at the weekend ahead in Hockey East.

Missed this last week but Inside College Hockey picked UMass to finish dead last this season.

Last week I mentioned that I was growing increasingly frustrated with people posting comments, especially critical ones, anonymously and had hoped that requiring people to post their name and submit their email would put an end to that.  Nope.  So starting today in order to post comments you’ll need to use your Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account to log in.  I didn’t want to do this and still would love to have people use the site to discuss the hockey program and FTT posts within the comment sections.  But hopefully now that discussion will be of a little higher quality.

Polls & Awards

With their loss at Northeastern over the weekend Boston College will not be coming into the Mullins Center on Friday as the top ranked team in the country.  Instead they’ll be coming in as the third ranked team according to this week’s USCHO poll, but still a team receiving first place votes.  Either way they’ll still be a very formidable opponent for Massachusetts, who has a number of areas to work on after last Friday’s victory against UConn.

Half of Hockey East is currently ranked as Lowell drops to #10 after tying Vermont, Boston University is right behind them at #11, and Northeastern and New Hampshire join the poll at 14th and 15th respectively.  In addition Maine, Merrimack, and Providence are also receiving votes.  UMass still hasn’t gained back the votes they had prior to their unfortunate loss to….UMass in the pre-season scrimmage.

Minnesota is tops in the USCHO poll as well as the USA Hockey/USA Today poll.

Quality wins over Merrimack and BC deservedly gave Northeastern a couple spots in this week’s Hockey East Awards.  How half-assed is the UMass representation on the linked release?  Brendan Gracel is rightly recognized as a Top Performer for his one goal and one assist performance, but not Steven Guzzo who had equal statistics and a highlight goal?  Only a single sentence devoted to UMass’ Team Notes?

The Collegian has some notes from Friday’s game to go with their recap which I believe originally ran Saturday.

The Collegian’s Nick Canelas is pulling double duty this season as he’s also contributing to College Hockey News, like with this piece on how this past Friday’s matchup will likely blossom into a conference rivalry in the near future.

So if you happen to be a UMass hockey fan in the Carolinas, the Bi-Lo Center has become Mullins South.  Masslive’s Harry Plumer noted on his Twitter account earlier today that with Danny Hobbs being sent down to the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors he’ll be reunited with someone he has skated alongside for the last four years with in Mike Marcou.  The coach of Greenville?  None other than former Minuteman captain Dean Stork.

Nice to see Nebraska-Omaha taking steps to bring Maverick hockey on campus.

I am shocked, SHOCKED, that one of the clown WCHA officials who threw Paul Dainton out of a game at Wisconsin a couple years ago was suspended by the conference for being incredibly stupid.  (I’m also mildly shocked that I incredibly remembered he was one of the incompetent refs in question from that game)

Hockey East Preview: #1 Boston College; Scrimmage Thoughts

Hockey East Preview: #1 Boston College Eagles

2011-12 Storyline: Boston College gains the national championship for the third time in the last five years

2012-13 Storyline: The Eagles look to continue their dominance in Hockey East and nationally in 2012-13

Player To Watch: Johnny Gaudreau F (21-23-44)

Player Missed Most: Chris Kreider F (23-22-45)

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Mike Matheson D

Random Fact: Boston College and Boston University are now tied with five national championships apiece

Beer The Triangle Favorite Local Brew: Since BC is on the western edge of Boston, my favorite brewery in metro west is Jack’s Abby out of Framingham.  High quality beer and very creative.  It’s not often you see a wet hop lager.

Team Outlook

Another year, another offseason that saw Boston College lose some highly talented players to graduation and the NHL.  No problem though, it happens all the time and BC always bounces back, with the younger players stepping up and reloading with another highly rated recruiting class.

The Eagles do lose three of their top four goal scorers this season, but the one coming back, Johnny Gaudreau, was one of the top freshman in the league and the country last year.  He’ll look to improve on his 21 goals last season and will be helped at forward by Bill Arnold, Steven Whitney, and captain Pat Mullane.  Added to this mix with be Brendan Silk out of the USNTDP.

BC will miss Brian Dumoulin quite a bit on the blueline, same goes for Tommy Cross.  But the Eagles still bring back a number of experienced players to go with top recruit Mike Matheson, a 1st round draft pick and one of the top players out of the USHL.  Patch Alber and Patrick Wey will lead the defensive unit and will try to be a steady influence for the younger players.  Joining Matheson as a highly rated defensive recruit is Colin Sullivan out of Avon Old Farms.

Parker Milner got off to a rocky start at the beginning of last season but after being given a second chance at the end of January, he never looked back.  19 straight wins later, Milner had gained a national championship for he and his Eagles.  He’ll be expected to do more of the same this year, but if anything happens sophomore Brian Billet is very capable in his own right.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: The freshmen on defense take longer than expected to adjust

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

Those are my picks.  But we’ll see how they end up.  Will Merrimack really drop back to the bottom of the pack after the last few historic years for their program.  Is Providence good enough to break into the top four?  Can UMass enjoy the same kind of new coach boost that we saw from Lowell and Providence last year?  We’ll know soon enough.

Yesterday afternoon the team held an open to the public scrimmage at the practice rink.  Overall I would say they look like a team that is a bit rusty and is still trying to get used to a new coach and new system.  They played hard, they played tough (there were even some pretty good hits during the game), but I would not say they looked crisp.  Passing seemed to be a huge problem during the scrimmage, outlet passes especially.  This is likely going to be one of coach Micheletto’s biggest areas of focus this week as he has mentioned puck possession as being a high priority.  We did see the up tempo he has been speaking of as the team was creating rushes up and down the ice constantly.

The scrimmage was split into three sections.  The first period was a typical scrimmage with five on five and goaltenders.  Only one goal was scored during this time as Branden Gracel put a slapshot behind Kevin Boyle..  Second period was sectioned off into eight two minute power play opportunities.  Unfortunately the power play looked very disorganized during this time and ended up going 0 for 8.  The third period featured some late game extra man situations and then some four on four time.  This is when most of the scoring happened.  First Mike Busillo was able to get a puck behind Jeff Teglia during the four on four time.  Adam Phillips had perhaps the best goal of the day, putting home a wrister from the right side past Boyle after a nice little toe-drag.  Andrew Tegeler would battle in front for a goal on Kevin Boyle and the scoring was concluded by Rob Dongara scoring on Steve Mastalerz.  In the end the White team defeated Maroon 3-2.

All players dressed and played in the game except Eric Filiou.  Evan Auvenshine did play initially but was missing from the ice in the later part of the scrimmage.  All four freshmen played significant time.  Out of the four I would say Evan Stack looked the best.  He was very active and aggressive and moved the puck well.  Shane Walsh looked decent and showed some good two-way play.  Connor Doherty looks solid on defense, his play reminding me a lot of Colin Shea’s.  K.J. Tiefenwerth showed some good speed but wasn’t able to produce much on offense when he was on the ice.  Transfer Rob Dongara was one of the better players on the ice for much of the day.

Here are some of the line combinations I saw to start the game:


In terms of pairings, Conor Allen and Joel Hanley appear to be paired up a lot.  Phillips and Oleg Yevenko were nearly always paired together.  It’s tough to say who has a head start for that 6th defensive position as Busillo, Doherty, Darren Rowe, and Railoa all played a bunch of minutes.  All the goaltenders played well and made some nice saves when needed.  Statistically Boyle gave up the most goals he also seemed to be tested the most.

So those are my early thoughts on the first practice.  Certainly there’s a lot to work on but I think that’s to be expected at this stage.  Personally I was just happy to watch some hockey and looking forward to more on Friday.

The season got started for real for a couple of Hockey East teams.  Merrimack took out #5 Union 4-1 however Maine lost to Quinnipiac.

Weekend Preview; Smith Commits; Falcons Ticket Offer

Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-2 (0-3-2) Hockey East T-7th


New Hampshire Wildcats 2-4-1 (1-3-0) Hockey East T-7th

Friday in Durham will feature a matchup of two teams who have not gotten out to the starts they wanted on the season. That’s one thing when you’re a UMass team still seen as young but it’s entirely different when you’re the New Hampshire Wildcats and have annual expectations of success. So tomorrow the Wildcats will seek to build off a little momentum built last week while UMass goes for a couple points against what could be a vulnerable UNH team.

It’s unlikely any Wildcat fan expected their team to start off the year 0-3. I’m certain that none of them could’ve imagined they’d be outscored 14 to 1 in that time. Add in another loss to St Cloud in their 4th game and the ‘Cats found themselves 0-4 and outscored 21 to 6. But they were able to tie the Huskies in the second game of that weekend and have swung momentum to their side just a little bit in the last three games, picking up wins over Union and Northeastern last weekend. Still, UNH comes into Friday’s game sporting the second worst offense and defense among Hockey East teams.

Coming into the season it was thought guys like Stevie Moses, Kevin Goumas and John Henrion would help fill the void left by their graduating seniors. Moses has done well so far, picking up a couple goals and 5 points total, but the other two have only combined for 3 goals between the two of them. Nick Sorkin has actually been the offensive leader for the Wildcats with four goals and three assists.

Next to the lack of scoring the big surprise for UNH early has been the play of goaltender Matt DiGirolamo, who finds himself near the bottom for Hockey East goaltender statistics. A goals against average of 3.84 and save percentage of .846 is not what anyone expected at this point. What’s amazing is those are his stats after a strong weekend that saw him win the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week this week. They were even worse before. He’s likely not helped by a young defense that’s without any seniors.

For UMass it’s all about regaining confidence and mental toughness. They’ll need mental toughness to be able to come back from a wasted weekend against Boston University. And they’ll need confidence to be able to go into a tough environment like the Whittemore Center and believe they can come away with a win. Despite having similar records, the Minutemen should feel confident about the matchup. The Minutemen have avearged over a goal more than the Wildcats on the season and their power play is better than UNH’s and still 4th in the league at 18.4%. Defensively UMass has put up slightly better numbers than UNH in terms of opponent scoring and penalty kill. And they’ve done all this against a tougher schedule.

It would be nice to see UMass redeem themselves for a lost opportunity last year. In the middle of November last season UMass had a chance to steal two points from a strong UNH team on their ice. With just over a minute left Mike Pereira broke a 2-2 with his 5th goal of the season and UMass seemed destined to take the game at Lake Whitt. But Pereira let his emotions get the best of him and did a celebration dive in front of the Wildcat bench. Forty seconds later, motivated by what they saw as a classless move by Pereira, the Cats scored and ended up gaining a tie. As the season played out and into the offseason I found myself wondering if the season would have turned out any differently if the team had gotten that game at the Whitt last November and built off of it. Maybe tomorrow can be used to change momentum in this season currently.

#1 Boston College 7-1-0 (5-0-0) Hockey East 1st


Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-2 (0-3-2) Hockey East T-7th

A couple weeks ago these teams met and, in a game where the score was closer than it looked, the then #2 Boston College Eagles dominated on the way to a 4-2 win. Jeff Teglia was the only reason it was that close, stopping 31 BC shots. Before that game I said that the Eagles likely had the best defense in the league. I take that back. They likely have the best defense in the country. And that defense completely shutdown UMass’ offense. T.J. Syner, Danny Hobbs, and Mike Pereira all were kept pointless. Hobbs only managed one shot in the game. The UMass power play went 0 for 7. The only Minuteman goals were scored by freshman Andrew Tegeler making his college debut and another by Mike Marcou during garbage time late.

Obviously UMass will have to improve offensively, both at even strength and with the extra man. UMass was held to just 20 total shots in that game and managed a meager 2 for the entire second period. The players absolutely have to work hard to put pressure on Eagle goaltender Parker Milner. At the same time it’s up to Toot Cahoon and the coaching staff to come up with the necessary lines and offensive schemes to try to overcome the defensive ability of the Eagles. The prior game featured penalties. A ton of them. 20 to be exact. With some added discipline and improved officiating, it’ll be key for UMass to develop a rhythm they never quite found at Chestnut Hill.

Since that game a couple weeks ago the Eagles have only played better. They beat Northeastern in a close one the next night but easily swept Lowell in a home and home last weekend. The Eagles come into the weekend with the top offense among Hockey East teams and 3rd best in the country. They also have the top penalty kill in the league and are second best when it comes to power play and opponent scoring. They’re led offensively by Billy Arnold, Chris Kreider, and Johnny Gaudreau, all of whom have at least 5 goals on the season. The only thing not to go the Eagles’ way this season is the fact that talented defenseman Patrick Wey is on the shelf for a couple months with injury.

Let’s face it, the prospect for a win on Saturday is slim. This is a really skilled BC team with young players who are performing much better than could be expected at this point in time. But UMass will have the home ice (slush) advantage and what hopefully will be an energized Homecoming crowd due to file in following football. If the Minutemen get another strong game from Teglia and are able to figure out a way through that defense maybe the upset can be made. At the very least a strong showing would be a good way to close off what has been a challenging and frustrating gauntlet of games against some of the top teams in the league.

Beer The Triangle
Despite the fact that I’m overdue for a trip to Portsmouth Brewery, I won’t be heading up to Durham tomorrow. Instead I’ll be driving out to Amherst to get a good night’s sleep before what hopefully is an epic homecoming weekend. The wife is calling for a visit to Dirty Truth in Northampton. Oh ok, guess I shouldn’t disappoint her. Looks like they still have a number of Octoberfests on tap, domestic and European, that I’ll be happy to partake in. Saturday’s pregaming will actually be pre-football and I’m already looking forward to the beer and grilling of Yellow Lot already.

UMass has picked up a commitment from 5’11”, 160lb left wing Willy Smith who is currently playing for the Springfield Pics in the EJHL. Smith started the year a level down in the Empire league but was called up to the EJHL team after putting up 14 points in 9 games. His coach for his Empire League team was none other than Rob Bonneau, UMass’ 2nd leading scorer. Smith was an Empire League All-Star last year when he put up 13 goals and 17 assists in 26 games. Since he’s so young (only a ‘96) there’s not a ton out there on him, but I’ll be sure to post more as I find it.

USCHO examines the frustration both teams felt from last weekend’s UMass-BU series.

Lastly, I’m very happy to announce that Fear The Triangle has partnered the Springfield Falcons to offer the loyal FTT readers discounted tickets for the upcoming game against the Worcester Sharks at the MassMutual Center. This offer was initiated by former UMass hockey play-by-play announcer Donnie Moorhouse who now is the Director of Strategic Sales for Western Mass’ pro hockey team. I’ll do my best to make the game myself, though it could be tough since it’s a weekday. But the hope is that this is an offer that will be repeated later in the season as well. Here’s the info:

Fear the Triangle readers have an opportunity to catch a rare mid-week Falcon’s game at a discounted rate of $11 on Nov. 16 as the Falcons take on the Worcester Sharks at 7 PM. The Sharks have a distinct UMass flavor with a roster that has featured Matt Irwin, Justin Braun, and James Marcou and includes other Hockey East alums like Nick Petrecki (BC), Sean Sullivan and John McCarthy (BU), and Ben Guite (Maine). The Falcons have Cam Atkinson (BC) and Wade MacLeod (Northeastern) as active players on their roster. FTT readers can get the discount rate the Falcons’ Paypal site by clicking on the button below and purchasing before Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 5 PM. Tickets can also be purchased by calling Don Moorhouse at the Falcons’ office at (413) 739-4625, ext. 102


Of course when this idea was first conceived Paul Dainton was in Springfield still, Justin Braun and Matt Irwin were on the blueline in Worcester, and it was hoped that James Marcou would be skating soon. As it turns out Dainton is in the ECHL, Braun is in the NHL, and Marcou will not join the Sharks until January at the very earliest. Still, the game is two weeks away and in the ever shifting world of sports, who knows who will join Matt Irwin on the ice that night. I hope to be able to join you all to cheer on the former Minutemen and Falcons!