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BU Recap

Given the fact that, except the Providence weekend, UMass had been playing better hockey since winter break ended and Boston University had been struggling as of late, there was a good chance the Minutemen could come away with a close win on Friday.  Instead the 7,000+ UMass fans were treated to a total thrashing of the #11 Terriers.  The star of the game was Mike Pereira who had one of his best performances in his college career.

The game was pretty even for much of the first period but it was Pereira who got things going with an excellent pass across the slot to set up Branden Gracel with just a few minutes left to give UMass the 1-0 lead.  The second period was all about defense for the Minutemen as the Terriers were able to generate just one shot on Kevin Boyle who played well in his first start in a few weeks.  In the couple decades of watching UMass hockey I cannot remember them ever holding a ranked team to a single shot in a period and that obviously speaks highly to the job that was done defensively on Friday.  The defense was just as good on the special teams where they kept BU’s power play off the scoreboard and limited them to three shots with the extra man.

One of those defensemen who performed well was Mike Busillo who returned to the lineup and appeared to score his first goal late in the second.  As it turned out the puck was tipped in by Kevin Czepiel, scoring his first goal of the season, and the Minutemen led 2-0 after two.  It was nice to see Busillo back in the lineup as he’s been a reliable defensemen all season, supported by the fact that the team is now 9-6-1 when he dresses and just 1-6-1 when he doesn’t.

The final frame turned into The Mike Pereira Show.  Five minutes in he made another quality pass that led to a UMass goal, this time to Conor Sheary who put home a one timer from the top of the slot.  Midway through the period Pereira had the wherewithal to grab a loose puck sitting in one of of the faceoff circles and turn and shoot the puck behind BU goaltender Sean Maguire in one motion.  Pereira would cap off his excellent night a couple minutes later while fore-checking on the penalty kill he pickpocketed Mike Nieto and streaked in for a breakaway goal.  BU’s Ben Rosen would pick up a short-handed goal late, just off a faceoff, ending Boyle’s bid at a shutout.  He did improve to a winning record of 8-7-2 however with the big win.

UMass deserves a lot of credit for the total domination shown over a ranked team.  But it’s also important to note that this was a BU team that was already struggling, losing four of their previous eight including one to Northeastern.  For UMass this was exactly the type of game they needed as they begin the always grueling February stretch.  With the lack of a game last night they’re able to get a little more rest before a couple games against Merrimack and Northeastern next weekend.  The win combined with other results around the league gave the Minutemen a three point lead over Vermont in 8th and four points ahead of Maine who are trying to get back into the playoff picture.  Lowell and 6th place is still within striking distance, three points ahead and a big home and home just two weeks away.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Mike Pereira
Two goals, two assists on a couple nifty passes, and a +5 for the night.  Certainly a career night for him.

Highlights from UMassathletics.com

Dick Baker has the recap for the Republican.

The Collegian has their game story as well as a piece focusing in on the work of Boyle.

Here are the Takeaways from College Hockey News.

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Boston University Preview

#11 Boston University Terriers 13-9-1 (10-6-1) T-2nd Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 9-12-2 (6-9-1) 7th Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team will only have one game to focus on this weekend, which is a good thing because it’ll be a tough one but a win versus the Terriers is not outside the realm of possibility.  Boston University is still very talented and not easy to beat, the Minutemen know this with the weekend sweep at the hands of the Terriers in the beginning of the season.  But they’re not exactly untouchable either.  They’re just 1-2-1 in their last four and 3-4-1 since winter break.

Offensively these Terriers are pretty much what you’d expect.  Their 3.09 goals per game is good for third in the league, tied with Lowell and behind Boston College and New Hampshire.  Their power play is only middle-of-the-pack though, converting just over 16% of their chances.  BU has gotten production from all their classes, as shown from their leaders in goals scored so far.  Tops on the team is senior Wade Megan who has 12 goals on the season, tied for third best among Hockey East players.  Behind him is freshman Danny O’Regan who has 9 goals to go with 13 assists.  Those two both had two goals apiece against the Minutemen when the teams met for a home and home series in late October.

Defensively is where the Terriers, at least statistically, look a little more out of character.  However, I think that’s probably to be expected when you’re trying to break in two freshman goaltenders (see: UMass last year).  It’s important to note that Matt O’Connor and Sean Maguire haven’t done terribly in their debut seasons.  O’Connor has played more of the games, compiling a 2.90 goals against average and .910 save percentage.  Maguire has the better stats with a 2.34 GAA and .925 save percentage.  The two have been roughly alternating since early December and the Boston Hockey Blog reported on Twitter that Maguire would get the start.  BU has struggled on the penalty kill, sitting at 82% and 8th in the league.

Frankly, this is a vulnerable Terrier team.  It’s also a BU team could’ve been facing the prospect of losing a season series to the Minutemen tomorrow.  However in the last time these teams meet in the Mullins Center the Minutemen gave up a 2-0 lead and somehow could not find the back of the net despite 20 third period shots on O’Connor.  The result ended up being a 3-2 loss for UMass and now BU has a chance at a season sweep tomorrow night.  Hopefully pride and the fact that Vermont, Maine, and Northeastern are all breathing down their necks will give the Minutemen the motivation needed to upset the 11th ranked Terriers.  To do so they’ll need a consistent effort on offense.  The team as a whole has played good defense since winter break ended, with the exception of the Providence game at home when they gave up five goals.  But defensively UMass has been playing some of its best hockey of the season, even on special teams.  Scoring however has been hit or miss in that time.  They’ve been able to generate a lot of shots but some nights the puck finds the back of the net and the next opposing goaltenders look like world-beaters.  The finishers that are on the team, most specifically the first like of Branden Gracel, Mike Pereira, and Conor Sheary, will have to make sure Sean Maguire looks human tomorrow.

Beer The Triangle
Seems like a long time since I’ve been to the Hangar.  I wonder what they have on draft?  Since they tend to highlight Lagunitas I hope they have the Lagunitas Sucks on draft, one of the top beers from a favorite brewery.

A number of BU Twitter accounts have reported that BU will dress seven defensemen tomorrow night, with Ryan Ruikka in the lineup at forward.  The Boston Hockey Blog also tweeted that Evan Rodrigues will dress after missing last Saturday’s game against Providence due to injury.  Rodrigues has eight goals on the season.

The Republican has this profile on Darren Rowe as part of their preview of tomorrow.  Overall Rowe has been one of the better stories of the UMass season after getting very limited playing time last season.  While there are certainly still times on the ice where his defensive limitations prove frustrating for UMass fans, the fact is when he’s doing what he needs to on defense and combining it with offensive contributions he’s a very valuable part of the team.  And he’s done well in both aspects in recent games notching two goals and six assists in the last seven games while maintaining an even plus/minus rating.  I always thought Rowe’s skills weren’t totally maximized during his UMass career and continue to contend that he should’ve been moved to forward earlier in his career.  But he continues to do his best on defense while making the most of his offensive instincts during his senior season, shaking off a mid-season slump.  And the team has benefitted when he’s moving and shooting the puck well on the season.

Here’s some additional coverage of Matt Anderson, who picked up his first NHL point/assist tonight for the Devils.

Dick Baker had this article about Anderson’s accomplishments framed around the legacy of Springfield hockey legend Gary Dineen.

And Collegian alum Andrew Merritt wrote this enjoyable piece on Anderson for the New England Hockey Journal.  I know I mentioned it the other night but, like Mike Kostka, I’m thrilled to see Anderson get his shot in the NHL.  I have followed the program for almost two decades and there are few better representatives of the dear old alma mater and the Minuteman hockey program than those two.

Oh hey Casey Wellman was traded again and is now in his fourth NHL organization since the beginning of last season.  Maybe sometime between now and when I retire at the end of the season I’ll do a View From Section U column expressing what I really think about Wellman.

Saturday Recap

The worry that a challenging schedule would result in a slow start in Hockey East play for UMass is now a reality.  Through three games the team has three losses and finds itself tied with Maine for last place, already five points out of home ice.  More than the losses themselves though is how the team has lost.  In two of the games, last week against Boston College and last night against Boston University, UMass gave up a multiple goal lead at home and allowed their opponent to claim victory with a late score.  This team is falling apart in the third period of games.  Is it conditioning?  Is it conservative game planning?  Is it a lack of mental toughness?  It’s amazing to see that out of the 14 goals UMass have given up this season only one has come in the first period.  Nine however have come after the second period.

With the weekend sweep at the hands of the Terriers and last week’s defeat against BC UMass falls to 0-3-0 versus two teams that they went 3-2-1 against in the regular season last year.  Carrying over a theme from yesterday’s post, UMass’ experience was supposed to give them an advantage in games like this.  Instead they were defeated for the second straight night by a freshman goaltender, allowed freshman Danny O’Regan to have another multi-point game, and it was the Minutemen who looked inexperienced as they gave up another lead late.

There were some positives last night.  Shane Walsh moved up to a line with Mike Pereira and Brendan Gracel and picked up his first career goal by taking a Conor Sheary feed and getting it between Matt O’Connor and the post.  Walsh was probably the best all around player for the Minutemen this weekend in my opinion.  Overall I thought the new top lines which also included Rocco Carzo, Steven Guzzo, and Conor Sheary, played well together.  UMass generated 36 shots with last night’s lines.  Rocco Carzo had a very good game, more on that later.  Kevin Boyle played well, making his first start since the season opener.  He ended up with 32 saves and on the last two goals the guys in front of him allowed BU to skate in untouched.

UMass must spend this week finding whatever it is that will allow them to hold late leads.  Again, things do not get any easier for the Minutemen.  On Friday a New Hampshire team that has yet to lose this season visits the Mullins Center.  Despite a scoreless tie last night the Wildcats are still scoring 3.40 goals a game.  UMass will then have to visit Boston College on Sunday afternoon.  Who knows what will happen against two such formidable opponents next week but we do know that another pointless weekend will sink UMass further in the Hockey East standings.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Rocco Carzo
Carzo showed both aspects of his two way game early in the second period when he took the puck away from a Terrier at the blueline and streaked into the BU zone.  Coming in all alone on O’Connor Carzo would get tripped from behind by Garrett Noonan setting up a penalty shot.  He’d then make it look easy coming in and scoring on the Terrier goaltender.  That was the highlight of the night for Carzo but he played very well throughout, even leading the team with three blocked shots and four total shots.

Last night’s highlights from UMassAthletics.com

Dick Baker has the game story for the Republican, noting that Carzo’s penalty shot goal was the first for UMass since Jeff Turner scored one in 2000.  Here are Baker’s game notes.  Baker mentions that the UMass Marching Band was there to do the national anthem, which sounded great.  But of course then they left immediately afterward.  The fact that this program is not supported with a hockey band is mind-boggling to me.  Want to clean up the students’ chants?  A band is the first step to do so and will do a lot more than hanging posters on every door asking them to “Keep It Classy”.

The Collegian has their coverage of the sweep by BU.

Friday Recap

If Massachusetts fans thought that what they saw in the first two periods against Boston College was the new norm for this team and the third period collapse was only due to fatigue, that doesn’t appear to be the case.  A well-rested Minuteman team came into the Agganis Arena last night and just never looked like they were on the same page and thus, for the most part, was never in the game.

I thought the defense played pretty well, especially early on, and likely kept UMass in the game for much of the first half of the game.  Conor Allen played another strong game, though did make some costly mistakes at times.  Joel Hanley did well, netting his first goal of the season, but also struggled a bit during certain periods.  Colin Shea was probably the most consistent of the defensemen.  Adam Phillips was back in the lineup and I thought played well enough to dress again tonight.  Steve Mastalerz had another strong game in net and again has nothing to show for it.  Personally I would not fault him for any of the goals except for the fourth which trickled in after hitting his glove/pads.

Overall I would say the defense and goaltending looked solid.  The offense however looked totally disjointed throughout the game, despite outshooting the Terriers 30-25.  UMass was just never able to really establish any real possession in the offensive zone and were unable to properly cycle the puck around to get a decent shot only the impressive freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor.  Instead it was rush into the zone and just shoot from wherever they could.  Very rarely did they get to the rebounds for a second chance.  And usually within seconds BU had the puck back and were heading the other direction.  The offense last night looked simply terrible.

I don’t think it’s the main reason the offense struggled, but I personally did not like the new top line of Mike Pereira, Kevin Czepiel, and Conor Sheary.  Personally I thought Pereira and Sheary looked much better last week when they had Troy Power on their line.  Czepiel is a talented player and a key part of the team this year but I don’t think he’s the best type of center to put with those two guys.  Obviously it’s a concern that Pereira and Sheary, the team’s two best forwards, have yet to score a goal.  However I think trying Stephen Guzzo or Branden Gracel on their line would be a much better option than Czepiel.

Hopefully UMass will figure it out tonight as they’re faced with a possibility of being winless in the league through three games.  Only Maine, which is struggling mightily right now, has no points and they currently join UMass in last place.  It’s a tough schedule to start the season for the Minutemen, but they absolutely must capture the points up for grabs at home during this stretch no matter the opponent.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Shane Walsh
Allen, Hanley, and Gracel all played well enough to be considered for the POTG but I thought Shea and freshman Shane Walsh were the only players on the ice who played mistake free throughout.  Walsh continues to play with energy, has a physical edge to his game, and his five shots last night were a team high.  Personally I’m liking what I’m seeing so far from him.

This headline is telling from College Hockey News’ Takeaways from last night: “Freshmen Carry BU Past UMass”.  Now obviously BU has a very talented freshman class, probably the best incoming class of the conference.  But the fact that a young Terrier team can easily beat UMass is concerning.  One of UMass’ biggest asset is their experience as they have 18 upperclassmen on their roster, 19 if you count Guzzo, a redshirt sophomore.  This is a team of veterans, yet last night and even last week against BC they were beaten by younger, less experienced teams.  If UMass can’t figure out a way to make the most of their experience this season then they’re without what was thought to be a major advantage.

Mistakes cost the Minutemen says the Republican’s Harry Plumer. (By the way, that’s not John Micheletto in the picture that ran with the story)

Here’s a very BU-centric recap from the Herald.

Ditto for the Globe’s game story.

USCHO’s recap.

Boston University Preview; Patrick Lee Commits

#13 Boston University Terriers 1-1-0 (1-1-0) T-3rd Hockey East

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

This will be a key weekend for Massachusetts who looks to bounce back from a very disappointing performance last Friday that saw them drop a game to Boston College despite having a two goal lead late. This is more than just trying to gain some momentum and confidence however. UMass must pick up points this weekend to avoid finding themselves near or at the bottom of the standings just three games into the conference schedule. It won’t be easy though as they’ll have two games against #13 Boston University, including one at Agganis Arena where the Minutemen have traditionally struggled.

BU has a win and a loss on the early season, topping Providence 4-2 in the season opener but losing 4-1 in Durham last week to UNH. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in net for the Terriers this weekend. Freshman Matt O’Connor started the first game and did well only allowing the two goals. Last week against UNH fellow freshman Sean Maguire got the nod but was pulled after 32 mins and four goals. O’Connor came in to relieve him and was perfect for the remainder of the game.

So far the Terriers are getting their scoring from all around as their five goals have been scored by five different players. A couple of those names aren’t unexpected, like Wade Megan and Garrett Noonan. But they’ve also gotten some good production from a couple of sophomores like Evan Rodrigues who has three assists so far and Carson Hohmann who as a goal and a couple assists as well. None of their heralded freshman class has tallied a goal to this point, but it’s probably only time until someone like Sam Kurker or Danny O’Regan puts one in th enet. BU will look to improve upon their power play and by improve I mean score. So far the Terriers are an uncharacteristic 0 for 7 on the season with the extra man.

UMass on the other hand will look to continue their impressive work on special teams. They’ve scored three power play goals on 13 chances thus far on the season, good for 23.1% and second among Hockey East teams. On the other side of things they’ve killed 11 of 12 of their opponents’ power play chances. That’s an excellent start for a team that struggled mightily on the penalty kill last year.

There shouldn’t be a lot of adjustments for the team to make as they’re playing pretty good hockey so far. They looked a bit rusty against UConn but played well enough to get the easy win. And they dominated the defending national champion for 40 minutes last week before a shortened bench caught up to them at the end. Even in that third period the team didn’t necessarily play poorly, BC just had a step on the Minutemen who simply ran out of gas. The one glaring thing the team will need to change from the first two games is the amount of penalties they’re taking. Double digit penalties like occurred against UConn absolutely cannot happen and losing Joel Hanley to an early misconduct ultimately became the difference maker last year.

While UMass has usually not done well at Agganis they did upset the then top ranked Terriers there last year. The veterans will look to rekindle whatever drove them to the win there tomorrow night before coming home to what should be another good crowd on Saturday. Not to sound like a broken record but it is imperative for UMass to scratch and claw for any points they can get early in the season. It doesn’t get any easier after this weekend as next week brings a white hot UNH team to town and an early season rematch with the Eagles. Two or three points against a good BU team would pay dividends in the long run for the Minutemen.

Beer The Triangle
No trip to Agganis is complete without a visit to mini-Sunset across the street. Last year we were lucky enough to be able to celebrate UMass’ big win with Alchemist Heady Toppers there. Now I’m lucky enough to be drinking a Heady as I write this preview. A look at Sunset’s menu shows a rarely seen Anderson Valley Cerveza Crema, a Green Flash/St Feullians collaboration, and a Southern Tier 2X Milk Stout. Saturday I plan to deviate from the usual pregame plans at the Hangar and hangout with friends and alumni for Homecoming festivities. Part of those festivities will be drinking some Bell’s Brewing that the legendary Flag Guy, veteran of the UMass student section, will be bootlegging from Pennsylvania.

As first relayed by Matt Vautour this afternoon, UMass picked up a commitment from forward Patrick Lee. Lee is currently playing for the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The 5’9” 155lb Lee is a native of Calgary. So far this year for Brooks he has eight goals and seven assists in just 13 games, that’s good for 17th in the league for goals and 20th for overall points. He’s already well ahead of his pace of last year when he scored nine goals to go with 23 assists in 51 games with Brooks. UMass has had luck with forwards coming out of the AJHL before, the most recent being Branden Gracel.

Here’s a goal of his last season, complete with Chelsea Dagger:

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Lee has already been picked AJHL Player of the Week once this year. Lee was also recently invited to the selection camp to represent Canada West at the World Junior Championships. No word on when Lee is coming to Amherst, but one would have to think it’d be for 2014 since there are already five and perhaps six player committed for next fall.

Matty V previews the game and adds that Mike Pereira is 100% good to go.

Harry Plumer has his game preview where Coach Mick says fatigue is not a worry, despite last week’s late game collapse. Plumer also had this feature on Gracel and Stephen Guzzo earlier in the week.

Michael King of College Hockey News has this story on the team trying to bounce back from last week’s loss. CHN also has their look at the weekend ahead as well as their Hockey East power rankings with UMass sticking at #7.

NESN has a preview of the home and home with BU where they predict Kevin Boyle will start on Friday.

The Collegian had this look at the student fan support in last week’s game.

Coach Mick was a guest on the Slap Schotts podcast this week, which provides excellent coverage of the ECAC.

Hockey’s Future has this profile of Conor Sheary.

Hockey East Preview: #3 Boston University

Hockey East Preview: #3 Boston University

2011-12 Storyline: Despite losing two key forwards during the course of the season the Terriers were still able to return to the NCAA tournament

2012-13 Storyline: BU lost some key components to graduation and early departures, but still return four of their top six goalscorers to go with one of the best recruiting classes in the country

Player To Watch: Matt Nieto F (16-26-42)

Player Missed Most: Kieran Millan G (20-14-1, 2.60 GAA)

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Sam Kurker F

Random Fact: This year’s seniors are hoping to avoid being the first class not to win a Beanpot once during their time on Comm Ave since 1965

Beer The Triangle Favorite Local Brew: Though they’ve brewed their beer in various other places around the state, Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project is based in Somerville, not too far across the Charles from BU.  Tough to pick a favorite brew of theirs, they’re literally all good.

Team Outlook

The Terriers and their fans are probably eager to get the season going so there will be more talk about their power play and goaltending situation than about sex in the penalty box and a culture of entitlement surrounding the program.  On the ice there shouldn’t be too much controversy though as BU returns some key players to go along with arguably the best recruiting class in the conference.

The team returns their top three goalscorers from last year in the form of senior Wade Megan, junior defenseman Garrett Noonan, and junior Matt Nieto, who could end up being on of the top players in Hockey East this coming season.  Also likely to provide a good deal of offense will be Sahir Gill who is coming off a solid sophomore season.  Joining them up front will be a number of talented freshman.  Sam Kurker, a second round draft pick by the Blues, is seen as the most talented incoming player.  However look for Wesley Myron out of the BCHL and prep player Danny O’Regan to make contributions as well.

The Terriers were hurt on defense during the offseason when Adam Clendening and Max Nicastro jumped to the pros.  However Noonan and sophomore Alexx Privitera will key a defensive group that is also seeing an influx of talented freshmen.  Matt Grzelyck is a Boston area player that was picked by the Bruins this past June and is expected to do well at BU.  Joining him as a freshman blueliner is Ahti Oksanen, a highly regarded player out of Finland.

BU will have to find someone to take the place of Kieran Millan who spent the last four years as the regular starter in net.  They’ll have two options; the towering Matt O’Connor who has been playing for Youngstown in the USHL or Penguins draft pick Sean Maguire out of the BCHL.  It could be interesting to watch what transpires in this early goaltending battle.  Between the two of them they should provide decent enough goaltending that the Terriers won’t miss too much of a beat coming off last season.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: The combination of inexperience at defense and goaltending is just too much to overcome

They’ll Finish Higher Because: They score a lot of goals.  A lot.

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

Here’s a video of Coach Mick’s remarks last night at the UMass Club function.

College Hockey News previewed Hockey East today.  Here are their team capsules.  Also as part of their coverage is this interesting Q & A with Micheletto.  Micheletto taking over at UMass in included in What To Watch for in the league this year and Steve Guzzo is listed as a Player To Watch.

Projecting The Lines

The roster is out and updated. I’ve done my best to quantify the potential impact of this year’s freshmen. So I figure it’s time to speculate on potential lines we’ll see this coming season. To be honest, it’s incredibly hard to guess what the lines will be. First, I have no idea what sort of combinations Coach Micheletto will want to use. When I projected lines last Spring I projected them to what I thought we would see based on Coach Cahoon’s history and tendencies. I have no idea what Coach Mick’s tendencies are. Does he like to split up his stars like Cahoon did or make one top power line? Does he always like to put right-handed shots on the left wing and vice versa or does he just put the best players together? I have no idea. We’ll find out. The second thing that makes it so hard is the fast that the roster is so large. There will be 17 forwards trying to be one of 12 that dress, nine defensemen for six slots on the blueline, and three contenders to start in net. Third, not only are the freshmen a big question mark, due to lack of playing time last year, a lot of the sophomore forwards are as well. Can an Andrew Telgeler or Zack LaRue come in and have a break out season? Definitely. I just can’t predict if it happens or who it may be. So with all that said here we go:

Pereira-Guzzo-Sheary
Carzo-Gracel-Tiefenwerth
Kiley-Filiou-Power
Olczyk-Czepiel-Tegeler

Hanley-Phillips
Allen-Yevenko
Shea-Raiola

Boyle/Mastalerz

When I was playing around with potential lines last Spring I had Rocco Carzo and Branden Gracel on the top line with Conor Sheary. This was driven by the fact that I thought Cahoon would continue to want two equally deep lines and therefore would split Sheary and Pereira, as he did in the second half of last season However, no longer having to project to the thoughts of Cahoon, I’m putting together the lines as I would. And I like the idea of those two together. I have Guzzo at center because I thought he was on the same page as Pereira quite a bit last year. This allows me to move Gracel down and pair him up with the senior Carzo where the two of them will help provide some experience to a line that also features freshman K.J. Tiefenwerth. This line will be successful only if Carzo evolves his game a little more offensively, going back somewhat to what we saw earlier in his career after having a solid season on the third line last year. Overall the first line above scored 39 of UMass’ 114 goals last year while Gracel and Carzo contributed 9 and Tiefenwerth netting 30 in juniors.

Pat Kiley and Troy Power stay on the third line with Eric Filiou replacing Carzo at center. However, given how he improved during the year, we could see Power on the second line this coming season as well. This line had 8 goals last year. For the fourth line I have Eddie Olczyk returning to an everyday role, never fully understanding why he went from 21 games his freshman year to just 16 last year, Kevin “Holyoke” Czepiel returns to center, while Andrew Tegeler will get the last wing spot. I think Tegeler has tremendous upside between his size and the skills he showed at times, but the fact is all these players, especially those on the bottom lines, will have to practice hard to get in the lineup. In no particular order Zack LaRue, Evan Stack, Shane Walsh, Peter DeAngelo, and Emerson Auvenshine will all be gunning to dress everyday as well. The fourth line of Olczyk-Czepiel-Tegeler had four goals last year. The returning players I have on the bench scored three goals, all by DeAngelo.

For defensemen I believe getting three solid pairings with players who compliment each other is the best methodology. Joel Hanley and Adam Phillips should be able to play decent defense, but at the same time both move the puck well and would be a significant scoring threat. Now befing on the first pairing would require Phillips to bounce back from a tough sophomore season that saw him miss a number of games as a healthy scratch. This pairing was a combined +10 last year. The second pairing of Conor Allen and Oleg Yevenko would be a bruising one and I think this would be a beneficial matchup of Allen, who at times was the anchor of the UMass defense last season, with the still developing potential of Yevenko. These two combined for a –2 last season. Lastly I have Colin Shea and Anthony Raiola in the last pairing, finished even combined last year, however truth be told it could also be Mike Busillo, freshman Connor Doherty, or Darren Rowe here. No matter who it is next to him, Shea’s consistency should help solidify the third pairing.

Just as last year, UMass fans have no idea who will be in net on opening night. Kevin Boyle had the best season statistically and ended up starting both playoff games against Boston College, doing fairly well both nights. Steve Mastalerz had a number of good games as well, including a shutout of #1 BC in January. I think the goaltending job will come down to one of these two and frankly I have no idea what the new coach’s thoughts are on goaltender rotations so it may be both. However, don’t be surprised if junior Jeff Teglia is in the mix again as well. It probably doesn’t hurt that he had his best games last season against Vermont and his now coaching staff.

That’s my guess for lines, feel free to share how you’d put them all together in the comment section.

The coaching staff is now complete as Dan Lupi will serve as Goaltending Coach this coming season. Lupi works with former goalie coach Mike Buckley at Buckley’s GDS Goaltender school. Lupi played in net for Assumption College, holding school records in a number of categories.

The Athletic Department posted this video with Mike Pereira and Conor Allen on their pre-season activities as they prepare for the season. The more I see of Allen the more I think he may become a candidate to be a captain or assistant this coming season:

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There are a couple jersey number changes reflected on the roster. Andrew Tegeler will go from #23 last year to #14 with T.J. Syner graduating while Troy Power takes #22 instead of #20. As for the freshmen, Shane Walsh will be #15, Evan Stack #20, Connor Doherty is #23, and K.J. Tiefenwerth goes with #28.

Not a big surprise but Danny Hobbs did officially sign with the Connecticut Whale, AHL team to the Rangers who held his draft rights. Hobbs’ hand injury suffered in the playoffs last year prevented him from joining the Whale after the season ended.

More details came out late last week surrounding the report on Boston University’s hockey program. I understand that there are similar problems like this that occur on campuses all across the country, but some of the quotes in that article are appalling. One of the players saying, “you don’t ask [permission for sex] when you are drunk” and a female student describing being groped without permission as “that’s just what [BU hockey players] do,” is, frankly, disgusting. I really hope this sort of stuff doesn’t go on with the UMass hockey team. While I totally realize at the end of the day these guys are college students and will do a lot of the same stuff we all did as college students, a lot of what is described in the BU report goes above and beyond the usual campus craziness. Say what you will about Toot Cahoon’s time here, but for the most part UMass has avoided this kind of negative press because he recruited character in addition to skill.

As most thought, Hockey East will be moving to a playoff format in the future that will have all conference teams making the playoffs. This will start next season when Notre Dame joins the league. I’m pretty neutral about this. I personally thought the current format makes the regular season that much more important and made for some excitement at the bottom of the standings down the stretch. But at the same time there’s nothing wrong with more hockey on more campuses come March.

Lastly, when I’m not trying to plan my next FTT post during the fall I’m usually planning tailgates. Some fellow loyal UMass fans and I have being doing our best to have the best tailgate at the football games. Or, at the very least, the tailgate with the best beer selection. So it was very cool to have our tailgate (and my homebrew) featured with others by Matt Vautour on Saturday when the Minutemen made their FBS debut. The Republican even gave us some pictorial love. Understandably, it will take a few years for the product on the field to reach the FBS level, but the action in the parking lots outside the stadium is already well on its way. I highly recommend catching a game or two this season if you aren’t already planning to.

The UMass Freshmen By The Numbers

A couple weeks ago I introduced FTT readers to the Massachusetts hockey freshmen, but now it’s time to see how their junior careers stack (no pun intended) up against current and former Minutemen.  It’s as simple as it sounds, so let’s get started in the EJHL.

K.J. Tiefenwerth – F – Junior Bruins (EJHL)
43GP 30G 47A 77pts 14PIM
Other EJHL forwards:
Peter DeAngelo 45GP 15G 15A 30Pts 10PIM
Patrick Kiley 44GP 14G 38A 52Pts 83PIM
Alex Berry ??GP 21G 31A 52Pts
Marc Concannon 20GP 2G 15A 17Pts
Scott Crowder 54GP 23G 30A 53Pts
Jordan Virtue 36GP 13G 30A 43Pts
Kevin Czepiel 43GP 18G 58A 76Pts
T.J Syner 45GP 29G 21A 50Pts 24PIM
Andrew Tegeler 44GP 19G 21A 40pts 38PIM
You can see that the player who best compares to Tiefenwerth is T.J. Syner.  That’s not a bad thing.  I would point out that after putting up those numbers Syner went on to play a year in the USHL.  If he had stayed in the EJHL, as Tiefenwerth did, he likely would’ve put up even higher stats.  Overall it’s clear that UMass has consistently gotten strong production from its Eastern Junior wingers.

Conor Doherty – D – Junior Bruins (EJHL)
35GP 4G 14A 18pts 66PIM

Other EJHL defensemen:
Kevin Kessler 44GP 6G 15A 21Pts 81PIM
Doug Kublin 34GP 3G 17A 20Pts 81PIM
Topher Bevis 55GP 9G 20A 29Pts 44PIM
Mike Donnellan 42GP 5G 21A 26Pts 51PIM
Colin Shea 44GP 6G 23A 29Pts 41PIM

Needless to say it’s very difficult to predict how a defenseman will fare based on a stats comparison, especially when none of those stats are the only slightly valuable plus/minus.  However I think the above list shows that EJHL defensemen have made solid contributions to Minuteman hockey over the years.  Only Donnellan had trouble cracking the lineup.  Topher Bevis and Doug Kublin are two of the most reliable defensemen in recent times and Colin Shea has done well in his first couple years.  Even Kevin Kessler played some key minutes during his time in Amherst.  It doesn’t look like Doherty will be counted on to score much, but his penalty minutes combined with his 6’2” frame should give the team some grit.

Evan Stack – F – Merritt Centennials (EJHL)
60GP 32G 29A 61pts 27PIM
Other BCHL forwards:
Eric Filiou 45GP 12G 15A 17pts
UMass hasn’t gotten a lot of forwards in recent years from British Columbia, mostly goaltenders (Kevin Boyle) and defensemen (Matt Irwin).  However, one team that does get its fair share of wingers from Canada’s West Coast is Merrimack.  One of their current players who was in the BCHL is soon to be junior Mike Collins.  Collins had similar numbers to Stack in juniors; 30 goals and 46 assists in 59 games.  He would score 14 goals to go with 16 assists in his freshman year in North Andover and followed it up with another 10 goals and 15 assists last year.  It’s unknown if we can expect similar production from Stack as I’m not sure if he’s the same type of player.

Shane Walsh – F – Dubuque Fighting Saints/South Shore Kings
South Shore (09-10):  45GP 22G 37A 59pts 24PIM
Dubuque (10-11):  38GP 8G 3A 11pts 10PIM
Dubuque (11-12):  23GP 5G 7A 12pts 0PIM
South Shore (11-12): 10GP 8G 7A 15pts 4PIM
Other EJHL forwards:
Peter DeAngelo 45GP 15G 15A 30Pts 10PIM
Patrick Kiley 44GP 14G 38A 52Pts 83PIM
Alex Berry ??GP 21G 31A 52Pts
Marc Concannon 20GP 2G 15A 17Pts
Scott Crowder 54GP 23G 30A 53Pts
Jordan Virtue 36GP 13G 30A 43Pts
Kevin Czepiel 43GP 18G 58A 76Pts
T.J Syner 45GP 29G 21A 50Pts 24PIM
Andrew Tegeler 44GP 19G 21A 40pts 38PIM
Other USHL Forwards:
Briane Keane 47GP 9G 6A 15Pts
James Marcou 58GP 24G 47A 71Pts
T.J. Syner 58GP 21G 14A 35Pts
Brett Watson 55GP 9G 14A 23Pts
Casey Wellman 59GP 22G 23A 45Pts
Cory Quirk 59GP 14G 26A 40Pts
Danny Hobbs 60GP 10G 11A 21Pts
Rocco Carzo 45 GP 20G 13A 33Pts
Eddie Olczyk 53GP 6G 15A 21Pts
Troy Power 57GP 28G 16A 44Pts
Walsh is a tough one to compare since due to injuries and other circumstances he hasn’t played a full season in one place since 2009-10.  You can see the 59pts he put up in the EJHL that season, as well as his 1.5 PPG at the tail end of this past season, compare favorably with the production put up by Syner and Kevin Czepiel.  In the USHL his numbers resembled those of Brian Keane, Brett Watson, or Danny Hobbs.  All of whom played a good amount of minutes in recent years.

So what does all this mean?  Who knows.  We won’t know what the freshmen will produce until the season actually starts.  After all, I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed this most recent first year class, not including redshirt Steven Guzzo, would produce just two goals and six assists.  That’s not entirely an indictment of them or their talent, but it just goes to show that factors like team depth and needed roles also play a lot into expectations.

First off, congratulations to the UMass football team who made their FBS debut last week at UConn.  The 37-0 outcome was rough, but not entirely unexpected.  Those who went through the years as UMass hockey rebooted the program and entered Hockey East knows how challenging that type of transition is.  The important thing is to support the team in the meantime and help it get to the next level.

Some of those who made the trip to Hartford to cheer on the football team were a few hockey players; Conor Allen, Conor Sheary, and Colin Shea.  It was excellent to see members of the hockey team, and even some of their parents, there support the school and their fellow student athletes.  In speaking with the Conors they mentioned that they would love to be able to make it to more football games, but that the demanding schedule of school and DI hockey understandably makes it a challenge to do so.  Who knows, maybe Coach Micheletto could arrange for the players to go to this Saturday’s home opener in Foxboro as a team activity.

Don’t forget to visit my buddies over at Maroon Musket to keep track of UMass Football in this first season in FBS.

Speaking of Coach Mick, Matt Vautour had this update on how he’s transitioning to his new role.  A couple things stand out for me from the article.  First off it says a lot that the players had committed to returning to school early even before the coaching change occurred.  Secondly, it sounds like having assistant coach Len Quesnelle there to bridge the gap between regimes is paying off.

Micheletto was also featured on INCH’s A to Z Season Preview.

Boston University released the findings of the task force that was formed after two hockey players were arrested for sexual assault this past season.  The report concludes that while there was “no clear systemic problems” the task force did find a “culture of sexual entitlement and abuse.”  Yikes, good luck with that.  Interestingly one of the recommendation is for Jack Parker to report directly to the Athletic Director.  Currently he serves as Executive Athletic Director for the school in addition to coach, reporting to the school President.  It’s unknown if Joe Bertagna would continue to report directly to Parker under this new arrangement.

College Hockey News has a Q & A with the new head of College Hockey, Inc.

Saturday Recap Links

No true recap since I was not at the game last night. At first I was a little disappointed when my wife made plans for us up against a game that I could easily get to. I was really disappointed while checking scores during dinner to see UMass was up 3-0 early. But, in the end I’m very glad I missed this one. All the beer at mini-Sunset would likely not have been enough to wipe the memory of this collapse if I had witnessed it first hand.

Since I did not see or listen to the game I’m not going to comment on specific play. I will say that after my recap last week when I said this team had not improved from last year since they hadn’t figured out a way to win, I was told I was being overly negative. I was told my conclusions were premature. Well if this weekend didn’t solidify those observations, I don’t know what else would. The team had a 2-0 lead on Friday and a 3-0 lead last night and all they got for it was one Hockey East point. It’s nice to see that they can hang with good teams like BC and BU, but just hanging with good teams doesn’t get you trophies, banners, or a happy fan base.

I have no idea why we continue to see this type of play, these type of results year after year. UMass hockey has lacked a killer instinct needed to put opponents away for many seasons. This needs to change. Immediately. It’s early in the season, but these Hockey East games in October count as much as the ones in March. UMass will soon find themselves is hole they will not be able to climb their way out of in order to fulfill their goals for the season. Time for the team, coaches and players, to make the necessary adjustments, strategic or in how they approach the game mentally, to learn how to win. Otherwise it’s going to be another long and frustrating season in Amherst.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steve Guzzo
I’m giving this one to Guzzo as his first collegiate goal gave the Minutemen the early lead.  He ended the night a +2.

Dick Baker calls the loss “pathetic” and says it was a complete meltdown for the Minutemen.

Here’s the recap from the Herald as well as from the Globe.

College Hockey News’ Joe Meloni puts the loss in the context of the larger collapses and disappointments in recent seasons.

The Globe has a feature on Jon Quick where he says he had doubts about his decision to leave UMass when he found himself in the ECHL.  Obviously in the long run it was for the best.

Friday Recap

I want to get the negative stuff out of the way up front, because it’s completely outweighed by the positives in this game.  It’s a little disappointing that the team could not hold onto a two goal lead at home for the win, including a one goal lead in the third.  That’s especially disappointing since not once but twice Conor Sheary had a breakaway that could’ve helped put the game away.  The second missed breakaway chance directly led to the two on one that got BU its first goal of the night.  UMass has had numerous breakaway chances this season, from Sheary’s last night to T.J. Syner’s penalty shot, and they’ve had a tough time converting on them.

So there were some missed opportunities that prevented UMass from getting that extra point last night.  But overall fans should be very happy with what they saw.  The biggest positive was the play of the defense and Kevin Boyle.  This looked to me to be the best game by the defensemen on the season as they completely stifled one of the best offenses in Hockey East, holding them to just 23 shots total.  And when shots did get through, Boyle was there to stop them.  It’s tough to fault him on either goal.  He certainly could’ve played the puck better on the first goal, but I’m not going to hang a 2 on 1 on his shoulders.  On the second he couldn’t cover up the rebound and none of the defensemen around were quick enough to clear it out of the front of the net and BU was able to pounce on it and score.  Overall great defensive effort all around.  BU really turned up the pressure when they came out in the third and UMass did an excellent job limiting the damage.  Of course the penalty kill was perfect, stopping BU on all four of their chances and limiting them to only four shots with the extra man.

Offensively UMass generated a ton of shots, 35 total.  If not for some very good play from Kieran Millan, UMass wins this one in a blowout.  The top two lines were able to pressure BU all night and it was good to see a goal come from the second line.  That goal, scored by Conor Sheary, was created when Rocco Carzo had to athletically collect a pass with his knee, played the puck down to his stick, which he immediately fired in the direction of Millan where Sheary put it home.  The first goal came thanks to some excellent passing, first a nice pass down low by Joel Hanley to attack the net where Mike Pereira was able to put it across the slot onto the stick of T.J. Syner who put it home.  Overall I was impressed by the puck movement, which I believe led to the large amount of shots we saw last night.  It was nice to see the top three forwards get back on track after struggling last week.  Syner had a goal which was setup by Pereira and Danny Hobbs led all skaters with 8 shots on net.

It would’ve been nice to get the two points but it was still a positive showing against a ranked team.  It will be interesting to see who is in net.  I’m thinking it will likely be Jeff Teglia since he played well last week and has had success at Agganis previously, gaining a tie there last year.  Hopefully last night helps to give the Minutemen some confidence that they can not only play with a team like BU, but actually control play for the majority of the game.  The opportunity is there for three points tonight, let’s see if they can take it.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – T.J. Syner
Syner’s goal was key for a number of reasons.  It got the Minutemen on the board first and allowed them to dictate what occurred for most of the rest of the game.  It came just seconds after a disallowed goal and quickly dismissed any potential negative momentum that could’ve created.  And it came at the very end of a period and gave the team some confidence going into the locker room.  But the goal, thanks to a great setup by Pereira, isn’t the only reason why Syner was my player of the game.  In the third with BU controlling play and threatening to take the lead, Syner was all over the ice and had some great backchecking work that disrupted several BU rushes.  When people think of Syner they think of his speed and offense, but he’s also one of the better defensive forwards on the team.  That showed last night.

Here’s the recap from the Republican.  I have to say that only 5,300 for a Friday night against BU is very disappointing.  The students showed up, where are all the locals?

The Globe has their BU-oriented recap.

Here’s the Gazette’s game story.

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