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View From Section U: The Gameworns

I have a lot of jerseys. Being a UMass fan for as long as I have I’ve gathered a bunch over the years as the styles have changed and I wanted a replica to go with whatever the team was wearing on the ice. It actually took me years after becoming a fan to procure my first jersey however. I think I actually ordered my first replica home triangle during the short time I was living in Michigan sometime around 2000. Since that time I also picked up a black/alternate “Massachusetts” variation they wore a few years back (one of the shine ones, before they switched to the matted look). I also have this odd ball maroon jersey with the block UMass logo right after they retired the loopy u logo. What makes it oddball is that the UMass logo is also maroon and the team never actually wore a maroon logo on top of the maroon material.

Somewhere along the way though I thought I it’d be cool to pick up a gameworn UMass jersey as well. For those that don’t know the gameworn jersey hobby is a huge part of the collecting business. eBay is filled with them and there are even regular trade shows where collectors and dealers show off and hock their wares.  I once went to one of these shows and was able to see the jerseys that Ray Bourque wore the night of the Phil Espisito retirement ceremony, both the #7 and the #77 that he exposed in a moment area hockey fans have seen thousands of times.

The first UMass gameworn jersey I was able to get my hands on was this Chris Capraro sweater from the 03-04 season:

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It has some great wear and tear to it, including this stick mark across the logo:

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Well after that I was hooked and looked for opportunities to get other gameworns of UMass players. At a trade show a couple years later I was able to purchase my one and only triangle gameworn. It’s the jersey of Warren Norris, UMass’ third leading scorer all-time, and you can see I’ve put it to use in helping to decorate the blog. Judging from all the rips and stitching, he must have worn it all four years.

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At the Pond Club golf tournament a couple years ago I not only had the chance to win a Brett Watson gameworn at the auction that accompanies the golf, but Brett was in attendance and nice enough to sign it and pose for a picture:

With a couple UMass jerseys in my possession starting with the Capraro and Norris I began to keep an eye out for all UMass player jerseys, even in the pros. So over the years I’ve also grabbed some unique post-UMass gameworns. The first was this Brad Norton jersey from when he was an LA King:

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I’d love to find a Red Wings Norton jersey, perhaps with the Yzerman retirement patch, but that would be a tough one to locate and then afford.

I was able to get this Greg Mauldin practice jersey from when he was with his draft team, the Columbus Bluejackets, for fairly cheap.

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Next up are a couple of Springfield Falcon jerseys. First one from one of my favorite UMass players and Springfield native Rob Bonneau:

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There have been a few former Minutemen to suit up for the local pro team, and one was defenseman Nick Kuiper:

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The most recent jersey I acquired was  a unique gift from my wife. Dusty Demianiuk was featured on the NESN reality show “Be A Bruin” and ended up winning a spot on the Bruins preseason training camp roster that season. Here is one of the jerseys he wore during camp:

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Which leads me to the pride of the collection. This one came the longest distance as well, all the way from Italy. Thomas Pöck’s Team Austria jersey worn during the Salt Lake Olympics:

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Over the years I’ve even branched out from UMass hockey and even added a UMass football gameworn (which made the trip all the way down to Chattanooga in 2006) and a Colorado football gameworn.  I don’t look to procure UMass gameworns nearly as much as I used to, mostly because it’s damn expensive and I don’t wear jerseys to games that often as I used to.  But I still do keep my eye open for opportunities to add one to the collection and almost added a Mike Johnson triangle over the summer (damn you Wardy).  The two I’d most love to find, my “grails” as it’s called within the hobby, would be a Rob Bonneau triangle and a very rare Thomas Pöck triangle, as he only wore it for his first season.  So far I’ve found digital evidence of it, but that’s it.

Anyway, that’s it for my collection.  For a while it was a bit of an expensive obsession, but overall I find it fun to have such unique pieces of of the team I follow so closely.  In the end they’ll look great on the walls of my future beer snob/sports bar I open in the Amherst area after I win the lottery.

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Polls & Awards; Alumni Game; Demianiuk’s Biggest Battle

UMass’ next opponent, Merrimack, was the big mover in this week’s poll jumping five spots to #6 in the USCHO poll following their sweep of UNH.  Boston College remains at #1, UNH at #8, BU at #15, and Maine at #19.  The Terriers will likely fall after losing to four win Harvard in tonight’s Beanpot consolation game.  Merrimack cracks the top five of the USA Hockey/USA Today poll.

Same goes for the INCH Power Rankings.

Merrimack was also named the Hockey East Team of the Week.  No UMass players were named award winners or top performers, but Paul Dainton and Chase Langeraap were mentioned in the Milestones section.

Saturday afternoon a host of former Minutemen took the Mullins Center ice for the annual alumni game.  The game featured players going back to the 1970s teams.  Here’s an incomplete list of some of the players that were on the ice; Steve Sullivan, John Riley, Mike Merchant, “P.F”, Tiger Holland (one of my favorite players from the triangle era), R.J. Gates, Keith O’Connell, Jeff Lang, Peter Trovato, Mike Warner, Tim Warner (who played as a skater), Brett Watson, Matt Walsh, Topher Bevis, Jordan Virtue, and a bunch of others.  I realized what a huge difference the video boards makes in terms of getting to know the players because we now know what they all look like underneath the helmet.  Before then they were just names and numbers.  Dan Meyers was also there but didn’t play as he is still recovering from some surgery he had over the summer.  Tom Dougherty, also coming off surgery, mostly played the role of referee/master of ceremonies.  The goaltending matchup featured Mike Buckley, current goaltending coach, against one of the student managers whose name unfortunately I didn’t catch.  And last but not least I’m sure it surprises pretty much no one to know that Will Ortiz scored the game winning goal.  It also may be one of the few games I’ve watched where he didn’t end up in the penalty box.

It was great to see all those guys on the ice, having fun, and back to support their alma mater.  Most stuck around for the game and got a good hand from the crowd when they were introduced between the second and third periods. 

Another player who came back to campus and on the ice playing in the alumni game was Dusty Demianiuk.  Dusty came to UMass in 2001 and immediately was a huge physical presence on the ice but his overall defense was so-so to start with and he ended up only playing partial seasons for his first two years.  But he worked really hard while on his game and by the time he was a senior he not only was playing all the time but was one of the more reliable defensemen in the league, all while maintaining that physical play.  In my years of watching UMass hockey there are few players that have progressed so far as a player in their four years in Amherst as Dusty.  He went on to have a good career in the ECHL with the Phoenix Roadrunners before being selected as one of the winners on the NESN reality show “Be A Bruin”, gaining an invite to training camp with the Boston Bruins.

This past spring Dusty got his leg checked out, thinking he had an old hockey injury that had healed incorrectly.  Unfortunately it ended up being stage 2 soft tissue cancer and to make matters even worse the diagnosis came on his sister’s birthday of all days.  He spent the spring and summer enduring surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy, crediting his years of hockey with helping him endure through the adversity of battling cancer.  But endure he did.  He’s currently cancer free, returned to work in the fall, and even got married in October (he made sure to mention that his wife is also a UMass alum).  And on Saturday he returned to the ice for one of the first times since his battle with cancer.  He may have looked a little thinner than his time at UMass and of course wasn’t able to display that prowess for hard hits that we may remember since there wasn’t any checking, but it was still great to see him out there playing the solid defense we’d come to expect of him.

The Collegian has their weekend recap as well as a wise story about how it’s important for the team to shoot a lot and score ugly.

I meant to mention this is my recap yesterday, but Coach Cahoon acknowledged that the power play is broken in Saturday night’s postgame press conference and will work to change the overall power play strategy.  Dick Baker has the story and makes the case that Darren Rowe may be the solution to the extra man woes.

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