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View From Section U: Freshmen Comparisons By The Numbers

A couple weeks back I gave my thoughts on the incoming freshmen and how they may fit into this season’s lineup.  To continue an annual tradition here at FTT I’ve compiled their junior level statistics along with current and former UMass players who played in the same league to try to better gauge what kind of expectations we should have of them

First let’s start in the New England prep league.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union
24-6-4  1.81GAA  .931 save %
Other prep league goaltenders:
Jon Quick  27-1-0  1.14 GAA  .953 save %
Gabe Winer  14-8-0  1.82 GAA  .920 save %
It’s a bit much to be looking for the next Jon Quick, but Gabe Winer was a dependable goaltender who was able to give the Minutemen solid time in net for all four of his years in Amherst.

Kevin Boyle played goaltender in the BCHL last year a league that has given UMass players like Eric Filiou, Matt Irwin, and Kelly Sickavish.  But UMass hasn’t gotten many, if any, goaltenders from the league.  However, they did get a goaltender from the nearby AJHL, which is supposed to be similar in talent.  Let’s see how Boyle’s junior numbers stack up against Paul Dainton’s.

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors
20-16-1  3.02GAA  .902 save %
Other Western Canada goaltenders:
Paul Dainton  13-6-4  2.42GAA  .916 save %
Boyle’s numbers are below Dainton’s.  However, they aren’t too far off of current Northeastern goaltender Chris Rawlings who had a GAA of 2.83 and save percentage of .915 in his last year in the BCHL.

Onto Atlantic Junior Hockey.  Unfortunately the league website has started wiping last year’s stats.

Mike Busillo – D – Hartford Jr Wolfpack
41GP 8G  19A  27Pts  97PIM
While UMass has recruited defensemen from Atlantic Junior they usually go somewhere else for a couple years between there and UMass, such as Mike Marcou who went on to play in the USHL.  Still Busillo was one of the top scoring defensemen in the league and one of the leaders in penalty minutes.

Let’s move onto the USHL where UMass has gotten the majority of their players recently.

Oleg Yevenko – D – Fargo Force
52 GP  4G  4A  8pts  0+/-  197 PIM
Other USHL defensemen:
Adam Phillips  47GP  1G  11A  12Pts  0+/-  16PIM

Justin Braun  59GP  2G  11A  13Pts  +5  69PIM
Mike Marcou  48GP  2G  9A  11Pts  -8  22PIM
Darren Rowe  52GP  7G  16A  23Pts  +16  8PIM
Obviously Yevenko is unlike any of the recent defensemen we’ve gotten from the USHL, in that he’s going to be out the ice to punish the other team.  You can see by the stats he almost triple Justin Braun’s PIM total in the USHL.  He’ll intimidate on the ice, the question is can he play defense?

Now to the local EJHL.

Andrew Tegeler – F – Junior Bruins
44GP  19G  21A  40pts  38PIM
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 43 GP 18G 58A 76Pts
This is an interesting one.  His numbers aren’t much different than DeAngelo’s or Kiley’s, neither of which made much of an impact last year.  Then again they’re not too far off of Alex Berry and Scott Crowder who both had very good careers at UMass.  What sets Tegeler apart from Kiley and DeAngelo is his size, 6’2” 200lbs.

The NAHL presents a problem.

Emerson Auvenshine – F – Bismarck Bobcats
54GP  11G  11A  22pts  +1  106PIM
The only recent player who UMass has had from the NAHL is Anthony Raiola, a defenseman.  Before that was third string goaltender Mike Waidlich.  However there a couple NAHL forwards in Hockey East.  Brandon Brodhag of Merrimack put up 33 goals and 65 pts in the NAHL and last year as a sophomore had 10 goals and 17 points for the Warriors.  Of course Merrimack has had good luck with NAHL players, like some guy named Stephane DeCosta.  Rob Dongara put up similar numbers to Auvenshine in the NAHL, 11 goals 23 points, and had 6 goals and 8 assists playing in nearly every game as a freshman for Northeastern.

The OPJHL is known for high point totals and mixed results in the college ranks.

Zack LaRue – F – Markham Waxers
50GP  33G  36A  69pts  26PIM
Other OPJHL/CCHL forwards:
Chase Langeraap 49GP 33G 46A 79PTS 73PIM
Shawn Saunders 49GP 10G 33A 43PTS 81PIM
Kevin Jarman 46GP 43G 36A 79PTS 51PIM
You can see his numbers compare favorably to Chase Langeraap’s and Kevin Jarman’s.  Both played valuable roles for the Minutemen, but unfortunately for both it took until their senior year to finally see the promise that their lofty junior totals suggested.  Will LaRue break the trend and put up the numbers in year one?

Stephen Guzzo – F – Oakville Blades
56GP  29G  41A  70pts  52PIM
Redshift freshman Stephen Guzzo’s junior numbers also stack up well next to the previous Minutemen from the OPJHL.

There you have it.  What does all of this mean?  Who knows!  But at least it gives us something to think about in the 23 days until the puck drops.

I caught an interview on 1510AM, the Boston station that carries some of the UMass hockey games, with Billy Hogan from Fenway Sports Group, the group publicizing Frozen Fenway 2012. He says they’ve already sold over 30,000 tickets. Wow! And people said outdoor hockey had jumped the shark. The fact that it has sold so well is really a testament to the alumni of the schools in the Boston area with UMass having the most representation in the area.

Great to see Paul Dainton doing well at the prospect tournament in Traverse City representing the Blue Jackets.  He got the win over the Wild prospects last night, 3-1, making 26 saves.  Fire The Cannon says he played the puck more than the other Blue Jacket goaltenders.  Yeah, get used to that and keep the defibrillator nearby.

Here’s a look at Jon Quick’s hockey mask for this season.

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Sizing Up The Freshmen

This was a busy week for the UMass athletic department, what with football media day and such. So it doesn’t look like the shorthanded staff was able to update the hockey roster this week. Originally I was waiting see the final fall roster before starting in on previews but, probably like most of you, I’m chomping at the bit to start thinking about the upcoming season. So without knowing entirely who’s coming and who’s going, let’s start to take a look at this year’s roster. While most of the attention will be spent on the talented and deep sophomore class as well as the core group of returning captains as seniors, the freshmen will have a key role to play in this team’s success. Especially in perhaps the most important position of all, goaltender. So here’s a short introduction to the new players coming onto campus, what they bring to the team, and what holes they may potentially fill.

Forwards

Emerson Auvenshine
Auvenshine is the most recent player to commit to the Minutemen. He has spent the last two seasons with the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL, a Midwest junior league that seen as a step below the elite level USHL. With the Bobcats last year he put up 11 goals and 11 assists to go along with 106 PIM. The penalty minutes suggest he plays with grit, which is something that was definitely lacking with last year’s UMass team. The Michigan native seems to be a really hard worker, as Paul Teeple, broadcaster for the Bobcats, wrote about his perseverance in North Dakota that not only saw him make the team but become one of its assistant captains. Auvenshine will likely see some time on the third and fourth lines to help the Minutemen defensively and keep the other teams honest, but it’s always tough to know what to expect from players coming out of a mid-tier league like the NAHL. If he gets significant playing time, it’s likely because he’s working harder than everyone else in practice.

Zack LaRue
If LaRue isn’t seen as the highest profile freshman coming in, he at least is likely to make the most impact offensively. He’s seen as being one a strong skater, well-conditioned, can put up points (33 goals, 36 assists in 50 games with Markham of the OPJHL), and is also a top penalty killer. That description makes him sound a lot like co-captain T.J. Syner. The difference? LaRue is 6’2” and 195lbs. LaRue seems like the type of player who will be able to come in and immediately contribute to the scoring load, which is very important considering the team was 7th in Hockey East in goals, but at the same time able to withstand checks along the boards and maybe hand a few out. I see LaRue likely playing on the top two lines, mixing in with the likes of Syner, Danny Hobbs, Mike Pereira, and Conor Sheary.

Andrew Tegeler
Tegeler should also be able to provide some offensive punch when he hits Amherst in the fall, but for the most part seems like a solid two way player. Playing in the EJHL last year he had 19 goals and 21 assists in 44 games. Six of his goals were game winners which was good for second in the league. On the other side of the puck he ended up a +30. UMass has had good luck with two way players from the Junior Bruins before, such as Alex Berry. While not as big as Berry, it is reported that Tegeler is able to use his 6’1” frame to his advantage. I see the New Jersey native as getting solid minutes on the third line.

Defense

Mike Busillo
As mentioned before, physical play, or lack thereof, was a huge concern for the team last year. Busillo’s addition is another sign that the coaching staff moved quickly to address that deficiency. The 6’2” blueliner had 97 PIM for the Junior Wolfpack of the AJHL last year where he was an All-Star. He also proved to be pretty good with the puck as well, putting up 8 goals and 19 assists on the season. His 27 points led all defensemen on his team. Busillo adds depth to a solid, but young, defensive corp and while he might not be in the lineup every night, I do suspect he’ll play a fair share of games.

Oleg Yevenko
Again, size and toughness has been seen as a major area of concern for this team in recent years. Yevenko addresses both, in a big way. At 6’7 he becomes the tallest player ever for the program and will even have Adam Phillips looking up at him. As for toughness, playing for Fargo of the USHL he averaged just under 4 PIM a game and was second overall in the league. If anything, UMass fans are probably worried Yevenko might be spending too much time in the penalty box and his style of play may end up hurting the team. That remains to be seen. If you believe what Fargo beat writer Ryan S Clark has to say, Yevenko’s style of play will be an asset, even if it did draw multiple suspensions out west. I expect the big Belarusian to be in the lineup every night and having strong words with any opposing player who gets a little too aggressive with Syner, Sheary, or Kevin Czepiel.

Goaltender

Kevin Boyle
Boyle has been committed to UMass for a number of years now, which has allowed fans to get a pretty good feel for what type of player he may be. In fact I even got to see him play in person a couple of seasons ago. Boyle played well in the AJHL for a couple seasons, but last year went far from his home in New Jersey to play in British Columbia under the tutelage of former UMass grad assistant Darren Yopyk. While this couldn’t have been easy I think it was a great move to go against the higher competition of the BCHL. There, his play was, well, inconsistent (I know, I’m a terrible person for saying so). One night he’d get a shutout or give up a goal and the next he’d struggle to stay in the game. But overall he had a decent season going 20-16-1 with a GAA of 3.02 and save percentage of .902. In the playoffs he played even better but unfortunately an injury led to an early exit for him and his team. Still, he played well enough to be named to the BCHL All-Rookie team. With Paul Dainton gone and sophomore Jeff Teglia putting up OK but not great numbers last year the goaltender position is wide open. Boyle probably will be right there competing for the starting job.

Steve Mastalerz
Mastalerz but up stellar numbers for Kimball Union of the New England Prep League, going 24-6-4 with a miniscule 1.81 goals against and .931 save percentage. For all that USHR named him a prep All-Star. UMass has had pretty good success with goaltenders from the prep schools, with Jon Quick and Gabe Winer both coming from that route previously. Mastalerz already has a relationship with UMass goaltending coach Mike Buckley which should help him get acclimated to the school and college level quickly. He was pursued by multiple Hockey East schools before ultimately deciding on UMass. Frankly, the goaltender job is up for grabs. I don’t see any reason why he won’t contend for it.

While not a freshman another player to keep in mind is Stephen Guzzo, who injured his knee on the eve of last year’s opener and ended up being a medical redshirt. While he wasn’t able to skate again until spring, his familiarity with the system and his teammate should give him a step up this fall. Guzzo had 29 goals and 41 assists in 70 games in his last season in the OJHL, but will likely be used more as a defensive player. I expect him to get regular rotation on the 3rd and 4th lines.

So there you have it, your class of 2015. If anything, this class addresses immediate needs the team has to fill to be successful this season. Over the years the Minutemen have gotten smaller, quicker, more skilled. That has been a good thing when you see the production of guys like James Marcou and T.J. Syner. But at the same time strong defensive teams have found ways to limit how much damage those guys can inflict by being overly aggressive and using size to their advantage. That will not happen with this class. The team is bringing on skilled forwards who can score and move the puck, yet are over 6’. On defense UMass got bigger, a lot bigger, and will bring an edge to the squad that has not been seen since perhaps Steve Jacobs suited up for the Minutemen. In goal, the coaching staff have given themselves options. The goaltending situation will be the biggest story of the year. Fans will enjoy following how it progresses, even if it leads to some downright scary situations here and there. Still, if one guy isn’t getting it done in net, there are two others just as capable waiting in the wings. Some of the best goaltending for this squad just may take place during the week at practice as they fight for the top spot.

Nice to see Paul Dainton sign his first pro contract with the team just down the valley, the Springfield Falcons. Dainton did well for them during an ATO (Amateur Tryout) at the end of last season.

Stick tap to the reader who passed along the news that Darren Rowe and Troy Power, along with some other prominent college players such as BU’s Max Nicastro and Denver goaltender Beau Bennett, will be taking on alumni of the LA Kings this weekend. The game is a benefit for the Junior Kings squad, which Rowe, Power, and the other amateur players played for when they were younger. What? No Brad Norton?

Obi Aduba spent his summer playing in Australia.

Reports continue to come out that the Fenway game will be taking place.

Farewell, “Fighting Sioux”. I’m sorry the NCAA couldn’t see the difference between a name that honors and one that demeans (looking at you pro teams in Cleveland and Washington DC).

The selection committee has made a tweak to the common opponent part of the pairwise calculation.

Auvenshine Update; Westward Expansion

Though I was born on the North Shore, went to high school in the Rockies, and now live on the South Shore, I consider and will always consider Western Mass to be my home.  So to see the footage of a tornados rolling past landmarks I know well and the devastation they brought to the WMass and CMass towns was heartbreaking.  The UMass hockey community ranges near and far and certainly a good number of fans come from the areas affected.  Please know that my thoughts are certainly with all of you in this time of recovery and rebuilding.

Sorry for the lack of posting recently.  I’ve been busy with brewing and Bruins.  My first foray into homebrewing and several top notch beer events have kept my busy during the offseason as well as the Bruins spectacular run to the Stanley Cup.  I was lucky enough to be at last night’s game and have to say that it may have usurped UMass’ Hockey East Semifinal win over UNH in 2004 as my favorite memory in the new Garden.

While, rightfully so, the Bruins are dominating the local hockey landscape, there are some UMass and other related topics to discuss however.

First up are a couple of stories on UMass’ newest commit, Emerson Auvenshine, who will be at UMass this fall.  First is this piece from the website of the Bismarck Bobcats where he played juniors.  The piece expands upon some of the information that was shared to me when he first committed last month.  Dick Baker also checks in with a blog entry on Auvenshine.  Overall looks like the coaching staff has added a high energy player who is really happy about the opportunity to play in Hockey East.  He could end up being a valuable addition to next year’s roster.

Baker also has a short piece on next week’s golf tournament.  There’s still time to sign up, folks!  Click on the logo to the right for more info.  Your time on the links will help the UMass team on the ice.

Paul Dainton, Lord of the Ring. (Stick tap to reader Adam for passing this along).

Casey Wellman and his Houston Aeros fell short of the Calder Cup as the Binghamton Senators took the AHL championship in six games.

Former Providence player Alex Velischeck who left the Friars midseason to play in the USHL has found a college team to play for.  His old team.  The talented defenseman is returning to play in the Coffin for new coach Nate Leaman.

The Bangor Daily News is reporting that Notre Dame is considering joining Hockey East in the wake of a number of CCHA programs jumping ship to help form Big Ten Hockey.  The article also states that the league’s reluctance to have an odd number of teams could lead to an invitation to Miami as well.

Notre Dame has established itself as one of the best programs in the country.  Jeff Jackson has taken the team to great heights and as a result the school will be opening a brand new arena this fall.  Miami recently opened a new barn for their hockey program which has made it to the national championship game under coach Enrico Blasi.  Both these teams already share traits with current Hockey East schools.  Notre Dame is of course a catholic rival with Boston College while  Miami and UMass will soon be meeting each other regularly on the MAC gridiron.  Either one of these programs would be a huge addition for a hockey conference.  Adding both would solidify Hockey East as the far and away best conference in the country.

Yet, I personally would not want Hockey East to add either of these teams.  There are a lot of aspects of Hockey East that makes it great like the rivalries, the success, and traditions.  But one of the things that I really think makes Hockey East unique is the geography.  The conference’s footprint sits entirely within New England.  As a fan, the fact that it’s possible to jump in the car every weekend, drive a few hours, and watch them play each of their conference foes in enemy barns is priceless.  Only the ECAC can claim this benefit as well, and that drive from the North Country to Princeton is a lot longer than even Amherst to Orono.  Hockey East is unique in its current formation and I hate to have a couple of Midwest programs disrupt that, even if they are two very worthy programs.  Call me provincial, call me shortsighted, but that’s how I feel.  In a day and time where the Big East extends to Texas and the Atlantic 10 reaches to the banks of the Mississippi, Hockey East is a reminder of how college conferences should be.  Plus, in an era of skyrocketing costs, a bus ride cost structure helps keep DII schools like Lowell within arms reach of a Boston College.  Start adding in plane fares and its unknown if the smaller Hockey East schools would be able to absorb the higher overhead to their programs.

That’s not to say I’m anti-expansion.  I just think that expansion should be limited to the current footprint.  There are a few schools out there that could be worthy additions down the road, though none are ready to join anytime soon.  Quinnipiac could be an intriguing addition.  As would Holy Cross with a lot of effort put in to upgrade the profile of their program.  Hell, even UConn may make for a good rivalry for UMass if they ever decide to start a invest in their hockey program.  Perhaps future schools are not even on the radar as of yet.  Maybe old friend Thorr Bjorn down at Rhode Island decides to drop Ram football altogether in favor of Ram hockey.  Maybe that geographic footprint could be extended west to include a prospective program at Syracuse.  While none of these schools are a Miami or a Notre Dame, I think in the long run they’d be a better fit for the existing schools.

UMass alums should fill out this survey from the Alumni Association on the license plate project.  I’m ecstatic to see they’re reviving this idea with the survey being the first step in what will hopefully be a successful result.  I honestly don’t care how many plates are out there on the road at the end of it all, I just want one.  So I guess I’m being selfish.  But hey, I don’t charge for this site and you only rarely have to deal with advertisers and all that mess.  So do me this favor and just fill out the survey so I can roll in the Mullins lot with the maroon and white on the back of my car.

Auvenshine Commits To UMass; Recruit Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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