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Up To The Minute ▲ 2016-17 UMass Hockey Schedule Released

Massachusetts hockey fans can begin to map out their fall and winter weekends as the 2016-17 schedule was released earlier this week.  With the UMass Athletics website temporarily in transition the schedule is only available in Tweet form:

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News ▲ Kravchenko, Smiley, and Burchett Depart From UMass Hockey

Anyone who has followed the recent recruiting haul of UMass coach Greg Carvel and his staff for this fall has realized that the numbers didn’t add up.  UMass will be adding nine newcomers this coming season but has only subtracted two seniors to graduation plus Henry Dill, whose departure was reported last month.  It was clear there was further roster turnover coming and we learned which players would not be returning today.  After Dennis Kravchenko’s departure was first reported today on Twitter by @USHockeyWire, Matt Vautour of the Gazette confirmed that he plus Maddison Smiley and Keith Burchett were no longer with the program.

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Recruit Update ▲ Goaltender Ryan Wischow Commits To UMass While Henry Dill Exits

Coach Greg Carvel and his staff haven’t wasted much time in putting their fingerprints on the incoming recruiting class as they picked up a commitment from goaltender Ryan Wischow just a day after FTT reported that Jake McLaughlin and Jack Suter had committed to UMass.

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View From Section U ▲ Micheletto’s Boyle Blunder

Kevin Boyle committed to play hockey at the University of Massachusetts in February of 2009 at age 16.  After a couple more seasons of juniors, one year played in his native New Jersey and the other on the west coast of Canada, he came to Amherst in the fall of 2011.  He would make his debut in the opening game of the season, a 3-3 tie at Northeastern where he made 29 saves.  A week later he made his Mullins Center debut and got his first collegiate win in a 5-3 decision over Bentley.  If all had gone to plan Boyle would’ve played his last game as a senior last February.  But things did not go as planned.  Instead he’ll make his final appearance in Amherst this Friday.  He’ll be wearing a UMass sweater, but not one adorned with maroon and white.  Instead it’ll be the red and blue jersey of UMass-Lowell where Boyle is putting up excellent numbers in net for a top ten team with their sights set on the NCAA tournament.

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Recap ▲ UMass Offense Stifled In Weekend Sweep By #3 Quinnipiac

We knew coming into this weekend that this Massachusetts hockey team has had a tough time getting on the scoreboard against the elite defensive teams in the country.  They lost 6-1 in the Capital City Classic against Yale and earlier this month dropped a 7-0 decision to Boston College. They did not fare much better against the #3 Quinnipiac Bobcats who came into this home-and-home series allowing the 4th fewest goals and shots on net per game.  The Bobcats’ defense lived up to their dominant expectations and allowed just a single goal against UMass, winning the games 4-1 and 1-0.

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Recap ▲ UMass Picks Up First Defeat, Losing 6-1 To #13 Yale

The Massachusetts hockey team’s undefeated streak to start the season ended at five games as they dropped a 6-1 decision to 13th ranked Yale.  There would be no drama, no comeback in this game as Yale controlled play throughout and threw a blanket on what had been the high-fueled Minuteman offense.  The loss drops UMass’ record on the season to 4-1-1 as they begin a stretch of 7 straight Hockey East games.

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Preview ▲ Minutemen Look To Stay Perfect As They Open League Play Against UNH

New Hampshire Wildcats 1-2-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 3-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team has found early success in their non-conference schedule, starting out the year 3-0-0.  They’ll look to carry over that early momentum as they kick off their Hockey East schedule at home against the New Hampshire Wildcats.  After starting their season against a rebuilding Colorado College program and Atlantic Hockey’s Sacred Heart, UNH, a team picked to finish 6th in the league, should prove to a step up in terms of competition for the Minutemen.

UNH is hoping to rebound from a disappointing weekend at home where they dropped a couple one goal games to the North Country teams of Clarkson and St Lawrence.  The trip to the Mullins Center on Friday will be the first game away from Durham for UNH after they opened the season with a dominant home win against AIC by the score of 7-3.

UNH’s problem so far seems to be goaltending.  Danny Tirone joined the Wildcats in mid-season last year and ended up being one of the prominent storylines for the team.  He went 9-4-0 in the second half of last season with a .924 save percentage.  Through three games this season though he’s made 78 saves on 88 shots on net, just a .886 save percentage.  Even in the AIC game he allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for a sub-.900 save percentage.  If Tirone is unable to get the job done in net for the ‘Cats, they’ll have to turn to freshman Adam Clark who had a .894 save percentage in 21 games last season.

Though the AIC game skews their statistics somewhat, UNH has been getting the job done offensively, averaging 4 goals per game so far.  They have matched their opponents in terms of shots on goal per game with 29.3, right around the national average.  It’s no surprise that Tyler Kelleher is among the top scorers so far for the Wildcats as he’s one of the best forwards in the league.  Kelleher led his team in points last year with 42 in 39 games and so far has 2 goals and 2 assists in their four games.  It is a little strange though to see senior Maxim Gaudreault as the top goal-scorer for UNH as the 3 goals already scored so far this season matches the amount he scored in 30 games last season.

There has been a lot of talk about the quality of UMass’ 3-0-0 start this week.  Some people have pointed to their easy schedule.  Others have said that their high shooting percentage (16.9%) or shots attempted differential (-67) shows that they’ve been “lucky” and that once they play tougher opponents their fortunes will turn.  It’s true that their shooting percentage will come down and they need to do a better job of possessing the puck, but I would argue there are other reasons why they’re winning.

They’ve gotten some solid individual efforts from the likes of Dennis Kravchenko, Austin Plevy, and Shane Walsh.  Those three have accounted for 11 of UMass’ 26 goals so far.  The team has also done a great job at converting their power play opportunities.  Their 33% power play conversion is tied for 5th best in the country so far.  Lastly, while UMass has allowed opponents to attempt a good number of shots, they’ve gotten very solid goaltending on the other end of those shots.  Nic Renyard and Henry Dill have an identical .938 save percentage so far this season, which is good for 17th best in the country.

UMass will probably have to do a better job in terms of possessing the puck against a talented, yet struggling UNH team this weekend.  But aside from that, I’m not sure I’d do too much differently if I were Coach Micheletto.  The team is playing extremely well right now and their success so far should allow them to play confidently in their league opener.  With the game at home a 4-0-0 start is within their grasp.  But in the long run starting off Hockey East with a 1-0-0 record may be more important.

Beer The Triangle
The merger of the Hangar and Amherst Brewing Company has not only made it a little easier to find a table and enjoy some wings pre or post-game, but it has helped relaunch ABC brewing.  After kicking off the new era with a very good IPA, Jess, the most recent addition to the ABC lineup is an aromatic wet hop brew, Chelsea.  Definitely worth a try.

Preview From UMass Athletics.

The Collegian has their preview of Friday’s game as well as this interesting piece on sophomore Dominic Trento and his start so far.

The Gazette has their preview.

For a UNH viewpoint, here’s the preview from the Foster’s Daily Democrat.

To get you psyched up for Friday’s matchup, here’s the UMass hockey intro video:

Weekend Preview ▲ Minutemen Head West To Open Season Against Colorado College

Colorado College Tigers 0-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st NCHC

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Massachusetts Minutemen 0-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey program travels to the foot of the Rockies to open the 2015-16 season.  The Minutemen taking on the Colorado College Tigers to kick off the season won’t be seen as one of the marquee opening weekend matchups, but it is a very interesting one.  And while I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying whatever happens this weekend will be a precursor to the entire season, it should at least give UMass fans a glimpse of what the team may be capable of in the early going.

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Season Preview ▲ Micheletto, UMass Hockey In Need Of A Turnaround in 2015-16

When John Micheletto was hired to lead the Massachusetts hockey program in 2012 he told prospective players to “find Amherst on a map and put a circle around it”.  In the years since Micheletto and his staff have done a decent job of getting skilled players to do just that, from Frank Vatrano to Brandon Montour to this year’s talented freshman class, they’ve all found their way to Western Mass.  What that map has not led Micheletto and his players to, however, are wins.  Micheletto enters his fourth season with an overall record of 31-64-9.  Even worse is his record in Hockey East where he’s won barely over 30% of his games at 18-45-6.  The Minutemen have finished in last or second to last in the league in each season under Micheletto.  It is hard to imagine that he survives with similar results this season.  Micheletto desperately needs to turnaround this program starting Friday against Colorado College.  Is this team constructed for such a rebound in what’s a make or break season for Micheletto?  It’s tough to tell.

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News ▲ UMass Hockey Players Arrested, Fined Over Weekend

Over the weekend UMass hockey’s Shane Walsh, Ben Gallacher and goaltender Henry Dill were arrested by Amherst police in connection with a loud party off-campus.  Also arrested was former player Evan Stack who retired from the sport last year due to concussion issues.  The Collegian’s Jason Kates reports that the four were arraigned today in Hampshire County Court and Walsh, Gallacher, and Stack paid fines for violating Amherst’s noise bylaw.  Dill paid a fine for disorderly conduct after “punching a police car”.

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