BC Recap

Well, with four games under their belts, including one against the team that ended their season last Spring, there’s enough evidence to have an opinion on this year’s team.  And unfortunately my conclusion is that this team isn’t any better than last year’s.  The makeup of the team is a little different, but overall I haven’t seen anything through the four games to make me think they’ll be significantly better than last year.  Certainly what was seen in Conte Forum last night didn’t feel any different from what we saw last February or March.  Now obviously I didn’t expect with an offseason under their belts they were going in to beat an excellent BC team at home.  But I at least thought they would be able to compete with them a little closer than last year.  Instead they were dominated and for most of the time.

Now if there was going to be one weakness going into the game it would be goaltending, right?  After all, Jeff Teglia was making his first start of the year.  No.  In fact UMass got strong goaltending from Teglia.  What they didn’t get was offense.  For all the hype about how this UMass team was performing much better offensively, they looked just as anemic as last year.  They had only two shots during the entire second period.  The power play went 0 for 7 with just four shots on net.  And those that needed to score didn’t, with one goal coming from a freshman playing only his second shift in his UMass career and the second coming from a defenseman late.  Now some of the blame goes to the players who did not challenge BC goaltender Parker Milner.  They can also take the blame for taking way too many penalties.  Ten all in all, including 6 from the team’s co-captains.  That’s unacceptable.

But Toot Cahoon can take some of the blame as well.  After last weekend when the T.J. Syner/Danny Hobbs/Mike Pereira quickly established itself as one of the most productive lines in all of college hockey, he decided to split them up.  The result?  No goals, no assists.  Danny Hobbs who dominated last weekend generated just one shot.  I’m sure Toot was thinking he wanted to distribute the potent offense to more than one lines.  Instead he got four lines that cannot score at all.  If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  I was in total shock when I heard before the game that the lines were being split.  I actually had to flag down Dick Baker to confirm it via the line sheet.  Would keeping the top line together have made a difference tonight?  Who knows.  Probably not given that UMass had to play shorthanded so often.  But changing the lines tonight was totally unnecessary.  UMass split last weekend because of goaltending, not offense.  So why change it up except for the sake of changing it up?

The one moment for UMass fans to cheer was Andrew Tegeler scoring a goal in the early moments of his first every game.  The goal also marked the first point for Oleg Yevenko.  Overall Tegeler played pretty well and almost came up with another goal in the third.  Beyond that, there honestly wasn’t a lot to cheer about.  It wasn’t an entertaining game for anyone with the constant whistles as a result of two no-name Hockey East refs sending players from both teams off every couple minutes.

Back to the drawing board for UMass.  Like last year they seem incapable of playing an all around good game.  When the offense is working they get poor goaltending and lose.  When the goaltending is good they can’t score.  When they get both, they’re unable to do little things, like clear the puck, to seal a win.  It’s still early in the year but so far this one is looking like a repeat of last season.  The only difference is UMass had a relatively workable schedule early last year.  They don’t have that luxury this season.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Jeff Teglia

Seems a little odd that the player of the game goes to the guy who gave up four goals, but if Teglia doesn’t play as well as he did this game is easily 6-2 of 7-2.  There was really only one of the four goals that I thought was soft and that’s when Johnny Gaudreau caught Teglia leaning the wrong way and put it between the post and his skate.  The other three goals were because BC forwards worked for it or the UMass defense was caught watching, like the first goal.  No one on defense for UMass looked good last night and Teglia had to battle to keep the game close.  Overall Teglia looked good.  Good enough to get at least one of the games in net against BU next weekend.

Here’s the recap from the Republican.

The Herald recap says Billy Arnold was the star.

Joe Meloni of College Hockey News has his thoughts.


Providence Recap

If you had told me that after three games UMass would have the third best offense of Hockey East teams at 4 goals a game and the second best power play I’d have been pretty happy.  However, UMass has not been able to make the most of their offensive production and through two games against teams they’ll likely be battling in the standings UMass has been able to capture just one point.  Despite another four goal game last night, two coming on the power play, UMass got the loss because defense and more specifically goaltending let them down against Providence.

If there are positives last night it is that the team kept battling to get back into the game throughout and that the top line of Danny Hobbs, Mike Pereira, and T.J. Syner continues to put up a ton of numbers, accounting for two goals and four assists last night.  With some average goaltending UMass likely gets the win and the two points last night.  I believe I wrote earlier in the week that with Jeff Teglia over the flu, it seemed like a logical decision to have Kevin Boyle make his home debut Friday and put Teglia in last night because he was at least familiar with the rink, one where UMass has struggled in recent years.  How that scenario would’ve turned out, we don’t know.  But what we do know is that Jeff Teglia looked solid and stopped all 8 shots in relief of Boyle and that Boyle let in a number of goals that he shouldn’t have.  At least three of them.  And let’s face it, his defense made some key mistakes that led to some of the other goals as well.  And speaking of defense, where is Anthony Raiola who played so well at the end of last season?

It wasn’t just the bad goals that hurt, the timing of them hurt immensely and killed any momentum UMass was generating.  After going down 2-0 in the first, Danny Hobbs put the Minutemen on the board just 1:15 into the second.  But 45 seconds later an inexcusable shorthanded goal gave the Friars the two goal lead back again.  Later in the period a power play goal by Hobbs cut the PC lead to 4 to 3, but again a soft goal was let in just a minute later that gave the Friars a two goal lead again.  That goal ended Boyle’s night.  Unfortunately UMass was unable to get their offense going until late in the 3rd when Conor Sheary scored with under 5 minutes left and never got that elusive tying goal.

Am I worried about Boyle’s performance?  Not really.  At least not any more than I am about Teglia’s or Steve Mastalerz.  He played very well at Northeastern and played well enough Friday against Bentley to get his first win.  But it does show that a quick resolution to the team’s goaltending issues is not going to happen.  That’s why I think it’s important over the next few months to give each goaltender a shot at games and not stick with one for more than a couple.  That means getting Teglia in in a game like last night and getting Mastalerz some time when he returns from injury in a few weeks.

As much as it would’ve pained me, I wish if UMass dropped a game this weekend it would’ve been Friday’s.  Losing to an Atlantic Hockey team is never good for the program, but UMass really could’ve used 2 to 3 points out of these early games against Northeastern and Providence.  Instead they only got one.  Now begins probably their toughest stretch of the season.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Danny Hobbs
Not only did Hobbs score a couple goals last night, both were at critical times in the game that, however briefly, gave UMass a shot a comeback.  Five points in two games.  Not a bad start to the senior season.

Here’s the recap from the Republican.

I guess the good news for UNH is that they actually scored a goal against Boston College, their first of the season.  The bad news is they lost 5-1 and are now 0-3 to start the season.  Elsewhere Merrimack got a bit of a scare from Army but won 3-2.  BU rebounded from Friday’s loss to Providence by beating #3 Denver.  Maine tied North Dakota while Lowell completed a sweep of Minnesota State out west.

View From Section U: Join The Pond Club!

If you’ve been able to navigate the jungle of the internet, filled with too good to be true offers and porn, to find and read Fear The Triangle then you’re a hardcore UMass hockey fan.  And if you’re a hardcore UMass hockey fan you should join the team’s booster organization, the Pond Club.

The Pond Club is of course the fundraising arm of the hockey program, with its mission to help defer some of the costs it takes to compete in an elite level DI hockey conference and give the coaches the tools they need to succeed.  In recent years the Pond Club has, among other things, helped renovate the locker room at the Mullins, bought video equipment, provided a skate sharpener, and funded a weight room for the team.  UMass hockey needs this.  I don’t have to tell you how hard it is for teams in Hockey East to break into the “top 4” of the conference.  Some of this is due to the tradition of teams like Boston College, Boston University, Maine, and UNH.  But, some of this is because those schools have some damn nice facilities, like BU’s Agganis Arena or the renovations currently underway at Alfond in Orono.  Add in improvements to facilities at Lowell and past and future redevelopment of Lawler at Merrimack and it shows that UMass needs help when it comes to keeping up with the competition.  The Mullins Center is a good hockey facility, but it needs almost constant enhancements to keep up with like facilities across the country.

But the Pond Club is more than just writing a check.  It’s a chance to surround yourself with others who care about UMass hockey just as much as you.  Through the Pond Club you’ll meet fellow fans, UMass hockey alumni, hockey parents, coaches, and athletic staff.  And you’ll never know who else you’ll run into as well.  In the past year while attending Pond Club events I’ve had the chance to meet Stanley Cup winner Steve Rooney and US Hockey Hall of Famer John LeClair.  Certainly a big thrill for a big hockey fan.

Of course a lot of this interaction with other UMass hockey fans takes place in the Massachusetts Room between periods of games and other Pond Club events.  Even the lowest level membership in the Pond Club will give you access to the Massachusetts Room to talk about the ongoing game and have a (craft) beer(!) while looking down on ice level or checking out the trophies and pieces of UMass sports history.  Honestly, being able to enjoy the Massachusetts Room is worth the membership price alone.

So if you’re a UMass fan who chooses to come read Fear The Triangle, first of all I thank you immensely.  But please think about extending your support of the team just a little further than showing up to the games, listening to the road trips to Orono on the radio, memorizing all the jersey numbers of the players, and knowing exactly how to solve the team’s power play.  Join the Pond Club and help the Minutemen win while surrounding yourself with others who are just as passionate to see them achieve success.

Dick Baker of the Republican has news that Jeff Teglia is over his bout with the flu and that he and Kevin Boyle will likely see time this weekend.  Coach Cahoon reiterated as much on the weekly radio show.  Also, Danny Hobbs has been skating this week.

Baker also takes a look back at the last time UMass played Bentley, which pretty much put the team over the edge and on the way to the annual second half nosedive.  He says that the Bentley loss was the turning point of the season, but UMass had actually lost three of five leading up and needed the Bentley game to show they weren’t going to swoon like previous teams.  Didn’t happen.  Looking back at my recap from that game, it doesn’t look like a lot of players did well in that one.  So I hope the upperclassmen, from T.J. Syner to Kevin Czepiel (who scored his first career goal against Bentley) have long memories and are out to get some revenge.  But more about Bentley tomorrow.

For those you are just returning to read FTT after the offseason, one of my View From Section U columns during the summer was an open letter to the new marching band director, Timothy Anderson, in support of a hockey band.  I did contact Dr. Anderson and direct him to the letter and he was very cordial and open to exploring the idea of a puck band once he’s settled in Amherst.  I received tremendous feedback from readers regarding the post and so far there are almost 30 co-signers of the letter.  I’d love to be able to followup with Dr. Anderson by printing out and mailing him the post, complete with the co-signees and comments.  So if you support the forming of a hockey band and having a complete college hockey atmosphere in the Mullins Center, please comment or sign the letter (even anonymously) to help show how important this issue is to the UMass hockey fanbase.  Thanks!

Preview: #1 Boston University

Hockey East Preview: #1 Boston University Terriers

2010-11 Storyline: The 2010-11 season sees BU go without a trip to the Garden or the NCAA tournament.

2011-12 Storyline: Is experience the edge that lifts BU back to the top of Hockey East?

Player To Watch: Alex Chiasson

Player Missed Most: David Warsofsky

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Cason Hohmann

Random Fact: The last time BU went three consecutive years without making the NCAA tournament was 1989.

Usual Beer The Triangle Pre-game Spot: Sunset Cantina (aka “Mini-Sunset”)

Experience.  Is Boston University the most talented squad in the league?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But they are experienced.  They bring back their entire roster save for two players.  Granted, those were two key players, Joe Pereira led the team in goals while David Warsofsky was one of the better defensemen in Hockey East, but the Terriers should be able to make up for their absence and then some.  Alex Chiasson will likely be one of the superstars of the league.  He and Chris Connolly will be expected to shoulder the scoring load while sophomores Matt Nieto and Charlie Coyle build off their strong freshman seasons last year.

Warsofsky leaving early to join the Bruins hurts somewhat but up and coming defensemen Garrett Noonan and Adam Clendening will help solidify the blueline which also includes the talented Max Nicastro.  In net Kieran Millan returns for his fourth year.  While I’ve always thought him to be somewhat overrated, his experience alone will help BU contend for the league title, especially with so many other teams going in with question marks in net.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: Millan is unable to replicate the numbers of the past few years.

They’ll Finish Higher Because: A typo in the standings puts them at 0.1.

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

There you have it, my predictions for the season.  What do you think?  Solid?  Crazy?  The product of too many beers in front of the keyboard?  Look for my in-depth UMass preview on Wednesday.

USCHO has their Hockey East preview where UMass is picked to finish 6th and 9th, simultaneously.  Their team preview focuses on, you guessed it, goaltending.  For some reason they seem to have already come to the conclusion that Jeff Teglia will not even contend for the goaltending job since the success of the team lies in the hands of Steve Mastalerz and Kevin Boyle.  Hmm…you getting all that, Tegs?

INCH picks UMass 6th.

Dick Baker profiles freshman Zack LaRue.

Inside Hockey has some pictures from Saturday’s scrimmage.

Justin Braun will join Matt Irwin and James Marcou in Worcester to start the season.

However it appears that Mike Kostka has made the Florida Panthers roster out of training camp and will look to make his NHL debut.

I received some bad news about Alex Berry, who was in camp with the AHL’s Portland Pirates.  In practice on Saturday Berry sustained an injury that broke his arm and damaged his wrist.  The compound fracture of the bone ended up severing an artery and doing some nerve damage.  The good news is they got him sewn up and he has some metal in his arm to help him heal.  The bad news is it’ll likely be a lengthy recovery.  Certainly my thoughts go out to him and hope he heals quickly.

Maroon & White Thoughts

It was great to see some UMass hockey last night, even if it was only an intrasquad scrimmage.  It was an entertaining game, played with two 12 minute periods with the third being 15 minutes of alternating power plays.  White won the game on a nice looking gamewinner by Conor Sheary who wristed a shot top corner for the goal.  The first goal was by Eddie Olczyk on a penalty shot (players did not serve penalties) against Kevin Moore that went five hole.  Branden Gracel scored a power play goal for Maroon.

There were a few players not dressed, the two captains Danny Hobbs and T.J. Syner as well as freshman goaltender Steve Mastalerz.  As far as I heard Hobbs and Syner should be available to play Friday at Northeastern.  It is too bad that Mastalerz is a little banged up did not have a chance to play.

The goaltending that we did get to see by Kevin Boyle and Jeff Teglia was very solid.  Both had 19 saves on the night.  I wouldn’t say they were challenged too much, though Boyle did have a nice sequence of point blank saves at one point, but both performed well and made the saves they had to.  The Sheary goal would’ve been tough to save, the Olczyk goal was against Kevin Moore on a penalty shot, and Gracel’s came from a pile up in front of the net.  Both looked good and I wouldn’t say from the short viewing experience that one has an advantage over the other.

As I said, they weren’t challenged too much.  I had hoped to see a little more action on offense.  The power play did not show much improvement and seems to have the same issues regarding moving the puck and getting in a good position to shoot as we saw last year.  Obviously, the offense was missing a lot with the two captains not dressed.  Mike Pereira was active all over the ice but didn’t seem to get many shots off.  Overall the defense was probably the star of the show, as they stifled the offense and looked much more physical than last year.  So physical in fact there was even a little altercation between Conor Allen and big Oleg Yevenko at one point and they had to be separated.  They did hug it out in the handshake line though, so I wouldn’t worry about problems between them.  In fact I think it shows that this team is taking this all very seriously.

On defense I thought Mike Marcou probably played the best which is a nice sign going into his senior year.  Yevenko looked good.  His skating was better than I expected and thanks to his reach had a couple of poke checks that disrupted the offensive transition.  For the other freshman I like what I saw from Emerson Auvenshine.  He may have been the most active player on the ice and I think he’ll contribute more than I initially expected.  Zack LaRue and Andrew Tegeler are both big bodies that can skate very well.

I didn’t expect the defense and goaltending to be the stars of the night, especially since most players were not hitting as much as would be expected against other teams.  But that was the case.  Hopefully with a full complement of players and some practices under their belt we’ll see improved offense in time for the game against Northeastern.

Here are Dick Baker’s thoughts on the scrimmage.

Mike Kostka is still doing well in his shot to make the Florida Panthers out of camp.

An average performance in Wild camp means Casey Wellman will start in the AHL.

Maroon & White Preview

OK, it’s not really a preview.  After all, my true  UMass season preview will hit the site on Wednesday.  However, here are a few of the things I’m keeping in mind when watching this afternoon’s game:

Goaltending – Obviously this is the biggest question mark going into the season.  How does Teglia look?  Do either of the freshmen look to have a leg up on the other.  Do either look better than Teglia?

Sophomore Slump – How does last year’s freshman class, which preformed well, look with a year under their belt.  I’ve found this is when you can start to separate the leaders from the followers in a class.  Which are putting in the extra work and paying attention to what’s going on all over the ice.

Rocco Carzo – Speaking of sophomore slump…  I don’t want to single Carzo out, but he did struggle mightily last year.  But at the same time, he has the talent and from what I hear the character to move beyond it.  A strong start to his junior year will be a good sign.

Mike Marcou – Marcou also had a tough year last season.  I’d love to see him get back to basics and stop trying to do too much at once.  He’s a smart player and if he uses his wits to be in the right position on defense at the right time, he’ll do well.

Power play – Obviously this was a weakness last year.  It’ll be interesting to see if it changes.  In previous years the power play belonged to assistant Len Quesnelle (while Red Gendron took charge of the penalty kill).  With the introduction of Blaise MacDonald, I wondered if Toot took the opportunity to switch up the special teams.

Danny Hobbs –  The UMass co-captain made tremendous progress in his game last season.  Just how much further can he take his game?

Darren Rowe – Defenseman?  Forward?

Zack LaRue – A 6’2” T.J. Syner or is his game different from what was portrayed through the limited media available?

Oleg Yevenko – Please do not injure your teammates.  This is just a scrimmage.  Can someone put a red jersey on Mike Pereira please?

Joel Hanley – He missed the beginning of last season with family issues and the end with mono. But in the middle he was a damn solid defensemen with a great offensive touch. Could he be the next UMass star in the making?

The taps at the Hangar – With only being able to get to the usual pre-game spot once during the offseason, I find myself constantly wondering what amazing beers Stoney has procured that I’m missing.

The new ABC – What do they plan on doing with all that open space in the bar area?  Arena football?


Though he got the loss, Paul Dainton preformed well in his first exhibition game for the Falcons on the season.

Monday Links; Dainton To Suit Up For Bluejackets

Dick Baker has the first of what will likely be many “Who’s in net for UMass?” articles.  This article centers on Jeff Teglia who hopes to build off last season and stay injury free to earn the spot in the crease.   He also spoke with redshirt freshman Steve Guzzo who missed all last season with a knee injury.

In alumni news, great to see Paul Dainton will be one of two goaltenders to dress for tomorrow’s preseason opener for the Columbus Bluejackets.

Greg Mauldin had a couple goals in an Avalanche intrasquad scrimmage.

Baker catches up with James Marcou who was unable to participate in Sharks camp as he is still recovering from a concussion dating back to last season.  I’m told he is pretty close to 100% though and hopefully will be cleared for full contact soon.

I did get an update on Alex Berry who was released by the Tampa Bay Lightning this spring.  He has gotten interest from other NHL teams but as of yet is still unsigned.  It is expected that he’ll catch on with an AHL training camp when they open.

Red Leaving For Ivy Green?

Back from vacation means back to writing about UMass hockey.  I had a great trip down to the  mid-Atlantic area.  I got to visit three breweries (Dogfish Head, Ram’s Head/Fordham, Victory), see countless national treasures like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and hung out with a few of the original Section U inhabitants dating back to the triangle days.

So did anything happen hockey-wise in this area while I was gone?  Oh yeah, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup!!  What a run.  I’m definitely a college hockey fan first, as that’s how I first got into the game, but seeing the black and gold as the owners of Lord Stanley’s chalice is beyond thrilling.  New England is now the center of the hockey world, let’s hope that continues next fall when UMass and the rest of Hockey East return to the ice.

Of course there was some UMass news during last week as well.  USHR reported that Red Gendron will be leaving Amherst to take an assistant coaching position at Yale under Keith Allain.  Gendron does have a relationship already with Allain from when they previously coached for the US program.  From everything I’ve heard, this report appears to be true even though it’s not official yet.  I’ll be sorry to see Red go.  He’s done a lot for the program from recruiting many of the talented players on the ice to all the hard work he does for things like the annual golf outing.  He’s also been very friendly to fans and supporters of the program.  Whatever the future holds for him, I’ll be rooting for him (except of course when Yale comes to town this fall).

Also in the USHR report was the statement that they’re “hearing” that Red will be replaced by former Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald.  Besides being colleagues in the Hockey East coaching ranks, MacDonald and Toot Cahoon were also assistants together at BU.  First off, I have not been able to confirm that the report that MacDonald is about to be hired is true, but makes sense that he’d be in the mix.  Secondly, I’m not sure I like this news.  I have a lot of respect for the job that Blaise did at Lowell.  Against all of the challenges that surrounded that program, even when it was on the verge of getting mothballed by the Board of Trustees, he was able to consistently recruit some top talent in the league.  However, he was just fired from that job because he was never able to get that talent to its full potential.  At Lowell he had a history of his very best teams underperforming regularly and sometimes dramatically.  Problem is, in recent years UMass has also suffered from that same charge of underperforming compared to its potential.  If Toot is going to bring in someone new to the staff, I would rather the person have a record of addressing some of the team’s recent deficiencies.

My ideal replacement for Red?  Hire alum and current ECHL coach Dean Stork and groom him to replace Toot in a couple years when he likely retires.

In other Hockey East coaching news, remember how friend of FTT Ryan S. Clark reported a couple months ago that Greg Cronin was leaving Northeastern for the NHL and Cronin vehemently denied the report?  Well Cronin was hired today as an assistant coach for Toronto.  Maple Leafs or Northeastern?  Hmm…lateral move at best.  It should be interesting to see if any recruits or current Husky players look to leave with their coach on the move.

UMass has lost out to Providence for the services of South Kent defenseman Anthony Florentino.  Florentino is a talented defenseman who has participated in past US national development camps previously.  This one hurts a little because he has some close ties to the Minuteman program and from what I’ve read is highly regarded.

Congratulations to Conor Allen, Mike Lecomte, Kevin Moore, Colin Shea, and Jeff Teglia who were named to the Hockey East All-Academic Team for this past season.  Lecomte was named to the team for all four of his years at UMass.

Stuff the ballot box!  Vote for Paul Dainton for UMass Play of the Year!

Speaking of voting, don’t forget to take the survey for which UMass license plate you like best.

With the Cup awarded, that means the NHL Draft is just around the corner.  Hockey’s Future has Mike Pereira as one of the top 10 draft eligible players in the NCAA.  Pereira will also be featured in a pre-draft article in the New England Hockey Journal that I’ll be sure to pass along when it’s published.

Dick Baker of the Republican caught up with Greg Mauldin and Justin Braun at last week’s Golf Outing.