Recruit Update

Late post tonight as I was in Providence crossing another hockey arena off my list.  With my visit to Meehan Auditorium tonight to watch Harvard squeak by Brown 2-1 I’ve now been to all the DI college hockey rinks in New England except Sacred Heart.  I’ve also nearly completed visiting all the ECAC rinks except Colgate and Princeton. 

Surprisingly Meehan was a pretty good place to watch a game.  It doesn’t have nice amenities like multiple food stands, convenient bathrooms, or decent promotional giveaways (tonight was Brown paper clip holder night, seriously).  But there’s not a bad seat in the house and the standing room area is even better as you can see below:

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Another up and down weekend for Boyle.  First he allowed 3 goals in under 30 minutes of play then the next night he got a shutout, his first of the season.  That’s it for the BCHL regular season.  Boyle finished 12th in GAA and 14th in save percentage in the 12 team league.  His Warriors are a 4 seed in the Interior Conference and playoffs start Friday.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
39 GP / 11 G / 37 A /  48 Pts / 50 PIM
Shattuck is in the middle of a stretch where they don’t play from February 10th until the 26th.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue has had a goal and three assists in three playoff games so far for the Waxers.  His goal was a gamewinner.  His team is up 2-1 in the series.

 Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
32 GP / 6 G / 6 A / 12 Pts / 10 PIM
Walsh had a great weekend netting a couple of goals in three games.

Joseph Manno -RW – South Kent (NE Prep)
21 GP / 15 G / 26 A / 41 Pts
These stats come from a reader since USHR has priced themselves beyond my taste.  Not sure how often I’ll be able to update these.

The Collegian takes a look at the close contests UMass has been a part of (usually on the losing end).

Former Collegian editor Andrew Merritt has a must read about Greg Mauldin finally getting an extended chance in the NHL in the New England Hockey Journal.  Mauldin was even featured on the cover of this month’s edition.  A timely link as Mauldin will be the feature of my View From Section U column tomorrow.

Saturday Recap; Manno Commits

Apologies for a minimalistic recap, but my computer has died so this is being written on my iPhone.

I was impressed by the Minutemen defensively last night. Yes they allowed a ton of shots, but they limited Merrimack to a lot of non-quality chances and when they did get a good look Paul Dainton was there to stop them. The defense also did a good job of sweeping rebounds from in front of the net or getting between the Merrimack forwards and the loose pucks. Overall, I don’t have too many complaints about the effort defensively against this high scoring offense that put up 11 last time they met in this building.

The UMass offense however was nonexistent. The started the game with 7 shots in the first and unfortunately the totals went down from there. This team, as it’s currently built, seems completely unable to compete on small ice. The forwards just do not seem to have the strength to maintain possession when bringing the puck into the zone and too often they’re stopped in the neutral zone before even getting there. One positive offensively is that UMass scored on the power play for the second straight night, with both coming on the four on three.

This was a very beatable top ten team,made even more beatable with the fact that they were missing their best player. A win or more would’ve been a feather in the cap of this UMass team going forward and show that they’re making progress from when they first assembled last fall. I think they showed they can compete but is lacking enough to truly be able to win key games. Unfortunately I think what they’re lacking is all mental. Key mistakes, lack of consistent focus, and shaky confidence from some of the younger players is limiting this team’s ability to win. Unfortunately things get much tougher from here with a home and home with Boston College. Fortunately Northeastern just showed that the Eagles are in fact human.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game -Paul Dainton
Despite being peppered all night the only two pucks that got past Dainton were on a 2 on 1 and on the power play. If Dainton is not on the top of his game last night this could’ve been a repeat of another 11-2 disaster.

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Sorry, can’t do links to the game recaps at this time.

Vermont’s tie with UNH lifted them into 7th place with UMass. The Minutemen still own the tiebreaker. Providence lost and remain 3 points back in 9th place. The Catamounts have two at BU next week while Providence has a home and home with Lowell.

^

It appears that South Kent forward Joseph Manno has committed to UMass and is scheduled to come to Amherst this fall.

(Sorry for the misinformation, but it now appears that I received bad information or Manno backed out.  I cannot confirm his committment at this time – MC)

Recruit Update

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
37 GP / 19-16-1 / 3.06 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle had a couple wins this past week.  He stopped 25 of 27 shots in the first game and then picked up an overtime win stopping 28 of 32 shots.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
39 GP / 11 G / 37 A /  48 Pts / 50 PIM
Gillespie had a goal and an assist in his last couple games.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
The regular season is over for LaRue.  He ended up 21st in the OPJHL in points, 11th in goals, and 2nd in shorthanded goals with 6.  The Waxers will be facing Stouffville in the first round of the playoffs.

 Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
29 GP / 4 G / 6 A / 10 Pts / 8 PIM
Walsh had an assist this past weekend.

South Kent’s Joseph Manno did in fact have his official visit this past Friday.   No word on how it went but I did hear his decision will likely come down to UMass, Northeastern, and Providence.  Of course the prospect of the QMJHL looms as well.

Mike McMahon reports that there is no definitive timetable for the return of Merrimack star Stephane Da Costa, but that the injury is not of the season ending variety.  I have a feeling UMass will not be seeing him this weekend but be sure to keep an eye on Mike’s site for all of this week’s Merrimack news.

A couple good reads to prepare for this weekend.  First is a great piece on how former UMass assistant Mark Dennehy has turned around the Merrimack program from UMass alum Steve Buckley.

And Dick Baker has a good piece on the new and improved Lawler Arena.   I agree, the improvements are great and long overdue.  The $20 ticket prices are a bit much however.

It’s been a while since a UMass player was honored with a weekly award, but I’m happy to say that Fear The Triangle was named INCH’s Tweet of the Week!  For the record, I think very highly of Jerry York as both a person and a coach.  In fact I would make the case that he’s the best coach in the country.  I just found his response to the question after the Beanpot win to be hilariously simplistic.

I was disgusted to learn that David Branch, the commissioner of the CHL which actively poaches hockey players like John Carlson or Zack Phillips from colleges and touts a sham of an education option, played hockey for UMass.  He badmouths college hockey as a legitimate avenue to professional hockey even though that’s the route he took.  Can UMass retroactively bill him for the tuition he didn’t have to pay for while he played in Amherst, complete with inflation adjustments and late charges?

BU/Providence Preview

#14 Boston University Terriers 13-8-7 (10-5-5) Hockey East T-3rd

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Massachusetts Minutemen 6-15-4 (5-10-4) Hockey East 7th

UMass faced both of this weekend’s opponents, BU and Providence, last fall and did pretty well against both even though the record against both was 0-2-2. Both the losses were by a single goal and the tie with the Terriers actually came in Boston. But circumstances are very different now. Those games were in October when UMass was just trying to figure out who they were. Now it’s February and the pressure is building and every point is critical. It will be very interesting to see how UMass fares against these two opponents they haven’t seen in months in two very key games.

First up will be Boston University in a game which will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports. The Terriers are coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to rival Boston College in the Beanpot. When UMass faced BU last fall they looked like they were in for a great year. In fact they started out unbeaten in their first 10 games. But they’ve cooled a bit since then and while they’re still one of the top teams in Hockey East they appear to be one notch below BC, UNH, and perhaps even Merrimack.

UMass stayed close with BU last fall by playing tough defense and getting some bigtime goaltending….from Jeff Teglia. Yes, if you remember back to then Paul Dainton was hurt and Teglia gave us all a little taste of what the future in net colooks like. Teglia faced a total of 72 shots over those two games and got high marks from those involved. Of course it’s unlikely Teglia will face the Terriers again, but the precedent is there that solid goaltending could keep UMass in the game against these Terriers.

BU is a middle of the pack in Hockey East in both offense and defense and believe it or not UMass actually has a slight edge when it comes to the power play. The Terriers are led offensively by sophomore sensation Alex Chiasson, who has the most points on the team, and surprisingly Joe Pereira. Mike’s older brother has turned from more of a grinder to a scorer with 12 goals so far this season after never scoring more than 5 in his previous years. Defensively the Terriers are led by David Warsofsky, one of the better two way defensemen in all of college hockey. In net will likely be Kieran Millan who is middle of the pack among Hockey East goaltenders.

For UMass to succeed tomorrow night they’ll have to find the tough defensive play that they had shown in the last month but suddenly went missing in the third period of last weekend’s BC game and was a memory when they played Merrimack the next night. Offensively it should be noted that four of the five goals UMass scored against BU last fall were put home by defensemen. This could be a strategy UMass tries to replicate this weekend with BU’s defense good enough not to let them get in close to the net but Millan not being a good enough goaltender to pick up the puck from far out. What I most want to see is the team play with emotion. They are coming an embarrassing loss. There should be a sizable crowd given the different promotions, opponent, and TV. And it’s getting to the point where UMass can’t waste opportunities to get points, especially at home. All three of these things should add up to a determined effort by the Minutemen. Let’s see if that’s what happens.

Providence College Friars 7-13-6 (3-11-5) Hockey East 9th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 6-15-4 (5-10-4) Hockey East 7th

While all the hoopla surrounds Friday night’s tilt against BU, it’s really the game against Providence that is the more important game of the weekend for reasons I laid out yesterday. And if there is anytime to face these Friars, it’s now. They’ve gone 1-8-3 in their last dozen games and it’s unlikely they’ll pick up a win Friday night at Boston College. They haven’t scored more than 1 goal in their last three games and are coming off a shellacking of their own with a 7-1 loss at the hands of Vermont.

UMass put up some good offensive numbers when they played Providence last October, peppering Alex Beaudry with 34 shots in each game. It didn’t hurt that the Friars gave UMass 11 power play opportunities over the two nights, something that they’ll have to figure out a way to capitalize upon if it happens on Saturday. Again, goaltending will have to have a solid game as Dainton let a couple softies in that tie at home that would’ve otherwise been a win. I wouldn’t rule out Teglia playing in this game to get him some more playing time and rest up Dainton for the tough stretch run.

UMass will do well to minimize the damage done by Kyle MacKinnon who has nearly twice as many goals as anyone else for the Friars with 13. One player that UMass no longer has to worry about is the talented defenseman Alex Velischeck who left the team mid-season and now finds himself playing out in the USHL. Just another one of the many players who have gone AWOL on Tim Army. Goaltender Alex Beaudry’s numbers are down significantly from last year but that could be more about the team in front of him than his play. It’ll still take a serious effort from UMass to get the puck past him.

If UMass wants to make the playoffs, they have to win this game. They do that and they can play the remaining three weekends with at least the knowledge that they’re likely going into the playoffs and can try to pick off some ranked teams without the pressure of elimination. Saturday should be approached as a play-in game.

Beer The Triangle
The boys from Fight Mass and I will be conducting a Beer Summit following tomorrow’s game to discuss topics like imperial stouts, triangle history, and the evolution of their mancrush on Doug Kublin. Unfortunately I’m unable to plan which beers to partake in during this blog diplomacy since the Moan and Dove hasn’t updated their beer list picture in a while. Oh well, it’ll be a nice surprise.

Sources indicate that recruit Joseph Manno will likely be taking his official visit to UMass tomorrow and will be attending the game against BU.

The Collegian previews the weekend.

Mark Dennehy mastered his mentor last weekend according to Andrew Merritt of the NEHJ.

Dick Baker had an interesting profile on Marc Concannon.

Keeping An Eye On Joseph Manno

I’ve learned that UMass is interested in South Kent forward Joseph Manno.  The Montreal native has good size at 6’2″, 185lbs.  Manno was listed as a “player to watch” by NHL Central Scouting last fall.  South Kent is where Mike Pereira was playing when he committed to UMass (his last prep season was spent at Avon Old Farms).  Last season Manno played for the Lac St Louis Lions in Quebec.  He also considered playing in the USHL this year before heading to play prep instead.  Unfortunately I can’t track down his stats right now since I’ve let my USHR subscription lapse due to them continuing to raise the prices.

Northeastern has also been looking at Manno and there are rumors that Maine may be interested as well.  Of course in what’s become the norm now, he’s also been drafted by the QMJHL.  In fact he was drafted by the Saint John Sea Dogs which is the same team that grabbed Zack Phillips who had previously committed to UMass and is now tearing up the Q.  Manno is scheduled to take an official visit in the coming months, though he’ll actually be on campus this weekend as South Kent plays a game at the practice rink on Sunday afternoon.

(FTT reader Bob has been nice enough to pass along Manno’s stats so far.  10G 17A in 17 games. Thanks bob!) – mc

Here are some last minute previews for tonight:

WWLP News (with video)

Daily Collegian

Dick Baker blogs about the evolution and importance of “Holyoke” Czepiel.