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Carvel Era Begins ▲ Bamford Chooses Saint Lawrence Head Coach To Lead Minutemen

The state of the Massachusetts hockey program has fallen on such hard times in recent years that some have said it will take an act of God to turn the program around.  Well athletic director Ryan Bamford has chosen a Saint to elevate UMass hockey to the promised land that has mostly eluded the program in its history.  Today Bamford announced that Saint Lawrence head coach Greg Carvel is the new coach of Minuteman hockey, signing a five-year deal to oversee the program.

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Recap ▲ Dismal Start Dooms Minutemen In 6-3 Loss to #9 BU

The Massachusetts Minutemen were looking to put together a much better result against the 9th ranked Boston University Terriers than when the teams first met last month.  In that game UMass hung tough with the Terriers for half the game before being overwhelmed by BU’s superior skill, losing 7-2.  The Minutemen were not in last night’s game nearly as long as BU scored in the opening minute and built a three goal lead by the five minute mark, ultimately winning 6-3.

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Tiefenwerth Named HEA Rookie of the Week, Polls, & Recruit Update

I’m combining the usual Monday and Tuesday posts this week as tomorrow I’ll be at Matthews Arena for the second time in four days to watch UMass hoops to take on the Huskies.

K.J. Tiefenwerth was recognized as the Hockey East Rookie of the Week for his one goal, two assist effort against Northeastern on Saturday.  Tiefenwerth is the first UMass player to receive weekly honors this season.  Rocco Carzo was named a Top Performer for his play this past weekend.

New Hampshire was named the Team of the Week for their sweep of Lowell and, with Boston College splitting their series with Boston University, the Wildcats moved into the top spot in the USCHO poll as well.  UMass is the only team to hand UNH a loss this season.  BC moves down to #2 while BU moved up a couple spots to #7.  UMass is in the Also Receiving Votes category with one vote, as is their opponent this weekend, Colgate.

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
5 GP / 1 G / 0 A / 1 Pts / 30 PIM / –2
Gallacher is in the middle of serving his second 8 game suspension of the season.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
21 GP / 5 G / 4 A / 9 Pts / 37 PIM / 0
Gillespie assisted on the game winning goal for the Lancers last Wednesday

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Salisbury is playing, but doesn’t have stats on their school website.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Malden Catholic’s first game is on 12/15

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
21 GP / 10 G / 11 A / 21 Pts / 45 PIM / +3
Kravchenko had a rare pointless weekend, which wasn’t helped by getting a game misconduct in one of them.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2014
26GP / 13 G / 14 A / 27 Pts / 6 PIM / 0
Lee had two goals and three assists in his two most recent games.  He’s currently 14th in the AJHL in total points and 18th in goals.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
KUA is playing but does not have stats on their website.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
11 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 4 PIM
No points for Smith in his recent games

Frank Vatrano– LW/C – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2013
13 GP / 8 G / 6 A / 14 Pts / 12 PIM
Vatrano had a couple assists in his last two games.

The Collegian has this piece on Tiefenwerth reuniting with prep linemate Mike Pereira this past weekend.  Obviously it worked.

Newcomer of the Year Selection; Recruit Update

So in an annual tradition going back to my days writing about hockey over on UMasshoops.com, I’m making by pick for Newcomer of the Year.  I’ve had some wins in the past, like seeing the potential in James Marcou and Mike Pereira, and some misses such as Ryan Leary.  This year I should have a a better chance than last season when I figured that one of the freshmen goaltenders would have the greatest impact on the squad but couldn’t figure out which one, so I went with Zack LaRue.

With that said, despite some strong showings by Evan Stack, Connor Doherty, and Shane Walsh at Saturday’s scrimmage, I’m going with K.J. Tiefenwerth.  Tiefenwerth, in my opinion, has the best chance to make an immediate impact on UMass’ fortunes this year.  Tiefenwerth was a bit of a surprise to come to Amherst since he was originally committed to Boston College.  But, for whatever reasons, Jerry York decided not to go forward with him at BC and the Eagles loss is UMass’ gain.

Tiefenwerth has spent the last two years as one of the top players in the EJHL for one of its elite teams, the Junior Bruins.  In the EJHL this past year he had 30 goals and 47 assists in 43 regular season games.  That put him at 3rd in the league in total points and 6th in goals.  In four playoff games he had two goals, including a game winner.  In his first year of Eastern Junior he had 26 goals and 31 assists in 44 games.  For that effort he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.  Prior to playing in the EJHL he was a linemate of current Minuteman Mike Pereira as they helped lead the Winged Beavers of Avon Old Farms to a New England Prep Championship.

The book on Tiefenwerth is that he has great vision on the ice.  He’s also known to have great hands that give him the ability to both pass and shoot the puck, and he does both well.  He’s said to be a good skater, something that was on display in Saturday’s scrimmage.  That skill package not only gained him the interest of multiple Hockey East teams but the New York Islanders who have brought the Long Island native to their prospect camp for the past two summers.

Tiefenwerth is a proven commodity from one of the better junior leagues in the country, a player thought highly of by the college and pro hockey communities, and has the type of game to fill a slot on one of UMass’ top lines.  For those reasons I’m picking him my Newcomer of the Year to make an immediate contribution to the team.

A pretty good week for the future Minutemen in this week’s Recruit Update:

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
4 GP / 1 G / 1 A / 2 Pts / 0 PIM / -2
Gillespie scored his first goal of the season, on the power play, to go with an assist in the Lancers game this past Friday.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Hamilton is due to return to Salisbury again this season. Prep hockey will start up at the end of November.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
All signs point toward Iovanna returning to Malden Catholic this year.

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
4 GP / 2 G /2 A / 4 Pts / 2 PIM / 0
Kravechenko scored the game winning goal on Saturday for the Stampede while also adding a power play assist.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
It’s expected that Miller will return to KUA again after helping the Wildcats to a New England Prep championship last year.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
4 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 4 PIM
Smith did not get on the scoresheet in his one game this past weekend.

Here’s a little something to get you psyched up for hockey on Friday.

Hockey East Preview #9: Northeastern Huskies

Hockey East Preview: #9 Northeastern Huskies

2011-12 Storyline: Northeastern sees significant success out of conference in 2011-12 but cannot win enough against Hockey East foes to gain the playoffs

2012-13 Storyline: Is the Huskies’ goaltending and defense strong enough to return them to the post-season?

Player To Watch: Ludwig Karlson

Player Missed Most: Anthony Bitetto

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Kevin Roy

Random Fact: Prized recruit Kevin Roy and his brother Derek were very late signees after being committed to Brown as late as mid-July

Beer The Triangle Favorite Local Brew: I like to try all the rare and crazy craft brews out there, but Harpoon IPA is one of my go to beers.  Love those Cascade hops.

Team Outlook:

Not much was expected out of the Huskies last year after a rough offseason and having to adjust to a new coach who had not been behind the bench that that capacity in decades.  But Northeastern ended up surprising most, especially in their non-conference schedule where they gained wins over the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Minnesota.  They did have a bit tougher time in league and finished the season out of the playoffs after losing the tiebreaker to UMass.

Even with junior Steve Quailer leaving after last season, scoring shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the Huskies who return Vinny Saponari, Cody Ferreiro, and super soph Ludwig Karlson.  Added to that mix will be Kevin Roy, the USHL’s leading scorer who was added to the commit list late in the summer.

Defense and goaltending is where Northeastern’s success will ultimately be decided.  The biggest loss for the Huskies during the offseason was Anthony Bitetto signing with the NHL.  Luke Eibler deciding to transfer closer to home in Michigan didn’t help either.  Drew Ellement is the only defenseman with multiple year experience on the blueline.  They’ll also have to rely on sophomore Josh Manson who played solid in his freshman season, but after that it’ll be all freshmen or inexperienced players.

Husky fans were for the most part frustrated with the play of starting goaltender Chris Rawlings last season and were looking forward to the prospect of him moving on and handing the reigns to highly rated recruit John Gilles.  In the end though Rawlings ended up staying and that was enough for Gilles to bounce to Providence where he’ll have a chance to play right away.  As a result, you may find Rawlings hearing it from his own fans if he plays with inconsistency.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: The inexperience at defense is too much to overcome and Rawlings’ play continues to descend

They’ll Finish Higher Because: Rawlings returns to the type of play we saw in earlier seasons and the offense makes up for any defensive deficiencies

Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
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9.   Northeastern Huskies
10. Vermont Catamounts

Per his Twitter account, former Vermont recruit Dennis Kravchenko will be on an official visit to UMass in the next couple days.  I wrote about the prospect of Kravchenko following the UVM coaching staff to Amherst earlier and will write more about him in the next couple days.

College Hockey News highlights K.J Tiefenwerth in this piece on the recruiting classes of Hockey East.

They haven’t played a game yet, but North Dakota’s season is already getting off to a rocky start.

The UMass Freshmen By The Numbers

A couple weeks ago I introduced FTT readers to the Massachusetts hockey freshmen, but now it’s time to see how their junior careers stack (no pun intended) up against current and former Minutemen.  It’s as simple as it sounds, so let’s get started in the EJHL.

K.J. Tiefenwerth – F – Junior Bruins (EJHL)
43GP 30G 47A 77pts 14PIM
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 43GP 18G 58A 76Pts
T.J Syner 45GP 29G 21A 50Pts 24PIM
Andrew Tegeler 44GP 19G 21A 40pts 38PIM
You can see that the player who best compares to Tiefenwerth is T.J. Syner.  That’s not a bad thing.  I would point out that after putting up those numbers Syner went on to play a year in the USHL.  If he had stayed in the EJHL, as Tiefenwerth did, he likely would’ve put up even higher stats.  Overall it’s clear that UMass has consistently gotten strong production from its Eastern Junior wingers.

Conor Doherty – D – Junior Bruins (EJHL)
35GP 4G 14A 18pts 66PIM

Other EJHL defensemen:
Kevin Kessler 44GP 6G 15A 21Pts 81PIM
Doug Kublin 34GP 3G 17A 20Pts 81PIM
Topher Bevis 55GP 9G 20A 29Pts 44PIM
Mike Donnellan 42GP 5G 21A 26Pts 51PIM
Colin Shea 44GP 6G 23A 29Pts 41PIM

Needless to say it’s very difficult to predict how a defenseman will fare based on a stats comparison, especially when none of those stats are the only slightly valuable plus/minus.  However I think the above list shows that EJHL defensemen have made solid contributions to Minuteman hockey over the years.  Only Donnellan had trouble cracking the lineup.  Topher Bevis and Doug Kublin are two of the most reliable defensemen in recent times and Colin Shea has done well in his first couple years.  Even Kevin Kessler played some key minutes during his time in Amherst.  It doesn’t look like Doherty will be counted on to score much, but his penalty minutes combined with his 6’2” frame should give the team some grit.

Evan Stack – F – Merritt Centennials (EJHL)
60GP 32G 29A 61pts 27PIM
Other BCHL forwards:
Eric Filiou 45GP 12G 15A 17pts
UMass hasn’t gotten a lot of forwards in recent years from British Columbia, mostly goaltenders (Kevin Boyle) and defensemen (Matt Irwin).  However, one team that does get its fair share of wingers from Canada’s West Coast is Merrimack.  One of their current players who was in the BCHL is soon to be junior Mike Collins.  Collins had similar numbers to Stack in juniors; 30 goals and 46 assists in 59 games.  He would score 14 goals to go with 16 assists in his freshman year in North Andover and followed it up with another 10 goals and 15 assists last year.  It’s unknown if we can expect similar production from Stack as I’m not sure if he’s the same type of player.

Shane Walsh – F – Dubuque Fighting Saints/South Shore Kings
South Shore (09-10):  45GP 22G 37A 59pts 24PIM
Dubuque (10-11):  38GP 8G 3A 11pts 10PIM
Dubuque (11-12):  23GP 5G 7A 12pts 0PIM
South Shore (11-12): 10GP 8G 7A 15pts 4PIM
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 43GP 18G 58A 76Pts
T.J Syner 45GP 29G 21A 50Pts 24PIM
Andrew Tegeler 44GP 19G 21A 40pts 38PIM
Other USHL Forwards:
Briane Keane 47GP 9G 6A 15Pts
James Marcou 58GP 24G 47A 71Pts
T.J. Syner 58GP 21G 14A 35Pts
Brett Watson 55GP 9G 14A 23Pts
Casey Wellman 59GP 22G 23A 45Pts
Cory Quirk 59GP 14G 26A 40Pts
Danny Hobbs 60GP 10G 11A 21Pts
Rocco Carzo 45 GP 20G 13A 33Pts
Eddie Olczyk 53GP 6G 15A 21Pts
Troy Power 57GP 28G 16A 44Pts
Walsh is a tough one to compare since due to injuries and other circumstances he hasn’t played a full season in one place since 2009-10.  You can see the 59pts he put up in the EJHL that season, as well as his 1.5 PPG at the tail end of this past season, compare favorably with the production put up by Syner and Kevin Czepiel.  In the USHL his numbers resembled those of Brian Keane, Brett Watson, or Danny Hobbs.  All of whom played a good amount of minutes in recent years.

So what does all this mean?  Who knows.  We won’t know what the freshmen will produce until the season actually starts.  After all, I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed this most recent first year class, not including redshirt Steven Guzzo, would produce just two goals and six assists.  That’s not entirely an indictment of them or their talent, but it just goes to show that factors like team depth and needed roles also play a lot into expectations.

First off, congratulations to the UMass football team who made their FBS debut last week at UConn.  The 37-0 outcome was rough, but not entirely unexpected.  Those who went through the years as UMass hockey rebooted the program and entered Hockey East knows how challenging that type of transition is.  The important thing is to support the team in the meantime and help it get to the next level.

Some of those who made the trip to Hartford to cheer on the football team were a few hockey players; Conor Allen, Conor Sheary, and Colin Shea.  It was excellent to see members of the hockey team, and even some of their parents, there support the school and their fellow student athletes.  In speaking with the Conors they mentioned that they would love to be able to make it to more football games, but that the demanding schedule of school and DI hockey understandably makes it a challenge to do so.  Who knows, maybe Coach Micheletto could arrange for the players to go to this Saturday’s home opener in Foxboro as a team activity.

Don’t forget to visit my buddies over at Maroon Musket to keep track of UMass Football in this first season in FBS.

Speaking of Coach Mick, Matt Vautour had this update on how he’s transitioning to his new role.  A couple things stand out for me from the article.  First off it says a lot that the players had committed to returning to school early even before the coaching change occurred.  Secondly, it sounds like having assistant coach Len Quesnelle there to bridge the gap between regimes is paying off.

Micheletto was also featured on INCH’s A to Z Season Preview.

Boston University released the findings of the task force that was formed after two hockey players were arrested for sexual assault this past season.  The report concludes that while there was “no clear systemic problems” the task force did find a “culture of sexual entitlement and abuse.”  Yikes, good luck with that.  Interestingly one of the recommendation is for Jack Parker to report directly to the Athletic Director.  Currently he serves as Executive Athletic Director for the school in addition to coach, reporting to the school President.  It’s unknown if Joe Bertagna would continue to report directly to Parker under this new arrangement.

College Hockey News has a Q & A with the new head of College Hockey, Inc.

Introducing the 2012 Freshmen

To start off previewing the 2012-13 season, it’d probably be a good idea to introduce Massachusetts hockey fans to the new faces they’ll see on the ice this year.  If you read FTT regularly the names are probably familiar as I’ve kept up with their recruiting and performance in juniors.  But even for those who read religiously, this should be a good refresher on who the incoming players are, what they’ve done already in their careers, and perhaps what we can expect from them in their debut season as Minutemen.  Let’s start with the forwards.

Evan Stack – RW – 6’1” 185lbs

Stack has played the last two years for the Merritt Centennials in the BCHL, the most recent season as the team’s captain.  He’s considered a bit of a late bloomer (he’ll come to campus already turning 21), but put up good numbers in juniors.  Last season he had 32 goals and 29 assists for 61 points in 60 regular season games.  He was 15th in the league in goal scoring.  He continued that production in the playoffs, scoring four goals and three assists in nine games.  He was named MVP for his team following the season and was BCHL Player of the Week once.  His age and maturity in itself should allow him to contribute right away.  It’s a bit unknown as to how his skill level matches up with the rest of Hockey East, as his age may have helped him put up numbers against younger kids in juniors.  Regardless, it sounds like he has good skills in front of the net and could give the team a physical presence in that regard.

K.J. Tiefenwerth – C/W – 5’9” 160lbs

Originally Tiefenwerth expected to be at Boston College this fall but the Eagles reneged on giving him an opportunity to play after offering him a scholarship and so began the string of events that have landed him in Amherst.  He had been recruited by Boston University and New Hampshire as well before committing to the Eagles.  Though small in stature his skills were enough to get him an invite to New York Islanders prospect camp during the last two summers.  He’s said to have great vision and hands and is equally adept at shooting and passing the puck.  Those attributes have made him one of the top players in the EJHL in the last two seasons while playing for the Junior Bruins.  This past year his 30 goals and 47 assists for 77 points in 43 regular season games was good for 3rd in the league in terms of scoring.  His goal total was good for 6th.  The previous season he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year after a campaign that saw him score 26 goals and register 31 assists.  He had five gamewinners that year.  Prior to the EJHL he played on a line with Mike Pereira at Avon Old Farms, helping the Winged Beavers win the New England Prep Championship.  Tiefenwerth is certainly the most highly regarded recruit in the class and hopefully will help the Minutemen make up for the loss of T.J. Syner.

Shane Walsh – LW  – 5’10” 170lbs

Walsh appears to be a talented two way forward who should be able to grind as well as put the puck in the net.  He has spent the last few years between playing with Tri-City and Dubuque of the USHL, helping the Saints to a league championship in 2010-11, and the South Shore Kings of the EJHL.  Last season in the USHL he had five goals and 7 assists in 23 games before coming back to play closer to home mid-season due to family matters.  He made the most of it as he scored eight goals to go with seven assists in his 10 games back.  In his previous season in the USHL he had nine goals in 49 games.  Walsh was also an all-star player for Catholic Memorial before heading to the juniors.

Connor Doherty – D – 6’2” 190lbs

Doherty is the only defenseman in the class, and a good sized one at that.  He was a teammate of Tiefenwerth’s on the Junior Bruins.  His solid performance for the Junior B’s gained him a place in the league’s All-Star game.  He had 4 goals and 14 assists this past season in 35 games.  UMass has had success with blueliners from the Bruins as Topher Bevis, David Leaderer, and current Minuteman Colin Shea were all Junior B defensemen.  Doherty will battle with the likes of Darren Rowe, Mike Busillo, and Anthony Raiola for the regular spot in the lineup that has opened up with Mike Marcou’s graduation.

So those are the new names you’ll be seeing on uniforms this coming season.  Like past seasons I also plan on doing some statistical comparisons between how these players did versus past Minutemen in their respective junior leagues.

Get to know UMass’ new addition to the coaching staff, Joey Gasparini, via this article by Harry Plumer.  Head coach John Micheletto cites Gasparini’s age, energy, and family pedigree as reasons that led him to offering him the position.

Merrimack has begun construction on their new practice rink.  When I keep writing that UMass has less and less of an advantage when it comes to facilities, this is what comes to mind.  Nearly every school has made significant upgrades in recent years to facilities.  UMass has not.  There are also rumors, which first popped up over the winter, that Providence is set to announce a major overhaul of Schneider Arena.  I’ll post details when the become available.

Colgate is also looking to build a new arena, but luckily not before UMass visits their current one, Starr Rink, next season.

Kevin Sneddon has filled the positions at Vermont that opened up when Micheletto and Gasparini headed south.  Ironically Kyle Wallack was considered a top candidate to fill the assistant position at UMass after Blaise MacDonald left but before Toot Cahoon stepped down.

Boston College is looking for a new Athletic Director.  Hopefully whoever it is knows enough to just let Jerry York do his thing with the hockey program.

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