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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 ▲ UMass Picks Up Two Points With Ties At New Hampshire, Merrimack

The Massachusetts hockey team hit the road this weekend and had to deal with two very different environments while taking on a couple league foes.  At New Hampshire on Friday the high-flying Minutemen were faced with having to play on the sizable playing surface of the Whittemore Center that was soft and slushy due to a power outage earlier in the day.  The next night they travelled to Merrimack’s Lawler Arena where they competed on one of college hockey’s smallest ice sheets against one of the best defensive teams in the country.  They were able to do well enough against both of the unique challenges to come away with two hard fought ties and gain two more valuable road points for the Hockey East standings.  Going back to last weekend’s game against Vermont, UMass has now gotten ties in each of their last three games, all on the road.

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Preview ▲ Minutemen Return Home To Open Mullins Slate Against Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Pioneers 0-0-1 (0-0-0) T-2nd Atlantic Hockey

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Massachusetts Minutemen 2-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team will look to build off a very successful trip west where they gained two wins when they play their first home game on Friday against the Sacred Heart Pioneers.  The Minutemen swept the Colorado College Tigers in Colorado Springs last week thanks to offense outbursts from freshman Austin Plevy and senior Shane Walsh as well as some solid goaltending from the duo of Henry Dill and Nic Renyard.  UMass will look to stay undefeated on the young season against a Sacred Heart team that’s a little tough to read.

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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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View From Section U ▲ UMass Freshmen By The Numbers

The Massachusetts hockey team has a very large, hopefully talented freshman class this year that could be the key to turning around the team’s fortunes on the ice.  Regular FTT readers have become acquainted with them through the regular Recruit Update posts and the recent player features as we count down to the Dalhousie game.  But each year I like to run down each freshman and compare their numbers against other recent Minutemen who have come out of the same junior leagues to see how they stack up.

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View From Section U ▲ FTT 2015-16 Hockey East Preseason Poll

Usually I reveal my preseason Hockey East poll much closer to the beginning of the season when the previews are really ramping up.  However, since the polls are due to the Hockey East Broadcasters & Writers Association in the next few days I sat down and thought it through a littler earlier than usual.  So here we go.

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15-16 Preview: Massachusetts Hockey Points Lost/Returning

As we continue to shift focus to the coming season one of the main ways to analyze the prospects of the Massachusetts hockey team is to take stock of what they’ve lost during the season and what they have coming back.  As we know there were a number of key seniors who graduated, such as captain Troy Power and Zack LaRue.  But the biggest departures of course were underclassmen Frank Vatrano and Brandon Montour who following the season signed contracts with the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks respectively.  However, there are still some key contributors coming back, like Dennis Kravchenko who will be looking to build off of a tremendous freshman season.  Let’s take a closer look at what the departures and returners mean on a number basis.

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Bamford Introduced As UMass AD; Recruit Update: Leonard Named ESPN Boston’s “Mr. Hockey”

“I am enthused to get back on campus after four years of being away from college hockey.  Hockey East is arguably the best conference in the country.  And that’s something that I want to help [with].  I want to help be the best hockey program we can be.  And football.  And basketball.  And I think we can get there.”

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