Advertisements

Recruit Update ▲ BC High’s Jayson Dobay Commits To UMass

 

One of the criticisms of the John Micheletto era at UMass was that he did not seem to make much of an effort to lure Bay State recruits to the state’s flagship university.  New coach Greg Carvel  talked about targeting local talented players when he was hired and just a few months into his regime he has landed his first in-state commitment.  Defenseman Jayson Dobay, who this past season played for BC High, announced his commitment on Twitter last night:

(more…)

Advertisements

Recruit Update ▲ Conzo Off To A Hot Start In The BCHL

This week’s recruit update was pushed back a day so I could get my season preview out last night.  Here’s how the future Minutemen did this past week.

(more…)

Hockey East Coaches Pick UMass To Finish 12th

Today was Hockey East Media Day and, like the media members over the weekend, the league coaches also picked the Massachusetts hockey team to finish 12th in the 12 school league.  Again, not a big surprise given that the Minutemen are losing their top two players off a squad that finished 12th last year as well.  Will the dueling polls with UMass in last serve as motivation for the players and staff?  We’ll have to see.  Here’s the whole poll:

(more…)

Countdown ▲ 16 Days ‘Til Dalhousie

As of today there are just 16 days until fans get their first look at this year’s Massachusetts hockey team in their exhibition game against Dalhousie of the CIS.  Besides the #16, junior Steven Iacobellis will have something else on his jersey this coming season.  A captain’s “C”.

(more…)

Up To The Minute 7/22

I’ve been busy the last few weeks with work (bad) and vacation (very good) so time to catch up on the news around the Massachusetts hockey program since my last post.

Of course the biggest news, at least in this area, was former Minuteman defenseman Matt Irwin signing with a one year deal with the Boston Bruins.  Irwin will become the first UMass hockey player to suit up the Bruins, assuming Frank Vatrano doesn’t somehow beat him onto the Garden ice first.

(more…)

Saturday Recap

Faced with an opportunity to put together a little win streak and take the weekend series from a struggling Vermont team, the UMass hockey team showed that the only thing consistent is their inconsistency.  Looking very much like the team that was swept by Providence just a couple weeks ago the Minutemen managed to generate 38 total shots but were pretty much shutdown by a freshman goaltender and a the defense in front of him.  Vermont came into the game with the worst penalty kill in the conference, stopping less than 80% of opponents chances but last night they were able to shutdown all six UMass power plays, limiting them to just six shots in over 10 minutes of power play time.

The 3-2 final score actually wasn’t really that close as the Catamounts opened up an early 2-0 lead that they were able to maintain until the final seconds when UMass scored with an extra attacker.  Goals were scored by Branden Gracel and Mike Pereira who continue to play well but last night they were the only players who were able finish.

That’s basically it as there’s not much more to delve into last night’s game.  The team had an excellent opportunity to distance themselves from the prospect of missing the playoffs and didn’t.  They also had a chance to gain ground on the Lowell River Hawks sitting in 6th place ahead of them and didn’t.  In fact with a tie and come from behind win by Lowell is now tied with Merrimack in 5th place, five points ahead of them.  Vermont meanwhile continues to be just behind the Minutemen while Northeastern and a suddenly hot Maine team are not far behind.  UMass had the chance to go up and play a bad Vermont team and gain four points.  That didn’t happen and now UMass will enter February, a month rarely kind of the program, with their chance of finishing any higher than 7th fading fast.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Branden Gracel
Gracel has not gone more than two games without registering a point all year. He’s currently 6th among Hockey East players in goals scored.

Republican game story.

Here’s the recap from the Burlington Free Press.

Better news on the alumni front.

Matt Irwin scored his first NHL goal.

Kevin Moore got to suit up for an ECHL game

Recruit Update

Time for the weekly look at the recruits:

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
17 GP / 2 G / 6 A / 8 Pts / 34 PIM / +8
Gallacher had an assist this past weekend and was a +5 over two games.  He also went the weekend without a penalty.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Hamilton is back playing with the Knights.  I hope to have some updated stats soon.

Marc Hetnik – D – Vernon Vipers (BCHL) – 2013
38 GP / 1 G /6 A / 7 Pts / 34 PIM
Hetnik had an assist this past weekend.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
12 GP / 5 G /7 A /12 Pts
Either Iovanna didn’t score in recent games of the Mass HS Hockey site hasn’t updated stats.

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
31 GP / 14 / 17 A / 31 Pts / 74 PIM / +8
Kravchenko did not play this past weekend.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2014
42 GP / 18 G / 22 A / 40 Pts / 18 PIM
Lee had a goal and four assists in his last three games as the Bandits improved to 40-2-2

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
15 GP / 4 G / 12 A / 16 Pts
Here’s an interesting look at KUA where Casey Miller is playing and where Steve Mastalerz played as well.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
23 GP / 1 G / 5 A / 6 Pts / 8 PIM
Smith had a couple assists in a game against the Junior Bruins.

Frank Vatrano– LW/C – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2013
19 GP / 13 G / 9 A / 22 Pts / 22 PIM
From all accounts Vatrano will be enrolled in UMass classes for Spring semester.

College Hockey News takes a look at UMass’ big win over the past weekend and what it may mean long term.

Here are a few quotes from Matt Irwin on playing in his first NHL game.  And here’s what defensive partner Dan Boyle had to say.

Mike Kostka, hopefully, will be one of a few AHL All-Stars who will be unable to play as they’re currently on NHL rosters.  Kostka picked up another assist yesterday and is already becoming a fan favorite up in Toronto.

Gracel Named Co-Player of the Week, UMass Named Team of the Week

Branden Gracel was named Hockey East Co-Player of the Week for his two goal, one assist effort against #2 Boston College on Friday.  This is the second time Gracel has been named POTW.  He has already matched his last year point total with 21 and his 10 goals is well above the 7 scored last season.

The Minutemen as a whole were named the conference’s Team of the Week for their performance this weekend.  Steve Mastalerz and K.J. Tiefenwerth were both named Top Performers.

Despite falling to unranked UMass BC only dropped a spot in this week’s polls, thanks in part to the 9-3 drubbing they put on Northeastern on Saturday.

Mike Kostka made his NHL debut on Saturday, gaining an assist in the game.  I watched a good part of the game and he looked solid, playing on a pairing with Dion Phaneuf.  The Toronto Sun has this article on his journey to his first NHL game.

Matt Irwin made his NHL debut yesterday for the Sharks, finishing a +1.

Boston College Recap

On October 19th UMass brought a 3-0 lead into the third period against Boston College.  After giving up a couple early goals in the final stanza Darren Rowe scored for the Minutemen to put them up 4-2 with just over 10 minutes left.  But a couple Eagle goals late sent the game into overtime where BC would eventually get the win.  A couple weeks later against the Eagles UMass had a 2-1 lead early in the third but again couldn’t hold on and fell 3-2.  Last night UMass went into the third with a 2-1 lead, looking for their first win at Conte Forum since 2007.  So when UMass brought another 2-1 lead into the final period last night many Minuteman fans were expecting to see BC come back to tie it up, which is exactly what happened just over four minutes in when Steve Whitney scored.  What wasn’t expected was with under seven minutes left UMass would score three goals in just over three minutes and shock the #2 Eagles by the score of 5-2.

At the beginning of the game you never would’ve thought it would end with UMass taking a three goal win.  In fact it looked like the Eagles could’ve been up three goals after the first few minutes alone.  The officiating crew of Tim Bennedetto and Kevin Keenan rewarded BC with 5 minutes of power play time in the first 9 minutes of the game, four straight penalties called against the Minutemen.  The Eagles used that opportunity to pepper Steve Mastalerz, making his second straight start, with nine shots on those early power plays and 11 overall during that time.  UMass only had two shots on goal in that crucial first nine minutes of the game but when that time period was over it was the Minutemen who had a 1-0 lead thanks to a shorthanded goal by Steven Guzzo after Rocco Carzo stole the puck in the BC zone.  Special teams would strike again at the very end of the period when Branden Gracel, clearly the star of the team this season, scored on the power play.

Mastalerz stood on his head to keep the Eagles off the board in the first, facing 14 shots total and turning them all away.  Many in spectacular fashion.  In the second and third periods the defense in front of him stepped up and were able to limit BC to just 9 shots total in those two periods.  But Parker Milner played well on the other end during that time and stopped all 12 UMass shots in that second period.  Things were tense after the game was tied in the third but when Mike Pereira scored the go ahead goal with seven minuets left it was all Minutemen thereafter.  K.J. Tiefenwerth would score shortly after, no doubt feeling pretty good about helping defeat the school who pulled his spot on their team.  Gracel’s second goal of the night finished things off.

Obviously there were of positives to talk about from last night’s game.  The defense and Mastalerz played well for the second straight game, withstanding the early power play barrage and limiting chances in the final two periods.  Colin Shea really struggled in that first game against Providence last weekend but looked noticeably better last night, even adding a couple of assists.  Conor Sheary assisted on both Gracel goals and now has six points in his last four games.  Gracel continues to be on fire lately, with five goals and eight assists in his last nine games.

Last night was great to witness as a fan but I am extremely happy for seniors Kevin Czepiel, Darren Rowe, Eddie Olczyk, and Rocco Carzo.  These four guys had been a part of many hard fought battles and heart breaking losses at Conte Forum but it took what could perhaps be their last visit to finally experience a win there.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steve Mastalerz
Obviously Gracel’s two goals and assist were huge for the Minutemen but the fact is if Mastalerz done not come up with those big saves and withstand the multiple BC power plays in those first nine minutes this game could’ve been a blowout by the end of the first.

Highlights from UMassAthletics.com

“Amazing Gracel” is the headline for the Herald’s recap.

Here’s the Republican’s game story.

The Collegian’s recap focuses in on the seniors.

College Hockey News’ recap highlights the line of Pereira, Gracel, and Sheary.

Here’s the Eagle point of view from BC Interruption.

A couple of former Minutemen will likely soon be making their NHL debuts.  Matt Irwin has made the opening roster for the Sharks.  And former UMass captain Mike Kostka will be dressed for the Maple Leafs in their first game.  The Toronto Globe and Mail has this great story about the 27 year old finally getting his shot in the NHL, with a few mentions of the alma mater.  Congrats to both!

Up To The Minute–8/29

Time to get everyone up to date on the recent goings on surrounding UMass hockey and college hockey in general.  Look for previews of the coming season to start in earnest following the long weekend.

UMass made official the hiring of John Gobeil as Director of Hockey Operations.  Gobeil comes to Amherst from Vermont, where he had served in the same role for his alma mater during the past three years.  A full time Director of Hockey Ops is something that is commonplace across the rest of competitive college hockey and long overdue for the Minuteman program.  Welcome to the UMass family, John.  You’ll be out of the spotlight, but still making a significant contribution to the success of the team.

The official roster has been updated with incoming freshman K.J. Tiefenwerth, Evan Stack, Shane Walsh, and Connor Doherty.  I would point out that all other players are on the roster and expected to return.

Hockey’s Future had this excellent article regarding recent UMass alums making strides towards playing in the NHL.  Featured are Justin Braun, Matt Irwin, Casey Wellman, Paul Dainton, Mike Marcou, and his brother James Marcou.

Matt Vautour mentions hockey in this preview to the 2012-13 UMass athletic season.

Speaking of Matty V, I’ll be taking on him and other media members in a contest to correctly pick this season’s UMass and MAC football games.  The contest pits myself, Maroon Musket’s Bob McGovern, and UMass Football Blog’s Frank Smith against Matt, UMass hockey announcer Matt Goldstein, and the Republican’s Harry Plumer.  Looking at the first week’s picks I really need Northern Illinois to get the upset this week.  No worries though, Iowa always starts slow on the season.

Speaking of UMass football, I cannot wait to head to East Hartford tomorrow (have those words ever been written?) to watch the Minutemen kick off the FBS era against UConn.  I, and others, have been waiting a long time for this and still have vivid memories of UMass embarrassing the Huskies 62-20 in the last meeting.

Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy has been named an Associate Athletic Director in the wake of the school’s AD resigning for misconduct.

College Hockey Inc has a new leader.

Advertisements