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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 ▲ UMass Hits The Road To Take On UNH, #13 Merrimack

New Hampshire Wildcats 3-4-2 (1-0-2) Hockey East 8th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 6-3-2 (2-2-2) Hockey East T-5th

The Massachusetts hockey team will hit the road this weekend to face a couple Hockey East foes they’ve already seen once this weekend.  On Friday the Minutemen head to Durham to take on the team that was part of their most memorable game this season.  On 10/23 the New Hampshire Wildcats visited the Mullins and were up 6-1 with a little more than a period left before UMass roared back to secure maybe the best tie in the history of the program.  On Saturday the Minutemen will take on Merrimack, who they just faced and lost 4-2 to last weekend, at Lawler Rink in North Andover.

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Recap ▲ UMass Comes Back From 5 Goals Down To Tie UNH In League Opener

“Best tie ever”.  That’s what Friday night’s game had a lot of fans saying as they left the Mullins Center.  It’s rare for fanbases to get really excited for a tie, but that’s what happens when your team comes back from a five goal deficit and, behind four 3rd period goals, gains a league point with a 6-6 result against New Hampshire.  The previous three games had been marked by tremendous individual efforts, but Friday’s heroics were a complete team effort.  The six goals were scored by six different players and 16 different Minutemen registered a point on the night.

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Preview ▲ Minutemen Look To Stay Perfect As They Open League Play Against UNH

New Hampshire Wildcats 1-2-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 3-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team has found early success in their non-conference schedule, starting out the year 3-0-0.  They’ll look to carry over that early momentum as they kick off their Hockey East schedule at home against the New Hampshire Wildcats.  After starting their season against a rebuilding Colorado College program and Atlantic Hockey’s Sacred Heart, UNH, a team picked to finish 6th in the league, should prove to a step up in terms of competition for the Minutemen.

UNH is hoping to rebound from a disappointing weekend at home where they dropped a couple one goal games to the North Country teams of Clarkson and St Lawrence.  The trip to the Mullins Center on Friday will be the first game away from Durham for UNH after they opened the season with a dominant home win against AIC by the score of 7-3.

UNH’s problem so far seems to be goaltending.  Danny Tirone joined the Wildcats in mid-season last year and ended up being one of the prominent storylines for the team.  He went 9-4-0 in the second half of last season with a .924 save percentage.  Through three games this season though he’s made 78 saves on 88 shots on net, just a .886 save percentage.  Even in the AIC game he allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for a sub-.900 save percentage.  If Tirone is unable to get the job done in net for the ‘Cats, they’ll have to turn to freshman Adam Clark who had a .894 save percentage in 21 games last season.

Though the AIC game skews their statistics somewhat, UNH has been getting the job done offensively, averaging 4 goals per game so far.  They have matched their opponents in terms of shots on goal per game with 29.3, right around the national average.  It’s no surprise that Tyler Kelleher is among the top scorers so far for the Wildcats as he’s one of the best forwards in the league.  Kelleher led his team in points last year with 42 in 39 games and so far has 2 goals and 2 assists in their four games.  It is a little strange though to see senior Maxim Gaudreault as the top goal-scorer for UNH as the 3 goals already scored so far this season matches the amount he scored in 30 games last season.

There has been a lot of talk about the quality of UMass’ 3-0-0 start this week.  Some people have pointed to their easy schedule.  Others have said that their high shooting percentage (16.9%) or shots attempted differential (-67) shows that they’ve been “lucky” and that once they play tougher opponents their fortunes will turn.  It’s true that their shooting percentage will come down and they need to do a better job of possessing the puck, but I would argue there are other reasons why they’re winning.

They’ve gotten some solid individual efforts from the likes of Dennis Kravchenko, Austin Plevy, and Shane Walsh.  Those three have accounted for 11 of UMass’ 26 goals so far.  The team has also done a great job at converting their power play opportunities.  Their 33% power play conversion is tied for 5th best in the country so far.  Lastly, while UMass has allowed opponents to attempt a good number of shots, they’ve gotten very solid goaltending on the other end of those shots.  Nic Renyard and Henry Dill have an identical .938 save percentage so far this season, which is good for 17th best in the country.

UMass will probably have to do a better job in terms of possessing the puck against a talented, yet struggling UNH team this weekend.  But aside from that, I’m not sure I’d do too much differently if I were Coach Micheletto.  The team is playing extremely well right now and their success so far should allow them to play confidently in their league opener.  With the game at home a 4-0-0 start is within their grasp.  But in the long run starting off Hockey East with a 1-0-0 record may be more important.

Beer The Triangle
The merger of the Hangar and Amherst Brewing Company has not only made it a little easier to find a table and enjoy some wings pre or post-game, but it has helped relaunch ABC brewing.  After kicking off the new era with a very good IPA, Jess, the most recent addition to the ABC lineup is an aromatic wet hop brew, Chelsea.  Definitely worth a try.

Preview From UMass Athletics.

The Collegian has their preview of Friday’s game as well as this interesting piece on sophomore Dominic Trento and his start so far.

The Gazette has their preview.

For a UNH viewpoint, here’s the preview from the Foster’s Daily Democrat.

To get you psyched up for Friday’s matchup, here’s the UMass hockey intro video:

Friday Recap

The Massachusetts hockey team went into Durham last night and did something they have not been able to do very often in recent years; get points.  With their playoff lives on the line it was absolutely necessary that they get at least a point out of the game, which they did with the 2-2 tie against New Hampshire.  It certainly would’ve been nice if they could’ve held on to a one goal lead with under a minute left in regulation.  But I think it’s more important to focus on the fact that they were able to get a point from the #5 team in the country on their home ice and as of this morning UMass is still in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.

This was not a very entertaining game to watch in terms of aesthetics.  Both teams seemed to have major problems moving the puck and establishing good offensive possessions.  It was interesting to watch though as it was two teams battling back and forth in a game that meant a lot to both of them, with the Wildcats fighting for a regular season championship.  UMass struck first in the opening period on a Mike Pereira goal after a Conor Allen shot bounced off the glass and in front of the net where Pereira did the rest.  After being hot for most of February (Pereira was named a runner up for Player of the Month) he cooled off last weekend, registering zero points against Maine.  But the goal last night broke that brief scoreless streak and helped UMass establish themselves in the game.  The Wildcats would answer though with a power play goal half way through the game.

It would remain 1-1 until the end of the game.  Late in the third senior Eddie Olczyk scored his third goal of the season to put UMass ahead with just 65 seconds left.  But that lead wouldn’t hold and with the extra attacker UNH would tie with only 3.7 seconds left.  UMass would have the edge in shot in overtime, 5-4, but the game would end at two goals apiece.

Again, it wasn’t pretty.  It was a little disappointing not to get the win despite the late lead.  But the Minutemen wake up this morning tied in 8th with Maine and holding the tiebreaker in the form of conference wins (eight to Maine’s six).  At this point in the season I don’t think you can ask for more than that.  Their playoff prospects are still tenuous however.  Maine still has a game with Northeastern tonight and while the Black Bears are getting healthier with Joey Diamond and Kyle Beattie back the Huskies are without star Kevin Roy.  It’s probably a good bet that Maine will win or at least tie tonight, which means UMass will have to do their best to get some points tonight as well.  A Minuteman win and a Vermont loss would even vault UMass into 7th place, but at this point 8th and just getting in should be the goal.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steve Mastalerz
Like the overtime win over the Wildcats last November, this game was a goaltender duel.  However while that game featured the skills of Casey DeSmith versus Kevin Boyle, last night had DeSmith facing Steve Mastalerz.  Mastalerz played very well, especially early on when the Wildcats held a sizable advantage in shots.  He made 15 saves in the first period alone.

College Hockey News focuses on the superb play of the goaltenders.

New Hampshire Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 11-17-2 (8-14-1) Hockey East 8th

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New Hampshire Wildcats 17-8-5 (12-7-4) Hockey East T-1st

Massachusetts will attempt to stay ahead of Maine for 8th place and the final playoff this weekend.  It won’t be easy.  They’ll be heading to Durham, New Hampshire for two games with the Wildcats who have a lot to play for as well.  The Cats are part of a four way tie for first place in Hockey East with just two weekends to go, not to mention part of the logjam at the top of the standings that has six teams all within two points of each other.

UMass will look to recapture whatever they had going on at the beginning of November when they shocked then undefeated UNH at the Mullins Center.  Kevin Boyle outdueled Wildcat goaltender Casey DeSmith in the thrilling 2-1 overtime win for the Minutemen.  It’ll be harder to duplicate that kind of result this weekend at the Whittemore Center as the Cats are 9-3-1 at home this year.

Defense and DeSmith have been leading UNH to victories this year.  Their 2.30 goals allowed per game is best in Hockey East and a lot of that has to do with DeSmith who has a .925 save percentage this season.  The Cats have the third best penalty kill in the country at 89.9%.  Offensively they’ve relied on the play of forwards Austin Block, Grayson Downing, and Kevin Goumas, all of whom have at least 10 goals this season.

To stay ahead of the Black Bears in the playoff race UMass will have to do something they haven’t done in a very long time.  Win at New Hampshire.  The program hasn’t gained a victory there since the fall of 2006 when Jon Quick was still in net.  But they desperately need at least a split this weekend considering Maine will be hosting a much easier opponent at Alfond with the Northeastern Huskies.  Forget the quarterfinals in a couple weeks.  Playoff hockey starts tonight for the Minutemen.

Beer The Triangle
Since I’m busy this weekend and the games are televised on FCS/WBIN, I’ll be beering it from my couch.  Luckily being the beer snob I am my fridge has a nice selection of Heady Topper, Founders Breakfast Stout, and some Bell’s.  For those heading north though there aren’t many brewpubs better than the Portsmouth Brewery.

Here’s a preview from the Republican, the Daily Collegian, as well as the Concord Monitor.

 

Ledyard Classic Preview

Massachusetts will ring in the new year in Hanover, New Hampshire where they will be taking part in the Ledyard Classic tournament featuring Bemidji State, New Hampshire, and host Dartmouth.  UMass and Bemidji will kick off the tournament on Sunday at 4pm while Dartmouth and UNH will renew their rivalry afterwards in the annual game that one USCHO poster dubbed the “Old Man In The Mountain Face-Off”.  UMass will then meet either UNH or Dartmouth the following day on New Year’s Eve.

Bemidji State Beavers 5-8-3 (4-7-3) T-8th WCHA

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Massachusetts Minutemen 5-9-2 (4-6-1) T-6th Hockey East

On paper this looks like a pretty even matchup.  Both teams have similar records overall and in their respective conferences.  Massachusetts is 33rd in the country in scoring with 2.69 goals per game while BSU is 38th with 2.44.  The Beavers are a little better defensively giving up 2.81 goals compared to UMass’ 3.12.  Special teams are pretty even as well.  There is very little difference between BSU’s power play conversion of 20.4% and UMass’ 20.0%, both in the top 15 in the country.  The Beavers are only very slightly better on the penalty kill, 80.9% vs 79.7% for UMass.  We’ll see if this equality carries over to the ice this weekend and the fans in attendance are treated to an exciting, competitive matchup.

Bemidji struggled quite a bit in the first couple months of the season, starting out with a record of 3-8-2, but ended their first half strong with a victory over Minnesota-Duluth and a win and a tie over Denver.  Sophomore goaltender Andrew Walsh was in net for all three of those games and only surrendered a single goal in each.  He has the better stats so far with a 2.17 goals against average and .929 save percentage in 10 games.

On offense the Beavers have been led by their senior forwards.  Aaron MacLeod is the leading scorer with six goals so far, three coming on the power play.  Jordan George has five goals to go with six assists while Brance Orban leads the team overall with 12 total points.  A familiar name on BSU for Minuteman fans will be David Boehm, who was kicked off the UMass team in 2010 after an arrest for assault and for generally being a poor teammate.

#10 Dartmouth College Big Green 7-2-2 (4-1-1) 2nd ECAC

UMass hasn’t had much luck with the ECAC so far this year, going 0-3-1, and if they have the chance to play the hosts in Hanover it won’t be easy to get their first win against the conference.  Dartmouth is off to a very strong start, already finding themselves with seven wins on the truncated schedule the Ivies play.  Their only losses have come to #1 Boston College and a narrow defeat at Colgate.  Their last game before break was a 4-2 win over Vermont.

The Big Green have gotten the job done on offense and defense so far this season.  Offensively their 3.55 goals scored per game is 6th best in the nation.  The two players the other teams in the tournament will need to stifle on offense are Tyler Sikura and Eric Robinson.  Sikura leads the team in total points with 17, seven of which being goals, in just 11 games.  His 1.55 points per game is 5th best in the country.  Robinson has eight goals thus far, including three game winners.

Dartmouth boasts the best penalty kill in the country coming into the tournament.  Thus far they’ve allowed opponents just one power play goal in 40 attempts, killing 97.5% of all opportunities.  Overall they’ll given up just 2.27 goals per game on the season, which is surprising considering they’ve done so even while splitting the goaltender time between two starters.  But obviously it’s working for them.  Junior Cab Morris has a GAA of 1.97 so far while freshman Charles Grant’s is 2.38, though Grant has the better save percentage at .921.

#2 New Hampshire Wildcats 11-2-2 (8-2-1) 2nd Hockey East

Just as they did last year against Maine in the Florida College Classic, UMass has the chance to play a Hockey East team in a tournament game.  And that team happens to be the one over which UMass had by far their best game of the year against.  The 2-1 overtime thriller in November has been the highlight of the season for the Minutemen so far.  But for the Wildcats that night was just a small bump in the road.  Besides being upset by UMass UNH has lost just one other game so far, a one goal defeat to Boston University.  Other than those two hiccups this team appears to be not only one of the top teams in Hockey East, but in the country.

UNH boasts the best offense and defense among Hockey East teams with both being among the top five in the country as well.  The Cats have seven players with four or more goals (compared to UMass which has just four).  Leading the way is senior Austin Block who has nine goals total, almost half of which are coming with the extra man advantage.  Kevin Goumas has been their best overall player offensively with 8 goals and 16 assists, good for the third most points per game in the country.  Sophomore Grayson Downing is following up on a solid freshman year with seven goals and six assists.  UNH has been doing most of their scoring at even strength as their power play conversion is pretty average at 16.1%.

While the Wildcats are scoring in bunches, they’re only giving up a measly 1.80 goals per game.  Their penalty kill has been stellar as well, killing 96.3% of all power plays.  That’s second best in the country bettered only by their opponent on Saturday, Dartmouth.  Of course a lot of the reason for their play on defense is due to goaltender Casey DeSmith who is most definitely not having a sophomore slump with his 1.82 GAA and .939 save percentage.  It also doesn’t hurt when you have someone like Trevor VanRiemsdyk in front of you playing solid defense while also scoring five goals on the year.

So overall this should be a very interesting tournament, perhaps the best talent-wise since the Minutemen played in the Lightning College Classic.  Saturday’s matchups feature two very evenly matched teams in UMass and Bemidji State followed by a contest of two of the best teams in the country who also happen to be rivals.  Given the level of competition in the tournament, it’s obvious that a couple of wins would do a lot for the Minutemen in the grand scheme of things even though the three losses to end the first half put a big dent in any at large big chances they may have had.  What’s more important for the team is just to start fresh and try to begin the second half of the season with some solid play.  Losing those games after Thanksgiving was bad, but it was how they lost that was really concerning.  They’ll need to have a consistent effort and improve defensively in the second half if they want to turn things around.  That will all start Sunday against the Beav.

Beer The Triangle

Hanover is a pretty good BTT destination in my opinion.  New Year’s Eve good though?  We’ll see.  Last time I was up there my favorite place was the Canoe Club where I enjoyed their beer and especially their burgers.  Make sure to try the Switchback there, a small brewery out of Burlington that can be tough to find.  Not too far away was Murphy’s On The Green which also had a good tap selection.  One place I’m planning on spending more time at this time is the Norwich Inn, which is just across the river in Vermont.  This inn has a restaurant that brews their own beer and while I only was able to get in and out for a quick pint last time, I enjoyed what I had.

Harry Plumer has this story on the Minutemen returning to practice.

Looks like UMass was in the mix for a pretty high profile recruit, USNDTP goaltender Thatcher Demko.  Demko recently committed to Boston College and was also considering Northeastern, Cornell, Western Michigan as well as UMass.

Friday Recap

Well the Massachusetts hockey team had lost a few games in dramatic fashion this season so it’s only fitting that they picked up their first conference in the same way last night.  Darren Rowe continues to make the most of the second chance he’s gotten under the new coaching staff with his game winning goal just over three minutes into overtime on a UMass power play.  By doing so the Minutemen not only picked up their first Hockey East points but handed New Hampshire their first loss of the young season.

It was a bit of a strange game with the teams taking the initial part of the game to essentially feel each other out.  I felt UMass was the better team for much of the game but it was the Wildcats who got on the board first with one of those killer goals with just seconds left at the end of the first period.  However the Minutemen came out in the second and continued to press UNH as the two teams traded scoring chances.  It would pay off as UMass would tie the game just over halfway through the second period.  From there it would remain tied through the end of regulation setting up Rowe’s heroics at the end.

Though Rowe deservingly receives the main accolades from this game, there were many who played key roles last night.  With Joel Hanley out with an injury UMass would need the rest of the defense to step up in his absence, and that’s exactly what happened.  UNH came into the game as the highest scoring team in the league but was held to just one goal and 26 total shots.  Conor Allen continues to be the anchor for the defense, providing excellent blueline play in addition to contributing quite a bit to the offense for the team as well.  Last night he assisted on both UMass goals, had five total shots, and even carried the puck up the ice in a few rushes into the UNH zone.  Kevin Boyle wasn’t tested too much as the defense in front of him kept the Wildcat forwards away, but he did look good when he needed to make plays and had an unbelievable save as the final seconds of regulation ticked off to allow for the overtime heroics.

Conor Sheary  looked good and picked up his first goal of the season on a quick wrist shot that beat UNH goaltender Casey DeSmith.  Sheary was also a perfect 7 for 7 in the faceoff circle.  Shane Walsh continues to play very well, providing a ton of energy on the ice, making some hard hits, and making solid contributions on offense.  Walsh had 3 shots on the night but it was his awareness and cross-ice pass in overtime which setup Rowe’s game winner.  Rocco Carzo continues to be a leader on the ice with his key two-way play this season.  If there is anything for UMass fans to worry about coming off this game it would probably be the play of Adam Phillips and Mike Pereira.  Phillips looks good at times but overall his performance on defense has been inconsistent and the momentary breakdowns have usually been costly.  Pereira was looked upon to be the star for UMass this season but so far through five games he has yet to register a point and is a –4 on the season.

Last night was exactly what this team needed.  Not only were they able to hand a top ten team their first loss of the season, but it was how they did it that was important.  They were able to reverse fortunes from earlier games and it was the Minutemen who won the game with the last goal scored.  Defense and goaltending played extremely well despite missing a key player in Joel Hanley.  UNH’s power play was held to just two shots and no goals in three chances.  And the team was able to get a goal from Conor Sheary which will be needed if they want to succeed in future games.  The trick now will be to carry over the momentum and confidence they gained last night into tomorrow’s matchup with #1 Boston College.  It won’t be easy, especially since the team hasn’t won there in five season, but I like their chances a lot more after what they accomplished last night.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Darren Rowe
Rowe’s performance is one of the enjoyable storylines early on this season, playing the hero last night and having three total goals on the season.  What’s important for Rowe and his battle to dress every night is that his defensive play has noticeably improved from previous seasons.  While it was Rowe who buried the puck high past DeSmith in overtime, a sticktap goes to Conor Allen and Shane Walsh who got the puck onto his stick.

Last night’s highlights from UMassAthletics.com

The game winning goal, coming just after a time out, worked just how Coach Micheletto drew it up, per the Gazette game story.

Rowe says the coach deserves an assist in the Republican’s recap.

Here are the Key Takeaways via College Hockey News.

The Boston Herald also has their coverage of the game.

Here’s a Wildcat perspective from the Union-Leader.

Weekend Preview

#9 New Hampshire Wildcats 4-0-1 (2-0-1) T-3rd Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-0 (0-3-0) T-9th Hockey East

Coming into the Mullins Center on Friday night will be a one of the hottest teams in college hockey so far this season in the form of the UNH Wildcats.  They’ve yet to lose a game.  They’ve beaten BU, swept St Cloud out west, and beaten Northeastern in addition to tying the Huskies in Boston last week.  The Cats are tops among Hockey East teams in terms of offense and defense early on in this season.

UNH is scoring almost three and a half goals a game.  That production is coming from both their forward and defensive positions.  At forward seniors John Henrion and Austin Block have gotten the job done with three goals apiece in UNH’s five games this season.  They’ve gotten help from the likes of juniors Nick Sorkin, Dalton Speelman, and Kevin Goumas who have all contributed to the Wildcat offense.  However they’ve also gotten good production from the blueline as well as defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk has three goals thus far while Connor Hardowa has a team high six assists.

Obviously their production has helped Van Riemsdyk and Hardowa put up impressive numbers overall on the Wildcat defense, but really sophomore Casey DeSmith has had the most impact for UNH.  DeSmith so far has a save percentage of .931 to go with a stingy goals against average of 1.77.

I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be a huge challenge for the Minutemen to find a way to beat this UNH team.  That seems a little strange coming off of games against Boston College and Boston University but but UNH seem to be playing great hockey in all phases during this early phase of the season and is a little more seasoned than the Eagles and the Terriers.

Therefore, it’s that much more important that UMass leverage the advantages it’s afforded in these games.  To me, those appear to be experience and home ice.  Experience is something that the Wildcats have, as everyone I’ve mentioned above except DeSmith and Van Riemsdyk are upperclassmen.  Yet, UMass can equal or surpass that experience with a fellow sophomore goaltender and the immense junior class which is supplemented by the leadership from this year’s seniors.  The other advantage as mentioned should be the crowd.  Through the first three games of the season the Mullins has been filled with three crowds greater than 7,000 fans.  That’s never happened in the history of UMass hockey.  So far that support and energy has only been able to help UMass to a win over lowly UConn, but assuming they have a similar crowd on Friday it’d be nice to see UMass let the crowd carry them through to the end of the game with a W.

 

Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-0 (0-3-0) T-9th Hockey East

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#1 Boston College Eagles 4-1-0 (4-1-0) 1st Hockey East

Really, there’s not much to say in previewing UMass’ rematch with the Eagles.  Two weeks ago the Minutemen dominated the defending national champions for two full periods.  Going into the third period of the game two Fridays ago UMass had these guys beat.  Then, due to fatigue, lack of concentration, or disparity of talent, they failed to finish the job.  By the end of the third it was tied and in overtime BC’s Johnny Gaudreau grabbed a goal to give BC the game.  On one side I want the UMass team to look back upon that game to fill them with confidence that they can not only skate with a good team but outskate them.  But at the same time I want them to be out for revenge for the earlier loss the suffered at the hands of the Eagles.

BC has been led so far by the captain Pat Mullane, who had two goals to go with an assist against the Minutemen.  In total on the season he has three goals to go with five assists.  Johnny Gaudreau, the hero of the game against UMass, has continued his production with three goals and four assists.  Talented forwards Steven Whitney and Kevin Hayes join Mullane and Gaudreau with three goals apiece.

Helped by senior goaltender Parker Milner, the young but talented defense of BC has held up well.  BC has only allowed two goals a game on the season which is second best next to UNH.  Considering half of the defensive corps are made up of freshmen, that’s a pretty impressive stat.  In the game against UMass I thought Michael Matheson looked the best out of their freshman blueliners.  Matheson is a +4 on the season, tied with Patrick Wey for tops on the BC team for defensemen.  Milner has looked excellent thus far with a goals against of 1.98 and save percentage of .931%.

Hopefully UMass will use their last second loss to the Eagles a couple weeks back as motivation on Sunday.  It won’t be easy though.  UMass has not won at Chestnut Hill since fall of 2007.  We’ll see if that streak can end on Sunday.

Beer The Triangle
After a couple weeks away I’ll be happy to see what the Hangar has on the draft list tomorrow.  A rare Sunday afternoon game at Boston College likely means a trip to the Publick House.  Unfortunately their website is down so I have no idea what to expect when I get there.

UMass is not dwelling on the past according to the Republican’s preview of tomorrow.

The Gazette has a profile on Darren Rowe and the second chance he’s gotten in this his senior year.

Here’s a look at the weekend in Hockey East according to College Hockey News.

Hockey East is supposedly trying to address diving in the conference.  Good luck with that when it’s some of its highest profile teams that are the worst offenders when it comes to embellishment.  I’m going to guess that nothing happens.

Future regional sites were announced by the NCAA.

Hockey East Preview: #4 New Hampshire; Recruit Update

Hockey East Preview: #4 New Hampshire

2011-12 Storyline: New Hampshire fails to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001

2012-13 Storyline: UNH makes a step back towards the top of Hockey East after a 6th place finish last year

Player To Watch: Kevin Goumas F (9-25-34)

Player Missed Most: Stevie Moses F (22-13-35)

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Dan Correale F

Random Fact: Last year was only the second losing season in Dick Umile’s 22 year career in Durham.

Beer The Triangle Favorite Local Brew: I’ve been enjoying the Smuttynose Homunculus quite a bit recently.

Team Outlook:

I believe in last season’s preview of UNH I said they don’t rebuild, they reload.  OK, I was wrong about that one.  Last season ended up being a total rebuilding year for them due to the lack of experienced forwards and a surprising implosion in net.  With their younger players a year older, a deep freshman class, and perhaps some more consistency in net, UNH could find themselves in the top half of Hockey East instead of the bottom.

Graduating senior Stevie Moses accounted for over one of every five Wildcats goals last year as the team was without many upperclassmen goal scorers.  This season the team will look to the likes of junior Kevin Goumas, junior Nick Sorkin, and sophomore Grayson Downing to provide a scoring punch for the team.  Look for a couple freshmen like Dan Correale or Jamie Hill to put the puck in the net as well.

UNH brings back an experienced group of defensemen, losing only Damon Kipp to graduation.  Junior Eric Knodel will anchor the Wildcat blue liners that also includes Trevor VanRiemsdyk coming off an impressive freshman year.  At goaltender will likely be sophomore Casey DeSmith, who took over for a struggling Matt DiGirolamo last December and never looked back.  In 22 games DeSmith had a 2.33 goals against average and a save percentage of .926.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: Goumas and Sorkin are unable to make the necessary progression as goal scorers

They’ll Finish Higher Because: Productive forwards join the experienced and talented defensemen and a solid, young goaltender in competing for a Hockey East title

Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
1. ??
2. ??
3. ??
4. New Hampshire
5. Providence Friars
6. Maine Black Bears
7. Massachusetts Minutemen (preview upcoming)
8. Merrimack Warriors
9. Northeastern Huskies
10. Vermont Catamounts

Time to see how the recruits fared this past week.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
2 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 0 PIM / -3
No points for Gillespie in his first weekend of play.

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
According to this post from ESPN Boston, it does sound like Iovanna will return to Malden Catholic this year.

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
2 GP / 1 G /1 A / 2 Pts / 2 PIM / +1
After being held off the score sheet in the season opener, Kravchenko had a goal and an assist the next night.

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
3 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 4 PIM
Smith did not dress for the Pics this past weekend.

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