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2013 FTT Awards

Time to hand out some hardware (if I actually had real hardware and it wouldn’t be considered some kind of booster violation by the NCAA to hand it out).

▲ Fear The Triangle Player of the Year

I try to make this one simple.  Win or lose I pick a player of the game when I write my recaps.  Sometime it’s an obvious choice, sometimes not so much.  Sometimes it’s dictated by stats, sometimes it could be something intangible I saw.  Sometimes it’s for a specific play or sometimes it’s for the entire effort.  For my Player of the Year Award I add up each of those individual Player of the Game awards and that’s the winner.  Luckily in the four years I’ve been doing this I’ve never had to break a tie.  And that’s the case this year as senior co-captain Rocco Carzo led all other players with five POTG honors.

As I mentioned in my post for the seniors, Carzo’s career at UMass has come full circle.  This season he was able to make huge contributions on offense while also playing the same solid defense that we saw the last two years.  His nine goals were 4th best on the team and also tied for 4th in terms of total points.  Those nine goals also matched the amount he had scored in his previous three years combined.  But it was his consistent two way play that really helped the Minutemen this year, regularly having to go up against the best opposing players.

Here was the final count of the 2012-13 Player of the Game selections:

Carzo 5
Pereira 4
Gracel 4
Mastalerz 4
Allen 3
Guzzo 2
Rowe 2
Boyle 2
Hanley 2
LaRue 2
Walsh 1
Power 1
Czepiel 1
Sheary 1

 

▲ Fear The Triangle Newcomer of the Year

My preseason pick for this award was K.J. Tiefenwerth given his production in the EJHL.  But junior league performance isn’t always the best judge of how a player will do in college and the fact that I’m choosing Shane Walsh for this award shows that.  It was unknown just what kind of impact Walsh would have when he got to UMass.  He didn’t put up a ton of points in the USHL (28 in 72 games) and it appeared that guys like Tiefenwerth and Evan Stack would be more likely to contribute right away.  But that wasn’t the case.  When Walsh hit the ice in the Fall he immediately looked like he belonged out there.  He got his first goal against Boston University in just his third game and the next time out assisted on Darren Rowe’s game winning goal versus New Hampshire.  He missed most of the games in November due to injury and even at that early point in his career his presence in the lineup was missed.  By the end of the year he was a key part of the power play and noticeably improved along the way.  All in all Walsh ended the year with three goals and eight assists, numbers he’ll be expected to build upon during his sophomore year.

▲ Fear The Triangle Breakout Player of the Year

Branden Gracel had already been an integral part of the UMass offense through his first two years, totaling 11 goals and 23 assists.  However I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted the type of season he was going to have this past year.  He led the team in goals (14), assists (20), plus/minus (+7), game winning goals (3), and shots (104).  His total points were 6th best among Hockey East players and he was 9th in goal scoring.  And then we get to probably his best skill; faceoffs.  While his 59.5% faceoff winning percentage was technically second in the conference behind UNH’s John Henrion, Gracel was at the dot 682 times compared to Henrion’s 153.  Gracel’s 406 faceoff wins was 10th best in the country.  Gracel’s season was nothing short of spectacular and is the favorite to be named MVP when team awards are handed out next month.

I won’t be doing any more recruit updates as I want to concentrate on my season recap posts.  However I did want to point out something I noticed on Chris Heisenberg’s recruiting site.  All four of the recruits who committed to former coach Toot Cahoon are now designated to come to Amherst in 2014 or 2015.  Mark Hamilton and Mike Iovanna were previously designated on the site to arrive next fall while Willy Smith and Casey Miller were designated for 2014.  Obviously when a coaching change takes place the status of the recruits is put into flux.  I have heard that one recruit had his scholarship offer withdrawn and was invited to walk-on.  I’m not sure if that’s what is happening here with everyone and the players are being given time to decide if they want to take that option or go elsewhere.  Or they could be asked to play a year of juniors to prove themselves before the scholarship is confirmed.  We’ll see.  Also changing on the site is Dennis Kravchenko is now due in Amherst this fall.  Previously it said 2013 or 2014.

Dick Baker had this feature in the Republican on Holyoke’s Kevin Czepiel ending his UMass career.

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View From Section U: Thank You Seniors!

Four Minutemen will be taking the Mullins ice for the last time on Saturday night.  I’m happy to take the chance to honor them.

▲ #3 Kevin Czepiel ▲

“Holyoke”.  Yep, somewhere in his freshman year I kind of gave him that nickname because I love to see Western Mass players on the Minutemen and thought having Czeips on the team should be recognized.  Usually having local kids on the team involves kids from the Springfield area.  But when Czepiel got to Amherst he was even more local, growing up not too far down I-91 and a former captain at Northfield-Mount Hermon.  Czepiel has had a very solid career at UMass, playing over 25 games in all four years.  A good puck handler he has been able to move around and fill different roles when needed.  At times in his career he played on the top two lines.  However he really excelled on the third and fourth lines where he was asked to shut down opposing scorers.  He did well doing that but opponents would also have to respect his ability to turn the puck around and make a nice pass to a linemate for a scoring chance.

Czeipiel went out and was a reliable forward no matter what line he ended up on.  He played hard.  He moved the puck well.  And stayed out of the box for the most part.  And he was a regular in the faceoff circle.  When the season started and the team needed someone to lead them, he and fellow senior Rocco Carzo stepped and ran the practices and were rewarded with the Cs on their chest.  The city of Holyoke, a former mill town, can be described as a hard-working, blue collar place.  And that’s probably a pretty way to describe Kevin Czepiel’s career at UMass.

▲ #12 Rocco Carzo ▲

Carzo has had an interesting time at UMass.  In his freshman year he played on a line with star forwards James Marcou and Casey Wellman and by all accounts did very well in the role.  He scored six goals that season, two of them game winners, to go with six assists.  His linemates were two of the most prolific scorers in Hockey East that season, with Marcou 4th best in the league with 51 total points and Casey Wellman accumulating the 3rd most goals with 23.  Carzo was deservedly named the team’s Rookie of the Year for his contributions.  Carzo had some big expectations going into that next season, but with Marcou and Wellman both gone to the pros, they proved tough to live up to.  In his sophomore and junior seasons he would end up scoring just three goals total.

Carzo’s path back to becoming an impact player on the squad started in the second half of last year when he was put on the third line with Troy Power and Patrick Kiley.  There were times in the last three months of the season when that line contributed the most consistently night in and night out.  And Carzo was a big part of that.  The resurgence of his career has carried into this year where, as co-captain, he has scored eight goals, 4th best on the team.  It hasn’t been the easiest of careers at UMass for Carzo.  But I was always impressed that, even when faced with unrealistic expectations, he consistently went out on the ice and gave a great effort, eventually finding the role on the ice that fit him best.  I’m glad to see him come full circle and as a senior regain the role of being an integral player on the team.

▲ #16 Eddie Olczyk ▲

Eddie Olczyk’s role was never questioned during his time as a Minuteman. His job as a third or fourth line winger was to go out there and minimize the impact of the opponent’s offensive stars.  And he’s done that consistently.  UMass has had a number of forwards recently who have been able to regularly make an impact on the outcome of games even while rarely scoring.  Brett Watson is perhaps the best example of this.  Olczyk followed in Watson’s footsteps in this regard.  After playing in 21 games his freshman year his playing time dwindled and he only played half of his sophomore and junior seasons.  However I was thankful to see him return to the lineup on a regular basis for his senior year, playing in all the games thus far.

Playing Olcyzk every game has not only helped the defense’s ability to keep the other team off the board, but has had the surprising benefit on offense too.  Through his first three seasons he had amassed just one goal, scored halfway through his freshman year.  But this year he’s tripled that number to three.  Three goals doesn’t seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but two of them have been incredibly important.  The first came shorthanded in the win over Dartmouth to win the Ledyard Classic, easily the highlight victory of the season.  The most recent goal was this past weekend late in Friday’s game against UNH which temporarily gave UMass the go-ahead lead.  It’s never easy to be the namesake of a hockey legend that also happens to be your dad.  But at UMass Eddie Jr did a good job of making a name for himself as a dependable and hard-working shutdown forward.  And he should be proud for that.

▲ #17 Darren Rowe ▲

There was a time last season when most Minuteman fans probably thought they had seen the last of Darren Rowe in a UMass uniform.  After playing in 45 games in his first two years on campus Rowe seemed to fall out of favor with then coach Toot Cahoon.  In his freshman and sophomore years Rowe played well enough, but never seemed like a natural fit at defense.  He seemed to excel in the offensive zone, where he was able to leverage his puck handling skills and dangerous shot.  But on the defensive end he seemed to struggle.  In the offseason before his junior year I know that I personally advocated for him to move to forward to better take advantage of his natural instincts and strengths on offense.  But that didn’t happen.  Instead he sat in the stands for a good part of the season.  Yet somewhere along the way he was given a chance, made the most of it, and played the last two months of the season last year, though not really on an impactful basis.

Fast forward to this season and perhaps no one has benefitted from the offseason coaching change than Rowe.  Just a year and a half after many thought his UMass career was done he has played in all but one game this season.  Not surprisingly, it’s been his offensive skills that have gotten him the most attention.  And for good reason.  UMass does well when Rowe gets on the scoresheet.  Of UMass’ 11 wins, 6 have come when Rowe registers a point.  In fact the team has a winning record when he does so.  He’s had a number of key goals this season as well.  He scored a power play goal against Bemidji State in the Ledyard Classic, had three points against Providence in January, and had the overtime winner against #9 New Hampshire in November, one the season’s most memorable wins.  Rowe certainly helped add excitement to this season and his resurgance became one of the best storylines on the year.

I didn’t go back to previous years Seniors’ posts, but I’m sure I probably express the same sentiment every year.  That is that I have the utmost respect for the guys that pull on the UMass sweater every weekend.  College is full of demands and distractions.  It can be tough for anyone to make it all the way through and finish their senior year.  To juggle the classes, a social life, and then add on an insane amount of games, practices, and all the other time that goes with being a DI athlete is commendable.  I honestly don’t know how they do it.  But they do and represent the University of Massachusetts well whlie they do it.  I love my alma mater and am proud to tout and represent UMass whenever possible in my personal and professional life.  But these guys actually go out and represent the students and alumni with “UMass” emblazoned across their chest.  And for that they should be recognized.

The last few years have not been fun for UMass fans who no doubt hoped for more wins and better finishes within Hockey East.  But imagine what it must feel like for these seniors.  No player envisions their senior night coinciding with a fight just to extend their season another weekend or two.  I’m sure these guys probably envisioned things turning out much differently when they were ranked 15th in the country in January of their freshman year and the future looked bright.  But the team collapsed at the tail end of that season, Marcou, Wellman, and Irwin left, and the program has had a tough time returning to a successful footing since.  But not for lack of effort.  Let’s remember that these four guys have gone out there and played hard, done their best, and represented Your State U to the best of their abilities.  I’ve always thought Senior Nights at Boston College must be a lot of pomp and circumstance as they count the national championships won by their outgoing players and pat themselves on the back but I’ll take the guys who have had to grind it out for every win, every ounce of recognition, and have battled just to dress for games during their career.  And that’s pretty much how you have to describe this senior class.  Holyoke, Rocco, Eddie, and Darren, thanks for your dedication to Massachusetts hockey.

I know this has been a tough season to follow as a fan.  I also understand that the short term prospects for the team are currently working against them.  But I would hope that the true UMass hockey fans will do all they can to make it to the Mullins on Saturday, if only to clap and thank these four individuals for wearing the maroon and white.  They’ve earned it.

Merrimack will definitely be without defenseman Kyle Bigos on Friday.  Should make for an awkward (though fitting?) senior night for the Warriors.

Paul Dainton is back in the valley.

Saturday Recap

Last night the Massachusetts hockey team bounced back nicely from a disappointing loss at home on Friday.  Unable to get the puck past Chris Rawlings the night before despite 31 shots, the Minutemen stepped it up and poured 46 shots on the Northeastern goaltender to gain the 6-3 win at Matthews Arena.  The game looked like it would be another close one, with both teams trading goals through the first 30 minutes of the game.  However the team would take the lead in the 2nd with the second of two Rocco Carzo goals and then dominate in the third period, outshooting the Huskies 16-9 in that stanza.

As I mentioned in the recap written yesterday, I was worried the team would let their emotions get to them after watching two teammates get injured with some cheap hits on Friday.  However they played disciplined and methodically and got their revenge on the scoreboard instead of in the corners.  The Minutemen were also able to overcome a strong game from Husky freshman phenom Kevin Roy who had two goals for his team.

It was a total team effort but there are some individual performances that deserve mention as well.  Freshman K.J. Tiefenwerth had a breakout game scoring a goal and adding two assists, his first goal and points in his collegiate career.  His goal was especially timely as it came in the final seconds of the first period to give UMass a lead and some needed momentum going into the locker room.  Joel Hanley had a goal and an assist on the game and was on the ice for five of UMass’ six goals, finishing with a plus minus of +5.  Adam Phillips scored a goal on a nice heads up play where he was able to grab a loose puck in the Northeastern zone and immediately come in and put one high on Rawlings.

After not even registering a shot during Friday’s loss Branden Gracel and Mike Pereira bounced back and performed well last night.  Gracel tallied three assists and had a team high seven shots while Pereira had four shots and sealed the game with an empty net goal in the fourth.  Both finished a +3.  Stephen Guzzo had a multiple point night with two assists.  Shane Walsh returned from injury and had five total shots on his 21st birthday.  If there’s one area of concern from last night it’s the power play.  UMass was not able to score a power play goal in their four chances last night after going 0 for 4 the night before as well.

So the win against Northeastern ends the pre-Christmas league schedule for the Minutemen and they’ll now have non-conference games against Colgate and Yale.  The Minutemen are currently tied for 5th in Hockey East with nine points, one point out of 4th place.  This could change as some of the teams around them have games in the next couple weeks while the Minutemen are taking on the ECAC.  Still, their 4-6-1 conference record at this point is an improvement over last year when they were 2-6-3 through their first 11.  The next two weeks of games and the weeks off that follow will be used to fine tune some areas that need improvement as well as hopefully allowing the team to get a bit healthier before Hockey East play starts again.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Rocco Carzo
The co-captain continues to be a force offensively this year.  Carzo’s two goals were key last night, especially his second one which gave UMass the lead for good.  It was his second multi-goal game this season and he’s now tied for fourth among Hockey East players with seven total.

Tiefenwerth says getting his first goal was a relief in the Republican recap.

In the USCHO recap, Carzo says that the strategy was to force Rawlings to give up rebounds.

Yes, a teddy bear drew a penalty last night, per CHN’s Takeaways.

I want to extend my congratulations to Boston College coach Jerry York for tying Ron Mason’s mark of 924 college hockey wins.  York is one of the classiest and obviously one of the smartest people in the sport.

Recruit Update

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
4 GP / 1 G / 0 A / 1 Pts / 15 PIM / –2
It didn’t take Gallacher long to make an impact after returning from suspension.  Sunday he scored his first goal of the season and it ended up being the game-winner for the Gamblers.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
14 GP / 5 G / 2 A / 7 Pts / 25 PIM / +1
Gillespie scored a goal in this past Friday’s game for the Lancers, which is pretty good considering he was only in the game a little over eight minutes before getting a game misconduct for hitting from behind.  He ended up being +3 for the weekend.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Salisbury is scheduled to play their first game on 11/28

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
14 GP / 8 G / 9 A / 17 Pts / 26 PIM / +6
Kravechenko had two power play goals for the Stampede this past Friday night.  Kravchenko is 4th in the USHL in points and 7th in goals.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2013
18 GP / 9 G / 10 A / 19 Pts / 6 PIM / 0
No points for Lee this past week.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
KUA plays its first game on 11/28

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
6 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 4 PIM
No points for Smith in his one game this past week.

Frank Vatrano– LW/C – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2013
8 GP / 5 G / 2 A / 7 Pts / 12 PIM
The Junior Bruins did not play this past weekend and are scheduled to play tomorrow night.

Kevin Boyle and Rocco Carzo are mentioned in CHN’s Joe Meloni’s “Three Things I Think”

Also from CHN, Mike McMahon catches up with former Minuteman coach Toot Cahoon and his transition to retired coach/media member.

It looks as if Martin Ouellette has earned the starting job in Maine and is likely to face the Minutemen on Friday.

Northeastern freshman Cam Darcy has left school.

Saturday Recap

The worry that a challenging schedule would result in a slow start in Hockey East play for UMass is now a reality.  Through three games the team has three losses and finds itself tied with Maine for last place, already five points out of home ice.  More than the losses themselves though is how the team has lost.  In two of the games, last week against Boston College and last night against Boston University, UMass gave up a multiple goal lead at home and allowed their opponent to claim victory with a late score.  This team is falling apart in the third period of games.  Is it conditioning?  Is it conservative game planning?  Is it a lack of mental toughness?  It’s amazing to see that out of the 14 goals UMass have given up this season only one has come in the first period.  Nine however have come after the second period.

With the weekend sweep at the hands of the Terriers and last week’s defeat against BC UMass falls to 0-3-0 versus two teams that they went 3-2-1 against in the regular season last year.  Carrying over a theme from yesterday’s post, UMass’ experience was supposed to give them an advantage in games like this.  Instead they were defeated for the second straight night by a freshman goaltender, allowed freshman Danny O’Regan to have another multi-point game, and it was the Minutemen who looked inexperienced as they gave up another lead late.

There were some positives last night.  Shane Walsh moved up to a line with Mike Pereira and Brendan Gracel and picked up his first career goal by taking a Conor Sheary feed and getting it between Matt O’Connor and the post.  Walsh was probably the best all around player for the Minutemen this weekend in my opinion.  Overall I thought the new top lines which also included Rocco Carzo, Steven Guzzo, and Conor Sheary, played well together.  UMass generated 36 shots with last night’s lines.  Rocco Carzo had a very good game, more on that later.  Kevin Boyle played well, making his first start since the season opener.  He ended up with 32 saves and on the last two goals the guys in front of him allowed BU to skate in untouched.

UMass must spend this week finding whatever it is that will allow them to hold late leads.  Again, things do not get any easier for the Minutemen.  On Friday a New Hampshire team that has yet to lose this season visits the Mullins Center.  Despite a scoreless tie last night the Wildcats are still scoring 3.40 goals a game.  UMass will then have to visit Boston College on Sunday afternoon.  Who knows what will happen against two such formidable opponents next week but we do know that another pointless weekend will sink UMass further in the Hockey East standings.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Rocco Carzo
Carzo showed both aspects of his two way game early in the second period when he took the puck away from a Terrier at the blueline and streaked into the BU zone.  Coming in all alone on O’Connor Carzo would get tripped from behind by Garrett Noonan setting up a penalty shot.  He’d then make it look easy coming in and scoring on the Terrier goaltender.  That was the highlight of the night for Carzo but he played very well throughout, even leading the team with three blocked shots and four total shots.

Last night’s highlights from UMassAthletics.com

Dick Baker has the game story for the Republican, noting that Carzo’s penalty shot goal was the first for UMass since Jeff Turner scored one in 2000.  Here are Baker’s game notes.  Baker mentions that the UMass Marching Band was there to do the national anthem, which sounded great.  But of course then they left immediately afterward.  The fact that this program is not supported with a hockey band is mind-boggling to me.  Want to clean up the students’ chants?  A band is the first step to do so and will do a lot more than hanging posters on every door asking them to “Keep It Classy”.

The Collegian has their coverage of the sweep by BU.

Polls & Awards

Combined with Minnesota dropping a game, Boston College’s come from behind win at Amherst followed by their defeat of Northeastern in their home opener the next night was enough to put them back in the top spot in this week’s USCHO rankings.  UMass’ OT loss to the Eagles was enough to gain them a couple votes in the poll.  BC is the only Hockey East representative in the top ten but just outside are #11 Lowell, #12 New Hampshire, #13 Boston University, and #15 Northeastern.  BC returned to the top of the USA Hockey/USA Today rankings as well.

His game-winner on Friday helped BC’s Johnny Gaudreau gain Player of the Week honors for Hockey East this week.  Rocco Carzo was named a top performer for his two goal game.

The Washington Capitals have this interview of former Minuteman Alex Berry describing his road back to hockey after the horrific on-ice accident that almost ended his career and even his life last fall.  I’m ecstatic to see him back on the ice.  Berry, along with T.J. Syner, is playing with Reading of the ECHL to start the hockey season.

For those that may have missed it, Paul Dainton did make the opening night roster for the Springfield Falcons.

And look who’s back playing stateside, Thomas Pöck.  Pöck is playing with the Lake Erie Monsters this season.

Don’t forget that I’ve added a link to the top of the page to an offsite page where you can instantly find out where former Minutemen are currently playing.

Lastly I want to give a heartfelt thanks and farewell to Inside College Hockey, which announced yesterday that they’re packing it in.  Their coverage had slipped in recent years but many who have followed the sport closely for the last ten years or more know that INCH was once an excellent resource for rankings, news, and humor.  The site had some excellent writers over the years, including Jeff Howe who covered UMass hockey for the Collegian and now is the Patriots beat writer for the Herald.  I’ll always remember them giving the UMass triangle jersey the bronze medal in their ranking of all-time ugliest sweaters.  Stick salute to all current and past INCH writers.

Boston College Recap

For two periods Massachusetts absolutely dominated defending national champion Boston College on Friday night and went into the final period with a 3-0 lead.  But the defense which had played extremely well to that point, despite being down a man for the entire game, ran out of gas and were unable to do the little things that would’ve held off BC and given UMass the victory.  In the end the Eagles scored four goals in the 3rd and picked up the win in overtime on a Johnny Gaudreau score.

It looked like UMass had overcome the game misconduct for hitting from behind by Joel Hanley when they had killed off the resulting five minute major.  But that was only short term.  Long term the remaining five defensemen had to play extra minutes to try to keep the Eagles off the board, something they did superbly through two periods.  But all those extra shifts caught up to them in the third and they were unsuccessful in doing the little things like clearing the puck and putting a body on the Eagle forwards in front of the net.  This ultimately let BC back in the game and the chance to take the win in overtime.  In my opinion losing Hanley that was the difference in the game.  I’m not going to comment on the hit itself because I couldn’t see it from where I sit.  Either way, I think it was the turning point despite the Minutemen making the necessary adjustments early on.

There were some bright spots in what turned out to be a crushing loss.  As mentioned, for two periods Steve Mastalerz and the defense in front of him were dominant.  I cannot fault Mastalerz for this loss at all, as it was really breakdowns in front of him that led to most if not all of the goals.  Conor Allen had another strong game at defense and picked up a power play goal when pinching in from the blueline.  I thought Oleg Yevenko continues to look poised and his skating has improved noticeably.  Mike Busillo played in place of Adam Phillips and played probably his best game as a Minuteman.  He was solid at defense, showing good positioning, and picked up his first career point on a nice pass to setup Rocco Carzo.  Darren Rowe continues to make the most of his chance at defense, scoring his second goal in two games.  Colin Shea played very physical and had a team high five blocked shots.

I thought the top line of Mike Pereira, Troy Power, and Conor Sheary looked much better than last week, with Power and Sheary picking up assists during the game.  Shane Walsh made his debut as a Minuteman and provided good two way minutes.  The fourth line of Patrick Kiley, Kevin Czepiel, and Eddie Olczyk played very well and had a lot to do with BC’s early frustrations on offense.

So overall it was an extremely disappointing loss and a missed opportunity.  Kicking off the conference schedule with a win over the team picked to win the league would’ve done a lot to set the tone for the challenging next few weeks and the season in general.  Instead the reaction around the fanbase and the rest of college hockey is “typical UMass”.  Now I understand that the loss of Hanley early led to the third period breakdowns that ultimately lost UMass the game.  But good teams are able to find a way to win when they have a 3-0 third period lead or even a two goal lead with four minutes to go.  Friday showed that UMass still has a ways to go to be considered a good team.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Rocco Carzo
Earlier in the week Carzo was named Co-Captain of this year’s squad along with Kevin Czepiel.  On Friday he absolutely played like one, having his first multi-goal game of his career.  There was some debate as to whether Carzo would be able to transform to more of an offensive game this year after playing on the third line for most of last year.  So far so good for the senior.

Here’s the recap from the Gazette, including the note that Mike Pereira who was injured late is expected to be OK.

Carzo admits that panic set in when BC was able to get that first goal early in the third in the Republican game story.  Coach Mick still saw a lot of positives according to the game notebook.

The Collegian has their recap of the crushing loss.

The Boston Herald’s Stephen Harris was in Amherst to cover the game.

Here are the thoughts of the guys over at BC Interruption.

Nick Canelas has the game takeaways for College Hockey News.

Gallacher To Transfer To UMass; Captains Named; Recruit Update

USHR reported yesterday that former Ohio State defenseman Ben Gallacher will be transferring to Massachusetts next fall.  He will be able to play immediately as he is sitting out this year by playing for Green Bay of the USHL.  Like UMass’ other transfer Rob Dongara, Gallacher will have three years of eligibility left when he starts next year.

Gallacher arrived in Columbus highly rated, a fourth round draft pick of the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL draft.  However by the time he got there the coach who recruited him, John Markell, was no longer there and Gallacher did not see eye to eye with the new staff.  So after scoring one goal to go with 11 assists with the Buckeyes, he left school last spring.  It was thought he would end up in major junior or even the AHL with the Panthers farm team.  Major junior seemed like a logical option since his father owns the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.  That didn’t happen though and he ended up in the USHL where he could retain his eligibility and look for another college.  According to USHR Boston College, Michigan, Western Michigan, and Michigan Tech were all interested in adding him as a transfer.  But this past Saturday he gave his commitment to assistant coach Joey Gasparaini who went out to watch him play after Friday’s win.

Gallacher, 5’11” 185lbs, gained a reputation as a skilled puck-moving defenseman in the AJHL playing for the Camrose Kodiaks.  His last year in his native Alberta he had five goals and 22 assists in 37 games.  This year for Green Bay he is pointless after two games in the books.  Overall this looks like a great pickup for the program and staff, their second addition to go with Dennis Kravchenko.   Gallacher will join Mark Hamilton as incoming defenseman next year.  Darren Rowe is the only defenseman who will be graduating this coming spring.  Interestingly Gallacher is the second tranfer from Ohio State for the program with the first being John Toffey who played for UMass from 2003 to 2005.

Hockey’s Future has this profile of Gallacher.

Here are some of his highlights from junior hockey:

.

Here’s video of him talking about being drafted by the Panthers.

Before we get into the weekly recruit update, there is some other big news today.  Tonight on his radio show coach John Micheletto named seniors Kevin Czepiel and Rocco Carzo as this year’s captains.  Congrats to them both.  I thought Carzo looked very captain-like on Friday, so not much surprise there.  Czepiel is a little more surprising since he wasn’t mentioned in the earlier captain chatter.  But if you’re looking for someone that has worked hard to earn every minute of playing time he gets, Czepiel fits that mold.  That’s two straight years with a Western Mass native wearing the “C”, as T.J. Syner was a captain last year.  There were no mentions of assistant captains.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
5 GP / 1 G / 1 A / 2 Pts / 5 PIM / -1
No points for Gillespie in his one game this past weekend.

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
6 GP / 3 G / 3 A / 6 Pts / 4 PIM / 0
Kravechenko had a power play goal and an assist in a 6-5 win over Fargo on Saturday.

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 may be injured as he didn’t play again this past weekend and it doesn’t appear that he’s playing for their Empire team either.

Sorry to hear that former Merrimack coach Chris Serino passed away from cancer yesterday.  Serino also coached future Minuteman Mike Iovanna at Malden Catholic.  Chris is also the father of UMass baseball players Nick and Anthony Serino.

Congrats to Eddie Olczyk Sr. who was enshrined in the USA Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday.  ESPN has this article about what hockey means to the Olczyk family which includes quotes from Eddie Jr.

Maroon & White Preview

OK, it’s not really a preview.  After all, my true  UMass season preview will hit the site on Wednesday.  However, here are a few of the things I’m keeping in mind when watching this afternoon’s game:

Goaltending – Obviously this is the biggest question mark going into the season.  How does Teglia look?  Do either of the freshmen look to have a leg up on the other.  Do either look better than Teglia?

Sophomore Slump – How does last year’s freshman class, which preformed well, look with a year under their belt.  I’ve found this is when you can start to separate the leaders from the followers in a class.  Which are putting in the extra work and paying attention to what’s going on all over the ice.

Rocco Carzo – Speaking of sophomore slump…  I don’t want to single Carzo out, but he did struggle mightily last year.  But at the same time, he has the talent and from what I hear the character to move beyond it.  A strong start to his junior year will be a good sign.

Mike Marcou – Marcou also had a tough year last season.  I’d love to see him get back to basics and stop trying to do too much at once.  He’s a smart player and if he uses his wits to be in the right position on defense at the right time, he’ll do well.

Power play – Obviously this was a weakness last year.  It’ll be interesting to see if it changes.  In previous years the power play belonged to assistant Len Quesnelle (while Red Gendron took charge of the penalty kill).  With the introduction of Blaise MacDonald, I wondered if Toot took the opportunity to switch up the special teams.

Danny Hobbs –  The UMass co-captain made tremendous progress in his game last season.  Just how much further can he take his game?

Darren Rowe – Defenseman?  Forward?

Zack LaRue – A 6’2” T.J. Syner or is his game different from what was portrayed through the limited media available?

Oleg Yevenko – Please do not injure your teammates.  This is just a scrimmage.  Can someone put a red jersey on Mike Pereira please?

Joel Hanley – He missed the beginning of last season with family issues and the end with mono. But in the middle he was a damn solid defensemen with a great offensive touch. Could he be the next UMass star in the making?

The taps at the Hangar – With only being able to get to the usual pre-game spot once during the offseason, I find myself constantly wondering what amazing beers Stoney has procured that I’m missing.

The new ABC – What do they plan on doing with all that open space in the bar area?  Arena football?

 

Though he got the loss, Paul Dainton preformed well in his first exhibition game for the Falcons on the season.

Awards and Polls; Dainton Named HEA Defensive POTW

Congratulations to UMass captain Paul Dainton who was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week for his performances against Maine this past weekend.  It’s the third time this season Dainton has been honored with a weekly award.  Rocco Carzo was named a Weekly Top Performer.

UMass will be facing the second ranked Boston College in the quarterfinals this weekend as they held onto their #2 spot in the national rankings.  UNH dropped to #10 after getting swept by BC, while BU and Maine remained at their #13 and #14 spots respectively.  Amazingly Merrimack did not drop from their #9 ranking in the USCHO or USA Today poll after splitting with Providence.

Here are INCH’s Power Rankings.

Speaking of polls, with the regular season in Hockey East in the books let’s take a look at how teams finished compared to the early season predictions.  First up, the preseason coaches poll:

1. Boston College
2. Maine
3. New Hampshire
4. Boston University
5. Northeastern
6. Vermont
7. Merrimack
8. Lowell
9. Massachusetts
10. Providence

Now let’s take at look at the Fear The Triangle preseason predictions:

1. Boston College
2. New Hampshire
3. Maine
4. Merrimack
5. Boston University
6. Northeastern
7. Vermont
8. Massachusetts
9. Lowell
10. Providence

And finally, here is how the teams actually finished:

1. Boston College
2. New Hampshire
3. Boston University
4. Merrimack
5. Maine
6. Northeastern
7. Vermont
8. Massachusetts
9. Providence
10. Lowell

I have to say, I’m pretty proud of my predictions.  Swap two sets of teams and I had it perfect.  Obviously I thought a little too much of Maine, but then again not as much as the coaches did.  I really believed this UMass team, despite the fact that they lost 2/3rds of their scoring, would find a way into the playoffs, which they did.  Nearly every Hockey East poll I saw in the media picked them 9th or 10th.  The only other person I know of to have UMass to make the playoffs was New England Hockey Journal’s Andrew Merritt.  Obviously he, like myself, put our UMass educations to good use.  The difference I thought between the young UMass team and the young Lowell team was goaltending.  UMass had a four year starter and Lowell had, well, no one.  Obviously I thought the guys they had would do better than they actually did or I would’ve flipped Providence and Lowell myself.  The difference between those two teams?  Goaltending again with the Friars in possession of the skilled Alex Beaudry.  Of course next year the shoe will be on the other foot with the Minutemen bringing in two freshmen goaltenders and returning another with limited experience.  But we’ll worry about next year whenever UMass’ season comes to an end.

College Hockey News’ Joe Meloni has Mike Pereira on his All-Rookie Team with BC’s Cam Atkinson as his Player of the Year.

The Collegian has their weekend recap.

Northeastern got some good news on the eve of the playoffs with the reinstatement of coach Greg Cronin.

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