Tegeler Commits To UMass; Recruit Update

Chris Heisenberg passed along the news that UMass picked up a commitment from Junior Bruins forward Andrew Tegeler for next fall.  The 6’1”, 170lb right wing is originally from Sewell, NJ.  In 44 games for the Junior Bruins this past season he had 19 goals, 21 assists, and 38 PIM.  He had 2 shorthanded goals on the season and his 6 game winning goals were tied for second in the EJHL.  He was listed as a player to watch for the 2011 NHL draft in the initial rankings from the Central Scouting Service.  He was not listed however in the final rankings released earlier this week.

It sounds like he has the potential to add some goal scoring for the Minutemen in the future and you especially have to like his ability to score goals that count.  Coach Cahoon has had success in commitments coming late in the recruiting season.  Adam Phillips and Branden Gracel were both players who committed to UMass after March of last year.

As of now UMass will be graduating 1 goaltender, 1 defenseman, and 5 forwards.  According to the Heisenberg site, UMass has incoming 2 goaltenders, 2 defensemen, and 5 forwards.  However, I have heard that one of those forwards shown on the site as coming next year will likely be coming to Amherst in 2012 instead, though that has not been confirmed.  Therefore it appears that there is one player more coming in than leaving and that may indicate that there will be some turnover on the team.  Who am I kidding, there is always turnover on the team.  At least this year it’s not coming in the form of players leaving for the pros.  The fact that an extra defenseman is coming in probably shows that Toot is looking for extra depth at that position and perhaps will be moving Darren Rowe to forward full time next season.  I’ll have more on how the team could potentially look next season in the coming weeks.

Now on to the regular recruit update.

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle’s team was eliminated in the second round of the BCHL playoffs after he got injured. He did pretty well in the playoffs going 6-6-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

Mike Busillo – D – Hartford Jr Wolfpack (AtlJHL)
41 GP / 8 G / 19 A / 27 Pts / 97 PIM
Busillo’s season is over as his Wolfpack were eliminated by Walpole in the first round of the AtlJHL playoffs. He had a goal in three playoff games.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
49 GP / 13 G / 42 A / 55 Pts / 76 PIM
Gillespie’s season is over after Shattuck won the Tier-I Under 18 National Championship earlier this month in Simsbury, CT. Gillespie was the 12th leading scorer in the tournament, netting two goals and three assists in the six games.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue’s season has come to a close as his Waxers lost in the first round of the playoffs. He had a goal and four assists in five playoff games, including a game winner and a shorthanded goal.

Joseph Manno – South Kent Cardinal (NE Prep)
24 GP / 16 G / 27 A / 43 Pts
South Kent was upset in the prep playoffs despite being the top seed.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union Wildcats (NE Prep)
35 GP / 24-7-4 / 1.63 GAA / .923 sv%
Mastalerz’s season is over after KUA lost in the first playoff game 4-3 in overtime.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
49 GP / 9 G / 7 A / 16 Pts / 14 PIM
Walsh scored a goal in one of his three games last week.  His Saints have a bye in the first round of the USHL playoffs.

Oleg Yevenko -D – Fargo Force (USHL)
52 GP / 4 G / 4 A / 8 Pts / 197 PIM
Yevenko is still suspended and hasn’t played since March 27th.  He should be returning early in the playoffs as his Force take on the Lincoln Stars.

Recruit Update; Q&A With Ryan S. Clark

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle’s team was eliminated in the second round of the BCHL playoffs after he got injured. He did pretty well in the playoffs going 6-6-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

Mike Busillo – D – Hartford Jr Wolfpack (AtlJHL)
41 GP / 8 G / 19 A / 27 Pts / 97 PIM
Busillo’s season is over as his Wolfpack were eliminated by Walpole in the first round of the AtlJHL playoffs. He had a goal in three playoff games.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
49 GP / 13 G / 42 A / 55 Pts / 76 PIM
Shattuck won the Tier-I Under 18 National Championship this past weekend in Simsbury, CT.  Gillespie was the 12th leading scorer in the tournament, netting two goals and three assists in the six games. 

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue’s season has come to a close as his Waxers lost in the first round of the playoffs. He had a goal and four assists in five playoff games, including a game winner and a shorthanded goal.

Joseph Manno – South Kent Cardinal (NE Prep)
24 GP / 16 G / 27 A / 43 Pts
South Kent was upset in the prep playoffs despite being the top seed.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union Wildcats (NE Prep)
35 GP / 24-7-4 / 1.63 GAA / .923 sv%
Mastalerz’s season is over after KUA lost in the first playoff game 4-3 in overtime.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
46 GP / 8 G / 7 A / 15 Pts / 14 PIM
Walsh went scoreless in his one game this week.

Oleg Yevenko -D – Fargo Force (USHL)
52 GP / 4 G / 4 A / 8 Pts / 197 PIM
Yevenko is currently suspended and hasn’t played since March 27th.

Here is a  Q&A I recently did with Ryan S. Clark.  Clark is a Maine grad (but we won’t hold that against him) who writes for the Fargo-Moorehead Forum where he covers the USHL’s Fargo Force and Minnesota high school hockey.  His blog, Slightly Chilled, covers all levels of amateur hockey.  I started following him on Twitter when the Force’s Oleg Yevenko committed to UMass and was able to get his thoughts on UMass’ towering recruit and other topics.  Much thanks to Ryan for his contribution.

Fear The Triangle: Yevenko is currently serving a multi-game suspension and was suspended at least one other time earlier this season. Since media coverage of the USHL is sometimes scarce, would you be able to shed any light on what transpired that led to the most recent or earlier suspensions?

Ryan S. Clark:  Sure. From what I gathered from talking to scouts, he used an elbow and that was enough to warrant a 6-game suspension. He’s got four more games left in the suspension. Oleg’s been suspended quite a few times this season. He’s been suspended twice according to the league’s transaction’s page. NHL and college scouts have both said what hurts him is the fact that he’s so tall that when his elbows move around, they are usually within distance of someone’s chest or higher and there are times where it could be something simple that turns into something worse.

FTT:  Yevenko obviously plays on the edge in terms of his physical style. Would you say his toughness is an asset overall to the Force or do the penalties and suspensions make him more of a liability?

RSC:  It is an asset for sure. Fargo is a physical team and it is no secret that they’re going to make a game tough just for the fact that they like to check and get gritty with people. His toughness would also be an asset because he’s so physically imposing. Coach Jason Herter has said about penalties in general that they are part of the game and that these things happen. With Oleg they happen a lot as he’s set the record for most PIMs in a career by a Force player.

FTT:  How would you describe the strengths of his game?

RSC:  Aside from size, he can actually move the puck pretty well. His shot is also pretty strong too. His shot is a hard one that when accurate can be tough to deal with. Another strength of the game is his positioning. He uses his frame to make sure he can cover the ice and get into the passing lanes. He can also block a shot too.

FTT:  What are the areas you think he needs to work on as he sets his sights on college hockey in a top conference like Hockey East?

RSC:  Speed. He sees a lot of it in practice and in the league, but speed is so killer in Hockey East to where it can be your downfall. He just needs to get faster or continue his adaptation into handling speed when it goes against him. I haven’t seen him get burned at all, then again, he wasn’t going up against the Da Costas of the world every weekend either.

FTT:  Do you know what, if any, other schools were also looking at Yevenko?

RSC:  To my knowledge, I am not sure if others were looking at him. Most players tend to be pretty quiet about all that just because they don’t want to burn bridges. But from what I gathered, other schools were indeed looking at him.

FTT:  How are the Force’s chances to win the Clark Cup?

RSC:  They’d have to be good but they also have to be consistent. The Force have a ton of talent and everyone around the league knows that. They just have to be consistent when it matters. The thing that helps them is that entering last weekend, they were tied for the most road wins in the USHL with 19. Bad news is, they have an average home record. If they can win those home games they can be back in the Clark Cup Finals for a third straight year.

FTT:  As someone who covers both the USHL and Minnesota High School hockey, how would you compare the level of play of the two?

RSC:  Great question. In truth, they are different. The USHL is a faster, physical league that relies on talent and/or systems to win games. That and the defense and goalies on this level are far better than what you see in Minn. HS. Another thing about the USHL that makes it different is the skill level. Take a guy like Force forward Joe Rehkamp for example. He played at Breck in Minnesota and kid was easily the fastest skater in the state. He comes to the USHL where he uses his speed to kill but it hasn’t translated into a lot of goals like it did in high school.

That said, Minnesota HS hockey is very good. There is talent there and it is a great place for recruiters to go. MNHS is like any high school sport where you have a balance of power and the power is pretty much with the schools in the Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul and its suburbs.) Schools like Eden Prairie, Edina, etc. are in locations where kids can train year round and go against the best competition whether it be in the fall with the Elite League or the regular season. Then there are outstate schools like Duluth East, Moorhead and Roseau that get respect and work hard too. They also have kids in the Elite League but they are few and far between compared to the Cities schools. There is talent that can make the jump from HS to college, but most of them need the USHL or any junior league for that matter to make the transition.

FTT:  UMass recruit Kenny Gillespie is playing for Shattuck St Mary’s in Minnesota. Have you seen him play at all and what do you think of his game?

RSC:  I have not had a chance to see him play but I have been following Shattuck because how can you not? They don’t play the public schools, which is something most people outside Minnesota do not know. But know this, if you are playing at Shattuck that is saying a hell of a lot because they don’t just let bums walk into that place. If UMass or any school has someone that is at Shattuck right now, congratulations. You know that kid is going to come in with talent but more than anything, work ethic.

FTT:  UMass recruit Shane Walsh is playing for the Dubuque Saints of the USHL. Have you seen him play at all and what do you think of his game?

RSC:  I’ve seen him a few times this year and he’s not a bad player at all. He’s got some speed about him, which is a plus. The times I’ve seen him, he’s been good but just has had a hard time getting scoring chances. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Dubuque has some monsters and one guy you’re going to hear about if you haven’t already is John Gaudreau, a Northeastern commit. He’s uber talented. Going back to Walsh, he’ll be a good addition for UMass because he can play defense and he doesn’t make a lot of dumb decisions. He’ll be a hardworking forward for them.

FTT:  Lastly, how in the world does a Maine alum end up covering amateur hockey in Fargo, North Dakota?

RSC:  My goal is to cover the NHL and you can’t say you want to do it covering Texas HS Football like I was doing before I moved to Fargo. The Forum had an opening and I told myself that if I was serious about getting back into covering hockey I needed to make this move. Things have worked out to this point and that’s why I am here. Fargo is great and I enjoy being here. But I know there is an end all goal and that is the NHL. I grew up a hockey fan and I always knew I wanted to cover it. I covered the women’s team at Maine for two years and Hockey East women for a year at USCHO.com while I was a senior. My last two jobs got me out of hockey but I really missed the game and covering it. So I made a choice. I don’t regret it at all. Coming to Fargo has been the greatest experience of my career and I know it’ll lead to bigger things. There’s an old African saying, "You can’t hide the sun with your hand forever." My time will come, I know that.

The UMass Athletics site has another entry to Chase Langeraap’s blog following his first journey into pro hockey.

Staying in the ECHL, former UMass captain Dean Stork was named runner-up for the league’s Coach of the Year award.  Stork, in only his first year as a head coach, led the Greenville Road Warriors to the second best record in the league. 

Recruit Update

The weekly recruit update is a day later than usual because I chose to go to the tremendously disappointing UMass lacrosse game at Harvard last night.  For those who missed it, UMass was up 8-4 in the 3rd quarter only to have the Crimson score 7 of the last 8 goals to take the win.  It was sad to see a UMass lacrosse team fold that way and be missing the usual fire we’ve come to expect from Greg Cannella coached teams.  One positive on the night was my first trip to Cambridge Common where I enjoyed a Pretty Things Fluffy White Rabbits (probably my favorite Pretty Things beer) and tried Long Trail’s Triple Bag for the first time.

Anyway, on to the future Minutemen.

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle’s team was eliminated in the second round of the BCHL playoffs after he got injured.  He did pretty well in the playoffs going 6-6-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

Mike Busillo – D – Hartford Jr Wolfpack (AtlJHL)
41 GP / 8 G / 19 A / 27 Pts / 97 PIM
Busillo’s season is over as his Wolfpack were eliminated by Walpole in the first round of the AtlJHL playoffs. He had a goal in three playoff games.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
43 GP / 11 G / 42 A / 53 Pts / 66 PIM
Gillespie’s team didn’t play this past week.  This coming weekend Shattuck will be playing in the Tier I National Tournament in Simsbury, CT.  I’m going to do my best to juggle my weekend schedule enough to try to see him play.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue’s season has come to a close as his Waxers lost in the first round of the playoffs. He had a goal and four assists in five playoff games, including a game winner and a shorthanded goal.

Joseph Manno – South Kent Cardinal (NE Prep)
24 GP / 16 G / 27 A / 43 Pts
South Kent was upset in the prep playoffs despite being the top seed.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union Wildcats (NE Prep)
35 GP / 24-7-4 / 1.63 GAA / .923 sv%
Mastalerz’s season is over after KUA lost in the first playoff game 4-3 in overtime.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
45 GP / 8 G / 7 A / 15 Pts / 14 PIM
Walsh went scoreless in his three games this week.

Oleg Yevenko -D – Fargo Force (USHL)
52 GP / 4 G / 4 A / 8 Pts / 197 PIM
Yevenko had 16 PIM in his last game.  He’s still 2nd in the league in that category.

UMass isn’t mentioned but a blog I just discovered, Slightly Chilled, has an early look at the best recruiting classes in college hockey for next year.

Ryan Durling of Sieves The Day wrote a good analysis of how much scoring each Hockey East team is bringing back next year which, on paper, bodes well for UMass.

I did similar number crunching myself, but only looking at scoring in conference games, so as to have an equal sample size to compare teams.  Of the players coming back next year (as of now), UMass has the 4th, 7th, and 10th leading scorers from this past year with T.J. Syner, Danny Hobbs, and Mike Pereira respectively.

View From Section U: FTT Hockey East Awards

Hockey East has announced some of their award winners today and will announce the major ones at tomorrow’s championship banquet.  However, here’s my take on the major awards and All-Hockey East teams.  Feel free to tell me how wrong I am.  (For the record, I make my selections upon performance in league games only.  I also made my picks before the official ones came out this afternoon)

Player of the Year – Cam Atkinson, Boston College
To tell you the truth I was completely torn between Atkinson and New Hampshire’s Paul Thompson.  Atkinson had 24 goals in conference play, Thompson 23.  Thompson had 42 points, Atkinson 38.  Really, I found it tough to say definitively one was better than the other.  The tie-breaker?  How did they do when the two teams met in the last weekend of the regular season and the title was on the line.  Atkinson had three goals and one assist.  Thompson had just one assist.  Enough said.

Coach of the Year – Mark Dennehy, Merrimack College
If I have to explain this one it means you haven’t been paying attention.

Rookie of the Year – Mike Pereira, Massachusetts
This probably looks like a homer pick, but hear out my reasoning.  First, he led all freshmen in goals in conference play.  Not only that but he led the Minutemen in goals as well, accounting for 15% of the team’s total output in conference games.  He even led the Minutemen in +/- in those games with +5.  He was one point behind BU’s Charlie Coyle in league points for freshmen playing in one less game.  I can pretty much guarantee that Pereira won’t win tomorrow because unlike Coyle he’s not a high NHL draft pick playing for Boston University, but tell me which freshman had a bigger impact on his respective team?  In fact, I wouldn’t even put Coyle as runner-up in this award, instead giving that honor to Northeastern’s Jamie Oleksiak who absolutely shut down opposing offenses for the Huskies.

Hockey East All-Stars 1st Team
F – Cam Atkinson, Boston College
F – Paul Thompson, New Hampshire
F – Gustav Nyquist, Maine
D – Brian Dumoulin, Boston College
D – David Warsofsky, Boston Univeristy
G – John Muse, Boston College

Hockey East All-Stars 2nd Team
F – Stephane Da Costa, Merrimack College
F – Brian Gibbons, Boston College
F – Brian Flynn, Maine
D – Blake Kelssel, New Hampshire
D – Ulf Samuelsson’s son, Boston College
G – Matt Di Girolamo, New Hampshire

Hockey East All-Rookie Team
F – Charlie Coyle, Boston University
F – Mike Pereira, Massachusetts
F – Mike Collins, Merrimack
D – Jamie Oleksiak, Northeastern
D – Adam Clendening, Boston University
G – Dan Sullivan, Maine

As mentioned, Hockey East did announce some award winners and congratulations goes out to Mike Pereira who was named to the All-Rookie team.  Pereira and BU’s Coyle were the only unanimous picks to the team.   Paul Dainton was named a runner-up to the Len Ceglarski Sportsmanship Award (much to the chagrin of WCHA officials).

Recruit Steve Mastalerz and Joe Manno (who is rumored to have committed/recommitted to UMass) will be teammates in the Beantown Classic tournament that takes place this week.

The Big Ten Hockey Conference could become official as early as next week, thereby destroying college hockey as we know it…if you believe some WCHA and CCHA fans (which I don’t).

Make sure to check back later tonight or tomorrow as I plan to have my season recap very soon.

Recruit Update

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle has continued to play well in the second round of the BCHL playoffs, including a 39 save effort in Game 3, though his Warriors find themselves down 2-3.  In each of the two Westside wins Boyle has only allowed 2 goals, while he has allowed 3, 3, and 5 goals in the losses.  He has a 3.00 GAA for the playoffs.  He was injured in the last game unfortunately and his status is unknown.

Mike Busillo – D – Hartford Jr Wolfpack (AtlJHL)
41 GP / 8 G / 19 A /  27 Pts / 97 PIM
Busillo’s season is over as his Wolfpack were eliminated by Walpole in the first round of the AtlJHL playoffs.  He had a goal in three playoff games.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
39 GP / 11 G / 37 A /  48 Pts / 50 PIM
Shattuck has been off these last few weeks.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue’s season has come to a close as his Waxers lost in the first round of the playoffs.  He had a goal and four assists in five playoff games, including a game winner and a shorthanded goal.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union Wildcats (NE Prep)
35 GP / 24-7-4 / 1.63 GAA / .923 sv%
Mastalerz’s season is over after KUA lost in the first playoff game 4-3 in overtime.  He will be playing next week in the Beantown Classic next week.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
39 GP / 6 G / 6 A / 12 Pts / 14 PIM
Walsh didn’t have any points on the weekend.

Oleg Yevenko -D – Fargo Force(USHL)
49 GP / 4 G / 4 A / 8 Pts / 167 PIM
Yevenko was +1 with 2 PIM over the past weekend.  Yevenko is second in the league in penalty minutes.

Kevin Moore has another edition of One Moore Minute.  This one pits three American freshmen against three Canadian freshman in feats of skill and strength.  I’ve loving the old school Nintendo music.

The UMass Alumni Association will be awarding former assistant captain Peter Trovato the Distinguished Alumni Award for his charity work with the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund which he founded and oversees.  Congratulations Peter, well deserved.

Yevenko Commits; Recruit Update

Thanks (as always) to Chris Heisenberg the mystery of the 6’7″ recruit has been solved.  He is reporting that defenseman Oleg Yevenko has committed to UMass for this fall.  The Minsk, Belarus native is playing currently for the Fargo Force in the USHL.  He has four goals and four assists and is -1 in 47 games.  He was +13 last year for them.  Judging from youtube, he’s no stranger to dropping the gloves (there’s even one of him fighting former UMass recruit Luke Curadi).

Here’s a piece that Tim How, a good resource for Fargo Force hockey, wrote on him over the summer.  He won USHL Defenseman of the Week a few times last season, including this instance I found where Jeff Teglia was also honored as well.  Yevenko represented his country and was seen as a player to watch in the World Junior Championships First Division, which essentially plays a level below the one we’re used to seeing.  More on Yevenko as I can find it.

While the current Minutemen have extended their season the future Minutemen are already in playoff mode, approaching the postseason, or sadly have had their seasons ended.  Let’s take a look at how they’re doing:

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle played a key role in his team making it to the second round of the BCHL playoffs with a Game 7 shutout of the Trail Smoke Eaters, stopping all 33 shots he faced.  So far in the playoffs he’s 4-3-0 with a GAA of 2.81 and .902 save percentage.  His Warriors will face the Vernon Vipers in Game 1 tonight.

Mike Busillo – D – Hartford Jr Wolfpack (AtlJHL)
41 GP / 8 G / 19 A /  27 Pts / 97 PIM
Busillo’s season is over as his Wolfpack were eliminated by Walpole in the first round of the AtlJHL playoffs.  He had a goal in three playoff games.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
39 GP / 11 G / 37 A /  48 Pts / 50 PIM
Gillespie’s stats haven’t been updated (or he’s injured).

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue’s season has come to a close as his Waxers lost in the first round of the playoffs.  He had a goal and four assists in five playoff games, including a game winner and a shorthanded goal.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union Wildcats (NE Prep)
35 GP / 24-7-4 / 1.63 GAA / .923 sv%
Mastalerz’s season is over after KUA lost in the first playoff game 4-3 in overtime.  He will be playing next week in the Beantown Classic next week.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
36 GP / 6 G / 6 A / 12 Pts / 12 PIM
Walsh didn’t have any points on the weekend .  His Saints are playing the USA Hockey Program tonight.

 

The Boston Hockey Blog has Mike Pereira as one of their top rookies in Hockey East.

Maine Preview

#14 Maine Black Bears 16-10-6 (13-8-4) Hockey East 5th

at

Massachusetts Minutemen 6-20-5 (5-15-5) Hockey East 8th

Wait a second.  Last weekend of the regular season?  How the hell did that happen?  Seems like it wasn’t that long ago I was sitting with my Section U crew watching so many of these Minutemen make their college debuts on TV against Minnesota.  But sure enough, here we are.  The last weekend of hockey in the Mullins Center this season.  And for the Minutemen, the stakes are high.

Luckily for UMass, they’re playing Maine.  Now that’s not meant to be a slight to the Black Bears, a team in the top 15 with one of the best players in the league in Gustav Nyquist.  But when UMass has done something historic or needed some wins, it always seems to come at the expense of Maine.  Of course probably the biggest win ever in the 90’s was UMass upsetting top ranked Maine in 1995.  The program’s first trip to the Hockey East semifinals in 2003 came thanks to a playoff sweep of Maine in the quarterfinals.  UMass made their only trip to the NCAAs by beating Maine four times in eight days in March of 2007.  And of course last year at this time UMass looked bound to finish out of the playoffs until they were able to go north and sweep the 17th ranked Black Bears at home in the last weekend of the season.  Things do not look as dire but the team could make it a lot easier on themselves, you, me, and all the other UMass fans out there if they just go out and win this weekend’s games.  And if they can play as they have the last two weekends, they are more than capable of taking a game or two at home.

To do that however, they’ll have to figure out a way to shutdown Nyquist, the reigning Hockey East Player of the Month for February where he scored 10 goals and had four assists.  Unfortunately, he’s not the only guy UMass has to look out for.  Junior Brian Flynn has 18 goals on the year while fellow junior Spencer Abbott has 15.  Flynn has been especially clutch with four gamewinners on the season.  Maine has a decent power play at 18.8% so that’s something that the suddenly struggling Minuteman penalty kill will have to figure out as well.

A few weeks ago the defensive story for Maine would’ve been about their deep defensive corps with guys like Will O’Neil or Jeff Dimmen.  Instead it’s all about freshman goaltender Dan Sullivan who has suddenly become the next Jimmy Howard.  In fact he’s been better than Howard, recently breaking the former UMass nemesis’ shutout streak. He went 202 minutes without allowing a goal, with a lot of that time coming against a top 5 Merrimack team (sorry, that still feels weird to type).  In Sullivan’s last four games he has allowed just one goal.  One.  Obviously challenging him, getting pucks on him, and getting him out of his comfort zone will be key for the Minutemen.  They absolutely have to jump on him early in Friday’s game and get him out of sync.

I’m sorry to report that UMass will be without one of their best freshmen as Joel Hanley will be joining Mike Lecomte in the stands for the balance of the season.  Yes, for the second year in a row the team has lost a key defenseman to mono, “the kissing disease”.  If only UMass had a BYU-like honor code where players weren’t allowed to be anywhere near coeds and thus the spread of germs would be lessened  (But then again, that would mean no Opa Opa in between periods in the Massachusetts Room, so scratch that).  Obviously that’s a significant loss for the team, especially since Hanley has been playing so well lately.  However with Anthony Raiola playing solid on Saturday Toot has options to fill Hanley’s spot and can choose between him or Darren Rowe.

If UMass is going to take advantage of playing at home in the final weekend of the season they’ll have to play a complete game on both sides of the puck.  Since giving up those 11 goals to Merrimack UMass has down pretty well in keeping goals off the board, relatively.  Teams have put up 3 goals a game against them in that time which is pretty good since they’ve been facing teams like Merrimack and Boston College.  The problem has been trying to score 3 or more goals themselves.  They’ve only scored 2.3 goals in that same time.  They’ve averaged 27 shots on net during that time, which is above their season average.  But they have to work on getting quality shots.  Too many have been from the perimeter with no one there to put in a rebound.  They have to learn to skate to the net and challenge the goaltender.  They can do that by put home skill wristers or garbage goals where they fourth hack puts it past the line.  But either way they have to attack the net.  It would also be nice if the team could continue their improvement on the power play.  After scoring just one power play goal in the span of 8 games, they Minutemen have scored 4 in their last 4.

Last week in previewing the series against Boston College I felt it was important for the team to play well because I was thinking ahead to this weekend.  While taking games from BC was a tall order, I was hoping for the team to just play well and prove they could compete so they could gain some confidence and momentum coming into this important weekend at home against Maine.  Well, I’m looking ahead again.  If UMass wants to do some damage and maybe shock a few people around Hockey East with their play in the playoffs, they have to first get there.  That means not only playing well enough to be in the game with a team like Maine, but to beat them.  All year long these younger players have looked up to the senior class for support and guidance.  Well hopefully they realize that it’s the last time those seniors will take the Mullins Center ice as UMass hockey players.  It’s time for the underclassmen to do something for the seniors and  send them on their way to the playoffs and out of UMass as winners.

Remember, triangles people.  Triangles!

I have great readers.  I’ve talked recently about being unable to get stats for new recruit Steve Mastalerz and two different people have contacted me with his numbers.  So here we go.  His goals against for the season was 1.81, best of all prep goaltenders.  His save percentage was .931, 4th in the league.  His record was 24-6-4 in the regular season.  He was named to USHR’s Prep All-Star team.  Unfortunately his season is over as he and his Kimball Union Wildcats lost last night in the first round of the prep playoffs 2-3 in overtime.

Another random piece of news, I learned that Steve Guzzo who messed up his knee on the eve of the season opener in Minnesota, has recently started skating again.

USCHO selects Mike Pereira to their Hockey East All-Rookie team as well as a runner-up for Rookie of the Year.

Maine is trying to get a jump on playing on the big ice. Interestingly Maine goaltender Shawn Sirman is sick which probably clinches the fact that UMass will see Sullivan both nights.

View From Section U: Thank You Seniors; Busillo Commits

Another Senior Night is upon on which means it’s time to say goodbye and thank you to another class of players who have pulled on that UMass sweater for the past four years.  This graduating class was perhaps the first to hit campus with some pretty high expectations as UMass was just coming off their first NCAA appearance the spring before.  Unfortunately, the team hasn’t made it back there since.  And even more unfortunately this class has had to endure three losing seasons and one in which they finished .500.  However, despite the overall wins and losses, this set of seniors includes some who, in my opinion at least, can be considered among UMass’ best ever.  It also includes guys who truly give it their all each and every shift, guys who battled through injuries for the good of the team, and others who developed slowly but are now playing big roles as the squad tries to make something of this season coming into its final week.  The 2010-11 UMass Minutemen might be remembered more for their freshmen, specifically the sheer number of them, than anything else.  But the poise and progress that those young players have shown as of late is due in some part to these seniors and the leadership they’ve and the examples they’ve provided.  And with that, let’s remember each one of them who will take the Mullins ice for the last time on Saturday night.

#9 Shawn Saunders
Saunders played sparingly his freshman year but made a big splash in his debut when he scored the game-winning goal against UConn in what was a much closer game than it should’ve been.  From the start it was apparent that he possessed great speed and the inability to take a shift off.  I’ve seen very few players that give their all for an entire game like Saunders does.  And that dedication has made him a fan favorite among those who follow the team closely.  While he played a majority of games his junior season, he has only played in a handful this year which also saw him sit out with some medical issues along the way.  Personally, I’ve always thought he should’ve seen more ice time in his career here.  It always frustrated me to see him as a healthy scratch in the stands while “more talented” players were in uniform sleepwalking through their shifts on the ice.  Give me the effort guy who wants it more every time.  And that’s exactly what Shawn was in my eyes during his time here.

#15 Brian Keane
Keane came to campus with some high expectations after being a regular participant in a lot of the USA Hockey events while in juniors.  I think that always made it tough for him here because he wasn’t able to live up to what fans thought he would be, but at the same time maybe they’ve overlooked what he was doing to contribute all along.  This year however he has looked much more comfortable in his abilities and the role he was able to lend to the team.  That’s been one of a key defender who has also been able to throw the body around here and there during games, adding a physical dimension sorely lacking on this year’s squad.  He certainly had some highlights in his Minuteman career, like the overtime winner he tipped in against Maine his sophomore year just 11 seconds into the extra frame.  With such a large freshman class coming in I wondered at the beginning of the season if someone like Keane would see playing time.  But he’s made his case to be an integral part of the team and his effort on defense will be missed in the coming years.

#17 Chase Langeraap
Langeraap is another Minuteman who came to Amherst with high expectations.  But that’s what happens when you put up 60 goals in 98 junior games.  Unfortunately inconsistency and injury through the years didn’t allow him to put up those kind of numbers.  In fact he went without a goal in his junior year, his second season shortened by nagging injuries.  However, like Keane, he has probably saved his best season for last.  This year he has shown a lot of leadership, lifting the inexperienced Minutemen with key goals when needed.  His 8 goals this season matches the amount he had scored in his previous three seasons combined.  He has become a player that both fans and his teammates look to offensively and they’ll being doing the same this weekend against Maine.

#18 Doug Kublin
If this season has taught us anything it’s that freshmen will make freshman mistakes.  Especially on defense.  Adam Phillips, Joely Hanley, Colin Shea, and Conor Allen have all had their share of flubs, which isn’t a indictment on them specifically, it happens to all freshmen blueliners.  Except Doug Kublin.  From the first day he hit the ice as a Minuteman he’s been amazingly reliable.  I have no qualms in saying he’s one of the best pure defensive defensemen in UMass history.  Good defensemen are sometimes like referees, if they’re doing their job correctly you hardly ever notice they’re there.  And that’s certainly happened with Kublin who is surely taken for granted by the casual fan.  But every once in a while he’ll remind you of his constant presence with a key poke check, sacrificing his body in front of an opponent’s slapshot, or even playing goaltender when Paul Dainton is caught somewhere out of the net.  Though the team has been outscored greatly in his four years here he’ll be leaving with a very respectable +/- rating.  Also, it should be noted that UMass has never lost when Doug Kublin scores.  Here’s hoping he scores in every game he has left.  It’ll be strange not to see Dainton in the crease next year.  But it’ll be equally as strange not to see Kubby standing in front of it either.

#21 Marc Concannon
Concannon’s combination of speed and grit has played a key role in all four years he’s played here.  If the puck is caught up somewhere along the boards, he’s the player I want to see battling to get it free and out to a teammate.  Amazingly, my lasting memory of him will be one of skill though, rather than the grinder we’ve seen night in and night out for so long.  Coco hasn’t scored a lot of goals in his career, but surprisingly a number of them have been anything but the garbage goals you’d expect with his style of play.  The one that sticks out the most in my memory was in Providence his sophomore year when he skated in on the goaltender and roofed the prettiest wrist shot you’ve ever seen up into the top corner of the net.  The Friar goaltender had absolutely no chance and us UMass fans in attendance stood almost too dumbfounded to celebrate.  He has repeated those types of finesse plays in the years since to the point where we now know it’s not a fluke.

#25 Michael Lecomte
Unfortunately Lecomte’s story is one of what could’ve been.  He was well on his way to a good career at UMass after his two first years when injuries struck in his junior year, derailing him right when he was beginning to have a huge impact on the team’s results.  After missing this past fall recovering from surgery he appeared to be the missing ingredient on this year’s squad when he scored 2 goals in his first four games back.  But in the fifth game back he got banged up and unfortunately saw his last action as a Minuteman the next game against Vermont in Burlington during January.  Would this second half of the season have played out differently if Lecomte was still playing?  Most definitely.  For a team that has lost as many one goal games as this squad to have another guy who can find the back of the net could’ve been a difference maker.  Mike had one of his best games in what was probably the pinnacle for this senior class when he scored a goal and picked up an assist as UMass beat #4 Colorado College to win the Lightning College Classic in Tampa.

#31 Paul Dainton
What I personally want out of a goaltender is for them to go into every game and play well enough to give their team a chance to win.  Sure it’s nice to have a guy like Jon Quick who’s able to play well enough so you can win despite how good or bad the guys in front of him are playing.  But those Vezina candidate type guys don’t come around very often.  No, I just need a guy who is dependable, trustworthy, and keeps his team in the game.  In other words, I just want a Paul Dainton.  Dainton will leave campus playing in the most games, accumulating the most minutes, registering the most saves, winning the second most (or most?) games, and being behind only Quick for save percentage and goals against average in UMass history.  First or second in every major career goaltending record in UMass history.  Why?  Because he has gone out there every night, from his freshman year on, and been a damn solid and reliable goaltender.  Every.  Single.  Night.  What’s just as remarkable  as Paul Dainton the goaltender is Paul Dainton the person.  Last night on the radio show they remarked that they wanted him on the show since he just broke Brian Regan’s save record last weekend, but he couldn’t attend.  Why?  Oh yeah, he was busy teaching psychology.  In addition to his studies he has given back to the surrounding community by taking part in the Big Brother-Big Sister program, something that got him nominated for the Hockey Humanitarian Award this year.  The captain’s “C” can look a little out of place on a goaltender’s jersey during those rare times you see it in the sport of hockey.  But those who have watched Paul play and had the chance to hear him speak will tell on his jersey, it’s well deserved.

Ladies and gentlemen, those are your 2010-2011 UMass Minutemen seniors.  Please make sure you do whatever you can to get out to Amherst on Saturday to thank in person these fine student athletes who have sacrificed their time, energy, sweat, blood, and so much more representing our state university for the past four years.

UMass has gained a committment from Mike Busillo, a 6’2″ 195lb defenseman currently playing for the Junior Wolfpack in the AtlJHL.  He’s due to arrive in Amherst this fall.  In addition to his decent size, Busillo has been the top offensive blueliner for his team with 8 goals and 19 assists in 41 games.  Busillo made the AJHL All-Star Squad this season.  He’s considered a bit of a late bloomer because he ended up playing high school hockey for longer than you usually see.

Here’s the press release from his junior team on his committment.

This December edition of USA Junior Hockey magazine has a feature on him where one of his coaches calls him a diamond in the rough and mentions he was being recruited by some of the top DI schools in New England.

I also got an email from a friend of the hockey program today who has seen recruit Steve Mastalerz play and had some positive things to say about him   And I trust this person’s opinion very much on this matter.  So legitimately we may have a three way battle for the goaltending spot, or goaltending rotation, next season.  It should be interesting to say the least and I still think competition for the goaltending spot is only a good thing.  The person was also nice enough to share some of Mastalerz’s stats for the prep regular season; goals against average of 1.63 (uh, that’s pretty good, huh?) and save percentage of .923.  I’m still not sure of his exact record but I do know Kimball Union went 24-7-4 with Mastalerz in net for nearly all of those games.  KUA played Kent tonight in the first round of the prep playoffs.  No information on how they did as of yet.

I’m behind on updating the recruit page with Mastalerz and Busillo.  Bear with me!

Dick Baker has an interesting post on the Mullins Center staff getting their asses in gear for the game (OK, he says it nicer than that).  It certainly was frustrating that they couldn’t get the scoreboard working since many of us were counting down until Dainton broke the saves record, but Toot had more reason to be pissed since his players couldn’t see when penalties were expiring.  From scoreboard malfunctions, to bad ice, to security staff who do nothing, to dirty (seriously dirty) banners hanging from the rafters, the operation of the Mullins Center has always left something to be desired.  They’d be best to take it away from the third party operators and at least give it to Isenberg’s sport management department to run.

Baker also says Gustav Nyquist is worth the price of admission.  Agreed.

People in the past have argued that Merrimack should be kicked out of Hockey East since they played in the equivalent of an MDC rink.  That’s not the case anymore.  People in the past have argued they should be kicked out because they, frankly, suck.  That’s also not the case.  I think some people will still argue that they should be kicked out because of this God awful youtube video.  They might be onto something.

Recruit Update; Triangle Time

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Boyle’s Westside Warriors are currently down 2-1 to the Trail Smoke Eaters in the first round of the playoffs.  Boyle has started all three games, giving up 5 and 4 goals in the two losses and only allowing 2 in their one win.   He has a goals against of 3.66 and a save percentage of .881 in the playoffs.  Though to be fair he could use some help from his special teams as the Smoke Eaters have scored 7 power play goals on 13 chances, including four of four opportunities in last night’s loss.  Game 4 will be played tonight.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
39 GP / 11 G / 37 A /  48 Pts / 50 PIM
Shattuck should’ve started playing after a few weeks off but Gillespie’s stats haven’t been updated.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
Unfortunately LaRue’s season has come to a close as his Waxers lost in the first round of the playoffs.  He had a goal and four assists in five playoff games, including a game winner and a shorthanded goal.

Steve Mastalerz – G – Kimball Union Wildcats (NE Prep)
? GP / ?-?-? / ? GAA / ? sv%
As soon as I can find a site that has New England Prep stats that doesn’t cost $130 a year, I’ll do my best to update his stats.  I do know the prep regular season is over and the playoffs start soon.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
34 GP / 6 G / 6 A / 12 Pts / 12 PIM
Walsh didn’t have any points on the weekend .  His Saints still have the best record in the Western Conference.

I know I previously wrote that Joseph Manno committed to UMass for next fall.  I did so after two different sources indicated that it was so.  However since then I’ve yet to confirm it independently and am hearing maybe he committed and backed out or never committed in the first place.  Either way I’m very sorry for reporting that he was coming if that ends up not being the case.  While I stand behind my sources in this case as they both seemed solid, the last thing I want to do is spread incorrect information regarding the team.

Rachel Lenzi of the Portland Press Herald has a look at how the Hockey East standings could shake out.  Rachel covers the Maine hockey team and is a great resource to follow for news on the Black Bears this week.

Another Maine paper though is already talking about the playoffs even though there’s a weekend of hockey to play before then.  Cart. Horse.

UMass, and specifically it’s tough time in one goal games, is mentioned on NCAA.com.

USCHO also looks at how the Hockey East standings could finish.

As I wrote last year, the triangle jersey has become the UMass hockey fan’s rally cap, to be pulled on when things look dire and the team is in need of divine intervention.  Despite the struggles of this year I’ve refrained from my calling of triangles.  Sure I thought about it after Merrimack put up double digits on the team (something that didn’t even occur during the 90’s) or when they dropped the season series to Providence.  But for the most part this team, despite their lack of wins, was surpassing expectations.  Remember, they were picked to finish out of the playoffs, as low as last place in Hockey East by some around the league, but have spent most of the year sitting in 7th place.  They’ve slipped a bit and find themselves in 8th now and some really bad things would have to happen both at home and around the league for them to miss the playoffs.  But the chance is there and so it’s time to do our part to make sure UMass doesn’t miss the playoffs for the first time since 2001-02.

So get your hands on a triangle for this weekend’s games.  Pull them out from the back of the closet.  Pick them up from the dry cleaners.  Buy one on eBay.  Borrow from a friend.  Hell, you can even try to take the triangle right off Craig MacDonald’s back if you can find him.  But wear your triangles come this weekend.  Let’s see if the tri-cornered magic can guide our Minutemen into the playoffs, to the Garden, and beyond!

Mastalerz Commits To UMass

Originally I had planned to write something about Greg Mauldin for my View From Section U feature but I think I’ll put that off for the time being and focus on relaying some information on UMass’ newest commitment.  Plus, I want to get a jump on my weekend preview tonight as well since I might not have time tomorrow due to potentially being busy with an important appointment (Blue Hills Brewery event at Union Brewhouse).

Chris Heisenberg brought news that UMass picked up a commitment from Stephen Mastalerz, a 6’1″ 200 lb goaltender currently playing for Kimball Union in the New England Prep League.  The North Andover native will be coming to Amherst this fall.  Kimball Union is 23-5-4 on the season with Mastalerz getting most of those wins behind a .928 save percentage.  Sorry for the lack of complete stats, but USHR continues to be outside my budget.  Last year Mastalerz backed up current Maine goaltender Martin Ouellette.

Other than that, I can’t find too much on Mastalerz.  He wasn’t even listed on Heisenberg’s site before this and he’ll usually have most of the college bound players before they’re committed.  That’s not saying Mastalerz isn’t a DI goaltender however.  He could just be a late bloomer plus playing behind an NHL draft pick doesn’t make it easy to get noticed early.

To me this looks like an insurance policy in case Jeff Teglia  and/or Kevin Boyle don’t develop into everyday players, either due to performance or injury.  In any case a little competition at the goaltender position never hurt anyone and will require all three players to play their hardest in order to see the ice.  What this means for current third string goaltender and fan favorite Kevin Moore, I can’t tell you.  Coach Cahoon did have four goaltenders on the roster last year with Paul Dainton, Dan Meyers, Moore, and Randy Wolcott.  Maybe he does that again.  At the same time while Moore is a junior in terms of eligibility, he may be further along academically and perhaps could be graduating early anyway.  Time will tell.

Heisenberg hasn’t updated his site to show Joseph Manno to UMass yet.  Not sure if the news hasn’t reach him yet or if I got fed some bad info.  Time will tell on that one as well.

Someone had asked me recently if the coaching staff had offered a scholarship to Malden Catholic’s Brendan Collier who recently committed to BU.  I can tell you that they did in fact.   But so did the rest of Hockey East.

Dick Baker profiles Peter DeAngelo and Kevin Moore in his most recent blog post.