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View From Section U ▲ Crunching Carvel’s Numbers

Ahead of coach Greg Carvel’s formal introduction as head coach of Massachusetts hockey I’ve been taking a look at some numbers, as I tend to do.  The story of UMass’ struggles in recent years was easily told through their statistics.  So let’s take a look at the Saint Lawrence Saints’ team statistics from Carvel’s four years in Canton and see what’s to learn from them.

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Carvel Era Begins ▲ Bamford Chooses Saint Lawrence Head Coach To Lead Minutemen

The state of the Massachusetts hockey program has fallen on such hard times in recent years that some have said it will take an act of God to turn the program around.  Well athletic director Ryan Bamford has chosen a Saint to elevate UMass hockey to the promised land that has mostly eluded the program in its history.  Today Bamford announced that Saint Lawrence head coach Greg Carvel is the new coach of Minuteman hockey, signing a five-year deal to oversee the program.

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Recruit Update ▲ Bear, Makar Win Brooks Team Awards

In my last recruit update I passed along the news that recruits Cale Makar and Matt Murray were named award winners for the AJHL.  Well recently the Brooks Bandits held an on-ice ceremony to announce their team awards and a couple of Minutebandits were winners.  Cale Makar was named co-Rookie of the Year while Shane Bear won Defenseman of the year.  You can view the ceremony here. 

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View From Section U ▲ Time For A Coaching Change

Let me start by saying that I think John Micheletto is a sharp, innovative hockey mind in the college game as well as a talented recruiter.  I have no doubt that he has spent the last three and a half years working hard to make UMass hockey successful in the competitive Hockey East.  I think he’s a well-intentioned individual who is trying his best.  I also believe that despite all those qualities he is not the right person to be head coach and after this current season, Athletic Director Ryan Bamford should look to someone new to lead the Massachusetts hockey program.

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Weekend Preview ▲ Minutemen Head West To Open Season Against Colorado College

Colorado College Tigers 0-0-0 (0-0-0) T-1st NCHC

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

The Massachusetts hockey program travels to the foot of the Rockies to open the 2015-16 season.  The Minutemen taking on the Colorado College Tigers to kick off the season won’t be seen as one of the marquee opening weekend matchups, but it is a very interesting one.  And while I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying whatever happens this weekend will be a precursor to the entire season, it should at least give UMass fans a glimpse of what the team may be capable of in the early going.

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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.

Up To The Minute 10/3

Tonight was spent at the UMass Club in downtown Boston surrounded by diehard UMass supporters gathered to meet new Massachusetts hockey coach John Micheletto as well as hear from hoops coach Derek Kellogg who is going into a season with some high expectations, deservedly so.  Overall I thought it was an excellent event put on by the UMass Club and Alumni Association (and not only because it featured by far the best beer selection of the many of events I’ve attended there previously).  There were easily over a hundred people there to listen to the two coaches and the hockey-type crowd featured Pond Club leadership, current Section Uers, original Section Uers, parents of current players, and overall a lot of familiar faces.

I was impressed with Coach Mick in the time I had a chance to talk to him.  Juxtaposed with the always boisterous Kellogg, he brought a more moderated approach to his remarks to the crowd.  But overall I thought he had a composed, almost professor-like demeanor that helped showcase his knowledge of the game itself.  What stood out most in my conversation with him was his comments on practices.  In most of the stories about his plans for UMass hockey and approach to the game we’ve read a lot about an “up tempo” style.  Previously I thought that was describing his offensive philosophy, but Coach Mick relayed that it goes beyond that.  It sounds like his whole practices to date have been entirely up tempo.  Not only are the players practicing what could be a more aggressive style, but they’re constantly going during the entire allotted time of practice.  Coach Mick said he’s not going to use practice time to have 15 minute whiteboard sessions.  The players will be on the ice practicing, skating, going through drills, etc..  I found that very interesting.  He said that, after initial surprise, the players have really embraced that approach to practice, something I’ve heard from other sources as well.

Other than that there wasn’t too much to glean from tonight’s remarks.  He did say he is familiar with the reputation of UMass’ student section, with his own memories of such going back to way back when the visitor section was actually where UMass’ home bench now.  I did take the chance to ask him what so many of you readers have asked me.  And no, so far no captains have been named.  I’m guessing he wants to wait until after this weekend’s scrimmage and truly get a read for who are the leaders of the team both in the locker room and on the ice.

Other than it was enjoyable to be able to talk about the upcoming UMass hockey season with others who are as interested as I am.  October has kind of snuck up on me as other aspect of life (read: work) have kept me extremely busy.  But tonight was a good chance to restart the hockey engine before this Saturday’s scrimmage.

The other major news to relay is that I have been able to confirm that former Boston College recruit Frank Vatrano is in fact interested in playing at UMass, something previously posted on USCHO fan forums and I believe also reported on USHR.  It’s probably not a huge surprise that the Longmeadow native would want to play his college hockey close to home.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that given the NCAA clearinghouse issues that prevented him from playing at BC and just the odd circumstances in general, there are a number of major hurdles to clear before he could ever suit up for the Minutemen.  I think it would also be important to vet out exactly what happened that prevented him from playing for BC in the first place.

Make sure to read this excellent story on UMass fan favorite Kevin Moore out of his hometown paper in New Jersey.  Moore has a tryout this month for Danbury of the Federal Hockey League and I’m sure I’m just one of many UMass fans who wish him luck in this next stage of his hockey career.

So the word on the street is that former UMass coach Toot Cahoon will be employed in some way, shape, or form this current season as a color analyst for Merrimack hockey games, though I don’t know exactly in what capacity.  Either way that’s a broadcast I’d love to tune in for.

I’ll leave you tonight with the following picture.  The ice is in.  The lines are down.  Let’s play hockey!  Note the new secondary logo at center ice, the Massachusetts state outlines in the red line, the maroon Hockey East logo, and 20th Anniversary logo for the Mullins Center (damn I feel old).  I also like that this picture, taken by Associate AD Rocko DeLuca, is exactly opposite of my usual seat. Feels like home.  Is it next Friday yet?

Northeastern Preview; UMass Preview Addendum

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

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Northeastern Huskies 0-0-0 (0-0-0) Hockey East T-1st

Let the season begin!  Sitting here watching the Bruins Stanley Cup banner go up is a great way to get into the hockey mood on this college season opener eve.  It seems very long ago that us UMass fans shuffled out of Conte Forum after the Eagles eliminated the Minutemen.  It’s even longer ago, all the way back to the third week of January, since UMass fans got to celebrate a win and there weren’t many of us present in Burlington that night to see it.  So not only am I psyched and hungry to see some UMass hockey, but I am flat out starved for a win.  And that’s just me, a fan.  I can only imagine how the returning players feel.

This will probably be an abbreviated preview since there’s not too much more to say than I already did in either my Northeastern season preview or my UMass preview from last night.  There are a couple pieces of news on the Northeastern side.  First is that they’re actually coming off a loss, dropping their exhibition game to St Francis Xavier on Sunday by a score of 8 to 5.  I wouldn’t get too excited over that result however.  Six of the goals were given up by their third string goaltender Clay Witt.  Chris Rawlings, tomorrow’s starter, only gave up one goal on 11 shots.  The more significant news is that the Huskies have suspended two of their better forwards in Cody Ferriero and Steve Quailer for incidents dating back to last season.  They’ll also be without freshman Ludwig Karlsson who is having clearinghouse issues.

Having two talented forwards out is an advantage for the Minutemen, one they cannot let pass by.  As I mentioned in my season preview after these three initial games the Minutemen get straight into a grueling stretch of games where points may be hard to come by.  That gives them that much more motivation to get  on the board with a win from the get go.

No news out of the UMass team tonight.  Nope, I have no idea who will be in net.  Though if I were a betting man, I’d say Jeff Teglia, only because I think Toot may give his returner the first shot at winning the job.  I’m guessing Steve Mastalerz will still be kept out due to whatever minor injury he’s fighting.

Not sure what else to say that hasn’t already been said or written since last March.  Time to stop previewing, forecasting, prognosticating, guessing, and time to watch some UMass hockey!

Beer The Triangle

I’ve already lamented about the lack of a good beer snob bar immediately surrounding Matthews Arena and having to settle for Uno’s.  I’m hoping to get into the city early enough to hit Bukowski’s which isn’t too far away.  I haven’t been there before but I liked their sister bar, the Lower Depths, when I stopped in following the Frozen Fenway press conference over the summer.  Looking at their beer list it appears they have a couple Jack’s Abby beers on, one of the state’s newest breweries.  I’m also a fan of their house beer, The Buk, which is brewed by Wormtown.  If anyone is heading there keep in mind that it’s cash only!

Amazing that I forgot anything in the lengthy preview I wrote last night, but I did.  I talked all about the players, but I didn’t talk about the coaching.  For the first time in a long time there was a bit of a shakeup on the coaching staff as Red Gendron left Amherst to take an assistant job with Yale.  Replacing him is ex-Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald which means both assistants have DI head coaching experience as Len Quesnelle is the former coach at Princeton.  Certainly Red will be missed, in terms of his abilities to coach and knowledge of the game, the great job he did recruiting, and how well he interacted with fans and boosters.  But, maybe it’s a good thing there’s a bit of a shakeup on the coaching staff.

Hanging around and talking with other UMass fans this offseason I think it’s safe to say that a good majority have lost faith in Toot Cahoon’s coaching.  Few have any qualms with him as a person or the job he does in turning out great student athletes.  But the product on the ice since the team made the NCAAs in 2007 has fans very concerned and frustrated.  Some of the most talented players the program has ever seen have put on the maroon and white in the past few years with little to show for it in terms of wins.  Unhappiness with the status of the program has escalated from just murmurs after losses to more outspoken criticism and even calls for Cahoon to be replaced.  Personally, I understand the frustration.  Hell, I’m experiencing the frustration up close considering how much this team dominates my life.  However, I stand by what I said before last season, that Toot should be given a chance to bring this current sophomore class through and see what they can accomplish.  That said, if this team, no longer able to fall back on the “lots of freshmen” reasoning for coming up short, doesn’t show progress and get some significant wins this season, I would not be surprised if there is full out rebellion among the fan base going into next offseason.  The pressure is definitely on to win and shake this reputation of underachievers that we’ve seen since 2007.

Matty V covers the goaltending situation.

Dick Baker has a look at Brenden Gracel and Troy Power.

The trainers for the Portland Pirates “prevented tragedy” in regards to Alex Berry.

Providence will host a regional in 2013 as well as Manchester, NH, Toledo, and Grand Rapid, MI.

Media Day Coverage; NHL Training Camp Updates

Today was Hockey East media day and, while I won’t be able to provide coverage as last year when I was actually able to attend, I’ll do my best to relay what came out of it.  As regular readers know I’ve been doing previews of the Hockey East in the past week and recently revealed my pick for UMass to finish 6th (though my true team preview will come later on).  The Hockey East coaches disagree and have UMass coming in 7th in the league.

That got me thinking, just how good have the coaching minds of the conference been at predicting UMass’ final standing.

 

Year Coaches’ Pick Actual Finish
10-11 9th 8th
09-10 7th T-6th
08-09 6th 7th
07-08 T-5th 8th
06-07 7th 4th
05-06 7th 8th
04-05 6th 8th

 

What does this mean?  Not much.  You can see the data is kinda all over the place.  Although the last two years the trend is for UMass to finish one place ahead of the coaches’ picks, so I’m feeling good with picking them 6th.  Obviously I’ll put my thoughts on the actual predictions themselves into my previews which will continue this week.

Danny Hobbs was interviewed by the Hockey East media staff at today’s events.  Hobbs has his eyes focused on getting to the Garden in his final season in maroon and white.

Coach Cahoon’s interview starts at 6:18 of this video.  Yep.  Goaltending spot up for grabs, as we knew.

UMass was picked 8th in the informal media poll.

Dick Baker says a lot is expected out of the sophomores.  Captain T.J. Syner states UMass is striving for much more than 7th place.  He also mentions that the power play has looked good so far in practice, which is absolute music to the ears.

Speaking of T.J., if you’re in the Forest Park area of Springfield, please keep an eye out for his dog Bauer.

A couple other previews to share.  First comes from the College Hockey Blog where UMass is picked to finish 8th.  The blog is written by Fetch, who is one of the more entertaining people in the college hockey realm of Twitter.

The Maine Daily Campus doesn’t pick the order of finish, but does say the Minutemen will surprise this year.

Paul Dainton, not surprisingly, was sent down to Springfield by the BlueJackets today.  There he’ll battle with RPI’s Allen York for playing time.  He’s also reunited with former teammate Obi Aduba who is in camp with the Falcons.

Looking around at the rest of of the NHL training camps, Mike Kostka has survived a few round of cuts and is still with the Florida Panthers.  Greg Mauldin was sent down to Lake Erie by the Avalanche.  Both Justin Braun and Matt Irwin are still in camp with the Sharks.  As is Matt Anderson with the Devils.

Marv Degon has signed with the Reading Royals of the ECHL.

Former captain turned coach Dean Stork brought success to the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL using a lot of college players.  Brandon Wong, Dov Grumet-Morris, Cam Talbot; these are familiar names to college hockey fans.

Media Day didn’t necessarily bring news regarding conference expansion, but did bring some insight thanks to Mike McMahon who has been all over the realignment story in regards to Hockey East.  McMahon also said on Twitter that if Notre Dame is added to the fold that people he talked to thought RPI would be the most likely candidate to become the conference’s 12th team.  Although I’m still not convinced that Hockey East needs to change their footprint enough to include Notre Dame, I do think RPI would be the best choice to round out the number of teams.  It’s a school with a ton of tradition (one of my favorite Bruins, Joe Juneau, played there).  Houston Field House is one of the great barns of college hockey.  And from Amherst to the Capital Region is equal to, if not a little closer, than a trip to Boston.

Randomness

There’s not too much going on in the world of UMass hockey these days, but here are a few links and stories that UMass fans may find interesting.

San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson was specifically asked about Justin Braun and his role with the Sharks going forward and had some good things to say.

Casey Wellman and the Houston Aeros are tied with the Binghamton Senators at 1 game apiece in the AHL Finals.  Wellman has one goal so far in the series.

Alex Kerfoot, a ‘94 who is being recruited by the UMass coaching staff, will play next season for the Coquitlam Express of the BCHL.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is actually going for his second cup of season.  Shane Walsh and the Dubuque Fighting Saints, of which Chiarelli is a part owner, helped get him his first with the USHL’s Clark Cup.

Toot Cahoon, energy resource analyst.

Less than two weeks remain until the Pond Club Golf Outing.  There’s still plenty of time to sign up to play.  If you don’t or can’t play, you can always sponsor the tournament personally or through your business (or blog!) and still attend the cookout afterward and socialize with those associated with the hockey program.  Click on the image to the right for more information.  See you there!

The UMass community is remembering Bob Paquette after he passed away over the weekend.  A UMass alum, Bob built his radio career in the valley and will remembered by many as the host of Morning Edition on WFCR public radio.  He also was very active around UMass, from speaking at commencement to doing PA duties at hockey during those early triangle-era seasons.

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