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Up To The Minute ▲ Assistant News; Recruit Update; State Of The Triangle

This will be a mixed bag of a post since there’s a few things to catch up on.  It makes sense to start off with this story that ran in the Collegian by Ross Gienieczko where he covers a lot of ground with Greg Carvel who has jumped into the everyday work of being the UMass hockey coach.  In the article Carvel talks about filling in his staff, Toot Cahoon, and the fate of committed recruits.

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2015-16 UMass Hockey Schedule Released

The Massachusetts hockey team released the schedule for the upcoming season.  Following an exhibition game against Dalhousie on October 3rd the Minutemen will open the season on 10/9 in the shadow of Pike’s Peak for a two game series with Colorado College.  The home opener will take place Friday, October 16th against Sacred Heart.

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Iacobellis Named UMass Hockey Captain; Nick Jenny Commits For 2016

The Massachusetts hockey team held its banquet this past Saturday where sophomore forward Steven Iacobellis was named captain for the 2015-16 season.  I can’t speak for his leadership in the locker room, but there’s no double he has been impactful when he’s been on the ice.  This past season the team was undefeated in games where he scored a goal.  He missed a couple games due to injury and I felt his absence as a playmaker was very noticeable.  I personally named him as my Underrated Player of the Year and  I think Iacobellis has made a good case for this selection in his two years in the maroon and white.

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Bamford Introduced As UMass AD; Recruit Update: Leonard Named ESPN Boston’s “Mr. Hockey”

“I am enthused to get back on campus after four years of being away from college hockey.  Hockey East is arguably the best conference in the country.  And that’s something that I want to help [with].  I want to help be the best hockey program we can be.  And football.  And basketball.  And I think we can get there.”

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Sunday Recap

A couple weeks ago UMass dominated top ranked Boston College in Amherst and were able to take a 3-0 lead on the Eagles into the third period.  From there the wheels fell off and the Minutemen would ultimately fall 5-4 in overtime.  This afternoon’s game wasn’t quite the same as the teams battled each other hard for the first two periods and were tied at 1-1 going into the third.  UMass went ahead 2-1 with an early goal but the last half of the period was pretty much dominated by BC and with two goals in the final 11 minutes, BC took the game and the season series.

After the first late loss to BC I pretty much chalked it up to the team getting tired since they were playing with only five defensemen after Joel Hanley was given a misconduct just minutes into the game.  However when looking at that first loss to BC, losing a 2-0 lead at home to Boston University, and today’s loss I think it’s safe to say the team has a problem closing games.  Specifically, given what I’ve seen and how they’ve played in games, this team seems to have a significant issue with late game conditioning.  This team just looks dog tired right around ten minutes left in the third period.  Opponent forwards are still flying around the ice but it seems like a struggle just for UMass to clear pucks in front of the net and get an outlet pass out of the zone.  The Minutemen have now allowed 11 goals from the third period on and only 7 combined in the first and second.  Whether it really is conditioning or something else, UMass is going to have a tough time beating the better teams in Hockey East without finding a way to hold a late lead.

With that out of the way, as you can imagine when the team narrowly loses to the #1 team on their home ice, there was also a lot to be positive of.  Frankly the team looked a little flat to start but I was really impressed by how well they rebounded after BC scored a power play goal just a few minutes into the game.  From there it was both teams playing hard, skating up and down the ice in an entertaining, up-tempo game.  Steven Guzzo had a great game, scoring the first UMass goal and nearly scoring another later on but was turned away by a spectacular save by Parker Milner.  Troy Power had a multiple point game, helping setup Guzzo’s goal and then giving UMass the lead later on.  Except for the late goals the defense again played well.  Joel Hanley returned from injury and Mike Busillo stayed in the lineup with Adam Phillips sitting out.  Kevin Boyle did well and net and certainly looks like he might have an edge in the goaltender battle at this point.

Overall, there is a lot to build off from this game.  This was a tough opponent in a place where the Minutemen don’t have a lot of success, but they scored a couple goals and did a good job keeping the talented Eagles off the board in the first 50 minutes.  With their power play goal tonight UMass has the second best power play in the conference.  And again UMass can proudly say they can play toe to toe with the best team in the country…almost.  Good teams figure out a way to finish consistently.  Friday showed us they’re capable of stepping up and grabbing the win.  Today showed us that they aren’t quite to the point where they can do it as much as they need to.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Troy Power
I’ve thought Power has made solid contributions on offense while playing on the top two lines so far this year so it was good to see him have a breakout game with a goal and assist.  It’s only the second multiple point game of his college career.  His goal also resulted in the first point of the year for Mike Pereira so hopefully the two of them paired with Branden Gracel is a line that will benefit all three of them.

Coach Micheletto says in the Republican game story that he’s not worried about the pattern of losing late in games.

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.

Sizing Up The Freshmen

This was a busy week for the UMass athletic department, what with football media day and such. So it doesn’t look like the shorthanded staff was able to update the hockey roster this week. Originally I was waiting see the final fall roster before starting in on previews but, probably like most of you, I’m chomping at the bit to start thinking about the upcoming season. So without knowing entirely who’s coming and who’s going, let’s start to take a look at this year’s roster. While most of the attention will be spent on the talented and deep sophomore class as well as the core group of returning captains as seniors, the freshmen will have a key role to play in this team’s success. Especially in perhaps the most important position of all, goaltender. So here’s a short introduction to the new players coming onto campus, what they bring to the team, and what holes they may potentially fill.

Forwards

Emerson Auvenshine
Auvenshine is the most recent player to commit to the Minutemen. He has spent the last two seasons with the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL, a Midwest junior league that seen as a step below the elite level USHL. With the Bobcats last year he put up 11 goals and 11 assists to go along with 106 PIM. The penalty minutes suggest he plays with grit, which is something that was definitely lacking with last year’s UMass team. The Michigan native seems to be a really hard worker, as Paul Teeple, broadcaster for the Bobcats, wrote about his perseverance in North Dakota that not only saw him make the team but become one of its assistant captains. Auvenshine will likely see some time on the third and fourth lines to help the Minutemen defensively and keep the other teams honest, but it’s always tough to know what to expect from players coming out of a mid-tier league like the NAHL. If he gets significant playing time, it’s likely because he’s working harder than everyone else in practice.

Zack LaRue
If LaRue isn’t seen as the highest profile freshman coming in, he at least is likely to make the most impact offensively. He’s seen as being one a strong skater, well-conditioned, can put up points (33 goals, 36 assists in 50 games with Markham of the OPJHL), and is also a top penalty killer. That description makes him sound a lot like co-captain T.J. Syner. The difference? LaRue is 6’2” and 195lbs. LaRue seems like the type of player who will be able to come in and immediately contribute to the scoring load, which is very important considering the team was 7th in Hockey East in goals, but at the same time able to withstand checks along the boards and maybe hand a few out. I see LaRue likely playing on the top two lines, mixing in with the likes of Syner, Danny Hobbs, Mike Pereira, and Conor Sheary.

Andrew Tegeler
Tegeler should also be able to provide some offensive punch when he hits Amherst in the fall, but for the most part seems like a solid two way player. Playing in the EJHL last year he had 19 goals and 21 assists in 44 games. Six of his goals were game winners which was good for second in the league. On the other side of the puck he ended up a +30. UMass has had good luck with two way players from the Junior Bruins before, such as Alex Berry. While not as big as Berry, it is reported that Tegeler is able to use his 6’1” frame to his advantage. I see the New Jersey native as getting solid minutes on the third line.

Defense

Mike Busillo
As mentioned before, physical play, or lack thereof, was a huge concern for the team last year. Busillo’s addition is another sign that the coaching staff moved quickly to address that deficiency. The 6’2” blueliner had 97 PIM for the Junior Wolfpack of the AJHL last year where he was an All-Star. He also proved to be pretty good with the puck as well, putting up 8 goals and 19 assists on the season. His 27 points led all defensemen on his team. Busillo adds depth to a solid, but young, defensive corp and while he might not be in the lineup every night, I do suspect he’ll play a fair share of games.

Oleg Yevenko
Again, size and toughness has been seen as a major area of concern for this team in recent years. Yevenko addresses both, in a big way. At 6’7 he becomes the tallest player ever for the program and will even have Adam Phillips looking up at him. As for toughness, playing for Fargo of the USHL he averaged just under 4 PIM a game and was second overall in the league. If anything, UMass fans are probably worried Yevenko might be spending too much time in the penalty box and his style of play may end up hurting the team. That remains to be seen. If you believe what Fargo beat writer Ryan S Clark has to say, Yevenko’s style of play will be an asset, even if it did draw multiple suspensions out west. I expect the big Belarusian to be in the lineup every night and having strong words with any opposing player who gets a little too aggressive with Syner, Sheary, or Kevin Czepiel.

Goaltender

Kevin Boyle
Boyle has been committed to UMass for a number of years now, which has allowed fans to get a pretty good feel for what type of player he may be. In fact I even got to see him play in person a couple of seasons ago. Boyle played well in the AJHL for a couple seasons, but last year went far from his home in New Jersey to play in British Columbia under the tutelage of former UMass grad assistant Darren Yopyk. While this couldn’t have been easy I think it was a great move to go against the higher competition of the BCHL. There, his play was, well, inconsistent (I know, I’m a terrible person for saying so). One night he’d get a shutout or give up a goal and the next he’d struggle to stay in the game. But overall he had a decent season going 20-16-1 with a GAA of 3.02 and save percentage of .902. In the playoffs he played even better but unfortunately an injury led to an early exit for him and his team. Still, he played well enough to be named to the BCHL All-Rookie team. With Paul Dainton gone and sophomore Jeff Teglia putting up OK but not great numbers last year the goaltender position is wide open. Boyle probably will be right there competing for the starting job.

Steve Mastalerz
Mastalerz but up stellar numbers for Kimball Union of the New England Prep League, going 24-6-4 with a miniscule 1.81 goals against and .931 save percentage. For all that USHR named him a prep All-Star. UMass has had pretty good success with goaltenders from the prep schools, with Jon Quick and Gabe Winer both coming from that route previously. Mastalerz already has a relationship with UMass goaltending coach Mike Buckley which should help him get acclimated to the school and college level quickly. He was pursued by multiple Hockey East schools before ultimately deciding on UMass. Frankly, the goaltender job is up for grabs. I don’t see any reason why he won’t contend for it.

While not a freshman another player to keep in mind is Stephen Guzzo, who injured his knee on the eve of last year’s opener and ended up being a medical redshirt. While he wasn’t able to skate again until spring, his familiarity with the system and his teammate should give him a step up this fall. Guzzo had 29 goals and 41 assists in 70 games in his last season in the OJHL, but will likely be used more as a defensive player. I expect him to get regular rotation on the 3rd and 4th lines.

So there you have it, your class of 2015. If anything, this class addresses immediate needs the team has to fill to be successful this season. Over the years the Minutemen have gotten smaller, quicker, more skilled. That has been a good thing when you see the production of guys like James Marcou and T.J. Syner. But at the same time strong defensive teams have found ways to limit how much damage those guys can inflict by being overly aggressive and using size to their advantage. That will not happen with this class. The team is bringing on skilled forwards who can score and move the puck, yet are over 6’. On defense UMass got bigger, a lot bigger, and will bring an edge to the squad that has not been seen since perhaps Steve Jacobs suited up for the Minutemen. In goal, the coaching staff have given themselves options. The goaltending situation will be the biggest story of the year. Fans will enjoy following how it progresses, even if it leads to some downright scary situations here and there. Still, if one guy isn’t getting it done in net, there are two others just as capable waiting in the wings. Some of the best goaltending for this squad just may take place during the week at practice as they fight for the top spot.

Nice to see Paul Dainton sign his first pro contract with the team just down the valley, the Springfield Falcons. Dainton did well for them during an ATO (Amateur Tryout) at the end of last season.

Stick tap to the reader who passed along the news that Darren Rowe and Troy Power, along with some other prominent college players such as BU’s Max Nicastro and Denver goaltender Beau Bennett, will be taking on alumni of the LA Kings this weekend. The game is a benefit for the Junior Kings squad, which Rowe, Power, and the other amateur players played for when they were younger. What? No Brad Norton?

Obi Aduba spent his summer playing in Australia.

Reports continue to come out that the Fenway game will be taking place.

Farewell, “Fighting Sioux”. I’m sorry the NCAA couldn’t see the difference between a name that honors and one that demeans (looking at you pro teams in Cleveland and Washington DC).

The selection committee has made a tweak to the common opponent part of the pairwise calculation.

Manno Decommits

Sometime in recent weeks Joseph Manno backed out of his commitment to UMass. This isn’t a huge surprise as his original commitment seemed touch and go with conflicting reports about whether he was or was not coming through at that time. Then there were rumors at the beginning of the summer that Manno was facing problems qualifying academically due to issues regarding transfer of credits from his school in Canada to his prep school in Connecticut. I’m not sure if that drove this decision or something else, but either way Manno will not be suiting up this fall. Coach Cahoon still has a sizable freshman class coming in, so someone should be able to step up and fill the minutes he may have provided. This could open up some minutes for an Andrew Tegeler or Emerson Auvenshine.

Reportedly Manno is exploring either catching on with Providence or going the major junior route with Saint John of the QMJHL.

Eddie Olczyk, Darren Rowe, and Troy Power are spending part of their summer in Sin City playing in an amateur hockey league there. The No Dome MacTavish’s (obviously a reference to the former Lowell player who was the last NHLer to play without a helmet) is representing Western Mass with two UMass players and three from AIC.

Congratulations to former UMass radio commentator Donnie Moorhouse who was named Director of Strategic Sales for the Springfield Falcons. The job seems like a great fit for the Springfield native and former AIC goaltender.

Lastly, in the last couple days Fear The Triangle reached 200,000 total views. Thanks to everyone for reading and making this place the central place for UMass hockey fans on the internet.

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