Massie Commits to UMass; Yevenko Signs With Adirondack

UMass picked up a commitment, likely for fall of 2016, from defenseman Jake Massie.  Massie played this past season for prep school Kimball Union Academy where he was coached by former Maine coach Tim Whitehead.  Massie’s commitment comes on the heels of that of Brian Scoville, another strong prep defenseman who played for Cushing.

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Weekend Preview; Smith Commits; Falcons Ticket Offer

Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-2 (0-3-2) Hockey East T-7th

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New Hampshire Wildcats 2-4-1 (1-3-0) Hockey East T-7th

Friday in Durham will feature a matchup of two teams who have not gotten out to the starts they wanted on the season. That’s one thing when you’re a UMass team still seen as young but it’s entirely different when you’re the New Hampshire Wildcats and have annual expectations of success. So tomorrow the Wildcats will seek to build off a little momentum built last week while UMass goes for a couple points against what could be a vulnerable UNH team.

It’s unlikely any Wildcat fan expected their team to start off the year 0-3. I’m certain that none of them could’ve imagined they’d be outscored 14 to 1 in that time. Add in another loss to St Cloud in their 4th game and the ‘Cats found themselves 0-4 and outscored 21 to 6. But they were able to tie the Huskies in the second game of that weekend and have swung momentum to their side just a little bit in the last three games, picking up wins over Union and Northeastern last weekend. Still, UNH comes into Friday’s game sporting the second worst offense and defense among Hockey East teams.

Coming into the season it was thought guys like Stevie Moses, Kevin Goumas and John Henrion would help fill the void left by their graduating seniors. Moses has done well so far, picking up a couple goals and 5 points total, but the other two have only combined for 3 goals between the two of them. Nick Sorkin has actually been the offensive leader for the Wildcats with four goals and three assists.

Next to the lack of scoring the big surprise for UNH early has been the play of goaltender Matt DiGirolamo, who finds himself near the bottom for Hockey East goaltender statistics. A goals against average of 3.84 and save percentage of .846 is not what anyone expected at this point. What’s amazing is those are his stats after a strong weekend that saw him win the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week this week. They were even worse before. He’s likely not helped by a young defense that’s without any seniors.

For UMass it’s all about regaining confidence and mental toughness. They’ll need mental toughness to be able to come back from a wasted weekend against Boston University. And they’ll need confidence to be able to go into a tough environment like the Whittemore Center and believe they can come away with a win. Despite having similar records, the Minutemen should feel confident about the matchup. The Minutemen have avearged over a goal more than the Wildcats on the season and their power play is better than UNH’s and still 4th in the league at 18.4%. Defensively UMass has put up slightly better numbers than UNH in terms of opponent scoring and penalty kill. And they’ve done all this against a tougher schedule.

It would be nice to see UMass redeem themselves for a lost opportunity last year. In the middle of November last season UMass had a chance to steal two points from a strong UNH team on their ice. With just over a minute left Mike Pereira broke a 2-2 with his 5th goal of the season and UMass seemed destined to take the game at Lake Whitt. But Pereira let his emotions get the best of him and did a celebration dive in front of the Wildcat bench. Forty seconds later, motivated by what they saw as a classless move by Pereira, the Cats scored and ended up gaining a tie. As the season played out and into the offseason I found myself wondering if the season would have turned out any differently if the team had gotten that game at the Whitt last November and built off of it. Maybe tomorrow can be used to change momentum in this season currently.

#1 Boston College 7-1-0 (5-0-0) Hockey East 1st

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Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-2 (0-3-2) Hockey East T-7th

A couple weeks ago these teams met and, in a game where the score was closer than it looked, the then #2 Boston College Eagles dominated on the way to a 4-2 win. Jeff Teglia was the only reason it was that close, stopping 31 BC shots. Before that game I said that the Eagles likely had the best defense in the league. I take that back. They likely have the best defense in the country. And that defense completely shutdown UMass’ offense. T.J. Syner, Danny Hobbs, and Mike Pereira all were kept pointless. Hobbs only managed one shot in the game. The UMass power play went 0 for 7. The only Minuteman goals were scored by freshman Andrew Tegeler making his college debut and another by Mike Marcou during garbage time late.

Obviously UMass will have to improve offensively, both at even strength and with the extra man. UMass was held to just 20 total shots in that game and managed a meager 2 for the entire second period. The players absolutely have to work hard to put pressure on Eagle goaltender Parker Milner. At the same time it’s up to Toot Cahoon and the coaching staff to come up with the necessary lines and offensive schemes to try to overcome the defensive ability of the Eagles. The prior game featured penalties. A ton of them. 20 to be exact. With some added discipline and improved officiating, it’ll be key for UMass to develop a rhythm they never quite found at Chestnut Hill.

Since that game a couple weeks ago the Eagles have only played better. They beat Northeastern in a close one the next night but easily swept Lowell in a home and home last weekend. The Eagles come into the weekend with the top offense among Hockey East teams and 3rd best in the country. They also have the top penalty kill in the league and are second best when it comes to power play and opponent scoring. They’re led offensively by Billy Arnold, Chris Kreider, and Johnny Gaudreau, all of whom have at least 5 goals on the season. The only thing not to go the Eagles’ way this season is the fact that talented defenseman Patrick Wey is on the shelf for a couple months with injury.

Let’s face it, the prospect for a win on Saturday is slim. This is a really skilled BC team with young players who are performing much better than could be expected at this point in time. But UMass will have the home ice (slush) advantage and what hopefully will be an energized Homecoming crowd due to file in following football. If the Minutemen get another strong game from Teglia and are able to figure out a way through that defense maybe the upset can be made. At the very least a strong showing would be a good way to close off what has been a challenging and frustrating gauntlet of games against some of the top teams in the league.

Beer The Triangle
Despite the fact that I’m overdue for a trip to Portsmouth Brewery, I won’t be heading up to Durham tomorrow. Instead I’ll be driving out to Amherst to get a good night’s sleep before what hopefully is an epic homecoming weekend. The wife is calling for a visit to Dirty Truth in Northampton. Oh ok, guess I shouldn’t disappoint her. Looks like they still have a number of Octoberfests on tap, domestic and European, that I’ll be happy to partake in. Saturday’s pregaming will actually be pre-football and I’m already looking forward to the beer and grilling of Yellow Lot already.

UMass has picked up a commitment from 5’11”, 160lb left wing Willy Smith who is currently playing for the Springfield Pics in the EJHL. Smith started the year a level down in the Empire league but was called up to the EJHL team after putting up 14 points in 9 games. His coach for his Empire League team was none other than Rob Bonneau, UMass’ 2nd leading scorer. Smith was an Empire League All-Star last year when he put up 13 goals and 17 assists in 26 games. Since he’s so young (only a ‘96) there’s not a ton out there on him, but I’ll be sure to post more as I find it.

USCHO examines the frustration both teams felt from last weekend’s UMass-BU series.

Lastly, I’m very happy to announce that Fear The Triangle has partnered the Springfield Falcons to offer the loyal FTT readers discounted tickets for the upcoming game against the Worcester Sharks at the MassMutual Center. This offer was initiated by former UMass hockey play-by-play announcer Donnie Moorhouse who now is the Director of Strategic Sales for Western Mass’ pro hockey team. I’ll do my best to make the game myself, though it could be tough since it’s a weekday. But the hope is that this is an offer that will be repeated later in the season as well. Here’s the info:

Fear the Triangle readers have an opportunity to catch a rare mid-week Falcon’s game at a discounted rate of $11 on Nov. 16 as the Falcons take on the Worcester Sharks at 7 PM. The Sharks have a distinct UMass flavor with a roster that has featured Matt Irwin, Justin Braun, and James Marcou and includes other Hockey East alums like Nick Petrecki (BC), Sean Sullivan and John McCarthy (BU), and Ben Guite (Maine). The Falcons have Cam Atkinson (BC) and Wade MacLeod (Northeastern) as active players on their roster. FTT readers can get the discount rate the Falcons’ Paypal site by clicking on the button below and purchasing before Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 5 PM. Tickets can also be purchased by calling Don Moorhouse at the Falcons’ office at (413) 739-4625, ext. 102

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

Of course when this idea was first conceived Paul Dainton was in Springfield still, Justin Braun and Matt Irwin were on the blueline in Worcester, and it was hoped that James Marcou would be skating soon. As it turns out Dainton is in the ECHL, Braun is in the NHL, and Marcou will not join the Sharks until January at the very earliest. Still, the game is two weeks away and in the ever shifting world of sports, who knows who will join Matt Irwin on the ice that night. I hope to be able to join you all to cheer on the former Minutemen and Falcons!

View From Section U: Right On Schedule

The first thing I do every year when the hockey schedule comes out is try to identify which stretch of games could be the biggest detriment to UMass’ chances of success (FYI, that’d be right now for this season).  But being a hardcore UMass football fan and season ticket holder, the second thing I do is see how the two schedules match up.  I also go through the same exercise a little bit later to see how the lacrosse schedule coincides since I also have Gorilla season tickets as well.

I look for any potential conflicts that is going to make me have to choose one or the other between football and hockey.  Most of the time I’ll choose football at home over hockey away, even if the hockey game may actually be taking place closer to my house out here in the Boston area.  Football only plays a handful of games a year and plus the Section U Tailgate has become a great gathering of friends that many now look forward to.  Plus, if the hockey away game is somewhere like BU or UNH, which for a variety of reasons like price and environment are no longer as appealing, it’s an easy decision.  Sometimes it has been possible, if the football game is early enough, to do both a home football game and away hockey.  That’s exactly what will be attempted come November 19th when football kicks off in Amherst at 1pm and hockey plays in Lowell at 7pm.  Sounds like an excellent opportunity to reacquaint myself with Route 2.   I also able to look for the prospect of a football game playing at UNH or URI and a nearby hockey game, like what happened a few years back when UMass played in the Icebreaker at BU when they visited the now defunct Northeastern football team.

But what I’m mostly looking for are those days when the stars align and UMass fans are treated to a football game along Stadium Drive in the afternoon followed by a home hockey game that night.  As someone who, due to mental illness or perhaps some kind of virus, cannot get enough UMass sports, I love when these type of days occur.  There’s nothing like rolling into the McGuirk lots mid-morning, setting up the gear, having some good food and some even better beer, hanging out with friends, and then heading into the stadium for the excitement of the game and sounds of the band.  Then, after the last refrains of “Twilight Shadows” are echoing off the sacred concrete of McGuirk, we head up to the Mullins for some action on the rink.  If you’ve read this blog a whole two or maybe even three times you know I love my pregaming.  I look forward to hanging out and watching the loyal UMass hockey fans pile into the Hangar while enjoying the amazing beer selection and even better wings.  But you cannot beat a good tailgate, followed by the fun and traditions of UMass football to best gear up for a night of hockey.

That’s why the scheduling gods gave us a treat this year.  On Saturday the UMass community will celebrate homecoming with an excellent football/hockey doubleheader (tripleheader technically if you’re into men’s soccer).  Football will host Villanova at 3:30 at McGuirk.  The athletic administration has yet to say exactly what happens to homecoming when the home of UMass football is 90 miles away, so this could be the last true football homecoming in a while.  And it’s being played against a team that UMass has been in some tough battles with over the years in the CAA and prior to that in the Yankee Conference.  When the football game wraps up it’s up to the Bill we go to watch hockey take on the top ranked team in the country, Boston College.  Last(ish) homecoming at McGuirk, forecasted amazing tailgating weather, traditional gridiron opponent, hockey immediately after, hated in-state foe in BC, and they’re #1 in the country to boot?  You simply cannot ask for anything better.  Seriously, if you’re going to get in the car and spend a day at the old alma mater just once this year, how could it not be Saturday?

NBC Sports (aka Versus)  announced today that they’ll televise a number of Notre Dame, ECAC, and Hockey East games this season.  And when I say Hockey East, I mean BU, BC, and Vermont.  Um, ok.  They’ll also carry the Hockey East tournament, but it sounds like New England fans will still see it on a local channel instead.  It sounds like the league is still trying to finalize their agreement with NESN.

A couple of Fenway Park notes today.  First, Biz Jacobs reported on Twitter yesterday that sources indicate Frozen Fenway is officially sold out.  Second, there are rumors out there that BC and Northeastern will move their January 14th game to the Fenway ice.  Sounds good to me, it seems like Northeastern deserves a chance to play in the famous ballpark just a long home run ball away from their campus.

Last January I reported that UMass was interested in British Columbia winger Alex Kerfoot.  I even heard unconfirmed reports that he may have been in Amherst on an unofficial visit last spring.  No matter, he has narrowed his choices down to BC, Harvard, and Yale.

What?  The Minutesharks may be moving?  That sucks.  In related news, keep an eye on Fear The Triangle in coming days to enjoy a special opportunity especially for FTT readers who want to see their former Minutemen in action.

Recruit Update

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL)
3 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 2 PIM / +1
Gillespie didn’t register any points in his one game for the Lancers over the weekend.  He’s still only playing about every other game for Omaha so far on the season and I’m not sure exactly why.

Shane Walsh – LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
7 GP / 1 G / 1 A / 2 Pts / 0 PIM / -3
Walsh notched his first goal of the season in a 4-0 win over Muskegon.

There’s not too much else out there in the world of UMass hockey, so I’ll leave you with a couple links.

How often have you see a 7 foot,  Stanley Cup winning pink bunny?

The talk around Hockey East today was this column in BU’s student paper calling for Terrier Coach Jack Parker to step down.  Aw, poor BU faithful for having to go a whole 30 months without an NCAA championship due to Parker’s incompetence.

This is the only response I have for “Scoops” Mazurek:

Recruit Update

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL)
2 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 2 PIM / +1
Gillespie registered his first USHL point over the weekend, an assist on the only goal in the 1-0 win for the Lancers.

Shane Walsh – LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
5 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 0 PIM / -4
Walsh got his first point of the season the same night in a 4-2 for the Saints.

The Westside Warriors have an interview with Kevin Boyle up on their blog from last week.  It’s an intersting look into Boyle as a person and player as well as the current goaltending competition.  Worth a listen to. “Playing college hockey is my dream ever since I was a kid.”

Danny Hobbs was named the Ranger Prospect of the Week by The Prospect Park, a blog covering the Rangers and Islanders.  I can’t imagine that’s a fun get together with those writers congregate given how those teams have fared in recent years.  Still, it’s a very comprehensive blog and worth a look.

Not too much else going on so let’s take a look at how the UMass alumni are doing.

Jon Quick is picking up right were he left off last season, he’s 2-0-1 with a 1.57 GAA and .948 save percentage through three games for the Kings.

Casey Wellman has four goals in four games with the Houston Aeros of the AHL and is setting himself up for a return to the Wild.

Matt Anderson is one of the leaders in points for the Albany Devils with a goal and two assists in 5 games.

Greg Mauldin leads the Lake Erie Monsters in goals with 2 in five games.

Marvin Degon played a couple games for the P-Bruins but was sent down to Charlotte of the ECHL.

Mike Kostka has a goal in three games for San Antonio.

Matt Irwin has three points for the Worcester Sharks while Justin Braun has an assist in three games.  James Marcou has not played yet for them.

Paul Dainton has struggled for the Springfield Falcons so far, with a 1-2 record and 4.20 goals against.

Lastly, WordPress, which hosts this site, gives me the ability to see what people who end up on Fear The Triangle search for on Google or other search engines to find this place.  Most are what you expect; “UMass hockey”, “Fear The Triangle”, former or current players’ names, and a surprising number of “Fear The Triangel”s as well.  But a few are pretty strange.  Here are some examples:

“Fear The Trosngle”  Did the person sneeze while typing?

“Vermont hockey kicked out of Hockey East”  I hope not, those guys accounted for 1/3rd of last year’s wins.

“UMass Marching Band sucks”  SUD-ler.  SUD-ler. SUD-ler.

“Is the UMass Marching Band good”  See above.

“Doud Kublin”  Dude.

“Fear of triangles”  Apparently this a real phobia.  Must make it really tough to eat pizza that isn’t Sicilian.

“www.firekevinmorris.com”  I’ll let that one speak for itself.

“championship banner”  We need a banner.  A big one.

“משולש הפחד”  No idea.

“triangle beer blog”  You’ve come to the right place!  This is a blog by a beer guy with a hockey problem.

“UMass hockey boats on head”   This would seem like a really weird thing to search for, if not for this picture.

“maine vs. umass hockey east championship triple overtime”  Why do you want to see a grown man cry?

“players feel coach dean stork”  Hmmmm….

“zack larue vs joseph manno”  Fight! Fight! Fight!

“to root for something”  Root root root for the home team.

“3 things toot cahoon looks for in his recruits”  Having a name like Warner, or a close variation like Winer or Werner, helps.  Either being shorter than 5’7” or taller than 6’6”.  And the ability to skate through Mullinsish slush.

“when did the umass providence game end”  Honestly, not soon enough.

Recruit Update

Time for the weekly look at how the future Minutemen are doing.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL)
1 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 2 PIM
Gillespie went without a point in his USHL debut.

Shane Walsh – LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
3 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 0 PIM / -5
Walsh has gone scoreless as the defending champion Saints have gone 1-2-0 to start the season.

Dick Baker of the Republican says UMass got the result they deserved in the season opener (mentioning Fear The Triangle as he does so).  Obviously, I disagree.  Well, not entirely.  They did get the result they deserve, since letting up at the end opened the door for Northeastern to tie it, which they took advantage of.  My point was more that good teams find a way to win.  They get the insurance goal, they come up with the big stop, they find a way to clear the puck with just seconds left.  As a whole, this team hasn’t learned what it takes to win.  I think they will, I just hope it will be sooner rather than later.  Regardless, there’s still a positives to take from Friday’s game, which I think I covered pretty well in my recap.

UMass comes in at #33 in the first edition of INCH’s power rankings.

Here’s a promo for Friday’s opener:

Cannot wait to get back in the Mullins for some hockey.

Newcomer Of The Year; Recruit Update

For the two years of Fear The Triangle’s existence and back when I just used to post my hockey thoughts over on UMasshoops.com I’ve been making an annual Freshman/Newcomer of the Year pick. I’ve done so to varying results. I’ve mostly picked well, like choosing James Marcou and Mike Pereira to make early impacts on the team’s fortunes. But I’ve picked poorly as well, like thinking DIII freshman stud Ryan Leary would be able to take his talents to Hockey East. For the most part I’ve been able to use the information I’ve gathered on incoming recruits to accurately show which newcomer will do best when arriving in Amherst.

This season is tougher than past ones to pick just who that player may be. That’s not because there’s a lack of talented players making their debuts for the Minutemen. In fact the depth in this class makes a selection tough. You have guys like Andrew Tegeler and Steve Guzzo, who should be good two way players for the team. You have a newcomer like Oleg Yevenko who hopefully will keep opposing teams from taking too many liberties with UMass’ stars. But my pick for Newcomer OTY is Zack LaRue.

Now before I get into the qualities that LaRue brings to the team, let’s address the situation in net first. There’s a legitimate chance that the most impactful freshman ends up being a goaltender. However since we have no idea if Jeff Teglia will capture the starting spot or whether Kevin Boyle or Steve Mastalerz has a significant edge over the other of Teglia, I can’t pick either of them. I’ve read up on both and after Saturday’s scrimmage have now seen Kevin Boyle play three times, but I still have no idea if they’re better than each other or Teglia.

So with that said there’s probably a better chance that LaRue ends up being the freshman the coaching staff can count on right away. LaRue brings a lot to the table. At 6’2″, 194lbs he brings some nice size to a squad that has lacked that in recent years. But he’s not some lumbering forward. The write-ups of his play specifically mentioned how well he moves on his skates and his speed. His skating is such an asset that he was considered a top forechecker and penalty killer in the OPJHL. He led the league in shorthanded goals.

In the OPJHL he put up 33 goals and 36 assists in just 50 games. Former Minutemen Kevin Jarman and Chase Langeraap put up similar numbers in their time in the league. Now those two came to Amherst with high expectations that they really did not reach until their senior years. But in their final years they were key parst of those teams. It’ll be LaRue’s challenge to prove that players can dominate in the OPJHL and contribute right away in the NCAA. I didn’t see anything Saturday that made me think he won’t be able to.

If LaRue doesn’t end up playing the most important role for the freshmen it will likely be that one of the new goaltenders grabs the job and has success or perhaps a young Andrew Tegeler is able to play as well as his older opponents. But even if that happens I think LaRue will still play an important role in regards to the fortunes of this year’s team and beyond.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL)
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 0 PIM
Gillespie did not play in the Lancers’ season opener

Shane Walsh – LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 0 PIM
Walsh didn’t have any points in the first game for the Saints.

NESN previews this year’s Minutemen.

Dick Baker takes a look at the addition of size on this year’s squad.

Matt Vautour explores the importance of the freshmen turned sophomores.

Notre Dame will officially be announced as Hockey East’s 11th member starting in 2013-14.  Who will be 12?  That will be determined later.  I have some ideas for candidates but that’s a post for another time.  As for the Irish, as I said before I’m not entirely sold on the need to expand the league beyond the northeast footprint.  It saddens me a little to now have opponents in the league where you cannot drive to for the weekend.  But, such is life in the NCAA now where conferences are battling for supremacy and turning a blind eye to geographic fits.  The Irish program itself, currently #1 in the nation, is a great addition to the league.

Meanwhile, Bowling Green is off to the WCHA.

Unfortunately the Panthers had one last round of cuts to make and Mike Kostka was one of them.

Recruit Update

Time for the first recruit update of the hockey season.  However, first I thought I should address a question that has been asked of me and frankly one I’ve been asking myself.  Where are all the recruits?  As of now, at least according to the few recruiting resources available, UMass only has two players lined up to come to Amherst next fall, Shane Walsh and Kenny Gillespie, and none for future years.  This is by far the lowest numbers around Hockey East.  For example, Boston College already has 14 committed recruits, 7 for next year and the other 7 for future years.  Lowell has the second lowest next to UMass with 4.  Are players shying away from the school?  Is this a product of losing Red Gendron to Yale?  Is the word out that UMass is dropping men’s hockey in favor of a coed sailing team?

There are a few factors to consider before panicking.  First is the fact that UMass, due to early defections and other reasons, now have very imbalanced classes.  Currently the breakout looks as follows; 4 seniors, 4 juniors, 13 sophomores, 8 freshmen.  So UMass only has 8 upperclassmen in the first place.  And one of those, Kevin Moore, will not need to be replaced as UMass already has 3 goaltenders under scholarship for the next three years.  So all in all UMass only has three slots to fill for next year and have already done so for two of those.

Still, all other Hockey East teams have more than one recruit lined up for 2013 or later.  Should we be worried that no one is lined up already for those four spots that open after the current juniors graduate?  Let’s take a look at when the current freshman class committed.  The earliest was Kevin Boyle, who first committed to UMass 30 months before he ended up on campus.  The least was Emerson Auvenshine who committed less than 4 months before his freshman year.  On average the freshmen committed 9 months before the start of their UMass career and actually Boyle’s 2+ years is driving most of that, because the second longest is Zack LaRue who committed last December.

Looking at last year’s freshman class, on average the players committed 13 months before their freshman year.  Eric Filiou committed the earliest, 29 months before coming to Amherst.  Adam Phillips was the shortest at less than three months.  Phillips of course was one of the bigger (no pun intended) impact players last year, which suggests that earlier commitments do not necessarily translate to success.  Mike Pereira who performed the best of the freshmen last year committed 21 months before putting on the maroon and white.

So recruiting wise, even though there are only two players in the fold, things still seem OK.  Walsh and Gillespie are two quality players lined up for next year, and we’re still 24 months from the start of the 2013 season, which is a much greater time period than the team usually take to get recruits to commit.  And when that happens, I’ll do my best to pass along the details.

Now onto the update for the current recruits.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL)
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 0 PIM
The USHL is still in the midst of their pre-season, but so far so good for Gillespie.  One game.  One shot.  One goal.

Shane Walsh – LW –  Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts / 0 PIM
The official stats say Walsh has 0 points in 2 games but this story says he has a goal.  Oh well, I guess it’s preseason for the official scorers as well.

Adam Phillips was featured on INCH’s A-Z.

Paul Dainton made his NHL Pre-season debut tonight when he started the 2nd period of the game between the Bluejackets and Thrashers Jets.  As I write this there are 12 minutes left in the third and Dainton has saved 14 of 15 shots with his Jackets up 5-1.

***Dainton ended up getting the win, saving 17 of 18 shots.  Congrats Paul!

Here’s a good read on Jon Quick’s status as the #1 goaltender for the Kings going into training camp.

The first preseason poll is out and RIT is picked to finish first in Atlantic Hockey.  RIT got more good news when it was announced they’ll be hosting both Michigan and Penn State in coming years.  Congratulations.  Getting the Wolverines to leave the friendly confines of Yost for a non-conference game is near impossible for any team, much less for an AHA team.

Tomorrow I’ll be starting my Hockey East previews.

Fenway Tickets On Sale Tomorrow

If you’re interested in getting a seat at Fenway where you can actually see your favorite UMass players over the dashers, I suggest making some time around noon tomorrow to grab tickets for Frozen Fenway 2012. If the pre-sale that was made available to season ticket holders, UMass Alumni Association members and similar groups from the other schools is any indication sales seem to be going well. After waiting a couple days exploring other options, I had a very tough time finding decent seats in the grandstand or high loge of the UMass section for groups or 3 or 4 during the presale, indicating brisk sales.

Look for the the start time of the 11/11 game against Holy Cross to be moved up from it’s original 7pm start so it can be included in a doubleheader that will include the hoops team opening their season against Elon at the Cage immediately after.

Thanks to the reader who posted this mock 2012 draft which shows recruit Kenny Gillespie going to the New Jersey Devils in the second round.

The San Jose Sharks have a dilemma at defense.

Training camp rosters are becoming available. Greg Mauldin will be at camp for the Avalanche. Paul Dainton, who is currently in Traverse City with Columbus’ other rookies, will attend camp with the Blue Jackets. I assume Casey Wellman will be in Wild camp but they didn’t post a roster. I think we can say the same for Jon Quick. James Marcou is part of the Sharks rookie contingent in Penticton, BC. Glad to see he’s back on the ice after losing a lot of last season to a concussion. Adam Phillips’ brother Brad, who played at Notre Dame, will be attending Flyers camp.

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.