UMass Athletics:

June 2012 Archives

After spending one season with the UMass hockey program, assistant coach Blaise MacDonald has been hired as the new head coach for the men's hockey program at Colby College.

From Colby College's release:

Blaise MacDonald, who has Division I head coaching experience and has won national championships as a player and an assistant coach, was named Friday as the new head coach of men's hockey at Colby College.

MacDonald is the former head coach of Niagara University and University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He helped Boston University to a national championship at the NCAA Frozen Four in 1995 as an assistant coach. MacDonald, a 1985 graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, led RIT to NCAA Division II titles in 1983 and 1985.

"I am thrilled to welcome Blaise MacDonald and his family into the Colby family," said Marcella Zalot, Colby's Harold Alfond Director of Athletics. "Blaise is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in building high-caliber programs. He will be a great addition to our staff and to the greater Colby community. I look forward to great success under Blaise's leadership."

The Billerica, Mass., native was recruited by Colby as a high school student-athlete, but had never been on campus until his job interview.

"What a tremendous community and a beautiful campus," MacDonald said. "The people that I met were so genuine, authentic, and caring."

MacDonald is the 18th head coach in program history since men's hockey was started at Colby in the 1922-23 academic year.

"It's very humbling to me to know that someone like Jack Kelley was the head coach at Colby," MacDonald said. "Then you have Charlie Holt and more recently Jim Tortorella. I've known Jim for a long, long time and his values and beliefs (in coaching) are a very succinct match with what I believe in."

The hiring was also covered by several media outlets: - Former UMass hockey assistant Blaise MacDonald calls time at UMass 'amazing' - Former Niagara, Mass.-Lowell coach MacDonald hired to guide Colby
Daily Hampshire Gazette - Blaise MacDonald headed to Colby

Today has a great story about Jonathan Quick and former UMass goaltending coach Jim Stewart:

Following an All-America playing career at Holy Cross that resulted in a single game with the Boston Bruins and more than 20 years mentoring college goaltenders, 2006 was going to be Jim Stewart's farewell to hockey.

Stewart earned a 1985 national championship coaching Darren Puppa and Adam Oates at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before spending five years as a volunteer assistant at the University of Massachusetts. He was leaving the game to focus more on his family. But all of a sudden, a young goaltending prospect named Jonathan Quick compelled Stewart to stick around for one final season.

"My wife gave me the blessing for one more year and I said, 'You know what? Jon's going to be a sophomore, he's going to play a lot. We'll certainly be better,'" said Stewart, who simultaneously worked for the state's Department of Recreation and Conservation managing Massachusetts' hockey rinks and swimming pools. "It was hard to juggle all these things. We managed to do it for some time, but I was getting run down. I basically said I would do one more year because I thought Jon was going to have a pretty good year, and he did. Then I wrapped it up."

Under Stewart and UMass head coach Don "Toot" Cahoon, Quick didn't just have a pretty good year in 2006-07. He had a historic season for a program that was shelved in 1979 before returning to Division I in 1993. As a sophomore, the star goaltender from Milford, Conn., took the team to the NCAA tournament for the first time, earning All-America honors and setting single-season records for wins, appearances, saves and minutes, as well as career marks for save percentage, goals-against average and saves per game.

Stewart's final season became one of his most memorable.

Read more of Quick gave goalie coach a perfect parting gift

Globe: Lawrence's Torres: From Walk-On To Pro Ball

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The Boston Globe is the latest media outlet to cover Dennis' Torres amazing story from walking on to the UMass baseball squad to becoming a Baltimore Orioles' draft pick earlier this month:

Dennis Torres remembers the doleful look he saw in the eyes of his father, Denesi, four years ago after he had played his final season for the Lawrence Legion Post 15 team.

There had been no high school career: He was cut four times from the baseball team at Central Catholic, and no college scholarships were in the offing.

"I talked to my pops, and he was so upset he couldn't watch me play anymore,'' Torres recalled.

Now, the elder Torres will be able to watch his son pitch as a professional after the 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthander was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 28th round (852d pick overall) of Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft last Wednesday.

"When my name came out, it was awesome,'' said the 22-year-old Torres, who went from walk-on to number one starter in his third season at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He signed a contract with Baltimore Monday morning, forgoing his final season of eligibility, and will report to the Gulf Coast League for two weeks before moving on to the Aberdeen IronBirds in the short-season New York-Penn League. 

Read more of - Lawrence's Torres: From UMass walk-on to pro ball with Orioles

Popielarczyk Starts NEIBA All-Star Game

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Recent graduate Joe Popielarczyk represented the UMass baseball program in the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) All-Star game on Monday night in Brockton, Mass., starting on the mound for the University Division Squad and helping the team to a 5-3 victory.

The right-hander tossed three innings and let up just one unearned run on three hits and stuck out three without walking a batter.

New UMass football head coach Charley Molnar continues his state-wide tour with a stop at MacDonald's Tavern in Worcester on Thursday, June 14 from 5:30-7:30 PM. Fans can join Coach Molnar as he lays out his vision for UMass football both on and off the field as the Minutemen prepare for their first full season as members of the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Mid-American Conference.

The evening will include a Q&A session with Coach Molnar along with time to mingle with fans and alums of the University. Complimentary food and a cash bar will be available for all guests.

The event is free, but registration suggested. To register, simply call the UMass Marketing Office at 413-545-3870 or

Gazette: New facilities coming soon to UMass

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Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a notebook which includes quotes from UMass Director of Athletics John McCutcheon on the plans for a new basketball practice facility and upgrades to McGuirk Stadium which will include a new fieldhouse and press box.

If things go according to plan, University of Massachusetts athletic director John McCutcheon could be a busy man on July 1, 2014.  

That's the day the new basketball practice facility and football stadium upgrades are scheduled to be completed.  

UMass has selected the architecture firm of Perkins and Will to design the new football facilities building and new press box for McGuirk Stadium.  

"We're in the design process," McCutcheon said. "Of the bidders they demonstrated the best understanding of what we wanted to get done."  

The athletic department is evaluating bids for the practice facility. 

"The practice facility is still on track. We just received bids from design firms, but it's still on schedule and we're right in the middle of the process," McCutcheon said. "We'll work with the building authority to determine who we think will do the best job."

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on the success of Jonathan Quick and Victor Cruz and their meteoric rise to sports fame this year.

On Friday, Victor Cruz wore a maroon tie on his trip to the White House, a silent nod to the prominent color of his college (University of Massachusetts) and high school (Paterson Catholic) alma maters. Three days later, shortly after hoisting the Conn Smythe Trophy, Jonathan Quick thanked UMass coach Toot Cahoon and the Minuteman program during a televised interview.  

It's continued to be a good year for the UMass athletic department. Even after the Minuteman baseball team was eliminated from the Atlantic 10 tournament, ending the 2011-12 athletic season, its prominent former players are keeping the school's name in the news in good ways.

UMass has had alumni shine in the ranks of the four major professional sports before. Mike Flanagan won a Cy Young Award. Jeff Reardon was, at one point, baseball's all-time leader in saves. Marcus Camby was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.  

But none of them captured the attention of their fan bases like Quick and Cruz. In the nation's two largest media markets, the two former Minutemen not only found the spotlight, but have shined in its glare.

12. UMass (15-1)

2012 Final Regular-Season Rank: 1
2012 Preseason Rank: 12
Key Returnees: Will Manny (44g, 33a), Kyle Smith (33g, 19a), Colin Fleming (26g, 8a), Jake Smith (28gb, 11ct), Ryan Hollenbaugh (25gb, 12ct)
Key Losses: 11 seniors. Art Kell (33g, 20a), Anthony Biscardi (21g, 7a), Mike Fetterly (7g, 19a), Tom Celentani (32gb, 24ct), Greg Anderson (26gb, 5ct), Tim McCormack (7.09 GAA, 60.6%)

Three Questions:

  • Can the Minutemen repeat their magic? It would be tough for anyone to predict another 15-win, undefeated regular season, but this is especially the case with the Colonial Athletic Association's ever-increasing strength. Before UMass' NCAA tournament loss Penn State, Hofstra and Drexel gave the Minutemen a run for their money. Related: Will UMass consider beefing up its schedule with tough out-of-conference games? Despite ranking No. 2 in the RPI, UMass was given the 6-seed by the Selection Committee and drew Colgate in the first round; it didn't face its first tournament team until...the tournament.
  • How will UMass handle the loss of Art Kell and Anthony Biscardi? Tewaaraton Award finalist and Crafty lefty quarterback Will Manny and partner in crime Kyle Smith return, but fellow attackmen Kell and Biscardi combined for nearly 100 points last year. The nation's No. 3 offense will score, but defenses are going to pay more attention to Manny.
  • Who will replace Tim McCormack? The fifth-year senior and leader of the defense started 28 games over the last two seasons, and he saved 55.3 percent of shots in 2012. The heir apparent is Zachary Oliveri, a U.S. U-19 team member and highly regarded recruit. He's an outspoken, active goalie who will command the unit. Top cover defenseman Jake Smith, who went toe-to-toe with Peter Baum, will anchor the defense after losing multi-year starters Greg Anderson and Tom Celentani.

Lenn Robbins of the New York Post has a story on Victor Cruz who was on hand for the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York.

"Cruz is the man,'' said Jose Vargas, 37 of Puerto Rico, who said he's flown to New York for this parade each of the last six years. "He's fearless and fast. He makes catches across the middle and he can beat you deep. And he can dance, man, he can dance.'' Cruz, who was in attendance at the parade, made his touchdown celebration salsa dance a favorite among fans. 

As Vargas was lauding his favorite player a group of his friends and family, as young as his two month niece, Danica, and his 84-year great grandmother, Rosa, broke into their renditions of Cruz's dance.  

Matt Forman of compiled a list of players of Unsung Heroes through college lacrosse. This is how Forman defines the challenge:

The task: Compile the nation's most underrated, under-appreciated and under-hyped team of silent stars. These are the best players in the country who did not make All-American teams, and being listed on the watered-down, all-inclusive "Honorable Mention" list does not count. To make matters more challenging, only one player from each college could be selected -- or else I would have been tempted to pick every player not named Mike Sawyer and Scott Ratliff on Loyola, or not named Jesse Bernhardt on Maryland.

D - Jake Smith, UMass
Physical, tough-as-nails defenseman and leader of UMass' third-ranked defense. Held Colgate's Peter Baum to two late scores in NCAA tournament first round game. Picked up 28 ground balls and caused 11 turnovers.

Jonathan Quick Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Coverage

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Congratulations UMass' Jonathan Quick not only on becoming the first Minuteman to win the Stanley Cup, but also for being honored with the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Here are some select pieces from the media today that highlight Quick:

Sports Illustrated - Quick's breakthrough year, playoffs conclude with Conn Smythe Trophy
ESPN - Jonathan Quick wins Conn Smythe
Fox News - Quick is the newest star in LA - Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is playoff MVP
Daily Hampshire Gazette - Former Minuteman Jonathan Quick joins elite company

Globe: Mosgrove Scores Big For European Squad

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Marvin Pave of the Boston Globe caught up with UMass women's basketball alumn Cerie Mosgrove who recently finished her first professional season overseas in Luxembourg.

Cerie Mosgrove led the nation in 3-point shooting as a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst last year. Then the former Needham High star knocked down every challenger at the State Farm 3-Point Championship at the NCAA tourney's Final Four in Houston.

Her foray into professional basketball overseas has been just as impressive.

The 6-foot forward led T71 Dudelange to the first division finals in a women's pro league in Luxembourg that concluded its season two weeks ago.

She averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds per game while converting 39 percent of her 3-point attempts. Overall, she shot 49 percent from the floor and 88 percent from the line.

"I don't know how much of a role my winning the 3-point contest played in helping with job offers, but the additional exposure certainly didn't hurt," said Mosgrove, who set women's single-season records at UMass for threes made (78) and attempted (157) in 2010-11 while averaging a career-best 13.6 points per game.

"After having a fabulous experience in my first year in Europe, I'm not positive yet about my plans for next season or if I will be returning to Luxembourg, but I am certainly interested in going to Europe again,'' she said.

"We lost in the finals to a better team, but we were still proud of how far we came."

Read more of Needham's Mosgrove Stars in Luxembourg's Top Professional Basketball League

An excellent feature on Dennis Torres by the Springfield Republican's Harry Plumer. Torres signed with the Orioles this morning and will report to the Gulf City Orioles.

You wouldn't even know Dennis Torres played baseball if it weren't for the picture leaning against the wall in his bedroom.

Trophies and medals from years past are packed away in boxes somewhere. There are no framed cutouts of newspaper articles.

His career, at least at his mother's house, is nothing more than a ghost.

It won't be for long.

Phones have been ringing, text messages have been dinging and Torres' Twitter account has been blowing up since the UMass pitcher was drafted in the 28th round of the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles on June 6.

People are coming out of the woodwork to congratulate him. They tell them they always knew he had it in him, even though he was cut from his high school baseball team all four years. They tell him they knew he could do it, even though he never gave baseball a thought during his first year at UMass.

Read more of UMass pitcher Dennis Torres overcomes odds to be drafted by Baltimore Orioles

UMass softball signee Taylor Carbone recently had a four-day stretch of winning championships and collecting awards that not many people can lay claim to... especially when you consider she did it for the second-consecutive season.

The 5-foot-10 right-handed pitcher and first baseman at Alvirne HS was named the New Hampshire Gatorade Softball Player of the Year on Wednesday and led the Broncos to Division I state title with a 5-1 win over top-ranked Salem HS on Saturday. She won both awards a year ago as a junior also.

  • ESPN Boston, NE Gatorade Softball Players of the Year Announced
  • New Hampshire Union Leader, Division I Softball Championship: Taylor-made win as Alvirne tops Salem
  • ESPN Boston: Matt Torra Still Chasing Dream

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    Today ESPN Boston has a feature from Marty Dobrow on former UMass pitcher Matt Torra. In his seventh season in professional baseball, Torra is currently a member of Triple-A Durham Bulls and is 4-6 with a 5.02 earned run average through 61 innings over 11 starts.

    Read - Matt Torra Still Chasing Dream

    Training camps have begun in the Canadian Football League with several former UMass Minutemen on the rosters.

    Wide receiver Brandon London returns to the Montreal Alouettes while cornerback Sean Smalls returns to the Toronto Argonauts. Defensive tackle Brandon Collier has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after an injury forced his free agent bid with Philadelphia to end during training camp last summer. Defensive end Keron Williams looks to continue his strong CFL career with the defending Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions.

    Anthony Biscardi Featured In Ohio Machine Q&A

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    Entering his senior campaign this spring, Anthony Biscardi was drafted by Major League Lacrosse's Ohio Machine. He joined the squad following the season teaming up with former Minutemen Jim Connolly and Brett Garber. The Machine posted a Q&A with Anthony this week on their web site.

    Victor Cruz and the New York Giants will visit the White House today in honor of the Super Bowl XLVI victory. The big question posed by Art Stapleton of Will POTUS bust a move out of respect for the "Silk City Salsa" made famous by Paterson native Victor Cruz?

    That would certainly be a hit on C-SPAN.

    While Jonathan Quick prepares to help the L.A. Kings close out the Stanley Cup Finals, another UMass alum has put his team on the brink of a championship. Mike Kostka scored the overtime game-winning goal for the Norfolk Admirals last night in Game Three of the Calder Cup Finals against the Toronto Marlies. The Admirals hold a 3-0 lead in the series which they can close out on Saturday at 3:30 PM in Toronto. Kostka would be the first Minuteman since Matt Anderson with the Chicago Wolves in 2007-08 to win the Calder Cup. All told, over the last five years, three different former Minutemen have played in the AHL's championship series with Casey Wellman leading the Houston Aeros to the Cup finals last year.

    Video 1

    Video 2

    Former Minuteman Kostka Playing For Calder Cup

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    Not only is Jonathan Quick playing for a championship, but fellow former UMass hockey standout Mike Kostka has helped his team, the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL to the Calder Cup Finals. The Admirals lead Toronto, 2-0 in the series and play Game Three tonight, which is airing on CBS Sports Network and NHL Home Ice on satellite radio (Sirius 207, XM 92).

    Through 16 playoff games, Kostka has nine points on three goals and six assists.

    Jonathan Quick Stanley Cup Finals Coverage

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    Former UMass netminder Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings came up just short of the New Jersey Devils in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals last night. Quick had 21 saves in the 3-1 setback. The teams will head back to New Jersey for Game Five on Saturday with the Kings up 3-1 in the series.

    Here are several pieces from the past few days that have focused on Quick:

    New York Times - Quick Goes from Street Games to Cup Finals
    Hartford Courant - Hamden Showing Plenty Of Pride For Hometown Hero Jon Quick - American Quick leads Kings' Stanley Cup run
    The Canadian Press - Simply the best: Jonathan Quick authoring historic post-season for Kings

    Congratulations to Dennis Torres, who was selected in the 28th round of the MLB Draft yesterday. Matt Vautour had this nice piece in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette:

    "Dennis Torres' high school team didn't want him.

    The Lawrence native was cut by Central Catholic all four years of high school. No colleges wanted him either. Of course they didn't. Who recruits a kid that didn't play varsity in high school? Torres walked on at the University of Massachusetts as a sophomore, hoping to play third base. He wasn't even a pitcher until the Minuteman coaching staff saw him zip a throw across the infield.

    But the Baltimore Orioles wanted him.

    The Orioles selected the UMass junior right-hander four picks into the 28th round Wednesday of Major League Baseball's first-year draft. Torres was at Minuteman teammate Leif Sorenson's house in Haverhill watching the draft online and just before 3 p.m. after Boston College senior pitcher Matt Brazis was selected by the Seattle Mariners, the voice from the computer said the magic words: 'Dennis Torres, right-handed pitcher, University of Massachusetts.'"

    Read more of UMass walk-on Dennis Torres drafted by Baltimore Orioles

    Jon Rothstein, who covers the Atlantic 10 for CBS Sports Network, put out a good summertime piece on what to be excited about in the A-10 this season. His first item listed is on UMass junior PG Chaz Williams and the potential his play, along with the rest of the team, can bring the Minutemen.


    Chaz Williams took the conference by storm in his first season in the Atlantic-10 and only figures to be more of a menace in 2012-13. Potentially the Preseason Conference Player of the Year, Williams should give UMass coach Derek Kellogg one of the league's best back courts with he and talented wing Jesse Morgan, a 6-foot-5 wing who seemed to get better every team he took on the floor. If big man Cady Lalanne can stay healthy and form a potent baseline with Terrell Vinson and Raphiael Putney, the Minutemen should be in position to compete for a conference title and a berth to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a quite a while.

    Read Jon's complete article here.