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Former UMass defenseman Mike Kostka, who made an appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year as a rookie with the Toronto Maple Leafs, returns to the postseason for the second time in his career with his new club, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning open up their first round action against the Montreal Canadiens tonight at 7 p.m. on CNBC. The entire first round playoff schedule for Tampa Bay vs. Montreal is listed below.

 Mike Kostka (UMass Years: 2004-08) - Tampa Bay Lightning
Regular Season Statistics:
 28 GP, 4 G, 7 A,11 Pts, 8 PIM, +10
First Round Playoff Schedule
DateOpponents Time (ET) | TV
 Wednesday, April 16
 MTL at TBL 7 p.m. | CNBC, SUN
 Friday, April 18
 MTL at TBL 7 p.m. | CNBC, FS-F
 Sunday, April 20 TBL at MTL 7 p.m. | CNBC, SUN
 Tuesday, April 22 TBL at MTL 7 p.m. | NHLN, FS-F
 Thursday, April 24 MTL at TBL (If Nec.) 7 p.m. | TBD
 Sunday, April 27 TBL at MTL (If Nec.) TBD
 Tuesday, April 29 MTL at TBL (If Nec.) TBD

 

Quick Headlines NHL's Top 10 Saves Of The Season

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The NHL posted its "Top 10 Saves of the Season" video on YouTube this afternoon. Spoiler alert: former UMass netminder Jonathan Quick holds the No. 1 spot.

The publication Stadium Journey has released its list of rankings of the arena experience for 57 of the 59 collegiate men's hockey teams that compete in Division I and UMass' Mullins Center makes the list at No. 11.

Click here to see the entire list and to read the review for the Mullins Center.

Quick, Kings, Win NHL's Jennings Trophy

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Congratulations to former UMass goaltender Jonathan Quick who won the NHL's Jennings Trophy with the Los Angeles Kings upon the conclusion of the 2013-14 regular season on Sunday. The Jennings award goes to "the goalkeeper(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it."

Quick is the first member of the Kings to capture the Jennings Trophy and won it outright when the Boston Bruins allowed three goals Sunday in their final game of the season, bringing their total to 177. Los Angeles allowed 174 goals this season.

Read more: Los Angeles Times - Kings' Jonathan Quick wins NHL's Jennings Trophy

Jonathan Quick Surprises Big Fan On "Ellen" TV Show

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Check out this awesome clip from "Ellen" where UMass' own Jonathan Quick surprises young fan Daniel Clarke Bouchard, a 12-year-old Montreal native and piano prodigy who already has played Carnegie Hall.

Quick Named ECHL Alumnus of the Month

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Congratulations to former UMass hockey goaltender and current Los Angeles King Jonathan Quick who has been named the MeiGray Group ECHL Alumnus of the Month for March.

Quick appeared in 38 games for the Reading Royals in the 2007-08 season going 23-11-3 with one shutout, a 2.79 goals-against average and a save percentage of .905. He became the ninth goaltender in ECHL history to score a goal on Oct. 24, 2007 against Pensacola.

Read the ECHL's full release here.

Quick breaks Kings win record in shutout of Panthers

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Congratulations to former UMass goaltender Jonathan Quick who broke the Los Angeles Kings' franchise record for regular season victories with his 172nd career win over the weekend


Quick also added another to his growing highlight reel Saturday afternoon with one of the top glove saves of the season. Video of the save is below from NHL.com:

UMass hockey commit Brandon Montour, who signed with the Minutemen last November, is highlighted in the most recent Prospector Files on NHL.com, which lists a First Team draft-eligible pick six series at each position from the major junior and international ranks.

Here is the portion of the piece that mentions Montour:

Committed to the University of Massachusetts, Montour leads all defensemen in the league with 52 points and is third with a plus-30 rating in 53 games for the Black Hawks. The 5-11, 186-pound right-hander is No. 186 on Central Scouting's midterm rankings. He also has five goals and 22 points on the power play.

Rajanen likes what he sees in Montour, whose ambition outside of hockey is to become an architect.

"He is having a great year; very solid puck play," Rajanen said. "He's producing points and has some bite to his game. I believe he's a solid defender and good prospect."

Read more: Prospector Files: USHL draft-eligible All-Star team

UMass Hockey In The AHL

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Here's a look at what's on tap for the American Hockey League teams with former Minutemen on their roster for this coming weekend:

Conor Allen (Hartford Wolf Pack) - 3/21 vs. St. Johns (7 PM), 3/22 at Adirondack (7 PM)
Joel Hanley (Portland Pirates) - 3/23 at Bridgeport (3 PM) - Listen
Danny Hobbs (Binghamton Senators) - 3/21 at Norfolk (7:30 PM), 3/22 at Norfolk (7:15 PM) - Listen
Michael Pereira (Worcester Sharks) - 3/21 vs. Springfield (7:30 PM), 3/22 vs. Hershey (7 PM) - Listen
Conor Sheary (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) - 3/21 at Syracuse (7 PM), 3/22 vs. Utica (7:05 PM), 3/23 at Albany (4 PM) - Listen 
Casey Wellman (Hershey Bears) - 3/21 at Providence (7:05 PM), 3/22 at Worcester (7 PM), 3/23 at Manchester (3 PM) - Listen

Live stats for all games can be found on TheAHL.com
Congratulations to former UMass goaltender Jonathan Quick who stopped two of three Washington Capitals' attempts in the shootout last night to tie Rogie Vachon for the Los Angeles franchise record with his 171st career win. Quick is now 171-115 over 326 games with the Kings.

Read more here:
NHL.com: Kings top Capitals in shootout for Sutter's 500th win
Los Angeles Times: Kings grind out historic milestones in 2-1 shootout win over Capitals

The Worcester Sharks have posted video highlights of Sunday's 5-1 win over the Manchester Monarchs, which includes former Minuteman Michael Pereira's first professional goal.

Watch the video "Sharks vs. Manchester 3/16/14" here (clip of Pereira's goal begins around the 1:50 mark

Nick Canelas spoke with UMass hockey senior Michael Pereira over the weekend after Pereira made his professional debut with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL.

Read: Former UMass hockey standout Michael Pereira seizes opportunity in unexpected AHL debut weekend

Late last week, Nick Canelas spoke with UMass hockey senior Conor Sheary, who recently signed with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins of the AHL.

Read: Conor Sheary out to 'prove people wrong again' after signing AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre Scranton

LA Kings Insider: Rogie and Quick

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Jon Rosen from LA Kings Insider has this piece on LAKings.com, talking with former Kings' goaltender Rogie Vachon about UMass hockey alum, current King, Jonathan Quick. Vachon won a franchise record 171 games with the Kings between 1971 and 1978 and Quick is on the verge of breaking Vachon's record, currently with 170 victories.

Read: Rogie and Quick

LISTEN LIVE: Joel Hanley Makes Pro Debut With Portland

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Earlier today, it was announced that senior defenseman Joel Hanley has signed a PTO with the Portland Pirates.

Hanley is in the lineup tonight as the Pirates take on the St. John's IceCaps. The game is currently scoreless at the first intermission and can be heard live, for free, here.

Former UMass standout Casey Wellman has once again been called up to the NHL's Washington Capitals this season from the Hershey Bears - the AHL affiliate.

Wellman has 2 goals and an assist in 10 games with the Caps this season. In 46 games with the Bears, he has 29 points on 15 goals and 14 assists.




Former UMass All-American Justin Braun played in his 200th NHL game on Saturday as San Jose defeated Montreal 4-0. Braun has been a regular with the Sharks since the 2010-11 and is on pace to log a career high in games played this season. He had 66 total appearances in 2011-12 and has 65 this season.

Quick On 5-Game Win Streak For L.A. Kings Since Olympic Games

A recent study has shown that goal scoring for players in the NHL declines after participation in the Winter Olympics. Whether it's that or just that Jonathan Quick is in a groove, the former UMass standout has now won five consecutive games for the L.A. Kings giving up an average of 1.0 goals per game.

He has a six-game win streak in hand having won a game before the Olympic games and is 21-13 overall this season. His 2.02 GAA is 2nd among goalies in the NHL this year.

Nick Forrester of the International Business Times has former UMass All-American and current L.A. Kings netminder Jonathan Quick as the 4th best player in the NHL this season. Forrester composed a list of the top 50 NHL players for the 2013-14 campaign.

UMass hockey opens play in the Hockey East tournament tonight, Friday, March 7, at Vermont at 7:05 p.m. in a game that will be televised on NESN. Here's all the info on how to follow tonight's action:


  Massachusetts (8-21-4) at #15 Vermont (18-12-3)
 Date Friday, March 7 at 7:05 p.m. (EST)
 Location Burlington, Vt. | Gutterson Field House (4,003)
 Tickets  802-656-4410 |  Buy Tickets
 TV  NESN
 Radio   WHMP (AM 1400/1240/FM 96.9) | Download TuneIn App
 Online Video  None
 Promotions/Special Events  None
 Live Stats  SideArmSports
 Social Media
 @UMassAthletics | @UMassHockey
 Game Notes  Massachusetts Notes | Vermont Notes
Matt Vautour had this preview of UMass hockey's first round playoff matchup at Vermont in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette. The game will mark the collegiate debut of redshirt freshman Frank Vatrano.

Frank Vatrano, UMass head to Vermont for Hockey East tournament opener

VIDEO: UMass Hockey First Round Playoff Preview

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Check out the preview of UMass hockey's first round Hockey East Tournament matchup at Vermont. The Minutemen will take on the Catamounts tomorrow night, Mar. 7, at 7:05 p.m. on NESN.

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a story examining UMass hockey's senior class and the value it associates with this season's Hockey East Tournament.

Cameron McDonough of the Daily Collegian has a preview of this Friday's Hockey East Tournament matchup between UMass and Vermont.

Podcast: Bud Light UMass Hockey Show (March 4)

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Check out the podcast of last night's Bud Light UMass Hockey show, featuring Brock Hines with head coach John Micheletto and player guests senior co-captain Conor Sheary and redshirt freshman Frank Vatrano.

Bud Light UMass Hockey Show Tonight (Mar. 4)

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The final Bud Light UMass Hockey Show of the 2013-14 season will air tonight, March 4, live from the Hangar Pub & Grill on University Drive in Amherst at 7 p.m.
   

Brock Hines will be joined by head coach John Micheletto as well as player guests senior co-captain Conor Sheary and redshirt freshman Frank Vatrano with a look ahead to the Hockey East Tournament, which will open for the Minutemen this Friday night at Vermont.

Fans can submit questions for Coach Micheletto to answer on air via the Ask The Coach Page or through Twitter by tweeting @UMassSportsNet. Listen over the air on WHMP (AM 1400/1240, FM 96.9), online, or on mobile devices through the TuneIn Radio app.

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a notebook today looking at the announcement of the 2014 UMass football schedule, a preview of the Hockey East playoff game for UMass at Vermont, an update on men's lacrosse moving up in the national polls and an announcement that NBC Sports has added several television games for the Atlantic 10 basketball tournament.

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a feature story on Frank Vatrano who will be eligible to play for the UMass hockey team this week as the Hockey East Playoffs begin at Vermont. Vatrano had to miss the regular-season due to transfer rules.

CHN: Conor Sheary Fighting To The End

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Off the ice, Conor Sheary is pretty unassuming.

"He's a real mellow guy," teammate Michael Pereira said. "He comes off as a quiet and humble and nose-to-the-grindstone type kid. But when he gets down to the rink, he means business."

Notoriously competitive and difficult to play against, Sheary has attracted a lot of attention on the ice lately in what's been an otherwise down year for Massachusetts. He posted an eight-game point streak from Jan. 24 to Feb. 21, totaling five goals and five assists. Over that span, he also strung together a five-game goal streak despite facing two of the top goalies in college hockey, Northeastern's Clay Witt and Massachusetts-Lowell's Connor Hellebuyck, twice each.

"He's just continued to will our team to keep moving forward and stay in games," head coach John Micheletto said. "He's scored some big goals during that stretch."

Read more: Fighting To the End - Sheary a Bright Spot for Massachusetts

Collegian: Don't count out UMass hockey in a playoff game

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With UMass hockey entering a bye weekend in the final weekend of the regular season, awaiting its first round playoff opponent, Nick Canelas took a look ahead at the postseason in his column today for the Daily Collegian:

Daily Collegian - Canelas: Don't count out UMass hockey in a playoff game

VIDEO: Check Out The 2014 UMass Hockey Senior Class Highlight Video

If you weren't able to be at last Saturday night's hockey game for Senior Night, here is the tribute video to this year's senior class which was honored prior to the opening puck drop.

2014 HOCKEY SENIOR CLASS HIGHLIGHT VIDEO

Collegian: Don't count out UMass hockey in a playoff game

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has an editorial in today's paper saying not to look past the UMass hockey team when the Hockey East Playoffs start up. He says half of the team's losses were by one goal and the addition of Frank Vatrano to the lineup are reasons why UMass can be a scary team in the conference's opening one-game playoff round.

Former Minuteman Carzo Traded To Ontario

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UMass hockey alum Rocco Carzo has been traded from the Florida Everblades to the Ontario Reign, it was announced earlier today.

Read about Carzo's successful rookie campaign and the trade here.

Mike Kostka Claimed Off Waivers By Tampa Bay

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have claimed former UMass defenseman Mike Kostka off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks, Lightning vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced on Sunday.

Lightning Claim Defenseman Mike Kostka Off Waivers
Tampa Bay Times: Defenseman Mike Kostka claimed off waivers

VIDEO: Preview Of UMass Hockey's Weekend Series With Providence

Lauren Rose previews the weekend's Hockey East matchups with Providence with head coach John Micheletto.


 Massachusetts (8-19-4, 4-11-3 HEA)
 at #12 Providence (15-9-6, 7-7-2 HEA)
 Date Friday, Feb. 21 at 7:00 p.m. (EST)
 Location Providence, R.I. | Schneider Arena (6,496)
 Tickets401-865-GOPC |  Buy Tickets
 TVCox
 Radio  WHMP AM 1400/1240/FM 96.9
 Online Video watch Cox Sports
 Promotions Senior Night
 Live Stats GameTracker
 Social Media @UMassAthletics | @UMassHockey
 Game Notes Massachusetts Notes | Providence Notes
 Massachusetts (8-19-4, 4-11-3 HEA)
 vs. #12 Providence (15-9-6, 7-7-2 HEA)
 Date Saturday, Feb. 22 at 7:00 p.m. (EST)
 Location Amherst, Mass. | Mullins Center (8,373)
 Tickets 866-UMASS-TIX |  Buy Tickets
 TV None
 Radio  WHMP AM 1400/1240/FM 96.9
 Online Video watch UMass All-Access
 Promotions Senior Night
 Live Stats GameTracker
 Social Media @UMassAthletics | @UMassHockey
 Game Notes Massachusetts Notes | Providence Notes




CollegeSpun.com has a quick look at an image tweeted out by NBC Sports today which shows off the back of Jonathan Quick's helmet for the Olympics. It features the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier on the back.

View image on Twitter


Yahoo!Sports has a collection of photos from today's Olympic semifinal game between the USA hockey team and Canada. UMass' Jonathan Quick is featured prominently in the 100 photo gallery.

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a preview of this weekend's regular-season finale series with Providence.

Collegian: UMass hockey to close out regular-season against Providence

Cameron McDonough of the Daily Collegian has a preview of this weekend's series with Providence. The series will start at Providence on Friday night before returning to the Mullins Center on Saturday night. Prior to Saturday's game, UMass will honor its 2014 Senior Class.

Wellman Once Again Recalled by Washington Capitals

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NHL teams returned to practice after their Olympic break ended Wednesday, and with several Washington Capitals still participating at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the Caps found themselves a little thin at forward.

Because of that, Washington recalled centers Michael Latta, Ryan Stoa and Casey Wellman from the AHL's Hershey Bears on Thursday morning.

Read more: Washington Capitals recall Cs Michael Latta, Ryan Stoa and Casey Wellman from Hershey Bears

The puck went in, T.J. Oshie turned and skated back toward the American bench, and before he could cement himself as the early favorite for America's Olympic hero, he stopped and pointed a big gloved finger in the air back towards his own goal, where Jonathan Quick came charging forth.

"We don't get the win without Quickie shutting the door there," Oshie told NBC Saturday, just moments after he went 4-for-6 in the shootout, including five turns in a row, en route to a 3-2 win over the hometown Russians in Sochi.

Yet as Oshie was receiving all the acclaim, his first response was to credit Quick, the Los Angeles Kings netminder who stopped Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin, not just in the shootout but in the hard-fought 65 minutes prior, and gave the first week of games its defining moment.

Read more: US counting on Quick in net entering medal rounds

Quick To Start For USA Vs. Czech Republic (WED - 12 PM)

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After being given a game's rest as Team USA wrapped up pool play, former Minuteman Jonathan Quick will be back between the pipes for the U.S. squad on Wednesday against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals at Noon (Eastern) on USA Network.

Bud Light UMass Hockey Show Tonight (7 PM)

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The Bud Light UMass Hockey Show is back at The Hangar Pub and Grill on University Drive in Amherst tonight at 7 p.m. Player guests will be seniors Peter DeAngelo and Branden Gracel.

Join us in person or listen online.

Click here to submit a question for the "Ask Coach" segment with head coach John Micheletto or submit one via Twitter @UMassSportsNet

Jonathan Quick, former UMass netminder, has been selected to start in goal for the U.S. men's Olympic team Thursdayin its opener against Slovakia, it was announced on Wednesday morning.

Several news outlets had coverage:

USA Today: Jonathan Quick starting first game for USA
Los Angeles Times: Kings' Jonathan Quick to start U.S. men's Olympic hockey opener
ABC News: Goalie Jonathan Quick to Start Sochi Opener for US

Casey Wellman missed two chances to score on Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, but in the same rapid-fire sequence there was another rebound. He finished the job.

The former University of Massachusetts star, who has been traded by three teams, has learned that to be successful in the NHL it sometimes takes a few tries.

Wellman has scored twice for the Washington Capitals since his Jan. 25 callup. Both times, he was on the receiving end of passes from superstar Alex Ovechkin. Wellman's next goal is to prove he should stay.

"I would love for this to be my last stop," Wellman, 26, said after stepping off the ice Tuesday at the Capitals' practice facility. "I'd love to make a spot for myself on this team."

Read More: Former UMass star Casey Wellman carving a niche for himself with Washington Capitals

On the heels of his last-minute game-tying goal last Friday against Boston University, freshman Ray Pigozzi is the focus of Nick Canelas' piece in today's Daily Collegian.

Read: Freshman Ray Pigozzi brought in to give UMass a winning formula.

It's probably been barely noticed, but when analyzing the reasons for the 6-15-3 record of the University of Massachusetts hockey team, the strength of its schedule is a contributing factor.

Even including the home loss to American International Jan. 14, the Minutemen's strength of schedule is ranked fifth nationally of all 59 Division I teams. They trail only New Hampshire, with the strongest slate, followed by Minnesota, Notre Dame, and Minnesota-Duluth in the latest Ratings Percentage Index as posted by U.S. College Hockey Online.

Additionally, UMass has played 15 of its 24 games away from the Mullins Center. Its home mark is 3-5-1, but 3-9-1 on the road, and 0-1-1 on neutral ice (UConn Hockey Classic).

"We're never going to make excuses, but we're pretty battled- tested for this time of year," UMass coach John Micheletto said.

Read more: Battle-tested UMass hockey looks to surge in final nine games

The tournaments, the nonconference games and the exhibitions are over.

For the next five weeks, beginning Friday and going until the end of the regular season, the University of Massachusetts will play nine games, all against conference foes, to determine its position in March's Hockey East tournament.

It starts with this weekend's home-and-home series with Merrimack -- Friday at the Mullins Center, Saturday at Lawler Arena in North Andover. Both games are at 7 p.m.

"We've been stressing every time out, no matter who we play, at home or on the road, every league game matters," UMass coach John Micheletto said. "We've tried to create that sense of urgency without creating a sense of panic. The difference is there's nothing but league games mixed in the rest of the way. There's a sprint to the finish line mentality, but I don't know that we're looking at it as any more important or less important than we have with games in the past."

Read more: UMass enters final stretch of Hockey East schedule

Boston Herald: Conor Sheary, UMass push on

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UMass senior co-captain Conor Sheary said the Minutemen will be looking to make a push up the Hockey East standings as they begin their nine-game stretch run with a home-and-home series vs. Merrimack tomorrow in Amherst.

"Well, we've obviously had a few rough patches throughout the season. . . . Right now, we have all league games left, so that's what we're focusing on."

Read more of John Connolly's Conor Sheary, UMass push on

With the Minutemen coming off a bye weekend last weekend before resuming Hockey East play against Merrimack, Nick Canelas takes a look at the team's preparations during the 10-day layoff in today's Daily Collegian.
Cameron McDonough had this preview in today's Daily Collegian ahead of UMass' pair of games against Merrimack this weekend. The Minutemen host the Warriors on Friday before traveling to North Andover for Saturday's matchup.
Check out head coach John Micheletto and redshirt-freshman Frank Vatrano's comments from yesterday's postgame press conference:

Dick Baker focused on local product Frank Vatrano in his recap of UMass' 5-2 win in the squad's exhibition matchup against the U.S. Under-18 Team on Sunday:

In computer science, there's a "five-minute rule" for deciding whether a data item should be kept in memory or stored on a disk.

If there was a five-minute rule to determine whether a player should become a distant memory, it would depend on how he handled hockey's version of the disk.

In his first unofficial game with the University of Massachusetts, Frankie Vatrano of East Longmeadow beat that clock by scoring at 4:01 of the first period Sunday to send the Minutemen off to a 5-2 exhibition win over the U.S. National Under-18 squad at the Mullins Center.

Read more: Just give him (less than) five minutes: Frankie Vatrano quickly earns rave reviews in first game for UMass hockey

Nick Canelas had coverage of UMass' 5-2 exhibition win over the U.S. Under-18 Team on Sunday and the unofficial debut of Frank Vatrano:

It was a day Frank Vatrano has looked forward to all season.

A redshirt freshman on the Massachusetts hockey team, Vatrano is ineligible to play in an official game until the 2014 Hockey East Tournament, but got his first taste of game action on Sunday when the Minutemen hosted the U.S. National Under-18 Team in an exhibition contest.

He made the most of it.

Vatrano scored a power-play goal and assist while playing on UMass' top forward line in a 5-2 win at Mullins Center.

It may have been an ordinary scrimmage for the rest of the Minutemen. But for Vatrano, it was relief. He's practiced with the Minutemen all season, but Sunday marked his first organized game since January 2013, meaning he could finally hit someone in another jersey.

"When you play against your teammates you don't wanna go so hard against them, you don't want to hurt them, but it was great," said Vatrano, who was a former player for the USA. "It felt like a college game to me because I remember when I was in their shoes playing against Michigan, Wisconsin, all those schools."

Read more of: Frank Vatrano impressive in UMass hockey debut in exhibition contest

UMass hockey opens the second half of its season at the UConn Classic tomorrow afternoon in Hartford vs. #8 Quinnipiac. Nick Canelas has a preview:

"The tale of the first half of the Massachusetts hockey team's season could be told in three very unique chapters.

In the first chapter, the Minutemen were an every-other-weekend team over four weeks. They went winless in the first and third weekends of the season, while earning points in both games of the second and fourth weeks. In that time, they got major production from the power play while freshmen Steven Iacobellis and Ray Pigozzi quickly emerged as immediate impact players alongside veteran Troy Power on the second line.

The second chapter - the longest of all - was easily the most forgettable of UMass' season thus far. The Minutemen went winless in eight straight games from November into early December, and lost goaltender Steve Mastalerz due to injury for three of those games.

The third is one UMass probably wishes was a little longer. The Minutemen won three of their last four games before the holiday break, including a weekend sweep at Colgate, and got its best penalty killing performance of the season in that stretch."

Read more: UMass hockey kicks off second half at UConn Hockey Classic

The Los Angeles Times had this update today on former UMass goaltender Jonathan Quick who has been out of the L.A. Kings' lineup for the past six weeks with a groin injury:

It is not a 100% return to health -- not that any NHL team is ever completely without issues -- but the Kings are inching toward that elusive goal.

On hand Friday in practice for Saturday's game at Nashville were defenseman Willie Mitchell and goalie Jonathan Quick. It is the first trip Quick has taken with his teammates since he suffered a strained groin at Buffalo on Nov. 12. Mitchell suffered an upper-body injury at Ottawa on the Kings' last trip.

Quick's presence is a definite sign of progress, considering Coach Darryl Sutter had indicated recently he did not think Quick would make this trip. General Manager Dean Lombardi said before the holiday break that Quick might be able to return the first week of January.

Read more: Jonathan Quick, Willie Mitchell return to Kings practice

Matt Vautour talked to defenseman Oleg Yevenko about his trip to Switzerland to play for his native Belarus in the Arosa Cup:

While most of his University of Massachusetts hockey teammates head home for holiday activities and get away from hockey for a few days, junior defenseman Oleg Yevenko will head home to Belarus and compete for his country's national team.

After UMass' loss to Denver on Tuesday, Yevenko flew to Switzerland and will be in uniform for the four-team Arosa Challenge. Belarus will face Slovakia on Friday, and either Switzerland of Norway on Saturday. The event will give the 6-foot-7 defenseman a chance to impress his country's governing body and improve his chances of making the national team that will play in next summer's IIHF World Championship, which Bealrus is hosting in Minsk.

"I'm really excited. It'll be a great experience I think," Yevenko said. "Where I come from, it's the No. 1 sport in my country. With the world championship in my hometown, if I'm able to make the team, that'd be great. My family is really excited, especially my dad, who is a big fan of the national team."

Read more: UMass defenseman Oleg Yevenko to play for Belarus national team

Los Angeles Times: Kings won't rush Jonathan Quick's return

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Here's an update on former Minuteman Jonathan Quick and the status of his return to the ice from the Los Angeles Times:

From star goaltender Jonathan Quick to goalie coach Bill Ranford to Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, the message has been consistent about Quick's recovery from a strained groin.

The Kings are not going to rush the process.

Quick suffered the injury Nov. 12 at Buffalo, a grade two strain. Lombardi said Wednesday afternoon that Quick's return might come during the first week of January.

After Christmas, the Kings leave on a four-game trip that starts Dec. 28 in Nashville and concludes Jan. 2 at St. Louis. Although Quick has been on the ice since last week, and worked with Ranford the last two days, Coach Darryl Sutter did not sound as if the goalie would be accompanying the team on the trip.

"No, until he's full practice ... I thought he'd be closer than he was and we'll just keep going," Sutter said. "... He's got a long ways to go."

Read More: Kings won't rush Jonathan Quick's return

Former Minuteman Casey Wellman Recalled By Capitals

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Former UMass hockey standout Casey Wellman has returned to the NHL after being recalled by the Washington Capitals yesterday from Hershey.

Wellman joins former Minutemen Justin Braun, Matt Irwin, Michael Kostka and Jonathan Quick as the fifth UMass hockey alum currently on NHL rosters.

The Washington Post had coverage of the transaction.

Hanley Featured In NCAA Hockey Top 5 Plays Of The Week

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Senior defenseman Joel Hanley's stick save that preserved UMass' 2-0 shutout at Colgate earned a spot in the NCAA's Top 5 Plays of the Week on Tuesday:

Recaps Of UMass Hockey's Loss To Denver

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UMass hockey fell to Denver in its final game before the holiday break, 5-3, last night at the Mullins Center.

Several media outlets had coverage:

Boston Herald: Denver upends UMass Springfield Republican: UMass hockey suffers 5-3 defeat to No. 17 Denver
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Power play fails UMass in 5-3 loss to Denver
Daily Collegian: UMass hockey's three-game winning streak snapped by Denver

Highlights and postgame press conference:

Recaps Of UMass Hockey's Sweep At Colgate

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UMass hockey is coming off a stellar weekend on the road that saw the squad sweep Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y., with 2-0 and 3-2 victories on Saturday and Sunday.

The Springfield Republican and the Daily Collegian had coverage of the wins:
Republican: Local Colleges: UMass hockey wins again on the road
Republican: UMass hockey wins program record-setting third straight road game in only eight days, and completes sweep of Colgate - 3-2
Daily Collegian: UMass hockey wins second straight with road victory against Colgate
Daily Collegian: UMass hockey uses a little luck to complete weekend sweep of Colgate

Jim Connelly also mentioned UMass in his blog on USCHO.com

Also, check out the highlights and postgame interviews from both contests:




Lauren Rose previews the Minutemen's weekend matchups at Colgate with UMass head coach John Michleletto.

Dick Baker of the Springfield Republican has a preview of UMass' weekend series at Colgate starting on Saturday afternoon. The Minutemen are coming off a split weekend at Notre Dame.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who hasn't played since he strained a groin muscle on Nov. 12, remains on pace to play for the U.S. Olympic team at the Sochi Games.

David Poile, Team USA's general manager, said Thursday he had been told by Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi that Quick is expected to return within a few weeks. That would leave time for him to regain top form before the U.S. opens against Slovakia on Feb. 13. Quick was the third U.S. goalie at the Vancouver Olympics, where the U.S. won a silver medal.

Quick is among several U.S. Olympic hopefuls who are injured; others include Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik (concussion) and New York Rangers forward Ryan Callahan (sprained knee). Poile cited Quick as an example of how Team USA executives will handle those uncertainties.

Read more: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is on pace to play for U.S. at Olympics

Nick Canelas previewed UMass' weekend matchups at Colgate this Saturday and Sunday:

The Massachusetts hockey team had little time to relish in its victory over Notre Dame on Saturday - its first win in over a month - because its next big test was only a couple days away.

Final exam week.

It's a particularly stressful time for students. Late nights studying and 10-page papers lead to little sleep over the course of the week, and the only thing keeping them sane is the five-week break that follows.

Student-athletes are no exception, and it has made for a particularly big challenge for UMass coach John Micheletto as his team tries to prepare for its weekend series at Colgate.

The Minutemen held all optional practices this week, and as of Wednesday had yet to have full participation on the ice. But through years as a coach and as an educator, Micheletto knew he had to plan ahead.

"I guess we're just trying to deal with it head on," he said. "My experience over the years is it's gonna be different so you better embrace it and talk about it and understand what the difficulties and obstacles are gonna be. That's how we've dealt with it and are gonna continue to deal with it."

Read more: UMass hockey battles finals, Colgate this week

Gracel's Goal Makes NCAA Hockey Top 5 Plays Of The Week

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Senior Branden Gracel's goal from UMass' 3-2 win at #13/11 Notre Dame last weekend was selected for the NCAA Hockey Top 5 Plays Of The Week, coming in at #5. The goal is the third by a member of the Minutemen to be tabbed a national Play of the Week this season.

Check out the Plays of the Week, courtesy of NCAA.com:

After missing 24 games with a foot injury, former Minuteman Michael Kostka was back in action for the Blackhawks on Tuesday night and helped Chicago to a 6-2 victory on the road against the Dallas Stars with his first multi-point game of his NHL career, tallying a goal and an assist in the contest. Kostka has three points (2g, 1a) in just three games with the Blackhawks and scored his first NHL goal back on Oct. 19.

Here's video of Kostka's goal last night from NHL.com

The Chicago Tribune had coverage of Kostka's return: Kostka returns to Hawks, makes presence felt

VIDEO: Highlights From Hockey's 3-2 Win At No. 11 Notre Dame

Check out the highlights from UMass' 3-2 win at Notre Dame on Saturday including Adam Phillips' game-winning goal late in the 3rd period.

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a story today on UMass hockey's win over No. 11 Notre Dame on Saturday night. Adam Phillips scored the game-winning goal with less that three minutes left in the 3rd period.

Republican: UMass hockey team knocks off 11th-ranked Notre Dame, 3-2

Paul Bowker of the Springfield Republican has a recap of hockey's 3-2 win at No. 11 Notre Dame on Saturday night in the second game of the weekend. The Friday/Saturday split was the first-ever meeting between the two schools as Hockey East foes.
The Daily Collegian had a preview and a pair of columns in advance of UMass' Hockey East pair at No. 13/11 Notre Dame this weekend:

The atmosphere was energetic before Massachusetts hockey practice this Tuesday. Music was blaring, players were engaged in highly competitive games of ping-pong and even UMass coach John Micheletto was cracking jokes. It looked like a team ready for a fresh start.

The Minutemen just endured their worst month in the Micheletto era in November. They went 1-6-2 for the month, capped off by a seven-game winless streak that included a 9-0 beatdown at the hands of New Hampshire on home ice Nov. 9 and Saturday's 6-1 loss at Quinnipiac, where they were held to just 10 shots on goal.

But that's in the past now. The calendar has flipped, the Movember mustaches have been shaved off and UMass is looking for a more positive December.

"The start of the new month kind of gives us a fresh page, clear consciences, we got rid of our mustaches, it's a new beginning for us so we gotta leave (November) behind us," senior forward Conor Sheary said.

Read more: UMass hockey looks for fresh start at Notre Dame this weekend

Additional coverage:
Canelas: UMass-Notre Dame series a statement weekend for both teams
UMass hockey searching for answers on offense

Matt Vautour had this preview of UMass' first Hockey East games versus Notre Dame in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette:

After going 1-6-2 in November, the University of Massachusetts hockey team is hoping a new month, a new league rival and renewed attention to detail leads to improved results when the Minutemen face Notre Dame for the first time since the Fighting Irish joined Hockey East.

The teams will play Friday at 7:35 p.m. and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Both games are in South Bend, Ind., and on the NBC Sports Network.

Senior Branden Gracel thought the team was getting closer to turning things around.

"Each player tries to simplify their game and get back to basics. A lot of times players will try to do too much and that drags the slump a little bit longer," Gracel said. "If everybody gets back to what they're good at and plays their own game, I think that helps the whole team get out of their slump.

Read more: UMass looks to break slump with two-game hockey series at No. 13 Notre Dame

Dick Baker spoke to UMass hockey sophomore forward Shane Walsh this week ahead of the Minutemen's first Hockey East trip to Notre Dame:

His Irish eyes are smiling.

University of Massachusetts sophomore forward Shane Walsh says he's just about all Irish, so he's looking forward to the weekend set at Notre Dame.

"My parents are both Irish, and maybe I've got a little bit of Welsh in me," Walsh said.

The Minutemen and Fighting Irish meet Friday night at 7:35, and Saturday night at 6:35 at the Family Compton Ice Arena.

Read more: Shane Walsh of UMass Hockey brings his Irish roots to Notre Dame

Mark Chiarelli took a look back at goaltender Mac Haight's play last weekend against Boston College while previewing UMass' matchups with Vermont this weekend. The Minutemen host the Catamounts tonight at 7 p.m.

Mac Haight couldn't have ever pictured his first two collegiate starts coming against national power Boston College.

But Haight -- a walk-on freshman goalie who entered the season listed third on the University of Massachusetts hockey depth chart -- quickly found himself saving shots from the likes of Johnny Gaudreau in a pivotal Hockey East series.

It certainly wasn't an enviable situation. Steve Mastalerz, who saved 92.5 percent of shots faced, has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury. Alex Wakaluk, the original backup to Mastalerz, allowed five goals on 10 shots against New Hampshire in a 9-0 loss.

UMass (3-7-2, 1-2-4 Hockey East) coach John Micheletto turned to Haight to steady his team between the pipes.

Haight made 57 saves in two games against the Eagles and allowed just four goals, helping the Minutemen pick up a conference point and establish consistency as it prepares for a weekend series with Vermont (3-5-1, 2-4).

Nick Canelas had this piece in today's Daily Collegian looking ahead to UMass' weekend vs. Vermont and goaltenders Mac Haight and Steve Mastalerz:

Mac Haight's relationship with Steve Mastalerz dates further back than being teammates on the Massachusetts hockey team this season.

According to Haight, the two goaltenders first met six years ago through goalie coach Mike Buckley, who is now the goalie development coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins, when the two were at prep school.

The goalies stayed in contact with one another following that first meeting. Even while Haight was in juniors when Mastalerz was at UMass the last two years, Mastalerz was always there to give advice.

That sort of influence helped him make his decision to join the Minutemen as a recruited walk-on this season.

"It was nice to come in and know someone like Steve to help me out," Haight said. "Because I knew he was gonna help me out through the season and get me into that next level to be ready for college hockey."

Read more: UMass hockey still unsure of Steve Mastalerz's status heading into weekend

On the back of hockey's NLI signing announcement yesterday, Nick Canelas had this piece today on the coaching staff's recruiting efforts:

The Massachusetts men's hockey team had a rare weekend off after their series with Boston College ended on Friday. While the players used it as an opportunity to get some much-needed rest, UMass coach John Micheletto hit the recruiting trail.

Micheletto had little time to digest the Minutemen's hard-fought, 2-2 tie with the Eagles on Friday night. As soon as the team bus returned to Amherst, the second-year coach had his mind set on a 7 a.m. flight out of Hartford, Conn. on Saturday morning.

With practices all week and multiple games during the weekend, it's not often that Micheletto has the chance to do some in-season recruiting. But as a former director of recruiting at Vermont, the experience was certainly nothing new for him.

"It's what you do," Micheletto said. "We gotta take advantage of those weekends. When you're a head coach, you don't get out as much as you used to. So when you're off Saturday and Sunday and you have an opportunity to get somewhere, you gotta take advantage of it."

Read more: Recruiting never stops for UMass hockey team

UMass Hockey Radio Show Tonight At The Hangar Pub & Grill (7 PM)

Be sure to join us tonight at the Hangar Pub & Grill for the Bud Light UMass Hockey Radio Show at 7 PM. Brock Hines will be joined by head coach John Micheletto along with assistant coach Joey Gasparini.

If you can't make it by the Hangar, you can listen live on WHMP (96.9 FM, 1440 AM, 1240 AM), online at http://player.liquidcompass.net/WHMPAM or on mobile devices using the Tune-In App.

Recaps Of UMass Hockey's 2-2 Tie At #7 Boston College

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After being edged by the Eagles at home last Thursday, UMass hockey rallied late for a 2-2 tie on the road at Boston College on Friday night. Several media outlets had coverage of the game:

Boston Herald: UMass ties up Eagles
Boston.com: BC men's hockey ties up UMass, 2-2
Masslive.com: University of Massachusetts hockey team rallies to tie Boston College, 2-2
Daily Collegian: Late goal from Branden Gracel gives UMass 2-2 tie with BC

Coverage of Hockey's 2-1 Loss To Boston College

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Several media outlets had coverage of UMass hockey's 2-1 loss to #7 Boston College at the Mullins Center last night, including praise of freshman goaltender Mac Haight's performance in his first collegiate start.

Springfield Republican: UMass hockey drops 2-1 decision to BC after overturned 3rd-period goal
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Replay erases UMass goal in 2-1 loss to Boston College
Daily Collegian: Controversial ruling leads to UMass hockey's loss to BC
SB Nation: Boston College Holds Off UMass Charge for 2-1 Victory

Also, here is the postgame press conference from last night:

Bud Light UMass Hockey Show Tonight (Nov. 12)

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The Bud Light UMass Hockey Show returns tonight live from The Hangar Pub and Grill on University Drive in Amherst from 7:00-8:00 p.m. Brock Hines will be joined by head coach John Micheletto as well as player guests sophomore Evan Stack and senior Colin Shea.

Submit a question here or tweet your questions @UMassSportsNet. If you can't make it out to The Hangar, listen live on on WHMP (AM 1400/1240, FM 96.9), online, or on your mobile device via the TuneIn App.

Dan Malone had this preview of UMass hockey's weekend with UNH on MassLive.com, taking a look at the Minutemen coming off a three-point weekend and the Wildcats' early season struggles:

On the outside, the home-and-home series, which opens Friday at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H., before returning to the Mullins Center Saturday, is a bit of an anomaly.

The Wildcats, traditionally one of Hockey East's strongest and most consistent teams, were picked in the preseason to finish third in the conference. But after a challenging opening month that's featured matchups with five of the top 16 teams in the nation, including No. 1 Minnesota and No. 2 Michigan twice, New Hampshire's record sits at just 1-5-1 overall and 0-2 in the league.

For UMass coach John Micheletto, it's a strange thing to see. But he knew better than to judge the Wildcats by their record alone, saying it "isn't indicative of the talent that they have or the coaching that they've got."

Read more: UMass hockey looks to carry momentum into home-and-home series with UNH (with video)

Nick Canelas has this preview of UMass hockey's home and home weekend with UNH, which begins tonight in Durham, N.H. with a 7:30 p.m. contest that will be televised on WBIN and Fox College Sports.

Massachusetts hockey coach John Micheletto had high expectations for his first line going into the season.

Seniors Conor Sheary, Michael Pereira and Branden Gracel were placed on the same line midway through last season and immediately jelled, finishing the season as the Minutemen's top three leading scorers and accounting for 35 percent of the team's point production.

Micheletto didn't just expect the trio to pick up where it left off; his intentions were for it to be even better.

"We hope they do more than they did last year," Micheletto said in the preseason.

Read More: UMass hockey looks to improve depth heading into UNH

The Province, out of British Columbia, had this piece chronicling former UMass and current San Jose Sharks' defenseman Matt Irwin's development throughout his hockey career:

"Bill Bestwick marvels at Matt Irwin being paired with Dan Boyle and manning the point on the San Jose Sharks' power play.

He can't help but think of the kid from Brentwood Bay, near Victoria, who showed up in Nanaimo with high BCHL hopes and little meat on his 16-year-old frame.

"He couldn't do a pushup," recalled the former Clippers coach and general manager.

"When he played for me at 16, as an affiliate player, I think he was probably scared to death. At 17, he got his feet wet, and at 18, he started to figure out, 'Hey, I'm not bad.' He was 6-foot-2, but still a skinny runt with no strength in his body. Then at 19, his coordination and dexterity came to the forefront."

Read more: Continuing education behind Matt Irwin's ascent with San Jose Sharks

Recaps Of Hockey's Three-Point Weekend Vs. Maine

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Dick Baker of the Springfield Republican has a feature on hockey freshman Brandon Wahlin and his journey to UMass. Baker also previews this weekend's series with Maine.

Mark Chiarelli of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a preview of the weekend's hockey series against Maine.

The UMass hockey team takes on Maine for a second straight weekend with a pair of Hockey East games against the Black Bears at the Mullins Center this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1-2, at 7 p.m.

Nick Canelas previewed the weekend's action for the Daily Collegian: UMass hockey completes four-game set with Maine with weekend series at home

Cameron McDonough takes a look at freshman Alex Wakaluk's collegiate debut for UMass hockey last weekend at Maine as well as the 2011 debut of current junior netminder Steve Mastalerz.

Read: Freshman Alex Wakaluk learns from first game in net for UMass hockey

Former UMass hockey netminder Jonathan Quick is 4-0 in shootouts this year for the Los Angeles Kings, stopping 10 of 11 shots, and led the league with 10 shootout wins in 2010-11, going 10-0.


Check out Lisa Dillman's notebook from the Los Angeles Times: Kings and Jonathan Quick are all-in with the shootout

Republican: Defenseman Ben Gallacher finds UMass hockey a better fit

Dick Baker of the Springfield Republican has a story on Ben Gallacher who transferred to UMass from Ohio State. Gallacher is one of four Minutemen who hail from Calgary.

Recaps Of UMass Hockey's Weekend Sweep Of Michigan State

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UMass hockey opened up its home schedule on a high note, sweeping its weekend pair vs. Michigan State and drawing a total of 12,358 fans to the Mullins Center combined over the two games with a record crowd of 4,500 students on Friday night.

Several media outlets had recaps of the victories:

FRIDAY:
Springfield Republican: UMass hockey treats home crowd of 7,078 to 3-1 home-opener victory over Michigan State
Daily Hampshire Gazette: UMass ices Michigan State in Hockey East-Big Ten Challenge
Daily Collegian: UMass hockey gets first win of the season in home opener

SATURDAY:
Springfield Republican: Power-play Bird Dogs lift UMass hockey to 5-2 win over Michigan State and weekend sweep
Daily Hampshire Gazette: UMass scores four power-play goals, skates past Michigan State
Daily Collegian: UMass rides four power play goals to victory over Michigan State

Also, check out the highlights from this weekend's action:

In today's Daily Collegian, Nick Canelas takes a look at the freshmen duo of Steven Iacobellis and Ray Pigozzi who skated on UMass' second line with redshirt-junior Troy Power last weekend:

It's not too often that Steven Iacobellis and Ray Pigozzi aren't together. They're roommates, they're both freshmen and in a matter of weeks they've already become good friends.

One thing that brings the pair together is a very common interest: hockey. When they're in their dorm room, they're usually talking about it. When they're not, they're practicing and playing alongside one another on the same line for the Massachusetts hockey team.

In the Minutemen's first two games this season, Iacobellis and Pigozzi were placed on the second line with redshirt junior forward Troy Power, and their immediate chemistry was already noticeable.

The trio accounted for two of UMass' three goals this weekend in losses to Boston University and UMass Lowell.

Read more of Steven Iacobellis and Ray Pigozzi forming formidable freshman duo

Mark Chiarelli has this UMass Hockey preview in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette. The Minutemen open the 2013-14 campaign tonight at #19 Boston University.

If last year was a fresh start for the University of Massachusetts hockey team, this season centers on cultivating a system already put in place by second-year coach John Micheletto.

"We talked a lot over the last year about resilience and not having a lot of ups and downs," Micheletto said. "That's an easy thing to talk about and understand, but it's a hard thing to implement sometimes."

UMass hopes to build off a 12-19-3 season that saw victories over Boston College, Boston University and New Hampshire. The Minutemen also finished 2-7-1 over the final 10 games and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

The team returns 16 upperclassmen, including nine seniors, something Micheletto hopes will accelerate the growing process. The familiarity is already paying dividends as UMass prepares to open the season at Boston University at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Read more of: UMass hockey looks to bounce back from tough 2012-13

Nick Canelas takes a look at UMass Hockey's scoring depth in this piece for the Daily Collegian Hockey Preview Issue:

With nine seniors, 16 upperclassmen and its three leading scorers from last season on the roster, one would think the Massachusetts hockey team is primed for success in 2013-14.

However, there's a reason why UMass failed to make the Hockey East Tournament last season and why it's yet again picked to finish second-to-last in the conference. Beyond the top forward line of Branden Gracel, Michael Pereira and Conor Sheary, there aren't a whole lot of reliable scoring options for the Minutemen.

There are players who are capable of contributing. But if last season - a season in which the Minutemen went winless in eight of their final 10 games - is any indication, the pressure will once again fall upon the first line to replicate its 2012-13 showing.

Read more of Canelas: Improved scoring depth essential for UMass in 2013-14

Cameron McDonough profiled goaltender Steve Mastalerz for the Hockey Preview Issue of the Daily Collegian. Mastalerz is UMass' lone returnee in net.

It was never a matter of if Steve Mastalerz would attend the University of Massachusetts. Rather, it was a matter of if he would get an offer to play for its hockey team.

And once he got the official offer to play for the Massachusetts hockey team, it was a relatively easy decision.

The reason why the junior goalie from North Andover was so focused on attending UMass was because it was in his blood. His grandmother raised his father, Jim, 20 minutes away from Amherst and his brother, John, started out the tradition of the Mastalerz family attending UMass when he came to Amherst two years before Steve did.

The idea of playing for the Minutemen also had a comfort level attached to it since he knew one of the assistant coaches, Mike Buckley, whose specific job was to work with the goalies. Mastalerz, at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, had worked with Buckley before and he was a "big influence" on why Mastalerz decided to come to UMass as well.

Read more of UMass goaltender Steve Mastalerz ready for new challenges in '13

Nick Canelas features one of UMass' nine newcomers, sophomore defenseman Ben Gallacher, in this piece from the Daily Collegian's Hockey Preview Issue:

Ben Gallacher is your everyday laid back guy from Alberta, Canada.

He's a college student who tries not to take life too seriously. He enjoys hanging out with friends and has a supportive family.

Just two years ago, he taught himself how to play the guitar by watching instructional videos on YouTube, and now it's simply become another relaxing hobby for him. He likes to percussively strum the tune of songs by alternative and indie folk artists such as Ben Harper and Bon Iver. It's nothing mainstream, but it's just the way he likes it.

"I'm not playing Avicii on my guitar," Gallacher said. "I'm an acoustic guy. It's really mellow."

Like many young Canadians, there's also another important hobby that Gallacher is more passionate about than anything else: playing hockey.

Read more of Ben Gallacher has a new chance at big dreams at UMass

Cameron McDonough takes a look at the opening weekend matchups for UMass hockey in this piece:

While this weekend will provide the usual nerves and excitement that accompany the season opener, it will also have an added element for Michael Pereira and the seniors for the Massachusetts hockey team.

"Nerves, excitement, bittersweet," Pereira said. "It's your last opening weekend."

And this is an important weekend right out of the box for the Minutemen, because rather than ease into Hockey East action with a slew of non-conference games against unranked opponents, they are opening at No. 19 Boston University on Friday before traveling to No. 1 UMass Lowell on Saturday for what will be a non-conference game against a conference opponent.

Read more of UMass hockey excited to start new season against No. 19 BU, No. 1 UML

Cameron McDonough takes a look at UMass' top line, which features its top-three returning scorers from a year ago: Branden Gracel, Michael Pereira and Conor Sheary:

The Massachusetts hockey team has its fair share of question marks heading into the season.

How will Year 2 of the John Micheletto era go?
Who will replace last year's seniors, especially on the second line?
Will Steve Mastalerz step up and be the No. 1 goalie?
And who will step up on defense and replace Conor Allen?

But there are few questions about who the first line will be.

Seniors Branden Gracel, Conor Sheary and Michael Pereira were all moved to the first line during the 2012-13 season by Micheletto and became an instant offensive force in the Hockey East.

Read more of UMass hockey looking for repeat from first line
Matt Vautour takes a look at the goaltending battle for UMass and lone upperclassmen goaltender Steve Mastalerz:

University of Massachusetts junior Steve Mastalerz has played like a No. 1 goalie at times.

As a sophomore, Mastalerz stopped 21 shots in a 5-2 upset of then-No. 2 Boston College. It was one of a handful of strong showings during his first two years that showed his potential in goal. But injury-fueled inconsistency prevented him from stringing those types of performances together last season, as neither he nor fellow sophomore Kevin Boyle could ever really seize that No. 1 role.

Read more of UMass goalie Steve Mastalerz eager to hold on to No. 1 role

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