#20 Merrimack Tops UMass Hockey, 4-2
Despite a season-high 37 saves by sophomore goaltender Kevin Boyle, the UMass hockey team dropped a 4-2 decision on the road at #20 Merrimack on Sunday in its lone game of the weekend. Following the setback, the Minutemen are 10-13-2 overall, 7-10-1 in Hockey East, while the Warriors improve to 13-10-5 overall and 11-6-2 in conference play.
Quick Hits: UNH Weekend - UMass went 0-1-1 in its weekend at #5 New Hampshire, tying UNH 2-2 on Friday and falling 4-0 on Saturday. The Minutemen finished the season series with the Wildcats at 1-1-1. - Playing in his 100th career game, junior Michael Pereira scored his 13th of the year in Friday's game at UNH. Ten of his 13 goals on the season have come over the past 16 games, seven in the past month. - Sheary assisted on Pereira's goal for his 16th helper of the season. He has seven points (3g, 4a) in the past seven games. - Allen collected his 12th helper of the year, which is more than his career total entering the 2012-13 season (11) and is fourth-most by a member of the Minutemen this season. - Senior Eddie Olczyk provided UMass' second tally vs. the Wildcats, for his second point in as many games. It marked his first time with points in back-to-back games in his collegiate career. All four of his points win 2012-13 have come since Dec. 31. - Zack LaRue set up Olczyk's goal for his second point in two games. All four of his points on the season have come since Dec. 30. - Kiley logged his fourth point of the year with his second assist in the past five games. - UMass won 37 of 74 faceoffs on Friday against the Wildcats and 25 of 48 draws in Saturday's contest, the 23rd and 24th times this season the MInutemen have been 50% or better over the dots. - Sophomore Steve Mastalerz recorded 30+ saves in a game for the third time this season with 32 stops in Friday's tie. Mastalerz played in his 12th and 13th games of the year on the weekend, surpassing his total of 12 games played as a freshman in 2011-12. A Fine Line - The line of Michael Pereira, Branden Gracel and Conor Sheary has skated together in 17 games, the past 17 straight, and has combined for 52 points during that span on 24 goals and 28 assists. - In those 17 games, the Pereira-Gracel-Sheary line has provided 52.2% of the team's goals and 40.9% of the squad's points. Gracel (7g, 11a) and Pereira (10g, 8a) have a team-high 18 points in that stretch, followed by Sheary (7g, 9a). - In the victory over #2 Boston College, the Pereira-Gracel-Sheary line contributed six points. The trio teamed up for eight of the Minutemen's 14 points in the convincing 5-1 win over #11/9 Boston University. - Gracel currently leads UMass in scoring with 31 points on 14 goals and 17 assists. He ranks eighth in Hockey East in points and tied for seventh in goals and is tied for third in game-winning goals with three.
Production From The Point - UMass has seen 18 of 87 of its goals come from defensemen thus far this season, including 10 of 28 of its power-play tallies, one short-handed goal and one with an extra skater on. The defensive corps averages .72 goals per-game, good for third in the nation. - The Minutemen blueliners have combined for 18 goals and 44 assists in 32 games. - Seven of nine UMass defensemen that have dressed have at least one point on the year. Balanced Bunch - Sixteen of the 18 Minutemen skaters who dressed for the last three UMass home games tallied at least one point on the week, Feb. 19-23. - Eight players provided UMass' nine goals in the week, which came over two games (a 5-4 loss to Northeastern and a 5-2 victory over Maine). - Five different Minutemen scored goals in the win over the Black Bears, the second time this season UMass has had five players score in one game. The previous occurrence came in a 6-3 victory at Northeastern on Dec. 1. Shorthanded Success - With seven shorthanded goals on the season, the Minutemen have matched the program's highest total since the 2003-04 season when the squad also had seven. - UMass is now tied for second in the nation in shorthanded goals. The program record for shorthanders a season is 12, set in 1993-94. - Thirty-seven of the Minutemen's 87 goals this season have come in non-5x5 situations, an average of 1.16 goals per-game which ranks sixth nationally. - Junior Michael Pereira has three shorthanded points on the year with two goals and one assist, tying him for the lead in Hockey East.
Facing The Best - According to the latest rankings, UMass is 20th out of 59 Division I teams in strength of schedule, fourth among members of Hockey East - Outside of the always challenging Hockey East slate, the Minutemen went 3-3-1 in nonconference play. - UMass' nonconference foes currently hold a combined record of 90-73-29 (.544) with two of the six teams currently residing in the top-20 nationally (#1 Quinnipiac and #13 Yale). Quinnipiac put together a 21-game unbeaten streak one of three ties during that stretch coming against the Minutemen.
Potent Power Play - With at least one power-play goal in 20 of its 30 contests, the Minutemen boast the No. 3 power play in Hockey East with a conversion rate of 17.9% (28 for 156), 26th nationally. - UMass is tied for 14th in the nation in power-play goals with 28, 13th in power-play goals per-game (.88). - Individually, Conor Sheary is tied for eighth in Hockey East in power play points with 11 on four goals and seven assists. - Sheary and Joel Hanley are tied for eighth in the conference in power-play goals with four apiece. - Against UMass Lowell on Nov. 18, UMass extended its streak to nine straight games scoring with the man advantage. The streak, which came to an end against Vermont on Nov. 20, was the longest in the program's Modern Era. - The Minutemen had power-play tallies in seven straight contests from Nov.-Dec. 2003. - In 2011-12, UMass was 30-for-165 (.182) in 36 games on the power play to rank sixth in Hockey East.
Just How Good? - UMass has faced three of the top-four penalty killing units in the nation this season in Quinnipiac (1st, 133-for-145, 91.7%), New Hampshire (2nd, 97-for-107, 90.7%) and Dartmouth (4th, 95-for-106, 89.6%). - The Minutemen's power play unit has gone a combined 4-for-26 (15.4%) against those squads and snapped a streak of 32 successful kills for Dartmouth with two power-play tallies against the Big Green. Removing UMass from the equation, the rest of Quinnipiac, UNH and Dartmouth's opponents have combined for a 29-for-332 (8.7%) conversion rate on the power play against them.
Career Year For Allen - With 17 points in 31 games, junior defenseman Conor Allen has surpassed his previous career best of 14 points (7g, 7a) in 35 games last season. - With five goals and 12 assists, Allen is currently tied for sixth in defensemen scoring in Hockey East. On the Minutemen roster, Allen is fourth in points. - Allen had a six-game point scoring streak that came to an end in mid-January, a career best and matches longest streak by a Minuteman this season.
Pereira Picks Up Pair Of Weekly Honors - Junior forward Michael Pereira was honored with a pair of weekly awards after helping the UMass defeat #11/9 Boston University. Pereira was tapped as both the Athletic Republic Co-Hockey East Player of the Week and Co-UMass Athlete of the Week. - It marked the second time this season was named UMass Athlete of the Week, while collecting his second career Hockey East Player of the Week accolade. - In the victory over the Terriers, Pereira notched four points on two goals and two assists and was named the game's No. 1 star.
Gracel Collects More Weekly Honors - After knocking off #2 Boston College on the road on Jan. 18, Branden Gracel was tapped as the Hockey East Athletic Republic Co-Player of the Week and UMass Athlete of the Week. He earned the awards for the second and third time this season, respectively. The Minutemen were named the Hockey East Team of the Week for the second time this season, as well. - In the 5-2 victory over the Eagles, Gracel totaled three points on two goals and an assist and was named the game's No. 1 star. The three points and two goals both matched career single-game bests for the junior. - UMass' win over #2 BC was the program's first against the Eagles at Conte Forum since Nov. 17, 2007. - The victory snapped Boston College's 18-game home unbeaten streak that dated back to Dec. 2, 2011.
Gracel Rakes In Awards - Adding to his list of accolades following the Ledyard Classic, junior Branden Gracel was selected as the Athletic Republic Hockey East Player of the Month for December. Gracel became the third Minuteman in program history to earn Player of the Month recognition, and the first since October 2009. - Over six games in the month of December, Gracel totaled a league-best nine points on three goals and six assists while winning 85 of 131 faceoffs (64.9%) to help UMass to a 3-3-0 record. Beginning with a three-assist outing in a 6-3 win over Northeastern, Gracel logged his name on the score sheet in five of six contests, including three multi-point efforts. - He capped off the month by helping the Minutemen win the Ledyard Classic with a goal and three assists over the two games on his way to Tournament MVP honors. Gracel assisted the game-winner against Bemidji State and scored his third game-winner of the season in the championship against No. 10 Dartmouth as UMass handed the Big Green their first home loss of the year. For his efforts, the Calgary, Alberta, native was named the Hockey East Player of the Week for the first time in his career and also collected a co-UMass Athlete of the Week recognition.
Minutemen Tapped As Hockey East Team Of The Week - UMass was tapped as the Hockey East Team of the Week on Jan. 2 after the Minutemen captured their second ever in-season tournament title with the 2-0-0 week, its other coming in 2007 at the Lightning College Hockey Tournament. - After erasing a 2-0 deficit to defeat Bemidji State in the opening game of the Ledyard Classic, the Minutemen went on to hand #8 Dartmouth its first home loss of the season after starting 7-0-0. UMass tallied two power-play goals against one of the top penalty killing units in the nation en route to its second win over a top-10 team this season and snapped the Big Green's streak of 32 consecutive kills.
Shea's Short-Hander - Junior defenseman Colin Shea scored UMass' first short-handed goal of the season on Nov. 9 vs. Providence, becoming the first Minuteman blueliner to score with a man down since Justin Braun did so twice during the 2008-09 season with the most recent coming vs. UMass Lowell on Jan. 17, 2009.
A Rare Sight - Senior Rocco Carzo's penalty shot goal against Boston University on Oct. 27, was the first of its kind for the Minutemen in more than a decade. Prior to Carzo's goal, Jeff Turner was the last UMass player to score on a penalty shot, Feb. 6, 2000, against UMass Lowell. - The last penalty shot attempted before Carzo's was taken by T.J. Syner against Bentley in the home opener last season, Oct. 14, 2011.
Dominant At The Dots - UMass has seen success at the faceoff dots this season, winning 1096 of 2072 (52.9%) through 30 games, good for seventh in the nation as a squad and first in Hockey East. - Minutemen occupy three of the top-seven spots in Hockey East for faceoff winning percentage. Junior Branden Gracel (59.6%, 375 for 629) is fourth, junior Eric Filiou (56.5%, 96 for 170) is sixth and redshirt sophomore Steven Guzzo (55.8%, 202 for 362) is eighth. Gracel is 11th nationally in faceoff winning percentage. - Junior Conor Sheary went 7-0 against New Hampshire on Nov. 2, including the offensive zone faceoff that lead to the game-winning goal. - Filiou won 10 of 11 faceoffs he took against Boston College on Nov. 4. - In addition to scoring twice against Vermont, Gracel also won 15 of 20 draws. In the Ledyard Classic, he won 40 of 57 draws for a 70.2% clip, while also adding four points in two games. - UMass won 40 of 64 faceoffs (62.5%) at Vermont on Jan. 26, led by a 13 for 14 (92.9%) night by Kevin Czepiel - Two of UMass' six goals at Northeastern on Dec. 1 were scored as a direct result of offensive zone faceoff wins. - The Minutemen have been 50% or better at the dots in 24 of 32 games this season.
Gracel Earns Weekly Honor - Becoming the second hockey player to earn the honor this season, junior Branden Gracel was named co-UMass Athlete of the Week on Nov. 26. - Gracel led the Minutemen to a 1-0-1 week with two goals and an assist. The native of Calgary, Alberta, logged his first career multi-goal game, which included the game-winner, in 3-1 victory over Vermont. He also assisted on a go-ahead goal in 2-2 tie versus #18 Quinnipiac.
Two Years And Counting - It has been over two calendar years since junior Conor Sheary has missed a game for the Minutemen, currently having played in 97 straight contests, including all 36 last season. - Not dressing for just one of a possible 103 games of his career thus far, the only contest Sheary missed came on Oct. 30, 2010 at Providence. - Sheary played in his 100th career game on Feb. 23, 2013 vs. Maine.
HE-Men - UMass returns three of its top-four point producers from 2011-12, including juniors Conor Sheary and Michael Pereira who contributed 35 points (12g, 23a) and 34 points (17g, 17a) last season, respectively. - Both are among the top returning scorers in Hockey East this season as Sheary is tied for ninth on the list and Pereira is tied for 11th. - Among the league's top returning goal scorers, Pereira ranks fourth.
Junior Mint? - UMass' 13-man junior class has produced 434 points in three seasons as Minutemen. - As a group, they have logged 161 goals and 273 assists, led by Michael Pereira's 85 career points. Conor Sheary and Branden Gracel follow with 74 and 65 respectively. Pereira is UMass' active career goals (42) and points leader.
Packing 'Em In - The Minutemen have played 17 home games this season, four in front of crowds of 7,000+ to rank in the top-20 all-time for UMass hockey attendances. - UMass currently ranks 19th nationally in average attendance (4,191). - The attendance of 7,123 against Connecticut was the highest ever for a UMass home opener and the most for non-conference home game. - The crowd was the 20th-largest all-time for UMass hockey at the Mullins Center. - On Oct. 19, the Minutemen drew 7,678 against Boston College, the 10th-largest home crowd in program history. - Against Boston University on Oct. 27, the Minutemen drew 7,357 to the Mullins Center, the 13th-largest home crowd all time. - UMass ranked seventh nationally in average attendance last year (6,603), second among Hockey East behind Boston College (5th - 7,549).
Captains Named - Head coach John Micheletto announced on Oct. 16 that Rocco Carzo and Kevin Czepiel will serve as the team's co-captains for the 2012-13 season. The senior forwards donned the "C"s for the first time on Oct. 19 when the Minutemen took the ice vs. #3 Boston College. Carzo scored twice in that contest, his first career multi-goal game.
44 Back For More - Junior Joel Hanley is coming off a stellar sophomore campaign that saw him post 25 points (7g, 18a) and record a +12 rating. - Hanley ranked fifth in defensemen scoring in Hockey East in 2011-12 and was third among the Minutemen in assists. He was one of three UMass players to see action in all 36 games last season, joining T.J. Syner and Conor Sheary.
Settling In - The Minutemen opened up the 2012-13 campaign by playing 11 of their first 15 games in the friendly confines of the Mullins Center. - Over the last 124 games at Mullins, UMass is 62-47-15 (.560) including a 14-3-4 mark in 2006-07. All-time, UMass is 148-145-35 in the Mullins Center including an 92-125-26 record among Hockey East foes. - The 2011-12 campaign got off to an especially good start as the Minutemen began 7-0-3 at home prior to their Jan. 27 loss to #11 UMass Lowell. The last such start to a season was in 2007-08 when the Minutemen were 4-0-3 to start the season before falling on Dec. 8 to #7 New Hampshire. UMass finished 2011-12 with a mark of 9-4-3 on home ice. - The Minutemen are currently 6-10-1 at home this season.
Staying Put - UMass will not venture very far from Amherst in 2012-13, with its furthest road trip just a shade over 300 miles, a single game at Maine on Nov. 16. - The Minutemen left the Commonwealth just once over the first two months of the season as their only other away contests during that span were at Boston University, Boston College and Northeastern.
Tiefenwerth Tabbed Hockey East Rookie Of The Week - Freshman K.J. Tiefenwerth was named the Hockey East Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week on Dec. 3. The honor was the first from the conference office earned by a Minuteman this season and marked the first weekly award of Tiefenwerth's career. - With a goal and two assists, Tiefenwerth helped UMass to its highest scoring output of the season, a 6-3 victory at Northeastern on Dec. 1. The points were the first three of his collegiate career.
Vs. Ranked Teams - The Minutemen opened up the 2012-13 campaign with five games against ranked foes over its first six contests and are now 4-9-2 against ranked teams this season. - UMass was 7-9-1 last season against ranked teams with wins over #1 Boston College (11/15), #17 Yale (12/7), #13 Cornell (12/29), #4 Boston College (1/13), #1 Boston University (2/10, at #11 Maine (2/18) and vs. #12 Merrimack (3/2). In 2010-11, the Minutemen posted an 0-16-3 record against ranked teams. - UMass record of 9-8-0 in 2009-10 was the program's best all-time record against ranked foes. UMass had wins over #2 Boston University (Oct. 18), #9 Yale (Nov. 19), #18/17 Vermont (Nov. 24, Jan. 23), vs. #18 Union (12/29), a pair over #15 UMass Lowell (1/15-16), and a pair of wins at #17 Maine (3/5-6). - All-time, UMass is 65-217-26 against ranked opponents including a 6-7-2 record at neutral sites and a 10-26-5 record against non-conference teams. - UMass posted its fourth-ever win over a #1-ranked team, its first-ever on the road, on Feb. 10, 2012, 3-2 at Boston University. It was the squad's second over a #1 on the season. On Nov. 5, 2011, the Minutemen earned a 4-2 victory over Boston College in the Mullins Center. Previously, UMass had defeated then #1-ranked Boston University, 5-1, on Nov. 14, 2008 - also at the Mullins Center. The first came in 1994-95 with a 4-2 win over #1 Maine on Jan. 28. In the modern era, UMass is 4-14-1 against teams ranked #1.
Minutemen In The NHL - UMass hockey alum Matt Anderson made his National Hockey League debut on Jan. 29 with the New Jersey Devils, becoming the third Minuteman to play in his first NHL game this season. - In 2012-13, Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings), Justin Braun (San Jose Sharks), Matt Irwin (San Jose Sharks) and Mike Kostka (Toronto Maple Leafs) are currently active among the NHL ranks. - During Anderson's stint with the Devils, there were five Minutemen active in the NHL at once, the highest number in history. The program has had four on two occasions, first in 2010-11 and then again to start this season. In addition, Brad Norton, Greg Mauldin, Thomas Pöck and Casey Wellman round out the list of UMass hockey alumni who have seen time in the NHL, nine players in total, all within the past decade. - Kostka made his NHL debut in the Maple Leafs' season opener and helped the Toronto down the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, in the teams' season opener on Hockey Night In Canada. Kostka saw 23 minutes of ice time in the contest, the second-most of any player for Toronto, and picked up an assist just four minutes, 51 seconds into his NHL career. - Matt Irwin made his NHL debut in the Sharks' season opener, a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames and was on the ice for 19:06, including 51 seconds on the power play. He also registered two shots and two hits in the contest. In back-to-back games, Jan. 24 and 26, he earned his first two NHL points with an assist against Phoenix and a goal against Colorado.
Marcou Named ECHL All-Star - UMass hockey alum Michael Marcou earned a selection to the 2012-3 ECHL All-Star team. Marcou, who finished his career with the Minutemen in 2011-12, is in his rookie season. - With the Road Warriors in 2012-13, Marcou has totaled 25 points on six goals and 19 assists over 54 games. - Marcou is the fifth former UMass player over the past three seasons to earn an all-star selection in his respective league, joining Matt Irwin (AHL) and Jonathan Quick (NHL) who were both all-stars in 2011-12 and 2010-11 all-stars Matt Anderson (AHL) and Justin Braun (AHL).
Quick Wins Cup - Former Minuteman Jonathan Quick was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy after leading the Los Angeles Kings to the franchise's first Stanley Cup Championship following the squad's 6-1 series-clinching victory over the New Jersey Devils last June. Quick, the first UMass player to win the Stanley Cup,became just the third American to collect the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. - Quick allowed only 29 goals in the Kings' 20 playoff games, including just seven in six games in the Stanley Cup Finals as he stopped 125 of 132 shots. He was 16-4 in net during the postseason with a 1.41 goals against average and a .946 save percentage. - The Vezina Trophy finalist started a personal-best 69 games during the 2011-12 regular season and posted 35 of the Kings' 40 wins. Quick logged an NHL-leading 10 shutouts and ranked second in the League with a 1.95 goals-against average and fifth with a .929 save percentage. All three marks were franchise single season records, as well. - At UMass, Quick led the Minutemen to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 2006-07 while posting team single-season records with 19 wins, 37 appearances, 1,046 saves and 2,224 minutes played. He finished his sophomore season with a 19-12-5 record, three shutouts, a. 2.16 goals-against average (tied for 11th in the nation) and a .929 save percentage (fifth in the nation). That season, he became UMass' fifth All-American selection earning second-team honors. He still holds program career records for save percentage (.926), goals against average (2.40) and saves per game (28.96).
Kostka Claims Calder - UMass hockey alum Mike Kostka scored twice and added an assist as the Nofolk Admirals completed their sweep of the Toronto Marlies to capture the 2012 Calder Cup. Kostka, for a second straight game, scored the game-winner for Norfolk, who defeated the Marlies, 6-1, in the series-clinching game four. - Kostka, who turned pro following his senior season with the Minutemen in 2007, totaled six goals and six assists over 18 postseason games. The defenseman had 32 points on seven goals and 25 assists in 52 regular season contests with the Admirals in 2011-12. - Kostka became first Minuteman to win the Calder Cup since Matt Anderson took home the title with the Chicago Wolves in 2007-08. - All told, over the last five years, three different UMass hockey alums have played in the AHL's championship series with Casey Wellman leading the Houston Aeros to the Cup finals in 2011-12.