Hockey Announces Team Awards At Annual Banquet
April 20, 2013
AMHERST, Mass. - The UMass hockey program announced its 2012-13 team awards at the squad's annual banquet on Saturday afternoon. Five individuals collected honors, including Branden Gracel who was named team MVP in recognition of his stellar junior campaign.
Gracel led the Minutemen in scoring this season and was among the top faceoff men in the nation. One of five players who appeared in all 34 games for UMass, Gracel totaled 34 points on 14 goals and 20 assists, all career bests for the Calgary, Alberta, native who led the Minutemen in each of those categories en route his first career Hockey East Honorable Mention All-Star recognition. In 27 league contests, he logged a team-high 25 points on 10 goals and 15 helpers.
Over the dots, Gracel won 406 of 682 faceoffs for a .595 clip to rank ninth in the nation in faceoff percentage and first in Hockey East. He was a team-best +7 on the year and contributed two power-play goals and one short-handed tally, as well.
For a second consecutive year, junior defenseman Joel Hanley received the Jack Canniff Unsung Hero Award, "given to the UMass player recognized by his teammates to have contributed the most to the team without receiving the recognition that others have."
Hanley appeared in all but one of the Minutemen's 34 games in 2012-13, totaling 16 points on five goals and 11 assists with five multi-point contests. Four of his five tallies came on the power play, tying for second on the squad and contributing to a total of eight power play points. Hanley tied for sixth on the squad in points this season and ranked 12th in Hockey East in defensemen scoring. He finished the year a +1 and was third on the team in blocked shots with 44.
Sophomore Zack LaRue was selected as the team's Most Improved Player. He appeared in a career-high 21 games in 2012-13, including the final 20 of the season. The forward registered the first two goals of his career, both of which were game winners, and logged five assists for seven points. His first career tally helped UMass advance to the Championship game of the Ledyard Classic with a 3-2 victory over Bemidji State.
Shane Walsh was voted the team's Rookie of the Year after recording 11 points on three goals and eight assists in his first collegiate season. All three of the forward's tallies came on the power play, while four of his eight assists set up game-winning goals.
Redshirt junior Anthony Raiola earned the squad's Minuteman Award, which is presented to the player "recognized by the team for having exemplified the standards upon which the UMass program is built...dedication, determination, character and sportsmanship." Raiola saw action 10 games and blocked seven shots during the 2012-13 campaign. He picked up his second career assist in a 6-3 win over Northeastern on Dec. 1.