Three-Goal Third Lifts UMass Hockey Over Maine, 5-2
The UMass hockey team used a trio of third period goals to lift the squad to a 5-2 victory over Maine on Saturday night at the Mullins Center. Following the win, the Minutemen improve to 11-17-2 overall, 8-14-1 in Hockey East games, while the Black Bears drop to 9-17-6 on the season and 5-12-6 in conference action.
Quick Hits: Michigan State Sweep - Senior Branden Gracel contributed two tallies in UMass' 3-1 win over Michigan State last Friday night, tying a single game career best and marking his third career multi-goal game and 15th career multi-point game. Gracel's first goal of the evening was his second power-play goal of the season (seventh of his career) and marked his 70th career point. - Senior Joel Hanley played in his 100th career game last Friday night vs. the Spartans and picked up a pair of assists to tie a single game career high, his 13th career multi-point game. He followed up with his 10th career power-play goal in game two vs. Michigan State. - Senior Colin Shea played in his 100th career game on Oct. 19 vs. Michigan State. - Shane Walsh scored his first goal of the season last Friday night vs. Michigan State, his fourth of his career and first career game winner. - UMass opened its 2013-14 home campaign last Friday night in front of 7,078 fans at the Mullins Center. It marked the 25th largest home crowd in program history and second largest at home against a non-conference opponent. The Minutemen defeated non-league foe Connecticut in last year's season opener in front of 7,123 fans.
Milestone Watch - UMass' active career points leader, senior forward Michael Pereira, sits just outside the program's top-20 for career points with 86 (42g, 44a). He needs two points to break into the top-20. - Senior Conor Sheary is one away from his 50th career assist. He picked up his 49th career helper vs. Michigan State last Saturday.
Quick To Contribute - Head coach John Micheletto's first recruiting class has made an immediate impact for the Minutemen as the group of six newcomers who have seen action thus far this season have accounted for 10 of UMass' 31 points on the year, 32% of the squad's scoring. - Newcomers had nine points (2g 7a) in last weekend's sweep of Michigan State, including first career points for freshmen Ray Pigozzi and Brandon Wahlin and sophomore transfer Ben Gallacher's first points as a Minuteman. As a freshman at Ohio State in 2011-12, Gallacher had 11 helpers. - Freshman Steven Iacobellis' play was a bright spot for the Minutemen in the squad's opening weekend of the season. Centering UMass' second line in both contests, Iacobellis scored his first collegiate goal in the season opener at #19 Boston University on Oct. 11. - Over two contests in the opening weekend, Iacobellis led the Minutemen in faceoff %, winning 20-of-32 draws combined for a 62.5% clip. He is currently 37-for-62, 59.7% over the dots this season. - Iacobellis' power-play goal from last Saturday's 5-2 win over Michigan State was selected as the No. 5 play in the NCAA's Top-5 Plays of the Week.
Sensational Night For Second Line - The Minutemen's second line of freshman Ray Pigozzi, freshman Steven Iacobellis and redshirt-junior Troy Power contributed nine of UMass' 13 points in last Saturday's victory 5-2 over Michigan State. - Pigozzi (3a), Iacobellis (2g, 1a) and Power (1g, 2a) each totaled three points apiece. - Pigozzi's helpers marked the first three points of his career, while Power's three-point night set a new career single-game high. Iacobellis' tallies were his second and third of the season and included the game-winning goal.
A Balanced Attack - The Minutemen have been extremely balanced in their scoring thus far this as six players have combined for the squad's 11 goals with no player having registered more than three. - Twelve of the 19 players who have seen the ice over UMass' first four games have contributed at least one point. Three players have four points apiece to lead the squad: freshman Steven Iacobellis (3g, 1a), redshirt-junior Troy Power (2g, 2a), and senior Joel Hanley (1g, 3a). Four more individuals have chipped in with three points apiece. - Nine different players have registered points on the power play, four with three points apiece and five with two points each. Iacobellis and Power pace that group with two goals and one assist each.
Special Teams Success - The Minutemen logged their first two of the season on the back of a stellar effort from the squad's power play unit. - UMass converted five of its 13 opportunities (38.5%) with the man advantage over two games against Michigan State, including a 4-for-8 effort last Saturday night, which marked the first time since Oct. 8, 2009 vs. RPI that a Minuteman squad had scored four or more power-play goals in a game. - UMass is currently tied for second in the nation in power play percentage (32%) and total power-play goals (8) for the season. - The Minutemen scored all three of their goals in the opening weekend of the season at #19 Boston University and at #1 UMass Lowell on the power play for a 25% (3-for-12) conversion rate. - On the penalty kill thus far this year, UMass has been successful on 19 of 22 kills, 86.4% - With at least one power-play goal in 22 of its 34 contests in 2012-13, the Minutemen owned the No. 3-ranked power play in Hockey East last season with a conversion rate of 18.5% (31 for 168), 25th nationally. - UMass finished last season tied for 17th in the nation in power-play goals with 31, ninth in power-play goals per-game (.91). - Last season the Minutemen compiled a streak of nine straight games with at least one power play goal, the longest such streak in the program's Modern Era. Previously UMass had power-play tallies in seven straight contests from Nov.-Dec. 2003.
Minutemen Earn Weekly Awards Following Michigan State Sweep - Coming off the squad's sweep of Michigan State this past weekend, the UMass hockey program collected several weekly awards on Monday. Junior goaltender Steve Mastalerz was tabbed the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week and freshman Steven Iacobellis was selected as Co-UMass Athlete of the Week, while the Minutemen were named the Hockey East Team of the Week. - Mastalerz earned his second career Defensive Player of the Week accolade after he posted a pair of victories over Michigan State Oct. 18-19 as UMass swept the Spartans, 3-1 and 5-2. He stopped 31 shots in each contest for a total of 62 saves on the weekend and a .954 save percentage to go along with a 1.50 goals-against average. - Iacobellis saw action in both games of UMass' home opening weekend, posting a three-point night on Saturday in the Minutemen's come-from-behind victory over Michigan State with two goals and one assist, including his second career power-play tally and first career game winner. The freshman saw 17 minutes, 26 seconds of ice time on Saturday and played 16:49 in Friday's contest. Iacobellis won 56.7% of his faceoffs on the weekend, going 17-for-30 in the circle.
Sheary Named Captain - Head coach John Micheletto announced on Oct. 18 that Conor Sheary will serve as the team's captain for the 2013-14 campaign. The senior forward has been a fixture in the Minutemen's lineup for the past three-plus seasons, missing just one of a possible 109 games of his career thus far. -Sheary wore the "C" for the first time on Oct. 18 in the squad's home opener vs. Michigan State. - Sheary ranks tied for 27th all-time in UMass history in career points, 24th in assists and 18th in power-play goals. He holds a +2 rating for his career and was +15 as a sophomore in 2011-12.
Happy Returns - Both redshirt-junior forward Troy Power and sophomore Evan Stack returned to the lineup in the season opener at Boston University on Oct. 11 after both seeing their 2012-13 campaigns cut short due to injury. - Power, seeing his first action since Nov. 30, 2012 vs. Northeastern, scored his first of the season on Oct. 12 at #1 UMass Lowell. - Stack was back in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 9, 2012 vs. Providence. The pair of forwards missed a combined 49 games lost to injury in 2012-13. Both have seen action in all four games thus far this season. Who's Back - UMass returns 18 total letterwinners from a year ago, 12 forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender. The Minutemen bring back their three leading scorers from 2013-14 in seniors Branden Gracel (34 pts), Conor Sheary (27 pts) and Michael Pereira (26 pts). Among the 18 returnees are 16 juniors and seniors. Three of UMass' five returning defensemen played in 30+ games last season. - In net, Steve Mastalerz played a career high 15 games in 2012-13, a total of 850:56 minutes. Upon returning from injury, Mastalerz posted a 2.45 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage in the second half of the season and finished the year on a high note, with a 3-0 shutout of Merrimack.
What's New - UMass has added nine new faces to the roster for 2013-14, four forwards (Steven Iacobellis, Ray Pigozzi, Frank Vatrano, Brandon Wahlin), three defensemen (Brennan Baxandall, Ben Gallacher, Marc Hetnik) and two goaltenders (Mac Haight and Alex Wakaluk). - The group is an experienced bunch and has combined for 1,244 career games in junior hockey. - Three players in the group have won a combined four medals in international competition. Vatrano captured a gold medal with the U.S. National Development Team at the 2011 IIHF World U-18 Championship and took silver at the U-17 championships in 2010. Gallacher was a silver medal winner in the World Junior A Championships for Canada West in 2010 and Pigozzi captured a bronze medal at the World Junior A Challenge in 2011 as a member of Team USA. - Two more players wore letters for their respective junior clubs as Baxandall served as Drumheller's captain in 2012-13 and was an assistant captain in 2011-12 and Hetnik served as captain for the Vernon Vipers in 2012-13. - As a member of the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Wakaluk was MVP of the SJHL and was a finalist for the RBC Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year in 2012-13. - Wahlin finished his junior career as the all-time leading scorer for the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) with 109 career points (33 goals, 76 assists) in 115 career regular season games.
Career Years In 2012-13 - Seven returning Minutemen are coming off years in which they set or matched career highs in either goals, assists or points. - Career highs in goals in 2012-13: Zack LaRue (2), Troy Power (2), Branden Gracel (14), Colin Shea (3) - Career highs in assists in 2012-13: Mike Busillo (2), LaRue (3), Gracel (20), Adam Phillips (7), Shea (10), Anthony Raiola (1) - Career highs in points in 2012-13: LaRue (5), Gracel (24), Shea (13).
A Fine Line - The line of Michael Pereira, Branden Gracel and Conor Sheary skated together in 17 games in 2012-13 and combined for 52 points during that span on 24 goals and 28 assists. One of the top point producing line combinations in all of Hockey East last year, all three return for the 2013-14 season and have skated together in all four contests thus far this year. - In those 17 games, the Pereira-Gracel-Sheary line provided 52.2% of the team's goals and 40.9% of the squad's points. Gracel (7g, 11a) and Pereira (10g, 8a) had a team-high 18 points in that stretch, followed by Sheary (7g, 9a). - Gracel is coming off a breakout junior campaign that saw him log a team-best 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) while also garnering Hockey East Honorable Mention All-Star recognition. - The three have missed just 10 games combined in their 3+ seasons of college hockey.
Dominant At The Dots - UMass enjoyed great success at the faceoff dots last season, winning 1172 of 2226 (52.7%) in 34 games, good for eighth in the nation as a squad and first in Hockey East. - Individually, Branden Gracel finished his junior campaign 406-for-682 over the dots in 2012-13 to rank ninth in the nation in faceoff winning percentage (59.5%) and first in Hockey East. At the 2012 Ledyard Classic, he won 40 of 57 draws for a 70.2% clip, while also adding four points in two games. - The Minutemen were 50% or better at the dots in 25 of 34 games in 2012-13.
Three Years And Counting - It has been nearly three calendar years since senior Conor Sheary has missed a game for the Minutemen, currently having played in 103 straight contests, including all 34 last season and all 36 as a sophomore. - Not dressing for just one of a possible 109 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.
Senior Citizens - UMass' nine-man senior class has appeared in over 750 career games combined with three members of the class (Branden Gracel, Conor Sheary and Colin Shea) having played in all 34 games last season. - As a group, they have logged 148 goals and 244 assists, led by Michael Pereira's 86 career points. Conor Sheary and Branden Gracel follow with 78 and 71 respectively. Pereira is UMass' active career goals (42) and points leader. - Five seniors have already hit the century mark in games played: Sheary (108), Pereira (105), Gracel (104), Joel Hanley (101), and Shea (100), Adam Phillips (94) is nearing the milestone.
Vs. Ranked Teams - UMass is 0-2 against ranked teams thus far this year, falling at #19 Boston University, 3-1, and at #1 UMass Lowell, 5-2, over the opening weekend of the season. - The Minutemen opened up last season with five games against ranked foes over its first six contests and went 4-9-2 against ranked teams in 2012-13, including wins over #9 New Hampshire (11/2), #8 Dartmouth (12/31), #2 Boston College (1/18) and #11/9 Boston University (2/1). - UMass was 7-9-1 against ranked teams in 2011-12 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 64-193-24 against ranked opponents including a 6-4-0 record at neutral sites and a 10-27-4 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.
Three Attend Rookie Camps - Three current members of the UMass hockey team attended NHL prospect camps this past summer. Senior forward Branden Gracel participated in New York Islanders' mini camp and senior forward Conor Sheary and junior defenseman Oleg Yevenko attended New Jersey Devils' rookie camp. - Gracel was among 26 camp invitees on Long Island and took part in a five-day mini camp loaded with off and on-ice workout sessions. In the Orange vs. Blue Rookie Scrimmage at Nassau Coliseum on July 11, Gracel centered the fourth line for the Orange team. - Sheary and Yevenko opened up Devils rookie camp at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Monday, July 15. - With 7.7 seconds to go in the team's July 18 scrimmage, Yevenko fought 6-5, 215-pound Seth Helgeson. - In the final scrimmage of the week, Sheary scored for the white team at the 8:02 mark of the opening period during a power play portion of the scrimmage.
Minutemen In The NHL - Four UMass hockey alumni earned spots on opening night National Hockey League rosters for the start of the 2013-14 season. Former Minutemen Justin Braun (2006-10) and Matt Irwin (2008-10) are entering their fourth and second seasons, respectively, with the San Jose Sharks, Jonathan Quick (2005-07) is back with the Los Angeles Kings and Mike Kostka (2004-08) is beginning his first year with the Chicago Blackhawks. The four, all active in the NHL last season, are among UMass' total of nine NHL alumni all time. - During Matt Anderson's stint with the Devils last season in 2012-13, 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, all within the past decade. - Irwin was named the 2012-13 San Jose Sharks' Rookie of the Year after registering 12 points on six goals and six assists over 38 games last season. He also appeared in 11 playoff games for the Sharks and had one assist in postseason competition.