Comeback Falls Short For UMass Hockey At UVM, 3-2
The UMass hockey team pulled within a goal of Vermont with the extra skater on late in the third period, but was unable to overcome a 0-3 start, dropping the series finale, 3-2, on Saturday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse. Following the setback, the Minutemen fall to 9-12-2 overall, 6-9-1 in Hockey East games, while the Catamounts improve to 7-13-4 on the year 4-9-4 in conference play.
Quick Hits: Boston College Pair - -UMass went 0-1-1 last weekend against #7 Boston College with a 2-1 loss and a 2-2 tie on the road at Conte Forum. The Minutemen are now 1-0-1 in their last two trips to Chestnut Hill after snapping a streak of 13 straight setbacks on the road against the Eagles last season. - Senior Branden Gracel has scored in two straight games and currently leads the Minutemen with five goals on the season. Last Friday at Boston College, he logged his second multi-point game of the season and 16th of his career with a goal and an assist. He factored in all three tallies over the two games against the Eagles. - Gracel's goal to send Friday's game to overtime was his third power-play goal of the year (tied for third in Hockey East) and eighth of his career. - In addition to his two-point night, Gracel was +1 and won 12 of 18 faceoffs in Friday's tie at BC. - Senior Conor Sheary had a multi-point night, as well, with two assists on Friday against the Eagles, his first multi-point game of the season and 14th of his career. - Freshman Ray Pigozzi scored his third goal of the year last Friday at Boston College, the seventh tally by a UMass rookie this season. - Sophomore Shane Walsh logged his first assist of the year in Thursday's setback against the Eagles. - Freshman Mac Haight made his starting debut in net for the Minutemen on Thursday against BC and had 31 saves. - UMass logged as season-low six penalty minutes in the 2-2 tie at Boston College. - The Minutemen limited the Eagles to just three shots in the third period last Friday, the lowest number by any opponent in a single period this season.
Hanley Among Top Scoring Defensemen In UMass History - With 67 points in his career, senior defenseman Joel Hanley ranks fourth all-time in UMass history for a UMass blueliner. Two of the three individuals ahead of him on the list, Thomas Pöck and Justin Braun, were both All-Americans for the Minutemen and went on to play in the NHL. - Overall, Hanley is 36th in career scoring with 16 goals and 51 assists. This season currently he is tied for the team lead in points with eight (1g, 7a) and ranks tied for fourth in defenseman scoring and tied for 10th in assists.
Block Party - UMass currently has three players inside the top-10 in Hockey East in blocked shots, paced by senior Colin Shea's 26 blocks (t-3rd). Fellow Minutemen blueliners junior Oleg Yevenko and senior Joel Hanley rank tied for eighth and tied for 10th with 22 and 21, respectively. - Shea blocked a game-high six shots in UMass' 2-2 tie at #7 Boston College. He is more than halfway to his season total from 2012-13 (46 in 34 games).
Milestone Watch - UMass' win on Nov. 2 against Maine was its 149th Hockey East victory all-time.
Haight Superb In Starting Debut - Freshman goaltender Mac Haight has been named the Hockey East Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week and Co-UMass Athlete of the Week on Nov. 18 after two solid starts against #7 Boston College. - Filling in for the injured Steve Mastalerz, Haight made the first two starts of his career and posted a 1.92 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage against the Eagles, who came into the matchups with the No. 1-ranked offense in the nation at 5.00 goals per-game. Haight stopped 51 of the 61 shots he faced over the two contests, including 31 saves in his starting debut. - The following night, he made 26 saves to help lead the Minutemen to a 2-2 tie against the Eagles, including stopping the final 21 shots he faced in the contest with 15 saves in the second period alone.
Newcomers Make Immediate Impact - Head coach John Micheletto's first recruiting class has made an immediate impact for the Minutemen as the group of eight newcomers who have seen action thus far this season have accounted for 20 of UMass' 69 points on the year, nearly 30 percent of the squad's scoring. Six of eight UMass newcomers that have seen the ice have at least one point on the year. - Newcomers had nine points (2g 7a) in the two-game 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 a team-best 125-for-211, 59.2% over the dots this season. He currently ranks sixth in Hockey East in faceoff percentage. - Iacobellis' power-play goal from the Oct. 19, 5-2 win over Michigan State was selected as the No. 5 play in the NCAA's Top-5 Plays of the Week. - Two of UMass three game-winning goals to date have been scored by freshmen (Iacobellis and Pigozzi). -The Minutemen's freshman class is in the top-30 nationally in scoring (tied for 26th with 16 points). Iacobellis is tied for 10th in Hockey East in freshman scoring with seven points (4g, 3a).
A Balanced Attack - The Minutemen have been extremely balanced in their scoring thus far this as nine players have combined for the squad's 24 goals with no player having registered more than five. - Sixteen of the 25 players who have seen the ice over UMass' first 12 games have contributed at least one point. Redshirt junior Troy Power (4g, 4a), senior Conor Sheary (2g, 6a) and senior Joely Hanley (1g, 7a) have eight points apiece to lead the squad. Seven more individuals have at least four points on the year, including senior Branden Gracel (5g, 2a) and freshman Steven Iacobellis (4g, 3a). - Twelve different players have registered points on the power play, with seven individuals tallying four or more points with the man advantage. Hanley paces the group as seven of his eight points on the year have come on the power play.
Mastalerz Honored Again - After backstopping the Minutemen to a 1-0-1 weekend of Hockey East action vs. Maine, junior goaltender Steve Mastalerz was named Co-Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week and Co-UMass Athlete of the Week on Nov 4. Mastalerz earned his second honor of the season from Hockey East. - Mastalerz helped UMass earn its first three Hockey East points of the season, turning aside 64 of 66 shots faced for a .970 save percentage against the Black Bears as the Minutemen recorded a 1-1 tie and a 2-1 win at the Mullins Center on the weekend. - He logged a 0.96 GAA over the two contests and did not allow an even strength goal as both Maine tallies came on the power play, one during a 5-on-3. Mastalerz's 38 saves on Nov. 2 marked a season best and were two shy of his career high.
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 the 5-2 victory over Michigan State on Oct. 19. - 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. Power Play Prowess - UMass is currently tied for second in the nation in power-play goals with 15 in 12 games and ranks ninth in power play percentage at 23.8% (15 for 63). - The Minutemen have scored at least one power-play goal in nine of 12 contests thus far, registering multiple goals with the man advantage on three occasions. - The Minutemen logged their first two wins of the season on the back of a stellar effort from the squad's power play unit, converting five of their 13 opportunities (38.5%) with the man advantage over two games against Michigan State, including a 4-for-8 effort on Oct. 19 vs. the Spartans, 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. - 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. - 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 weekend sweep of Michigan State, the UMass hockey program collected several weekly awards on Oct 21. 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 115 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.
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 was granted a medical hardship waiver and will have one additional season of eligibility remaining following the 2013-14 campaign. - Seeing his first action since Nov. 30, 2012 vs. Northeastern, Power 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.
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 seven 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 three-plus seasons of college hockey.
Three Years And Counting - It has been over three calendar years since senior Conor Sheary has missed a game for the Minutemen, currently having played in 111 straight contests, including all 34 last season and all 36 as a sophomore. - Not dressing for just one of a possible 117 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 800 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 155 goals and 258 assists, led by Michael Pereira's 90 career points. Conor Sheary and Branden Gracel follow with 84 and 75 respectively. Pereira is UMass' active career goals (45) and points leader. - Three seniors combined on UMass' final goal of the night for the Minutemen at Maine on Oct. 26 as Pereira scored with assists going to Hanley and Sheary to bring the class' total to 400 career points combined among the group. - Six seniors have hit the century mark in games played: Sheary (116), Pereira (113), Gracel (112), Joel Hanley (109), Shea (108) and Adam Phillips (102).
Vs. Ranked Teams - UMass is 0-3-1 against ranked teams thus far this year, most recently skating to a 2-2 tie at #7 Boston college on Nov. 15. - 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 64-194-25 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 in 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 in 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.
UMass Pros Dot The Globe - UMass currently has 21 alumni currently playing professional hockey around the globe in nine different countries: Austria, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Italy, Russia, Switzerland and the United States. - In addition to the four former Minutemen currently playing in the NHL, two more are active in the AHL (Conor Allen and Casey Wellman) and four are currently on ECHL rosters (Rocco Carzo, Danny Hobbs, Michael Marcou and T.J. Syner). - Nine alums are currently competing in Europe: Chris Capraro (England), Paul Dainton (Italy), P.J. Fenton (Germany), Mark Matheson (Austria), Greg Mauldin (Switzerland), Thomas Pöck (Austria), Corey Quirk (Denmark), Toni Soderholm (Finland) and Stephen Werner (Germany). - Matt Anderson is in his first year in the KHL, playing with Moscow Spartak. He currently has 15 points (8g, 7a) in 27 games.