Posted: 9:00 a.m. Friday, Oct. 11, 2013
By Jimmy Kelley
Friday marks the beginning of another season for the UMass Minutemen on the ice. Last year was a mixed bag as they finished with a sub .500 record under first-year head coach John Micheletto and this year could be another long one on the ice.
The coaches picked the Minutemen to finish 10th out of 11 teams in Hockey East and just how accurate that prediction is could be very clear by the end of the first weekend of the season. UMass will open the season with two top-20 matchups against Hockey Eat foes, even if only one will count towards their Hockey East record.
UMass will travel to Agganis Arena to face No. 19 Boston University. The Terriers represent the last ranked team the Minutemen defeated, which should be encouraging but also welcomes a fired-up BU team that will want to avenge a 5-1 loss last February.
The next day, the Minutemen will face No. 1 UMass-Lowell at the Tsongas Center for the first of three scheduled meetings with their cross-state rival. The River Hawks return a strong crew of players from a team that lost in the NCAA quarterfinals to Yale a year ago.
So in honor of this momentous day, here are some links to check out ahead of tonight and tomorrow's games to get a sense of what you can expect from the Minutemen in 2013-14.
"Steven Iacobellis was one of a number of freshmen who made good first impressions as his White team bested the Maroon 4-2 in a spirited scrimmage of two 17-minute periods where the motivation was a combination of playing for jobs and gaining momentum for the season opener Friday night at Boston University.
Hockey East games have been reduced from 27 to 20 for each team, and that means 14 non-conference games. The impact of the change is twofold – it makes every Hockey East game a war; and it gives more meaning to the once not-so-important out-of-conference contests, particularly if a team is on the bubble for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Mastalerz is healthy now and Boyle is gone after being dismissed by UMass coach John Micheletto. The opportunity is there for Mastalerz to play a huge role for the Minutemen, who went 12-19-3 last year.
"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."
"Statistically, all three players finished last year in the top three for the Minutemen in points, with Gracel in the lead with 14 goals, 20 assists and 34 points. Sheary was right behind him with 27 points and Pereira followed with 26 points."
The Minutemen were going through some changes themselves at the time. UMass was preparing to begin its first season under new coach John Micheletto, and with that came a new philosophy, a new system and a new culture. Ben Gallacher was a perfect fit for all of the above.