Last Season: 13-18-5 (9-14-4) 8th in Hockey East
(F) T.J. Syner (graduated), (D) Mike Marcou (graduated), and (F) Danny Hobbs (graduated – NYR)
’12-’13 Recruit Class:
(F) K.J. Tiefenwerth – Bellmore, NY – Junior Bruins (EJHL)
(F) Connor Doherty – Holden, MA – Junior Bruins (EJHL)
(F) Evan Stack – Calgary, Alberta – Merritt Centennials (BCHL)
(F) Shane Walsh – West Roxbury, MA – South Shore Kings (EJHL)
BF’s Hockey East Recruit Class Rank: 10 – So much of what quantifies or substantiates the rating of specific recruiting classes year in and year out, is predicated on positional availability. Often times, quantity is paramount to quality and teams with scarce positional availability, as is the case with UMass this season, are not fairly judged. That said, with the wealth of talent entering Hockey East this season, it was tough to rate UMass’ small group of four ahead of virtually any other class. KJ Tiefenwerth, Junior Bruins (EJHL) should step right and help the Minutemen account for some of the loss in offensive production that the departed, T.J. Syner and Danny Hobbs provided. Fellow Junior Bruin, Connor Doherty, has an excellent chance to earn quality minutes on the blue line this season.
BF’s Key Recruit to Watch: KJ Tiefenwerth – The former Boston College recruit (’92 birthdate) takes his talents to the western part of the state as he begins his UMass career with lofty expectations. Although the Minutemen have retained most of their offensive punch from last season, they will be looking to account for the 25 goals scored by Hobbs and Syner. Coach Micheletto will count on the talented, Tiefenwerth and perhaps newcomer Evan Stack (Calgary, Alberta) for immediate production on the top 2-3 lines.
The Beanpot Forum asked the experts for an ‘Insider’s Take’:
Coach John Micheletto
On retaining the ’12 recruit class after an untimely change in coaching personnel this offseason
“I give credit to our freshmen for their desire to be a part of the UMass community and their excitement to be a part of something special that we’re doing here with our program. Coach Quesnelle also deserves credit for his continued work throughout the summer to keep all of our guys informed and focused.”
On the impact potential of the ’12 recruit class
“Evan, Connor, KJ and Shane all offer differing skill sets that we’ll look to maximize. As with all of our returning players, these four will have an opportunity from day one to earn everything they get en route to helping our team have success.”
UMass blogger – Fear the Triangle
On the changes in culture and general strategy expected with Coach Micheletto in the fold
“It’s tough to know so far. Since Micheletto has never been a head coach before there isn’t much to base assumptions on. Plus to date he’s had very little exposure to the UMass hockey fans and boosters, so he’s pretty much an unknown. He has said he’s going to stress defensive play and puck possession as part of his style. From a culture standpoint I think many around the program are just looking for consistency. Strategy, lines, and other aspects of the game were constantly changing under Toot Cahoon. I think people are looking to see what a little more stability from game to game will do for results.”
On the impact potential of the ’12 recruit class
I think former Boston College recruit K.J. Tiefenwerth will come in and contribute to scoring right away. This is a player who was among the best in the EJHL last year and has spent the last two summers training with the Islanders at their prospect camp. I think he’ll be a top two line player right away. After that it’s tough to tell. With the graduation of Mike Marcou there’s still a hole to fill on defense and Connor Doherty could be one of the players who sees regular rotation into that spot.
Beanpot Forum’s Prognosis: The sports landscape at UMass has shifted over the past several seasons, with eminent leaders like Derek Kellogg and Charley Molnar playing key roles in the resurgence of the basketball and football (now FBS) programs respectively. After a botched, and can we say, circuitous, search effort, the UMass hockey program seems to have found its man; former Vermont associate coach and recruiting coordinator, John Micheletto has taken over the head coaching reigns. Micheletto, who has a strong recruiting acumen, will be looking to add some stability to the mix that was missing from former coach, and ostensibly the pioneer of the UMass program, Toot Cahoon.
UMass returns its prominent junior class as well as several other key elements to an offensive laden lineup that ranked an impressive 12th in the country in ’11-’12. Gone is the high flying, 13 goal producer, T.J. Syner (Springfield, MA) whose electrifying style of play will no doubt be missed in Amherst. UMass welcomes back a plethora of offensive weapons and many program experts expect big things from freshman and Bellmore, NY native, K.J. Tiefenwerth. Juniors Michael Periera and Conor Sheary had a whopping 29 goals between them last season and we expect that number to increase as these two talented forwards continue to develop.
Defensively, UMass struggled at times over the past few seasons but the Minutemen have far more experience on the back end this season. Although there aren’t any superstars per say, UMass has a seasoned group of juniors including a couple of slick, puck moving defenseman in Connor Allen and Joel Hanley. Sophomore, Oleg Yevenko struggled at times in his freshman campaign adjusting to the North American collegiate game, but he brings some grit and size to a team that typically relies on a speedy, diminutive corps of skaters. Sophomore Adam Phillips seemed to fall victim to the old ‘sophomore slump’ and, like Yevenko, will use his size (6ft6”) to help add some toughness to this UMass team.
In net, the goaltending trio of Jeff Teglia, Kevin Boyle and Steve Mastalerz all gained considerable experience because of Toot Cahoon’s much maligned, goaltender on a hunch rotation. We feel that BCHL product Kevin Boyle (8-7-4, 3.00 GAA) did enough last season to earn the starting spot this year but Micheletto has been boisterous in his declaration that the position is “wide open”.
BF Predicted Hockey East Position: 6th – UMass can look no further than its satellite campus in Lowell to see what a regime change can do for a program. Between the leadership and stability that Micheletto will provide and the talented junior class, the BF looks for a solid season at the Mullins Center.