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Young players still adjusting to collegiate game, alumni making moves in NHL

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

The Massachusetts hockey team lost many talented players from last season’s team and in their place came a slew of fresh faces.

With 13 freshmen and four sophomores on the 2010-2011 roster, underclassmen have played a big role in the Minutemen season. How have they done?

The UMass record (2-6-3, 1-3-3 Hockey East) suggests that there are some growing pains on the Minutemen team. Yet, the stats show major contributions in the most important areas. Indications are that the Maroon and White youth are playing well, but are unable to translate their production into wins.
Underclassmen have accounted for 49 of the Minutemen’s 77 points 11 games into the season.

Freshman Michael Pereira, who gained Hockey East Rookie of the Month honors, leads the team with 11 points (seven goals, four assists). He is currently on a seven-game point-scoring streak, dating back to Oct. 22.

His plus-minus of plus-6 suggests that the Minutemen play best when he’s on the ice, along with fellow rookie Branden Gracel. With seven points this season (two goals, five assists), Gracel is third on the team in points scored and tied for second in assists and one of six underclassmen in the top 10 in points.

Adam Phillips earned Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors for his part in leading UMass to its first two wins of the season last weekend. Phillips scored three goals in wins against Vermont and Quinnipiac. He finished the weekend with a plus-3 rating.

At times, however, the inexperience of the Minutemen has shown up outside of the box score and UMass coach Don Cahoon believes that his team has a long way to go to playing consistent hockey.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Cahoon said after Friday’s win against Vermont. “We are clearly not as disciplined as we need to be, we don’t function in situations as well as we should and there’s a big disparity sometimes from period to period in the way we play.”

NHL Updates
In his second career game with the San Jose Sharks, former UMass standout Justin Braun tallied a pair of assists for his first two points in a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Braun saw his first action on Friday against the Vancouver Canucks. He has now logged in almost 40 total minutes of ice time with five shots and a plus-1 rating..

On Tuesday, Braun was called up to the Sharks of the National Hockey League from his position as a blue liner for the system’s American Hockey League affiliate team, the Worcestor Sharks.

Braun graduated in 2010 after earning Reebok All-American honors in his senior season among other accolades. The defenseman finished his career tied with Corey Quirk for the most games played in his career with 150 and had 88 points in four seasons (23 goals, 65 assists).

Former UMass goalie Jonathan Quick is among the top statistically in the NHL at his position in net for the Los Angeles Kings. His 1.92 goal against average is second in the league while his .928 save percentage ranks fifth.

Quick, drafted in the third round (72nd overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft is 11-5 in 16 games played this season.

Greg Mauldin, a Minutemen alum and left winger for the Colorado Avalanche scored two goals and registered two assists on Saturday in a 7-4 win against the Minnesota Wild. He has now scored seven points in 10 games this season (three goals, four assists).

Now in his eighth season in the NHL, Mauldin scored his first career point with a goal in his first game with the Av’s against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 18. This is his third stint with an NHL team, playing in six games for the Blue Jackets in 2003 and one game for the New York Islanders in 2009-2010.

Dan Gigliotti can be reached at dgigliot@student.umass.edu.

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