UMass hockey forward Brett Boeing still catching on in Amherst
Adjusting to life as a collegiate student-athlete can be difficult. Amplify that by joining the Massachusetts hockey roster midway through the season, and meet sophomore forward Brett Boeing.
Boeing was added to the UMass (5-21-2, 2-13-1 Hockey East Association) roster Dec. 28 and suited up to play in his first game two nights later in the Mariucci Classic against Alabama Huntsville in a 2-1 victory.
The 5-foot-8, 187-pound winger was thrown into the fire right away, and has been given the opportunity to succeed by the coaching staff. Boeing has shuffled around mainly the top two lines and has received some time on the power play in his 10 games as a Minuteman.
He played a semester of college hockey at Michigan Tech last winter and suited up in 11 games for the Huskies (goal, five assists) before returning to junior hockey.
The Barrington, Illinois native played three seasons with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League, compiling 107 points (47 goals, 60 assists) in 170 games from 2013-2016.
The results in Amherst have been a mixed bag. In four of the 10 games he has played, Boeing has failed to register a shot on goal and put just one on net in last Friday’s 3-1 loss at Boston University.
Conversely, Boeing has five games in which he has tallied three shots on goal or more, including back-to-back games against Maine and Northeastern where Boeing landed six shots on the goaltender but has thus far failed to put the puck in the back of the net.
“He needs to pick up his game a little bit,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “He’s played two or three games where I really liked his game. He was playing with pace. I don’t think he’s found his groove quite yet and we’re just trying to help him get there.”
Boeing picked up his lone point of the season on an assist to William Lagesson in a 4-1 defeat against Maine back on Jan. 27, and is finding some recent rhythm with line mate Austin Plevy.
Plevy has played with Boeing in each of the last two contests. The fellow sophomore plays hard and with speed, and is more often than not jostling for the puck in the dirty areas. That type of effort from a line mate can rub off on any player the right way, and Boeing is trying to follow suit.
“I thought playing with [Austin] Plevy that first game was really good and we had our chances and had our spots,” Boeing said. “Hopefully we’re going to bury one here soon. He’s a really good playmaker. He makes stuff happen which makes it easier for me. I get in the corners and try and help him out and hopefully he can boost off of my game too.”
“[Boeing’s] a good player,” Plevy said. “He’s smart. Obviously he hadn’t played a college game in a while coming in so he had to get readjusted to the speed and I think we’re pretty similar players. We kind of pull pucks to the corner and we’ve found each other a couple of times in the slot. We’re creating some chances and hopefully we can start burying a couple.”
It is a difficult challenge nonetheless to catch on after missing half the season and enter a program where the hierarchy is new. All three coaches – Carvel and two assistants Ben Barr and Jared DeMichiel – have called Boeing on a weekly basis to check in and ensure that his transition is a smooth one.
He has put in the extra work in the rink and watched extra tape in the dark hours, when the lights aren’t shining the brightest and no one is watching, to try and better understand the system and help get his team on the winning track.
“The results haven’t been there the last couple of weeks here but we’ve been really stepping it up and getting our chances,” Boeing said. “We’ve been in some tight games and we’ve definitely had a lot of chances to win. When I first got here, we didn’t get into the flow of the things. The first couple of weeks I definitely started slow, but the coaches and the guys are helping me get my feet under me.”
Kyle DaLuz can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.