Roster breakdown for 2011-2012 Minutemen

By Scott Cournoyer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






In 2010-2011, the Massachusetts hockey team, because of its lack of physical size, relied on speed, quickness and good movement to dictate the tempo and pace of each game.

This season, with the physical development seen in returning players, as well as a bigger incoming freshman class, UMass coach Don Cahoon hopes that more balance will be created in the realm of the team’s physicality, allowing for better offensive opportunities and defensive pressure on the puck.

 

Forwards

Last season, a collection of young and older players carried UMass offensively. Even after the departure of senior Chase Langerapp, the Minutemen are still capable offensively with many goal scorers returning, including Michael Pereira, Conor Sheary and Branden Gracel.

“Last year, our biggest strength was our speed and our movement,” said Cahoon. “We hope to have a little more balance on offense, and to see these guys development. You see the biggest development of a player between their freshman and their sophomore year.”

Senior Danny Hobbs made huge leaps forward last season as a junior, tying a team-high in goals (12) and ranked second in assists (16). Hobbs hopes to make even bigger leaps this year, as UMass looks to spread the puck out to create looks all over the offensive zone.

“These younger guys are going to become more comfortable each day,” said Hobbs of the newcomers, who will help fill the depth chart and will contribute right from the start of the season. “With the guys from last year, you’re going to see that progression that we’re looking for. These guys just have to be themselves and play like they’re capable of.”

Senior T.J. Syner will also play a significant part on the offensive end this year for the Minutemen. As a junior, Syner posted 27 points last season, good enough for second on the team. Syner’s ability to get the puck in the net more frequently this year will have an impact on the team’s chances in close games.

“I think last year’s team was one of the fastest teams we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Syner, who scored nine goals last season. “This year, we have more size, and that’s only going to help. Hopefully it will translate in to good things for us.”

 

Defense

Last season, UMass ranked eighth in the Hockey East for goals allowed (88). In part, it was due to the defense, particularly, a lack of size against bigger offensive threats.

This year, with the development of sophomore Adam Phillips (who’s listed at 6-foot-6), as well as the impact of freshman defenseman Oleg Yevenko, the Minutemen may have found a potential front line on defense to compete with the best in the HEA.

“We definitely recruited bigger bodies over the offseason,” said Cahoon. “It’ll take time for some of these younger guys to catch up to what we’re doing. However, I’m happy with the physical dimension that we’ve added. It’ll allow us to control tighter areas better than we did last year.”

Despite having to adjust to a new way of playing hockey here in the United States, the Belarus native Yevenko has taken to the high-speed, high-tempo of practice instituted by Cahoon.

“I like all of the guys here at UMass,” said Yevenko. “I’d like to think that I’m a defense-first guy. We can definitely bring size and defense, but I also hope that I will be able to take my chances offensively when I can.”

 

Goaltending

The most significant transition UMass will undergo this season is in its goaltending as Jeff Teglia, Kevin Moore, Kevin Boyle and Steve Mastalerz compete for the spot.

“They are in a real competitive battle for the starting job,” said Cahoon, who noted that the players are in a competition to take the starting job after the departure of Paul Dainton, who started all four years before graduating this past spring. “Now that we’re in camp and under way, we can start to refine and work with them on the position.”

Tegila, who played in nine games as a sophomore last season has the “early advantage, because he played last year,” according to Cahoon.

In Dainton’s absence, who was out with an injury to start last season, Teglia started four games in net, playing against pivotal opponents such as Minnesota, Boston University and Wisconsin. Despite growing pains, Teglia said that his mindset this year is significantly different than last year.

“I worked on a lot of fundamentals this summer, staying here for a month and also getting in the gym a lot to prepare myself,” said Teglia. “I’ve worked on a lot of angles to pucks, and I’m really happy with the work that I put in this summer.”

When asked about the rough start to his collegiate career, Teglia acknowledged the “bumpy roads,” he encountered, but that, “It was good for some of the younger guys, like me, to get that experience, and I’m excited to see us step it up this year.”

Moore, a senior, will compete against Teglia for the goaltending position. Cahoon notes Moore will be, “an extremely valuable member of the team, due to his experience.”

Scott Cournoyer can be reached at [email protected]