Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Three’s company

By Scott Cournoyer

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Maria Uminski/Collegian

Maria Uminski/Collegian

Heading into its third and final matchup with Vermont last Friday the Massachusetts hockey team was clicking on all cylinders.

After coming off an impressive 4-0 victory over Boston College on Jan. 13 and a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory against UVM at Fenway Park on Jan. 7, UMass defeated the Catamounts 4-3 and finds itself winners of five of its last seven games, bringing them to an 9-8-5 overall record.

In the midst of their recent success, the Minutemen have been riding a formula to victory: a trio of goaltenders, with the starter determined on a game-by-game basis.

“We’ve had a good sense of which guys are ready for each situation so far,” said UMass coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon.

Sophomore Jeff Teglia was given the start for the Minutemen against Vermont during Frozen Fenway. Teglia, having started only five games going into the contest, saved 24 shots on his way to earning not only his first win of the season, but the first in his career.

“I thought he had a great week in practice leading up to that game,” said Cahoon. “More than that though, it was about his maturity, how he was able to park the whole event and just take care of the game.”

Even with Teglia’s stellar performance at Fenway, Cahoon continued the goaltending carousel by starting freshman Steve Mastalerz, the most inexperienced of the bunch, against the No. 4 Eagles the following Friday.

Entering the game, Mastalerz’s lone victory of the season came in a 7-2 rout over Holy Cross back in November. He went on to blank BC, stopping 35 shots to help the Minutemen capture their first season-series against the Eagles since 2006-07.

“With Steve, it was all about his superb week of practice going into that game,” said Cahoon.

Prior to the team’s affair at Fenway, freshman Kevin Boyle stood between the pipes for five straight games, posting a 2-1-2 record during that frame.

A three-goalie tandem may be unorthodox but Cahoon’s formula is working as of late.

 

Syner candidate for Hobey Baker Award

 

Last week, senior co-captain T.J. Syner was named as a candidate on the ballot for the 2011-12 Hobey Baker Award. The award is given every year to the best college hockey player in the country.

Criteria for the award include a candidate’s scholastic achievements, sportsmanship, strength of character both on and off the ice and a contribution to the integrity of the team in addition to displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game.

“It feels great to be recognized like that,” said Syner of his nomination to the opening ballot. “Honestly though, if it wasn’t for my teammates to help me this year, [being named to the ballot] wouldn’t have been possible.”

As of Saturday, Syner was tied for third in the Hockey East in overall points with 27 (11 goals, 16 assists). Nationally, Syner is tied for 16th in overall points and tied for 26th in assists.

For his career, Syner has scored 35 goals and racked up 52 assists over his 121-game career.

“His flat-out competitiveness has allowed him to develop and become an elite college player, with plenty of opportunity going into the future,” said Cahoon. “His skating ability is unparalleled, but then you throw the [will to compete] on top of that, and you get a package that compares to the best players in the country.”

Fans can chip in by voting online at UMassAthletics.com between now and March 15, at which point the top 10 finalists will be announced. The Hat Trick of Three finalists will be announced on March 29 after another round of voting, then finally the winner will be announced April 6 at the NCAA Frozen Four Championships in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Scott Cournoyer can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @MDC_Cournoyer.

 

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