The Massachusetts hockey team has had its ups and downs this season, but it got some good news this week as two of its players have received recognition for their outstanding play – in both conference and national regards.
The Minutemen’s senior co-captain T.J. Syner has been selected as one of 21 semi-finalists for the 60th Walter Brown Award and sophomore Michael Pereira was awarded Hockey East Co-Player of the week for his outstanding weekend of play against Boston University and Providence College.
The Walter Brown Award that Syner has been nominated for is an annual award given to the best American-born college hockey player in New England.
Syner has earned this national recognition with his outstanding play this year in which he leads UMass with 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in 28 games played. He also ranks as one of the premier forwards in Hockey East, as he is tied for fourth overall in points and tied for eighth in assists.
Syner, however, will be facing some stiff competition for this award as he is up against some of the best that the Hockey East, ECAC and Atlantic Hockey conferences have to offer.
Some of Syner’s competition within the Hockey East conference include UMass Lowell’s sophomore goalie Doug Carr, whose 1.8 goal-against average ranks fourth in the nation. Additionally, Maine and Boston College both have three players nominated including BC’s Chris Kreider who has 33 points on the season and Maine’s Brian Flynn, who is second on his team in scoring with 40 points.
Still, this is certainly a great honor to get this far in the nomination cycle and if Syner does win the award, he would be the first UMass player in the 60 years of the award to receive the honor. Last year’s winner was BC goalie John Muse, who graduated last year.
As for Pereira, he is coming off of a stellar weekend of play in which he scored the eventual game-winning goal against the then-No. 1 Terriers and netted a hat trick the next day in a tough loss to the Friars. He also had eight shots on net in the two-game span.
His outstanding weekend of play earned himself the title of Hockey East Co-Player of the Week with PC’s Tim Schaller, who scored a goal and an assist against UMass on Saturday night.
His four-goal weekend along with an assist in the win at BU makes Pereira the leader in goals for the Minutemen with 15, and in a tie for second place with Conor Sheary in overall points with 28. Pereira also is in a tie for sixth place in Hockey East for goal scoring and in a tie for 11th in point scoring.
His hat trick against PC is his second of the season, which means he is the first Minuteman to post two or more hat tricks in a single season since the 1993-1994 season. That year, four different players had multiple hat tricks in UMass’ first season back in Division I collegiate hockey.
The eventual game-winning goal he scored against BU was of special significance as it was the first time UMass has ever defeated a No. 1 team on the road.
The Minutemen have another tough slate of games this weekend, with both games being at Maine, and it is safe to say another big weekend for Pereira and Syner is desperately needed if UMass is to eventually make the Hockey East playoffs.
Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @MDC_McDonough.