Competition brewing in net for UMass

By Cameron McDonough

There is an intense competition brewing at Massachusetts hockey practices for the upcoming season.

Maria Uminski/Collegian

It’s for the coveted starting goalkeeper position, and is between sophomores Kevin Boyle and Steve Mastalerz, and junior Jeff Teglia.

So far, first-year UMass coach John Micheletto is impressed with the competition and sees it as an overall good thing.

“I think having three guys battle really hard because they’re all aiming just to get minutes is always a good situation,” Micheletto said. “I think competition brings out the best in guys.”

Micheletto has yet to make a decision for Friday’s season opener against Connecticut. But whoever is tabbed to start Friday’s game is not assured the starting role  for the entire season.

Micheletto said that he will monitor the goalie situation on a day-to-day basis. There is a possibility of rotation, Micheltto said, unless there is one player who emerges from the rest of the pack.

“I think the more normal, or the more typical, situation is that one guy emerges at some point during the season and that team rides him for the rest of the year,” Micheletto said. “I’ve certainly seen plenty of situations where it’s been two guys. That’s something as a staff that we need to evaluate, who’s giving us the best opportunity win on a given night.”

One of the things that Micheletto is trying to get across to his new players is that no one’s starting position is ever guaranteed and they are always under evaluation in practice.

“Every Monday is a start of tryouts for that following Friday’s game,” Micheletto said. “That’s something that we have tried to tell our guys. We’re all brothers here. We’re pulling for each other, but you’re also competing against each other. There’s a delicate balance there but every Monday you’ve got to strap it on knowing you’re trying to get in the lineup on Friday night.”

The netminders are no exception to the rule.

“I don’t care how many pucks you stopped as a goaltender the night before,” Micheletto said. “We’ve got to have that mentality to get better and be consistent throughout the course of the season.”

The competition is not something new this year, however. Last year presented the same three-player battle throughout the season for starts in goal.

Boyle received the most amount of time in goal last season and was viewed as the unofficial starting goalie. He played in 21 games, with 19 starts.

He also led the three in goals against average (3.00) save percentage (.895) and wins with eight. In fact, Boyle was the only player of the three to post a winning record at 8-7-4.

Mastalerz played in the second most games with 10 starts in 13 appearances, posting a 3.37 goals-against average, a .889 save percentage and a record of 4-6-0.

Teglia started seven games and played a total of eight in goal for UMass before injuries slowed him down the final few weeks of the season. He finished with a 3.32 GAA, along with a .886 save percentage and a record of 1-5-1.

Micheletto said he knows the team has three very good goalies and that two of these goalkeepers will be restless because they didn’t get the starting spot.

“That’s going to fuel their fire at the next day at practice to try to be that guy,” he said.

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_McDonough.