Troy Power appreciates return to ice in Maroon & White scrimmage

By Nick Canelas

Sunday’s Maroon & White scrimmage at the Mullins Center practice rink served as the unofficial starting point for the Massachusetts hockey team’s 2013-14 season as it prepares for its season opener Friday at Boston University.

Cade Belisle/ Collegian

For Troy Power, it was an even greater milestone.

The redshirt junior forward saw a form of game action on Sunday for the first time since he suffered a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 30 last year against Northeastern and, as expected, he was thrilled to finally be playing again.

“It’s been a while since I’ve played a game so it was a lot of fun to be back with the guys and wearing the UMass jersey again,” Power said. “It’s something I’ve waited a long time for. I’ve put in a lot of work that can be annoying with rehab and stuff like that so being back and feeling good again makes everything worth it.”

Power played on the White team alongside Steven Guzzo and Frank Vatrano, who is ineligible to play until the Hockey East Tournament, and set his linemates up with good passing and even had a breakaway opportunity in the first half of the two-period session that was stopped by Maroon freshman goaltender Alex Wakaluk in the White team’s 4-2 win.

It wasn’t just the individual performance that stood out to Power, however. The most important part was being 100 percent and playing again without any limitations.

“My knee feels great,” Power said. “I have to give thanks to the whole athletic staff, especially (UMass trainer) Jeff Smith, who really got me back to where I needed to be. It feels great. I definitely feel 100 percent out there as far as my knee goes and it’s really good to be back.”

Because the injury occurred early last season, Power, who was given a medical redshirt due to such significant time missed with the injury, said he’s had more time to shake off the rust from not playing for so long as opposed to returning from an injury suffered closer to the summer. He said there are some areas of his game that he’s still trying to adjust to, such as picking pucks off the wall, but feels like those elements are easy for a player to regain.

UMass coach John Micheletto was just happy to see him back on the ice again.

“He looks great. I’m really excited for him,” Micheletto said. “It’s obviously devastating when you get put in that situation. He’s part of this big senior class and now he’s not in that class, he’s in a different class of guys.

“So it’s not always the things that you think about that can be disruptive to a kid, but Troy’s handled it very well and he’s obviously in fantastic physical condition and I thought he had a real influence on the ice so I’m excited for him.”

 

Gallacher on top pairing

When Conor Allen signed with the New York Rangers at the end of last season, the Minutemen lost arguably their best defenseman, and senior Joel Hanley lost his longtime linemate.

Hanley and Allen spent most of last season side by side on UMass’ top defensive unit. But with Allen gone, Hanley was paired with Ben Gallacher, a sophomore transfer from Ohio State, in Sunday’s scrimmage, something Micheletto could see being a regular combination.

“They have similar skill sets, they like to go and they’re gonna be real good in transition,” Micheletto said. “It’s where we’re gonna start and we’ll kind of tinker with that if we feel we need to, but as of [Sunday] that’s a pairing that we like.”

While Allen was more of a stay-at-home kind of defenseman, Gallacher is more aggressive and offensive-minded like Hanley, which could make for a dynamic offensive pairing.

“I think we have similar styles, more offensive, so it’s nice to play with him and mesh with him early on,” Hanley said. “I feel like Gallacher is more offensive, takes some risks, so it’s nice to play with different guys like that.”

Phillips among those out

Senior forward Adam Phillips and sophomore Evan Stack didn’t dress for Sunday’s scrimmage due to undisclosed injuries, but neither have been ruled out for Friday’s opener.

“I think both [Phillips] and Evan there’s still a chance,” Micheletto said. “It’s going to be an ongoing evaluation of where they are. Neither one of them is needing surgery or anything like that.”

Freshmen Brandon Wahlin and Ray Pigozzi were also missing for personal reasons.

Nick Canelas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @NickCanelas.