Troy Power eager to lead young UMass hockey team in his final season

By Anthony Chiusano

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(Photo by Cade Belisle)

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Troy Power wasn’t an unfamiliar name to Massachusetts hockey coach John Micheletto when the coach arrived in Amherst in 2012.

As part of the Vermont coaching staff in 2009, Micheletto said that he closely followed Power in his junior hockey days with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) when the coach was recruiting some of Power’s teammates. However, with the forward already committed to UMass, Micheletto’s knowledge of Power was limited to his hockey skills, leaving the coach with “no idea of what kind of person he was.”

That question was quickly answered after Micheletto’s hiring.

“From the first conversation, I was really impressed with how mature he was,” Micheletto said. “You combine that now with what I’ve seen from him as a player and as a leader, and I’m putting him in the upper echelon of the guys that I’ve been able to work with in my career.”

The combination of Power’s success on the ice and leadership off of it paid dividends last year during his redshirt junior campaign. He was named co-captain midway through the season, and he accumulated career highs with 10 goals and 17 points, good for fourth and sixth most among the Minutemen.

Micheletto revealed Power’s co-captaincy – joining then-senior Conor Sheary – on Nov. 24, prior to UMass’ 14th game of the season on the road against Vermont.  On a team that boasted nine seniors, Power said the announcement was a little bit unexpected.

“It was a nice surprise,” Power said. “It was definitely an honor and I was fortunate enough to do it with (Sheary), who is a great friend of mine and a great leader himself.”

Micheletto said that Sheary was the clear choice as captain in the preseason, but Power continued to stand out as a second candidate as the season progressed.

“We felt that he had earned it,” Micheletto said. “Since we had so many other seniors, we let it settle and see who would continue to emerge. And that was clear to us at the midway point that that was where (Power) was at.”

Although Power was already an established veteran presence before gaining the new title, he said that being officially named captain allowed his impact and influence on teammates to grow.

“I’m a pretty vocal person, but I think having the ‘C’ really allowed me to become even more vocal in the locker room,” Power said. “You have to hold guys accountable a little more and make sure the guys are doing things the right way.”

Now, entering the 2014-2015 season, Power prepares to continue his captaincy in his senior year, as he aims to lead a young Minutemen team to its first Hockey East tournament win in six years.

California dream

Hockey has never been the most popular youth sport in California, as baseball and football often attract the majority of the warm-weathered state’s residents. However, it was where Power got his start in the sport.

Power was born and raised in Camarillo, California, into a self-described “sport family.”  His interest in hockey arose when his mother and uncle decided to bring him, his older brother and older sister to a Los Angeles Kings game in the early 1990s when Power was three or four years old.

Power described how watching the “old school era” team play, led by Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille, immediately attracted him.

“I saw it one time and I said, ‘Hey mom, this is kind of what I want to do,’” Power said.  “That’s where my love for the game started.”

It didn’t take long for Power to begin developing his own skills, as he hastily took advantage of the slow-traffic cul-de-sac he lived in.

“It worked out perfectly,” Power said. “I put a net at the end and there wasn’t a lot of cars, so I just threw on rollerblades and played all day.”

After transitioning from the streets to the ice, Power went on to play for two of Southern California’s elite travel hockey teams during his high school year –  the California Wave and Los Angeles Jr. Kings.

While he said he often napped in the backseat during the drives to practices, Power praised his mother, who drove roughly an hour and a half to the training arena four or five times a week.

“It was definitely a lot of hard work for my mom behind the steering wheel,” Power said.             If his first Kings game was the moment that he developed his love for the game, Power said that his high school years were when he began to realistically see a future in the sport.

“Playing under those two programs really helped me mature as a teenager and elevate my game,” Power said. “Overall, I think that was the start of when hockey got a little more serious for me.”

After graduating from high school in 2008, Power began his USHL career with the Tri-City Storm, based in Kearney, Nebraska, where he scored five goals in 58 games.

“It was a little bit of a culture shock but it was great,” Power said. “I kind of grew up and it was my first time leaving home. I turned from a boy into more of a man.”

The following year, he joined the Lancers, where he said he continued to be shaped as a hockey player and as a person.

Power’s development in the USHL drew interest from UMass in 2010.  He ultimately decided to commit to the Minutemen after speaking with his former youth hockey teammate from Southern California, Darren Rowe, who was a freshman defenseman for UMass at the time.

“(Rowe) has always been a good friend of mine and he had nothing but great things to say (about UMass),” Power said. “When the process started, he was one of the first people I called and he thought that I would be a great fit here. From there, it was the official visits and checking things out and I fell in love with it.”

Power’s official decision to sign with the Minutemen came on March 29, 2010, which was a special day for him: his 20th birthday.

“I made my decision on my birthday, which is something that I will probably always remember,” Power said.

A blessing in disguise

After playing in 18 games his freshman season, Power emerged as a key contributor for UMass during his sophomore year where he saw heightened action (31 games) and recorded nine points. With this increased production came raised expectations entering his junior season in 2012, as Power was expected to be a major component of the Minutemen’s offensive attack.

The 2012 season started promising for Power, as he tallied two goals and four assists in UMass’ first 11 games. However, Power’s season was cut short as a knee injury suffered against Northeastern in November sidelined Power for the remaining 22 games in 2012-2013.

“We missed him that first year after the knee injury,” Micheletto said. “That was a loss on the ice and in the locker room.”

Power said that while sitting out the remainder of the season was initially disappointing, he now looks back on the trying experience as a “blessing in disguise.”

“That year was very tough for me and it was really hard to just watch a lot of the games,” Power said. “But at the same time, it opens your eyes and makes you realize how much you love playing hockey and doing things with your team.”

Power returned to the ice for the Minutemen for the start of the 2013-2014 season as a medically cleared redshirt junior. Completely healthy and with no setbacks, Power lived up to the expectations that were present prior to his true junior season, finishing with 17 points.

Micheletto said that one noticeable difference in Power’s play was his skating speed – which he said is continuing to develop – to go along with his already “quick and deceptive” shot.

However, Power maintained that it was confidence in his health and in his overall play that led to his success last season.

“I remained healthy which was really important for me and just stayed confident,” Power said. “When you get settled down and get more confident, you’re not pressing or trying to put up points. It just kind of happens.”

A “ticking clock”

Despite Power’s personal success in his return last season, UMass struggled to find consistency and finished 8-22-4 (4-13-3 Hockey East) in a year characterized by close losses and missed opportunities. After losing nine seniors from a season ago, the Minutemen were selected to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the 2014 preseason Hockey East coaches’ poll.

However, Power said that this year’s young team is dangerous and has the ability to pick up its first postseason win in six years.

“I try not to look too much at the preseason predictions, because, to be honest, I don’t think they are ever right,” Power said. “There’s always that team or two that surprises everyone and there’s always a team that is supposed to finish in the top three or four but ends up finishing seventh or eighth.

“I really like where we are headed.”

For now, though, Power said that it is important for UMass to focus on the beginning of its regular season and to continue to improve in the offensive zone, where he said the Minutemen struggled at times last season.

However, Power acknowledged there is always a sense of urgency in the back of his mind when it comes to his desire to achieve postseason success.

“With this being my last year, there’s a ticking clock,” Power said.  “I definitely want to take advantage during my senior year and leave UMass with its best season possible.”

 

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and can be followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.