Dennis Kravchenko nearing impressive milestone for UMass hockey

By Jason Kates

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)
(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

With just three games remaining in the regular season before postseason play, Massachusetts hockey forward Dennis Kravchenko has the chance to achieve a milestone only four other Minutemen have accomplished in program history.

Sitting with a team-high 28 points, Kravchenko can become the fifth Minuteman to record 30-plus points as a freshman, joining a group that includes former UMass stars Casey Wellman, James Marcou, Stephen Werner and Matt Anderson.

The last player to achieve this feat was Wellman, who finished the 2008-09 season with 33 points. Werner holds the freshman record with 38 points in the 2002-2003 season.

Kravchenko said it’s an honor to be mentioned in the same category as the four previous players to reach the 30-point plateau.

“Those older guys are incredible hockey players, to even be near those guys or in the same category is a great feeling,” he said.

In 30 games played, the freshman has tallied 10 goals and 18 assists. UMass coach John Micheletto said the impact Kravchenko has made this year has been extremely positive.

“You look at his splits, he’s been as equally effective at home as he’s been on the road which is difficult to do, especially as a freshman,” Micheletto said. “Five-on-five, man-up, man-down, he’s always a threat to hunt down pucks and then get things going to the net.

Added Micheletto: “We’ve been really, really happy with his development so far this year and how can you not be when he’s second in the league in freshmen scoring.”

In a Hockey East conference that includes Boston University freshman and future top-five NHL pick Jack Eichel, Micheletto believes that while Kravchenko may not have the same notoriety as the Terriers’ forward, he has made a name for himself.

“I think Dennis has certainly gotten the respect of the teams that we’ve played around the league already and I’m sure guys that have watched us on video that we haven’t played so far,” Micheletto said.

“That’s the important thing I think because the ultimate respect is when your opponents are noticing when you’re out there and making sure that they’re trying to get a better matchup when you are.”

Currently in the midst of a seven-game point streak, Kravchenko emphasized the importance of the players around him as the reasons for his recent success.

“Honestly, it makes it so much easier for me when I have guys on my line moving the puck and burying plays when I get them the puck,” he said. “It’s a solid year on the point sheet, but having the guys help me out and just making the right plays is a great feeling.

“I attribute all of that to them because I wouldn’t be here and in half the positions I’m in without them.”

Micheletto said he thinks Kravchenko has been able to develop a more complete game compared to where he was at the beginning of the season.

“I think anytime when you’re bringing in guys with high-end offensive skills, they’ve not always been held accountable to do things on both sides of the puck,” Micheletto said. “I think (Dennis) has certainly been willing, but incorporating defensive details in his game on a day-in and day-out basis has gotten much better in the second half than it was in the first half.”

Senior Night

On Saturday night against Providence, six Minutemen will be honored on Senior Night for their four-year service to the UMass program.

Troy Power, Steven Guzzo, Steve Mastalerz, Oleg Yevenko, Zack LaRue and Mike Busillo will all be recognized before the game with a pregame ceremony, with their parents joining them on the ice.

The night will be particularly special for Yevenko, as his parents will be making the journey to Amherst all the way from Minsk, Belarus for the first time.

Before the game, the Canadian and Belarus anthems will be played along with the American national anthem, in recognition of Yevenko, Guzzo and LaRue. The latter two hail from Ontario, Canada.

A video will be played before and after the game, reflecting back on the careers of the departing seniors.

Jason Kates can be reached at [email protected] and followed @Jason_Kates