Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Dennis Medeiros adds to hockey resume

(Collegian file photo)

After taking the ice in the Massachusetts club hockey team’s first game against Boston University this season, senior defenseman Dennis Medeiros leapt into an elite group of players who have played on their respective team for all four years of their undergraduate careers.

Over his four years at the University of Massachusetts, Medeiros has collected 48 points, consisting of 12 goals and 36 assists. He has also had five game-winning goals and has reached a career-high in assists this season with 14.

Perhaps the most impressive item on his hockey resume, however, happened over winter break. While the Minutemen were using the time off to rest, Medeiros represented the American Collegiate Hockey Association in the World Cup of College Hockey in Europe.

“It was an opportunity of a lifetime to get to play on the international stage and to play against teams that play the game a little differently than we do here,” Medeiros said. “It was amazing and to be able to share that opportunity with my family was awesome as well. It takes a lot of support to play this game and it was incredible.”

Medeiros’ family did not make the trip to Europe to watch him play in person, but they watched every game on the league website live stream in his hometown of Weymouth, Massachusetts. They especially watched the first game of the tournament where his team defeated the Halden Ice Comets in Halden, Norway 7-3, according to Medeiros.

In the first game of the tournament against the Ice Comets, Medeiros had an assist in a 7-3 victory.

Medeiros has a close relationship with his UMass teammates, as he shares an apartment with fellow seniors Jake Mercier and Anthony Lespasio.

“It was pretty cool,” Mercier said of watching Medeiros play. “Normally you don’t see your friends play at a bigger level like that, so it was pretty cool to watch him like that and I know all of our roommates watched it too.”

Back in April of 2017, Medeiros began the process of trying to make the national team.

UMass coach Mike DeFazio sent Medeiros, along with three other players he felt worthy of representing UMass, to West Chester, Pennsylvania to play in an All-Star tournament with various NHL teams and the Team ACHA coaching staff in attendance.

Afterwards, the four teammates moved on to more formal tryouts, this time for the national team. The other three were cut after a few rounds, but Medeiros was named a finalist, the first in UMass history.

Over the summer, Medeiros was kept in the dark on whether he had made the team, but in the second week of practice with the Minutemen, Medeiros was watching TV on an off-day when he got a call from Mo Stroemel, the director of hockey operations for the ACHA, to let him know he had made it.

Over the course of two weeks in December, Medeiros got the opportunity to play with numerous players he had played against in his career at UMass. For instance, his defensive partner was from Northeastern University, a team the Minutemen defeated 5-2 at the Mullins Center practice rink earlier in the season.

He also played with four players from Florida Gulf Coast University, a team that seemingly gives the Minutemen fits anytime they face them.

“My (defenseman) partner was a guy who we play against. He’s on Northeastern,” Medeiros said. “I played with him a couple of times between the All-Star tournaments and the tryouts and whatnot and there are four guys from Florida Gulf Coast that we’ve played against. It’s funny to play with guys that you’re used to competing against.

“After the initial awkward stage of being in a locker room with a bunch of different guys,” Medeiros continued, “it comes together pretty quickly, especially when you’re travelling all that way. We had a great group and I feel like we got along very well.”

While in Europe, Medeiros talked to DeFazio and his roommates almost every day.

He kept his roommates updated on everything happening off the ice, such as what he and his tournament teammates would do before and after games in each city that they travelled to. With DeFazio, however, he kept his comments a bit more professional.

“I feel like we talked every day actually,” DeFazio said. “Just checking in like how are you doing? Who is your roommate? Who’s your defensive partner? What do the lines look like? Things like that, so kind of every day he would give me an update. I’d say [we talked] just about every day if not then every other. He was out there for a week and a half, two weeks, seemed like awhile.”

Mercier and Lespasio said that they tried to watch as many games as possible, something Lespasio especially enjoyed.

“I only got to watch him a couple times, and both times I thought he played great,” Lespasio said. “It was playing against pro teams. I thought it was great for him, great exposure. It shows how ACHA hockey teams compare to other teams out there.”

While DeFazio couldn’t watch the entirety of every game due to his busy schedule at IBM, he did watch at least a period of each game, something he said he enjoyed, but was slightly jealous of.

“It was fun,” DeFazio said. “I’ve been overseas to play before and it’s always interesting. It’s totally different, so it was cool to watch him play. It was pretty funny to see him out there with some of the guys we play against. You know playing with the guys from Florida Gulf Coast and [defensive] pairings with guys from Northeastern. It was kind of cool to see them all come together as a team. “

When asked about what he took from the experience, Medeiros said it was mostly an insight into the differences between North American hockey and European hockey.

“They possess the puck a lot more over there than we do here,” Medeiros said. “We play sort of a chip and chase, grind it out style, whereas they’ll kind of back off you if you get to the puck first and just try to defend. They possess the puck a lot more, but those are a few things I picked up.”

Every coach’s fear after sending a player to the tournament is that the player will get injured. While DeFazio did worry about Medeiros getting hurt in a game that didn’t matter for UMass, he admitted it was simply on the back of his mind and never really materialized into a genuine worry.

“I just told him to go over there and have fun,” DeFazio said. “You don’t get many opportunities to go overseas and play hockey. Just embrace it, enjoy it and have fun. There’s really no pressure over there. Yeah, it’s an elevated level of play, but at the end of the day it’s just for fun.”

Within the UMass team, DeFazio is perhaps the proudest of anyone that Medeiros made the national team roster.

“I’d say [he’s] a leader,” DeFazio said of Medeiros. “I know that’s probably cliché, but he quietly leads by example. He doesn’t have to yell or hoot and holler or do anything crazy. People just saw what he was doing Saturday and just jumped in behind him.

“He’ll lead the guys to the bar; he’ll lead the guys to a win, whatever it is, he just has that natural leader ability. It’s why he’s a captain; it’s why I gave him some high praise to go over there.”

Zander Manning can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.

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  • K

    KailiaFeb 13, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Awesome article Zander. Nice flow, it comes out easy to read and I’m not a sports person! Way to go you are on your way to the pros yourself!

  • R

    Richard SchmidtFeb 12, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Nice article Zander. I can see you are on your way into a post-college career. Keep up the good writing.