Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

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

Gregoire: A look into the UMass hockey freshmen and transfers

There are 13 new faces added to the roster
Dylan Nguyen
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts hockey team ended its 2022-23 season with a refresh of the roster after its performance was not up to head coach Greg Carvel’s standard. The Minutemen brought 13 combined freshmen and transfers on board in hopes of a better result.

While there will be nine players playing their first college hockey game this season, there is also four that will add veteran experience to the roster.

Samuli Niinisaari, Liam Gorman and Lucas Vanroboys were added after the end of last season. Christian Sanda was a late off-season add, transferring in late August to UMass from Union.

Niinisaari, while not a goal scoring defenseman, had eight assists in 30 games played in his last season with Brown. The graduate had 67 blocks and will prove to be beneficial on one of the defensive pairings.

Gorman will be solid piece to one of the Minutemen’s special teams units with four power play goals in his senior season with Princeton.

Vanroboys could fit into a role at center that could be helpful for faceoffs with a .560-win percentage at Bentley.

Lastly for transfers, Sanda is adding needed veteran experience at 25 years old.

For the nine freshmen, UMass has brought in a strong group of young guys for the season. College Hockey News ranked the Minutemen’s freshmen recruiting class as the No.7 best in college hockey.

While the starting goaltender situation will likely have Cole Brady as the starter, Michael Hrabal is the freshmen who could have a shot at taking the senior’s spot. Drafted in the second round of the NHL Draft to the Arizona Coyotes, Hrabal could be a solid option in net.

Along with Brady and Hrabal, goaltender Jackson Irving might see a few periods of ice time, but for his freshmen year he’ll most likely be the third string goaltender.

With taking jersey number 16, formally worn by Cale Makar and a draft pick to the Calgary Flames, Russian forward Aydar Suniev will have expectations set on him. He averaged over a point per game with the Pentiction Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League. While the Hockey East will be a shift from the BCHL, Suniev can generate offense for the Minutemen.

Dan Locmelis is already a fan favorite for UMass fans after going to the Boston Bruins in the fourth round of the 2022 NHL Draft. The Latvian represented his country at one of the highest levels for his age group in the 2022 and 2023 World Juniors. He is not the most skilled on the ice, but his skating makes up for it. Carvel says Locmelis will most likely play his first game on the third line.

Forward Jack Musa has the shot to be one of the Minutemen’s top offensive producers. He is a small forward, standing at 5-foot-10, 173 pounds but uses his skill to create plays. He played two seasons in the United States Hockey League for the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders and Madison Capitals and logged 91 points on 49 goals and 42 assists over 139 career games.

Cam O’Neill and Nick VanTassell are keeping the UMass connection with the Ottawa Senators alive, both being drafted to the team. Forward O’Neill plays with an edge and has a shot to play on a bottom line as the season goes along. VanTassell will be a big body on the ice but needs to learn to play with an edge, but Carvel is optimistic he will find a new level to his game this year.

Another big body for UMass will be forward Bo Cosman who stands at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds. Cosman will not be the one to score goals, but he has comparisons to be like Jerry Harding, a scary presence on the ice.

Lastly, the Minutemen are bring in Swedish defenseman Sebastian Törnqvist who is a puck moving defenseman. Carvel says that Törnqvist can be on UMass’ historically high performing power play unit this season.

The new faces can be seen in action in the Minutemen’s opener against AIC on Saturday, Oct. 7. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kaygregoire

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