Hockey East Preview- University of Vermont Catamounts

September 15th, 2014

BY: JEREMY LEOPOLD

Vermont Catamounts

Head Coach – Kevin Sneddon (12th Season)

Last Season – 20-15-3 (HE: 10-10-0) 7th place, lost in first round of NCAA tournament

Losses: F Chris McCarthy, F H.T. Lenz, F Anthony DeCenzo, F Pete Massar, F Matt White, F Connor Brickley, F Kyle Mountain, D Nick Bruneteau.

Newcomers: F Travis Blanleil , F Rob Darrar, D Mitch Ferguson, F Kevin Irwin, F Anthony Petruzzelli, D Trey Phillips, D Alexx Privitera,F Jarrid Privitera.


Last year, Vermont continued their rebuild, cementing themselves as a middle of the pack team at 10-10-0 in the Hockey East, a far cry from the 3-23-1 mark they posted in the conference just two seasons prior.

Coach Sneddon’s squad will look to continue their improvement this year despite the loss of seven senior forwards including their leading point scorer from a year ago (7th in Hockey East), Chris McCarthy, who graduated out of the program and signed with the Rangers organization.

With a below average offense last year, ranking 8th in the conference with 2.76 g/gm, those losses could be critical if the young guys don’t step up.

The Catamounts incoming class includes five new forwards but the player Vermont will need to rely on the most offensively will be sophomore forward Mario Puskarich. Puskarich enjoyed a breakout freshman campaign ranking 5th in the Hockey East in goals scored with 19 and racking up 36 points, good for 13th in the conference.

Defensively the Catamounts solid last year, ranking 4th in scoring defense. Despite the loss of Nick Bruneteau, Vermont’s blue liners should be solid yet again with another year of experience under the belt of what was a young squad last year.

In net the Catamounts don’t have a standout performer but they do have two solid young goalies that split time evenly last season. Both junior Brady Hoffman and sophomore Mike Santaguida return in net for Vermont and neither outplayed the other last season to solidify themselves as the frontrunner for this year. It will be interesting to watch who gets the majority of time in goal this season or if Coach Sneddon will elect to give them each equal ice time as he did last year.

For Sneddon’s squad to have success this upcoming season Puskarich is likely going to have to improve on his already impressive freshman season and hope that the void left by McCarthy’s offensively can be filled from either a breakout performer or a solid team effort. Defensively, look for the Catamounts to be even better this year, with their youth in the back finally coming of age.

Bottom line: Expect Vermont to be a little better than last year, and contend for another NCAA tournament berth.  The offense is likely to take a tiny step back while they will continue to play above average defense.  The Catamounts are likely two seasons away from cracking the top tier of teams in the tough Hockey East.

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Hockey East Preview- University of Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks

September 13th, 2014

BY: JOSH BROWN

Head Coach – Norm Bazin (4th Season)

Last Season – 26-11-4 (HE: 11-6-3) Won Hockey East Championship, Lost NCAA Northeast Regional Semifinals

Losses – F Shayne Thompson, F Josh Holmstrom, F Joseph Pendenza, F Derek Arnold, D Joe Houk, D Daniel Furlong, G Doug Carr, G Connor Hellebuyck

Newcomers- F Dylan Hollman,F Gage Hough, F Michael Louria F C.J. Smith, F Jake Kamrass, F Ryan Collins, F John Edwardh D Tommy Panico, D Chris Forney, D Tyler Mueller D Lucas Kohls, G Jeff Smith

For the second straight year the Umass- Lowell Riverhawks name will be hanging in the rafters of the TD Garden. After winning their second consecutive Hockey East Championship, and winning a game in the NCAA Tournament, all was well in Lowell until coach Norm Bazin got the message his star goalie Connor Hellebuyck would be leaving to pursue his professional career.

Along with the losses of Derek Arnold and Joseph Pendenza, this Lowell team is going to need a lot of players to step up if they want to even come close to replicating the success the program has had over the past two seasons.

After also loosing backup goalie Doug Carr to graudation, Lowell will turn to Umass-Amherst transfer Kevin Boyle between the pipes in 2014-2015. Boyle spent 2011-2013 in Amherst posting a 16-17-6 record, with .896 save percentage and a 2.86 goals against average.

Adam Chapie and Evan Campbell will be asked to step up in lieu of the departures of Pendenza and Arnold, for a Lowell team who finished 7th in Hockey East last year, scoring 2.83 goals per game.  Despite the mediocrity on the offensive end, Lowell was able to be so successful the past few seasons because of their defense and Hellebuyck, who as a unit allowed a league low 1.88 goals per game last season.

Bottom Line- It was a good run for the Riverhawks who took the conference by surprise the past two seasons. Expect Lowell to finish in the bottom half of the league this season as they try to recover from a couple huge losses in the off season. The Riverhawks have as good a coach as anyone to lead them through this rebuild in Norm Bazin, who in his three seasons so far at Lowell has shown he’s one of the best in the country.

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Hockey East Preview- Notre Dame Fighting Irish

September 11th, 2014

BY: DAN MCLOONE

Losses: D Jared Beers, F Jeff Costello, F David Gerths, D Stephen Johns, D Kevin Lind, G Joe Rogers, F Bryan Rust, G Steven Summerhays, D Shayne Taker, F T.J. Tynan, F Mike Voran

Newcomers: D Nathan Billitier, F Anders Bjork, F Bo Brauer, D Tony Bretzman, F Dawson Cook, F Jake Evans, D Jordan Gross, F Connor Hurley, G Cal Petersen, D Luke Ripley

One year after shocking the experts and eliminating powerhouse Boston College in the Hockey East Tournament Quarterfinals, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish find themselves in the middle of a changing of the guard. Gone are some of the staples of last year’s team, and it will be up to head coach Jeff Jackson to find the right lineups that can replace the production of the previous senior class.

Perhaps most crucial will be how the team can replace the scoring of T.J. Tynan, Bryan Rust, Jeff Costello, Stephen Johns and Shayne Taker. The seniors finished last season as five of the top eight scorers on the team, leaving a potential void this year. Jackson will rely heavily on sophomore center Vince Hinostroza, who was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team last season after amassing 32 points, including 24 assists. Hinostroza’s extremely promising freshman campaign has left Jackson confident that he can be a playmaker and facilitator in the clutch.

Hinostroza will share the scoring load with junior captain Steven Fogarty and alternate captains senior Peter Schneider and junior Sam Herr. Fogarty and Schneider combined for just 27 points total last year, but should have more opportunities as they embrace leadership positions for the club. Herr will look to continue his success after a breakout sophomore year that saw him finish third on the team in goals with 14. Junor Mario Lucia will also try to recapture his goal scoring of the previous year, which saw him score 16 goals to go along with 15 assists.

Additionally, Notre Dame’s strong incoming freshman class has the potential to make an immediate impact on the score sheet, as well. Boston Bruins draft pick Anders Bjork can make a splash in South Bend, and his father, Kirk, was an All-American at Notre Dame in 1982. Look for forward Connor Hurley to also have a big impact as a freshman.

The Fighting Irish will also suffer the loss of standout goalie Steven Summerhays, who led Hockey East last year in wins (21), minutes played (2234) and shutouts (7), and also was second in goals against average with 2.04. The Irish may look to sophomore Chad Katunar to provide the saves, but they will most likely use freshman standout Cal Petersen in goal. Petersen, who waited to come to South Bend until incumbent Summerhays graduated, was awarded the Dave Peterson Goalie of the Year Award presented to the top U.S. goaltender each year.

With so much riding on how well young pieces can replace the impact of graduated seniors, the Fighting Irish may get off to a bit of a slow start in the competitive Hockey East. However, if Hinostroza, Herr and Lucia can click up front and Petersen is as good as advertised, Notre Dame may compete for a postseason spot.

Bottom Line: While the changes in personnel mean that Notre Dame may not be a huge threat to win the entire conference, they could prove a dangerous opponent once their pieces click. They will likely finish middle of the pack.

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Hockey East Preview- University of Connecticut Huskies

September 7th, 2014

BY: JEREMY LEOPOLD

Head Coach- Mike Cavanaugh (2nd year)

Last Season- 18-14- 4 overall (15-9-3 Atlantic Hockey Conference)

Losses- F Billy Latta, F Jordan Sims, F Brant Harris,F Jo Birmingham, F Sean Gaffney, D Kevin Tuohy, D Chris Bond, D Christian Neumann, G Matt Grogran

Additions- F Will Golonka, F Kasperi Ojantakanen, F Spencer Naas, F Jeff Wright, F Jesse Schwartz, F Corey Ronan, F Evan Richardson, D Johnny Austin, D David Drake, D Derek Pratt, G Steve Thulin

The Huskies are the newcomer to Hockey East this year, coming over after years of solid play in the Atlantic Hockey Conference.

In addition to a new conference, Coach Cavanaugh’s squad is going to have a much different look than last year with massive change among the forwards and in net.

UConn’s top three forwards are all gone in Billy Latta, Brant Harris, and Jordan Sims. While it will be tough to replace their 74 combined points, the biggest loss while be the leadership of last year’s captain Harris. Harris netted 11 goals and assisted on 15 others last season, 2nd and t-1st on the team respectively, and led the team in plus/minus at plus 11. With seven new forwards including Boston College transfer, Evan Richardson, the Huskies offense is hoping to retool despite the fact that the other six besides Richardson are all freshman. Unless junior Shawn Pauly and senior Trevor Gerling (21 and 20 points respectively) step up in a major way it is more likely that the offense will be rebuilding this year instead of retooling.

Along the blue line, there is a little more continuity with no major contributors from last year leaving the program. The defense was solid, but not spectacular last year allowing 2.38 g/gm but they should get even better this year with their top three defenseman, Jacob Poe, Ryan Segalla, and Joona Kunnnas, all returning with another year of experience. Poe, had the most points for the Huskies among defenseman last season with 15 and also posted a plus/ minus of plus 10, good for 2nd on the team. As a senior this season Poe should be just as solid. The more interesting UConn defensmen, however, are sophomores Segalla and Kunnas, who both had excellent freshman campaigns last season playing in 34 and 32 games respectively and combining for 27 points. For both there were some freshman mistakes and it showed, especially for Segalla who ended up with a plus/minus of minus 3 compared to Kunnas’ plus 1. With a year of college hockey under their belt, expect both to improve dramaticaly, in turn improving UConn’s defense.

In goal, last year’s starter Matt Grogan is gone and despite a solid season with a .923 save percentage in 25 starts, the Huskies are likely to get even better next year with sophomore Robby Nichols taking over in net full time. Nichols only played in 13 games as a freshman (11 starts) but he was spectacular when he played, posting two shutouts and a save percentage of .939, averaging less than 2 g/gm (1.91),  and going 8-2-2. Grogan was solid for UConn last year but there is little doubt that Nichols is a step up this year.

UConn had a good year last year in the Atlantic Hockey Conference. The Hockey East is not the Atlantic Hockey Conference. While the change in conference has already seemed to help with recruiting with two very good recruiting classes the past two years, it will take a while before the Huskies will be able to contend in their new conference.

Bottom line: Cavanaugh’s squad has players that were very successful in a lesser talented conference last year. If that success can carry over against stiffer competition and if the incoming freshman play out of their mind, the Huskies are looking at a middle of the pack finish. That is the best case scenario, however. More likely there will be typical growing pains for the freshman and a steep learning curve for the upperclassmen who have to adjust to the tougher league, resulting in UConn toiling near the bottom of the conference for the next few years until they become more of a hockey school like the other members of Hockey East.

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Hockey East Preview- University of New Hampshire Wildcats

September 6th, 2014

BY: JOSH BROWN

Head Coach- Dick Umile (25th Season)

Last Season-22-18-1 (HE: 11-9-0) Lost in Hockey East Championship Game

Losses: F Dalton Speelman, F Jeff Silengo, F Nick Sorkin, F Kevin Goumas, D Eric Knodel, D Trevor van Riemsdyk, D Justin Agosta, G Jeff Wyer

Newcomers: F Warren Foegele, F Jason Salvaggio, F Michael McNicholas, F Shane Eiserman, D Dylan Chanter, D Cameron Marks, D Richard Boyd, F Andrew Poturalski, D John Furgele, G Adam Clark

Going into the Hockey East playoffs last season, the fourth seeded University of New Hampshire Wildcats knew they would need to win the whole thing to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. After narrowly sneaking by Northeastern in an epic 3-game series they shocked the conference dominating Providence College in a 3-1 victory at the TD Garden. Unfortunately for the Wildcats they fell one game short, falling to Umass-Lowell 4-0 in the championship game.

That wasn’t the only loss for New Hampshire on that cold March night. The team quickly came to the realization that they would be without star players Nick Sorkin, Kevin Goumas and Eric Knodel next season due to graduation. To make matters worse they would shortly thereafter lose defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Wildcats offense will take a step back with the loss of both Sorkin and Goumas, the two leading goal scorers on the 2013-2014 team. Seniors Matt Willows and Grayson Downing, who were also solid contributors last season, will be expected to step up and provide the offense and leadership that was lost in the off season.

Defensively New Hampshire took another big step back with the losses of Knodel, van Riemsdyk and Agosta. Brett Pesce will be the anchor of a very inexperienced Wildcats defense this season in what could be a frustrating year up in Durham

In what is devastating news for the Wildcats faithful, starting goalie Casey DeSmith was arrested on August 31st following an alleged domestic incident. DeSmith has been indefinitely suspended from the team and his status for the upcoming season is currently unknown DeSmith, who posted a .920 save percentage, only allowing 2.40 goals per game was very good for New Hampshire down the stretch run last season.

Bottom line: It will likely be a rebuilding year for New Hampshire this season. After loosing the core of their team from last season, Dick Umile will have the challenge of developing a young team, in the always tough Hockey East.

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Hockey East Preview- University of Vermont Catamounts

September 4th, 2014

BY: JEREMY LEOPOLD

Head Coach – Kevin Sneddon (12th Season)

Last Season – 20-15-3 (HE: 10-10-0) 7th place, lost in first round of NCAA tournament

Losses: F Chris McCarthy, F H.T. Lenz, F Anthony DeCenzo, F Pete Massar, F Matt White, F Connor Brickley, F Kyle Mountain, D Nick Bruneteau.

Newcomers: F Travis Blanleil , F Rob Darrar, D Mitch Ferguson, F Kevin Irwin, F Anthony Petruzzelli, D Trey Phillips, D Alexx Privitera,F Jarrid Privitera.

Last year, Vermont continued their rebuild, cementing themselves as a middle of the pack team at 10-10-0 in the Hockey East, a far cry from the 3-23-1 mark they posted in the conference just two seasons prior.

Coach Sneddon’s squad will look to continue their improvement this year despite the loss of seven senior forwards including their leading point scorer from a year ago (7th in Hockey East), Chris McCarthy, who graduated out of the program and signed with the Rangers organization.

With a below average offense last year, ranking 8th in the conference with 2.76 g/gm, those losses could be critical if the young guys don’t step up.

The Catamounts incoming class includes five new forwards but the player Vermont will need to rely on the most offensively will be sophomore forward Mario Puskarich. Puskarich enjoyed a breakout freshman campaign ranking 5th in the Hockey East in goals scored with 19 and racking up 36 points, good for 13th in the conference.

Defensively the Catamounts solid last year, ranking 4th in scoring defense. Despite the loss of Nick Bruneteau, Vermont’s blue liners should be solid yet again with another year of experience under the belt of what was a young squad last year.

In net the Catamounts don’t have a standout performer but they do have two solid young goalies that split time evenly last season. Both junior Brady Hoffman and sophomore Mike Santaguida return in net for Vermont and neither outplayed the other last season to solidify themselves as the frontrunner for this year. It will be interesting to watch who gets the majority of time in goal this season or if Coach Sneddon will elect to give them each equal ice time as he did last year.

For Sneddon’s squad to have success this upcoming season Puskarich is likely going to have to improve on his already impressive freshman season and hope that the void left by McCarthy’s offensively can be filled from either a breakout performer or a solid team effort. Defensively, look for the Catamounts to be even better this year, with their youth in the back finally coming of age.

Bottom line: Expect Vermont to be a little better than last year, and contend for another NCAA tournament berth.  The offense is likely to take a tiny step back while they will continue to play above average defense.  The Catamounts are likely two seasons away from cracking the top tier of teams in the tough Hockey East.

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Hockey East Preview- University of Maine Black Bears

September 3rd, 2014

BY: JOSH BROWN

Head Coach – Red Gendron (2nd Season)

Last Season – 16-15-4 (HE: 9-8-3) Lost in Hockey East Quarterfinals to Providence

Losses: F Ryan Lomberg, F Jon Swavely, F Mark Anthoine, F Josh Henke, D Kyle Williams, D Brice O’Connor, G Matt Strickrott, G Dan Sullivan, G Martin Ouellette

Newcomers: F Cedric Lacroix, F Jack Musil, F Liam Pecararo, F Nolan Vesey, D Mark Hamilton, D Malcolm Hayes, G Sean Romeo, G Nik Nugnes

In Hockey East you have to win on the road, it’s as simple as that. Maine was unable to do that in their 2013-2014 campaign finishing an abysmal 1-12-3 away from Alfond Arena. Luckily for the Black Bears, Orono was a house of horrors for many of their opponents, as they were able to rack up a very impressive 13-3-0 record in the comfy confines of home.

Red Gendron impressed many in his first season behind the bench at Maine, whether it be because the Black Bears fast paced offensive attack, his snarky remarks at his post-game press conference, or a little of both, Maine was a team no one took lightly even with that road record.

NHL draft picks Ben Hutton and Devin Shore led the team in scoring last season with 15 and 14 goals respectively, and with yet another year under their belt, Gendron will ask of the same if not more from his first line duo. Steven Swavely, who also scored 10 goals will also be asked to help carry the load again for Maine this season.

The Black Bears have big question marks this season in net, having lost their primary goalie Martin Ouellette, as well as Dan Sullivan, the only other goalie who saw ice time for Maine last season.  Expect to see red-shirt junior Matt Morris start the season in net, but if he struggles don’t be surprised to see Gendron throw his two freshman goalies in there, and for it to be an open competition throughout the middle of the season.

Bottom line: Maine should finish in the 6-8 range this season in Hockey East. Although it would be almost impossible to play as poorly on the road again this season, Maine will lack the depth and talent to compete for a top five spot, in a grueling Hockey East schedule. That being said, if the Black Bears get hot late in the season, they are a team no one is going to want to face come tournament time.

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Summer Podcast

July 28th, 2014

The guys catch up on Northeastern hockey and basketball with some old WRBB friends

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WRBB Sports The Dog Pound

PressPass: Chris Markwood, newest member of Basketball coaching staff

July 9th, 2014

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Chris Markwood, a former assistant coach at Maine and UVM, touched on his player and coaching background, his excitement for developing Quincy Ford and the team’s goal of reaching the NCAA tournament. This interview is featured in an upcoming story on OneBidWonders.com

Zolan Kanno-Youngs Audio, Basketball, Press Pass