When the No. 13 Boston University men’s hockey team drops the puck against the University of Massachusetts Friday night, there will be a new face on the other bench.
Well, sort of new.
John Micheletto left the University of Vermont coaching staff after nine years to be UMass’ head coach, a position that opened up when Don “Toot” Cahoon stepped down in June after 12 years at the helm.
The Terriers (1–1, 1–1 Hockey East) will get their first look at Micheletto and the 2012-13 Minutemen Friday at Agganis Arena at 7:30 p.m., then again the next night at the Mullins Center in Amherst at 7 p.m.
“We will see a team that is physical and real fast,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “[The Minutemen] looked really good on the power play [against Boston College Saturday], and they looked really good killing penalties.
“They are a team that will really come at you on the forecheck, and I think they really move the puck well.”
Micheletto seems to have quite a bit of work cut out for him. The Minutemen were 13–18–5 during the 2011-12 season, including 9–14–1 in Hockey East and have gone 1–1 in the early going of their 2012-13 campaign.
Massachusetts topped future Hockey East foe University of Connecticut, 4–1, on Oct. 12, before falling 5–4 in overtime to No. 1 Boston College last Saturday. The Minutemen held a 3–0 lead before allowing four Eagle goals in the third period.
Still, Parker gives the Minutemen credit when it comes to offense. He mentioned junior forwards Michael Pereira and Branden Gracel in particular, but he was impressed with the team on the whole when he watched them fall to the Eagles.
“The thing that strikes me is that all four lines can skate, they can get up and down the ice. They could last year, too,” Parker said. “They took BC to the very end of their playoff series [the Hockey East quarterfinals in March], and they’ve got almost everyone back from that club so they’re pretty confident right now.”
Parker said UMass has a lot of potential, but does not live up to it in part because of the uncertainty with its goaltending situation. This season Massachusetts has a trio of netminders, most significantly sophomores Steve Mastalerz and Kevin Boyle, each of whom have played one game.
Mastalerz and Boyle split a majority of the ice time last season, but neither truly stepped up and separated himself.
“The ups and downs of that situation [negatively affect the team,]” Parker said. “They have had some key guys get injured and they don’t have as much depth sometimes.”
Something similar could be said for BU’s goaltending situation. Parker has said freshmen Matt O’Connor and Sean Maguire will platoon in the early going, but after Maguire’s poor debut Saturday — he allowed four goals in a period and a half – that might be up in the air.
O’Connor will start Friday, and Parker was noncommittal about Saturday.
“The way Matt played, we wanted to get him right back in,” Parker said. “[Maguire] knows he didn’t play as well as he’d like. He knows he was out of sync. We need to get him straightened out a little bit so he could get his confidence back.”
The Terriers will also have significant changes on offense after not getting a single point from its top line of Matt Nieto, Sahir Gill and Yasin Cissé in its first two games.
The threesome centered by sophomore Cason Hohmann will now be the top line, and sophomore Danny O’Regan is stepping up to center the second unit.
“[O’Regan] is a skilled player but he also has played very, very well defensively up there in his own end,” Parker said. “He was our best center as far as playing on the defensive side of the puck and not getting caught in the wrong positions. He played pretty hard down there and he can move the puck and get the other two guys in the lineup playing well.”
A pair of freshmen will be making their NCAA debuts. Forward Mike Moran will be the fourth-line left wing and defenseman Ahti Oksanen will be paired with junior Garrett Noonan on the blueline. Freshman forward Sam Kurker and junior defenseman Patrick MacGregor will sit out …. BU athletics is planning a ceremony during the first intermission to honor Parker’s 40th year as head coach. More than 70 of Parker’s former players are expected to be in attendance …. Parker has been on crutches all week after having his back stiffen up following Saturday night’s game against the University of New Hampshire. If he’s not feeling better, he will likely watch the game from the coaches’ suite, in which case associate head coach Mike Bavis and assistant coach Buddy Powers will run the bench.
Wade Megan – Cason Hohmann – Evan Rodrigues
Matt Nieto – Danny O’Regan – Sahir Gill
Matt Lane – Wes Myron – Yasin Cissé
Mike Moran – Ben Rosen – Ryan Santana
Garrett Noonan – Ahti Oksanen
Sean Escobedo – Alexx Privitera
Matt Grzelcyk – Ryan Ruikka