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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Men’s hockey set on starting strong

Peter+MacIntyre%2C+the+leading+scorer+for+the+Beacons+last+season%2C+is+looking+for+a+huge+2014-15
Peter MacIntyre, the leading scorer for the Beacons last season, is looking for a huge 2014-15

True juggernauts are very hard to find in D3 athletics, but it is a very apt word to describe the Beacons Men’s Hockey Team over the last few years. Looking at them you can tell that this is a serious bunch of players. After only graduating three guys last year, the team is coming back largely intact, complete with plenty of upperclassmen that have some strong experience combining with some flashy new freshmen that are looking to make their mark in one of the most competitive hockey environments that America has to offer.
Playing in one of the toughest conferences in the nation, the ECAC East, coach Peter Belisle’s squad has flourished over the course of his tenure, and expectations have never been higher after a 17-6-4 campaign last year in which the squad was ranked in the top-15 nationally for most of the season. They won the Codfish Bowl and beat Salem State at Fenway Park. They were, however, eliminated in the semifinals of the ECAC tournament, which came as a disappointment for a team that was viewed as a serious National Championship contender.
For coach Belisle, putting a winning team together starts with finding some serious talent. There is no D2 in NCAA hockey, so the ECAC East is a league littered with borderline D1 players that are recruited very heavily. Belisle mentioned that he looks for “D1 mistakes,” or players that fell through the cracks and may not have been noticed by coaches at the highest level of the sport. The coaching staff will look for players that could have walked on, or even guys that were given partial scholarships and would elect to come to UMass Boston because it is so reasonably priced.
“Back in the day,” Belisle said, “you could just get high school kids from this area and field a darn good team. Those days are over. You have to bring in the older kid who is 19 or 20 as a freshman (because he took time off to play junior hockey). You’ve got to find the kids who made the sacrifices to play at the highest level.”
This year’s squad will feature some great incoming freshmen like Colin Larkin (brother of Red Wings first round pick Dylan Larkin), a 50 point scorer in the North American Hockey League, which Belisle described as a “very tough and physical.” Larkin is expected to pick up some of the slack left by the graduation of Travis Daniel, a star forward and team captain for the Beacons.
In addition to Larkin, the Beacons landed their first ever Swedish recruit. Axel Hagelin is coming over from the Swedish Premier League. Hagelin and Larkin will be joined by Brett Mason and Connor Callow and a host of returning upperclassmen in an effort to bring home the ECAC East title that has eluded the Beacons for so long.
“We’ve got to be hungry this year for our ultimate goal,” Belisle said, “which has always been to win an ECAC East Championship and position ourselves in the NCAA Tournament and go as far as we go, and hopefully win a national championship.”
A National Championship is certainly not out of the question for the Beacons. Whoever wins the ECAC East is usually in a fairly good position to make a run in the tournament, and Norwich won the National Championship in 2010. Norwich and Babson are the Beacons most daunting obstacles on their way to a title, because only one team can come out of the ECAC East and all three squads are elite going into this season.
“We’ve got to beat Babson and Norwich when it really counts,” said Belisle. “We’ve been in the ECAC East Semifinals the last few years and you can’t disregard the other clubs but Babson and Norwich have been our nemeses in our league.”
When it comes to contending, Belisle pointed out that while the Beacons are potent on offense and lethal on the power play, they need to improve their defense in order to win crucial games late in the season.
“We have to be stifling like Babson’s defense is. I think that’s why they won it last year.”
The attack for the Beacons will once again be very strong, as they return their top two scorers from 2013-14. Peter MacIntyre netted 18 goals and recorded 40 points while Nathan Millam scored 12 times and assisted on 16 more. Add in a ridiculous 28% goal rate on power plays and you have one of the best offenses in the country.
In net, Zac Andrews and Billy Faust will be sharing time this year. Andrews is a familiar face at the Clark Center rink as he started 18 times last year and led the Beacons to their Codfish Bowl championship and a win at Frozen Fenway. Faust, a University of Vermont transfer, came in last December and immediately made an impact, starting nine games and winning five of them. Both sported goals against averages under 2.35.
“I feel like we have two bonafide goaltenders,” Belisle said. “We are very strong in net.”
In all, Belisle, now in his ninth season, has never had higher expectations for his boys, despite the fact that they have a challenging schedule ahead of them. He is confident that the roster that he and his coaches have assembled will contend for the highest achievements in the NCAA.
“I’ve never had, on paper, such talent in my nine year tenure here with the kids we coming back,” Belisle said. “For the first time ever, we have more juniors and seniors than freshmen and sophomores on our roster.”
“We have a team where, if we don’t win an ECAC championship, I’ll be disappointed.”
The Beacons begin their season on Nov. 1 at the Clark Center against UMass Dartmouth.