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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Men’s Hockey Gearing Up for Critical Offseason

The+Beacons+during+the+National+Anthem+prior+to+a+recent+game
The Beacons during the National Anthem prior to a recent game

Flash back to 2006: Saddam Hussein dies, Dick Cheney shoots his friend in the face, Italy wins the world cup for the fourth time, and the University of Massachusetts Boston men’s hockey program is in decline…to put it kindly. In all honesty, they were awful. In the previous four years the Beacons only managed to pull out two conference wins, as they desperately shuffled their coaches, looking for a solution.
Times were tough for UMass Boston Men’s hockey, but then Peter Belisle walked through the front doors of the Clark Athletic Center. The rest is history.
Now, just a decade later, Belisle has turned a failing and winless program into an elite one. This year the Beacons hockey program earned its highest ever national ranking at #6 in Division III hockey. “Ten years ago if you were to ask any DIII coach if UMass Boston would be nationally ranked within a decade the answer would be no,” said Coach Belisle. “We had some great success this year. The team earned its highest ever power ranking. We even had the second most wins in school history, but our team still feels as though the season was cut short for us.”
Belisle makes some good points considering the team is currently ranked No. 11 in the nation, despite an ECAC Tournament loss to Babson. If the Beacons had prevailed in that semi-final game they were likely to receive a bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Having said that, Coach Belisle doesn’t dwell in the past. His sights are locked onto the upcoming 2015-16 campaign next winter. “We lost six great seniors. Those guys have talent, leadership, and each one helped push our team to new heights this year,” said Coach Belisle. “But now we need to focus on next season and we are looking really scary in the ECAC….we have 11 returning seniors who have some postseason experience under their belts.”
“Every offseason is important to retool your team. Now is the time to go to junior hockey games and scout players,” said Coach Belisle. Looking at a roster sheet for Beacons hockey and its clear where Belisle finds his talent. About 70% of the team is from the North American Hockey League and the Eastern Junior Hockey League. The remainder of the team are DI transfers from big time hockey programs like Northeastern University, UMass Lowell, and Quinnipiac University. Although it’s unknown who Belisle will bring in, it’s safe to say they will be talented.
“The offseason is an important time for the returning players to get in the gym and get on the ice. For all of us it’s a time to work on our skills, physicality, mentality and the little things,” said senior captain Mike Kuhn. “The team has some good talent coming back, and the offseason work is what is needed to be great.”
From Feb. 28 to mid fall, Coach Belisle is unable to be a part of almost every aspect of team training. During this time the work rate the team puts in is self-determined. Only hard working teams have the grit and tenacity to put in the endless hours of personal development. Based on the Beacons demeanor and history it doesn’t appear that they will be letting off the pedal any time soon. This team is full throttle moving into next year.
“For us our goal is to get where we were this year. We have a lot of players who have been a part of some big games,” said Coach Belisle. “We don’t want to let it come down to selection. Next year we want to control our own destiny and reach the NCAA Tournament by automatic bid.”
“We had a great run with our season this year. The guys showed toughness in big games and they have a lot of experience to build on for next year,” said Kuhn. “I’m going to miss being on the ice with them, but I expect to see great things out of them next year.”
It’s sad to see such an excellent season come to an end. Seniors Buco, Cornell, Houston, Kuhn, Laghetto and Milam will all be missed next year, but overall the Beacons still look to shine in the 2015-16 campaign.