UMass’ Micheletto Is Impressed With Men’s Hockey Speed And Work Ethic

UMass head coach John Micheletto was named the program’s 13th head coach on July 16, 2012! (Photo Credit: CollegeHockeyNews.com)

By Matt Noonan 

The UMass Minutemen concluded their season last March with two back-to-back losses to Boston College in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.

After the Eagles dislodged the Minutemen, former head coach Don “Toot” Cahoon resigned a few months later, which paved the way for the former University of Vermont associate head coach John Micheletto to be named the program’s 13th head coach.

Once officially introduced on July 16, 2012, Micheletto began crafting his goals and objectives for the upcoming season, which he highlighted below in an interview that was conducted last Tuesday at the Hockey East Media Day.

Here is the transcript from his conversation with reporters:

On prior knowledge of the team: “The three games we played them [when I was an assistant coach at University of Vermont] – well, I know they beat us at Fenway [Park]. Like I say, I think the biggest thing that I was all impressed with is their speed and their work ethic and those are things that we’re going to try and capitalize even further this year. Again, in the early going just being on the ice a couple of times with the guys – their commitment level and willingness to try things and their ability to pick up information and assimilate it pretty quickly has been pretty impressive.”

On the team’s goaltending: “Well, I think the good thing from my perspective is that yet three guys prior to coming to UMass were all starting goaltenders and were all highly regarded, so it’s going to create a pretty impressive competition between the three of them. Kevin [Boyle] maybe saw a bit more of the work later in the season last year, but as with all of our guys I have encouraged the goaltenders that this is a clean slate for everybody and we’re making decisions moving forward. It’s not just I know about the guys from the past, [but] it’s about what you do from day one until we get on the ice against UConn on [Oct. 6] that will determine who will get in the lineup.”

On the team’s commitment this offseason: “I don’t know that I could say there was a change not really having a personal knowledge of the inner-workings, [but] I will say that I was impressed with their commitment level through the transition, what good of shape they came in [to camp], so that really indicated to me the dedication to the offseason program. I think where a lot of guys could have gotten a jaded view or lost their motivation or maybe not have committed as well [it’s] quite the opposite [because it] seemed to kind of bond the guys together and even more, and so it became even easier then once I took over because that base was already there.”

On the team’s veteran presence: “I think going being from what’s considered a young team being considered a veteran team or a more veteran team, you’re certainly hopeful that guys take that step forward in terms of their mental approach, in terms of their consistency, so like I say, 17 or 18 juniors and seniors is certainly a better equation for a coach than to have 17 or 18 freshmen and sophomores.”

On the team’s defensive unit: “I’ve been really impressed with our [defense] because they’ve got the ability to play at both ends of the ice. You’ve got Joel Hanley, you’ve got Conor Allen, you’ve got Adam Phillips, you’ve got Colin Shea, Oleg Yevenko, Darren Rowe, you’ve got freshmen added to the mix, [so] those are all guys that can get around the sheet pretty well, they can defend pretty well, we’re certainly going to ask them turn more pucks over for us this year, but they’ve also proven especially two years ago to be able to contribute offensively quite a bit. So from the style of play that we want to have an attacking style of play you need to activate your defensemen and have them be able to – don’t need them to lug the puck like Bobby Orr used to do, [but] you need them to be involved and I think all those guys regardless of how “offensive defensemen” they are they all have the capability of doing that and contributing a little bit.”

On the team’s offensive unit: “We’ve got the great majority of our top five scorers back from last year just losing T.J. Syner from last year to graduation, so the guys who were up near the top last year – the Conor Sheary’s, the Mike Pereira’s, the Steve Guzzo’s, the Troy Power’s – I would imagine those guys are going to be near the top again, but having said that we need to get more productivity out of maybe that middle tier to close the gap and get more 20 point scorers, more guys that are in that range because our depth is certainly going to be a strength of ours up front

Mark Recchi Reflects On His Final Season In Boston

Mark Recchi will certainly be missed in Boston, but being able to celebrate the championship on Thursday with his teammates was quite special - according to the former Assistant Captain!

By NoontimeSports.com 

BOSTON, MA – Thursday was an exciting evening at the TD Garden, as Boston Bruins fans, as well as the team celebrated their most recent accomplishment – a Stanley Cup Championship.

Former Assistant Captain, Mark Recchi returned to the Garden to celebrate with his former teammates, as well as spoke with reporters after the pre-game festivities about his future plans, as well as celebrating the team’s sixth championship.

Here are some of the highlights from his interview with the media, courtesy of the Boston Bruins public relations staff:

On what he was feeling during the pregame ceremony…

“Just a lot of emotions, really. It was great to get that last opportunity to go on the ice with the guys and go on the ice, period, as an NHL player. When you do it at the end, I wasn’t really thinking about it and [knowing] this was going to be it. These last couple days have been hard. It was an exciting day, but it was a sad day, too, at the same time. But it was so great to be out there with the guys. I had no idea that was coming, the jacket thing, so it got me pretty choked up. I love the guys, and they mean the world to me, and it was a great experience, to be here with them for that.”  

On having members of the 1971-1972 team here for the ceremony…

“That’s incredible, knowing Chief [Johnny Bucyk] and Bobby [Orr] personally and what great guys they are and how much they wanted to see us win as well. It’s been a long time, and I think they’re glad to share the Stanley Cup with some other people and excited about it. They were our biggest supporters all year, and it’s great to have all those guys out there and come and pass it on to the ’11 team.”

On why, out of his whole career, last season and winning the cup was extra special…

“Obviously, they’re all special in their own way, but I came back for one reason to play, and that was the get that last shot at winning again. The group of guys, from the day we went to Vermont, you could see their commitment and the special bond we had as a group right off the get-go. Any important game that we needed, we won because the guys were totally committed. It happened all year, and we stuck together, and to finish on top with this group, it really did mean the world to me. These guys are unbelievable people, and I have lifelong friends now. It’s a special time, and to end your career on something that special with a group of guys that you truly do love and want to be around, it’s amazing.”

On if the pregame ceremony gave him chills…

“Absolutely. I never got a chance to do Carolina, and in Pittsburgh, obviously I was there, but I never got a chance in Carolina. Like I said, it was the last time I’ll be on the ice as a NHL player and be around my teammates in that aspect at least. To be on the ice with them and be in Boston with the crowd – the reaction to us winning the Stanley Cup has been absolutely amazing what this city has, how much they’ve embraced it and enjoyed it. It’s a special time, and I was glad I was able to share it with Boston fans and be a part of it on the ice, too.”

On what’s next for him…

“I’m coaching my son, working out here and there, drink a lot of win. Not a whole lot right now. I might do a little bit of TV – the second half of the year, I might do a little bit of TV just to keep myself in the game, and at some point I want to get into management, so I want to do that. Between juniors and now it’s been 26 years of going at it, and I need to take a break and hang out with my kids.”   

Constructing Boston’s Top-10 Best Athletes in the 21st Century

Tom Brady deserves to be on the Top-10 Boston Athletes of the 21st Century List, Right?

By Matt Noonan 

It began as a list, but now, I’ve decided to write out my thoughts.

The question… name 10 significant Boston athletes in the 21st century, which should be simple, right? I don’t think so.

Looking back on the past 10-years of Boston sports, Bostonians, New Englanders and yes, “Mass-Holes” have been spoiled. We’ve seen all four teams capture at least one, two or three trophies, which again is incredibly special.

Players like Tom Brady, Curt Schilling and Kevin Garnett were instrumental in this entire process, but again, they didn’t win it themselves. They used all their resources, meaning teammates, duh, as well as went above and beyond when needed. Yet, while these three names are the first to top my list, I believe there are others that deserve the same recognition.

Adam Vinatieri helped start the Boston sports championship revolution with his historic kick against the Oakland Raiders at good old Foxborough Stadium during the “Snow Bowl.” He also kicked two significant field goals in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII, which helped the New England Patriots beat both the St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers.

So, surely, Vinatieri should be on the list, right? I mean, seriously, the guy is folklore and certainly someone that should be compared to the great Bobby Orr?

Hmm… I may have gone somewhat too far with that statement, but anyways, let’s continue.

How about David Ortiz? He totally deserves to be on this list, especially after his heroic at-bats against the New York Yankees in ’04 during the ALCS (American League Championship Series). Had Ortiz not connected on Paul Quantrill’s pitch, the Sox would have most likely been swept at Fenway Park, but again, I digress.

Ortiz was a superhero. He was the Gentle Green Giant, but while his “bat powers” helped the Sox offense, players like Schilling, Billy Mueller and Dave Roberts pitched in too. In fact, if Roberts hadn’t stolen second base in Game 4, would the Sox have still won the World Series?

It’s quite possible to believe that all of the so-called “idiots,” ’04 Red Sox could be on this particular list, but I’ll save that for the Noontime Sports baseball guru, Mr. Andy Lindberg.

Hey Andy, what are your thoughts?

There’s other names that also should be recognized, such as, Ray Allen, Dustin Pedroia, Ty Law and yes, Tim Thomas.

Thomas totally deserves to be on the Top-10 list, especially since he was forced to stand on his head during three Game 7’s this past April, May and June. Had Thomas neglected that duty, well, then the Bruins would have not won the Cup.

All in all, this list isn’t easy to construct. There are so many names, faces and players that helped shape, “Title Town USA,” so to limit it to 10 is rather hard. I mean, everyone, that’s right, everyone should be on this list.

So, I’ll put it on our fans to help construct this list. Noontime Sports wants to hear from you, as we slowly decide, who are the 10 biggest Boston sports athletes in the 21st century?

Email us (NoontimeSports@gmail.com), send us a tweet on Twitter (@NoontimeSports) or even, write on our Facebook wall (search “Noontime Sports”).

Our plan is to have this list constructed at the end of July, so, don’t just sit there, but instead, help us put together the ultimate list and yes, you can brag to your friends and say, you were apart of the process!

Rubin: Why Vancouver Doesn’t Deserve the Stanley Cup

The Canucks are one game away from winning the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, but really, do they deserve the crown?

By Dan Rubin 

There’s a part of me that, at the beginning of the Stanley Cup Final, didn’t mind losing to Vancouver.

As badly as I wanted the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup, I didn’t mind it if the Vancouver Canucks were the team they might lose to. I looked at Vancouver as a city that never really won anything, save for two other Western Conference championships. I remembered Vancouver’s shining moment when Canada took the gold medal out of American hands in the Olympics and thought, “This city is a great hockey town. I really want the Bruins to win, but if they have to lose, at least it’s to a hockey town with a hockey tradition.”

That whole feeling evaporated since Game 5.

When the Bruins lost Game 1, I didn’t know a whole lot about the Alexandre Burrows biting incident. I didn’t really know about all their unnecessary physical play and I felt the emotion was riding high, but it was right where it needed to be. But then, after Game 1 and going into Game 2, something totally changed, taking my positive attitude towards the Canucks, their organization, their fans, and the entire nation of Canada with it.

I realized the Vancouver Canucks do not deserve to hoist the most storied trophy in sports. They do not, and if the game expects to maintain its integrity, the Gallery Gods need to shine down and deliver the Cup to Boston, a place where it can have restored integrity and respect.

Continue reading

Daily Noontime – June 9, 2011

Brad Marchand has made a significant impact for the Bruins!

Happy Thursday everyone and yes, welcome to yet another… Daily Noontime! Here is today’s headlines and news! 

Headlines: 

* Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks was epic and yes, Brad Marchand made an impact.

* After two back-to-back games in Boston, the Vancouver Canucks need to regroup quickly, especially if they want to win another game in the series.

* According to sources, some NFL and CFL teams are keeping their eye on former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

* Apparently, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has admitted that the NFL Lockout is not just for players, coaches and owners, but also, fans too.

* It seems that according to some sources, Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia may need surgery on his right knee.

* The great Charles Barkley has spoken and what exactly did he say? Well, he admitted that the Miami Heat have the worst fans in the NBA.

Games to Watch: 

* Seattle at Detroit (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* Boston at New York Yankees (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* St. Louis at Houston (MLB) – 8:05pm eastern

* Miami at Dallas (NBA Finals – Game 5) – 9:00pm eastern

* Washington at San Diego (MLB) – 10:05pm eastern

Video of the Day: 

Boston Bruins great Bobby Orr was honored Wednesday at the TD Garden prior to face-off and yes, he waived a flag honoring Nathan Horton.

The Big Bad Bruins are … BACK!

After Monday's game against the Canucks, it's fair to say that the "Big Bad Bruins" are back!

By Matt Noonan 

After watching the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday, I finally came to a consensus on Tuesday morning … the “Big Bad Bruins” have officially returned to Boston.

The city is excited and why shouldn’t it be? The Bruins pounded the Canucks on Monday and have officially climbed back into the series. Although, while Vancouver indeed leads Boston, two games to one, I think it’s fair to say that no one care about the score at this moment, right?

The Big Bad Bruins were your mother and father’s team, but last night, they emulated the stories of the franchise’s past, as Milan Lucic, Mark Recchi and Shawn Thornton reminded us of the glory days and helped the team score eight goals in 60-minutes. Yep, they scored eight points and let’s just say it was wicked awesome.

Yet, why was Game 3 of the Stanley Cup so awesome? Well, here are a few reasons.

Vancouver’s goaltender Roberto Luongo refused to leave his cage after allowing five goals. The Sedin brother’s complained and whined, while Ryan Kessler got his hands dirty with Zdeno Chara and Thornton. Also, various Bruins players constantly harassed Alex Burrows and Max Lapierre all night and yes, both guys were quite relieved once the final horn sounded.

Again, this was the second coming of the Bruins of the ‘70’s. They hit their opponent. They slammed the Canucks into the board and yep, they walloped Vancouver.

Game 4, which will be played on Wednesday at the TD Garden should be exciting, especially since every Bostonian and New Englander is craving more Bruins hockey. The spirit of hockey is alive, but now, all that we need is a parade and Stanley Cup trophy to prove that Black and Gold hockey has officially returned to Massachusetts.

Bruins Fans Should Not Panic

It should be an exciting Game 3 on Monday, but should Bruins fans be worried?

By Matt Noonan 

Here we go again, another Boston team hopelessly, desperately trying to comeback from a 0-2 hole, but really, can they do it? Does Boston have enough energy left in their tank to cheer the Bruins onto victory?

We all know the last time the Bruins were crowned champions of the National Hockey League was in 1972. America was not at war with Afghanistan or Iraq and Barack Obama wasn’t the president of the United States, but instead, Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon was calling the shots from the White House.

Yet, rather than go back in time and recollect about America in the 1970’s, let’s at least consider the obvious or what we already know about this particular Boston Bruins team.

First, they’re resilient or at least, we think they are, right?

They’ve overcome various deficits over the past year, such as when they lost two back-to-back games against Montreal in April. The Bruins responded by winning two games in Montreal’s barn and then finished off the Habs in game seven at the TD Garden.

They also overcame a rocky start against the Tampa Bay Lighting and eventually won the Eastern Conference crown in seven games too.

Second, they have a decent goaltender by the name of Tim Thomas. He’s the leader of the Black and Gold and certainly has been the reason why Boston has experienced a great deal of success in the postseason. He’s made some highlight reel saves, as well as amazed even the most casual fan and again, he’s why the Bruins are in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Bruins also have quality goal scorers and defenseman. Players like Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic have been very important puzzle pieces for this offense, while Mark Recchi, Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara have anchored a defense, especially on the power play. Also, Tyler Seguin has left our jaws on the floor with his “can’t-miss” moves.

Do I need to continue with more names?

All in all, this is a quality Bruins team. They may not be an exact replicate of Vancouver, but again, they’re a team that certainly can overcome anything.

Boston sports fans never give up on their teams; so expect the Black and Gold faithful to be ready to cheer on their hometown Bruins. Everyone in the Hub wants the Cup, so a little electricity at the Garden might help Boston climb back in the series.

Noonan: Boston Needs Something to Cheer About

Will the Canadiens beat the Bruins or can Boston fight back to win the series?

By Matt Noonan

“We want the Cup! We want the Cup!”

Come on, don’t you want to cheer?

Who doesn’t want the Stanley Cup, especially if you’re from Boston, Massachusetts?

The last time the Boston Bruins celebrated a championship on the ice was in 1972, when they beat the New York Rangers. Bobby Orr was playing for Boston, Richard Nixon was the President of the United States of America and Don McLean’s “American Pie” was a popular hip tune.

Now, Barack Obama is the President, gas prices are skyrocketing and Lady Gaga’s newest hit, “Judas” is the number one downloaded song on i-Tunes.

Game 4 between the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will take place Thursday evening at the Bell Centre, however the Habs hold a 2-1 series advantage against the men dressed in Black and Gold. Yet, with a win, Montreal could conceivably be considered a lock to win the series, so how does that make you feel?

Bostonians and New Englanders can only hope that the Bruins will follow in the path of the Celtics and win two back-to-back playoff games, which happened this past week, but as any sports fan from the Hub knows, fairy tales don’t always end happily.

Boston knows the meaning of “misery.” They haven’t seen a team celebrate a championship since ’08, which was when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen guided the Celtics to Banner 17.

Ever since, the local sports teams have disappointed.

The Red Sox lost two back-to-back postseason series against the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angles of Anaheim Angels, as well as were bitten quite terribly by the “injury bug” during the ’10 season.

The Patriots watched Tom Brady come back from an ACL and MCL injury during the ’09 season, but were immediately eliminated back-to-back years in the playoffs. Might I add, last season Brady and the Patriots were practically a guaranteed lock to win the AFC, but instead, lost to Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.

As far as the Celtics go, the bitter taste of defeat still remains in everyone’s mouths or minds, as the Los Angles Lakers beat the Green and White last June in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Although, despite dwelling on the past few years, the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox have indeed won championships within the last 10-12 years, but the only team that hasn’t are the Bruins.

Can the Bruins actually win their sixth Stanley Cup? I believe they can, but all in all, when will it happen?

I personally thought this was the year. They made some changes, acquired Nathan Horton, as well as made a few trades at the deadline and oh, by the way, Tim Thomas has clearly bounced back between the pipes.

Yet, the four losses to Philadelphia is something that the Black and Gold will never get over until they actually win a Stanley Cup. They must win one because otherwise Game 7 of the NHL Playoffs will live in New England lore.

So again, can the Bruins beat the Canadiens? Absolutely, but if you want to go by statistics or numbers from this past season, forget it. Montreal owned the season series against Boston and had no problem winning Games 1 and 2 at the TD Garden.

Montreal may or may not be in their heads, but in order for the Bruins to win, they need to play smart and fundamental hockey, as well as score first.

They need Tomas Kaberle to be the anchor on the power play.

They need Tim Thomas to play “lights out” and stand on his head in net.

They need their offense to score early and often.

They need to win.

The fate of their season rests on Game 4 and if their performance is what it was during Games 1 and 2, then you might want to consider jumping aboard the Celtics or Red Sox bandwagon.

Boston doesn’t want another year of defeat or heartbreak, but instead, something to cheer about. The city is behind the Bruins and only the players can decide the outcome.

Again, the city wants something to cheer about, so believe me, it is certainly appropriate to chant, “We want the Cup!”

Boston Bruins Broadcaster Bob Wilson Honored on Saturday

BOSTON, MA Legendary Boston Bruins broadcaster Bob Wilson was honored Saturday morning at the TD Garden and the Bruins home radio booth has now been renamed the “Bob Wilson Radio Booth.”

Here are some highlights from his interview with the media prior to the start of the Bruins vs. Rangers game.

On broadcasting the games and telling listeners the the Bruins allowed goals:

“Well when you grew up you try to be evenhanded and sometimes you get more excited than you need to be, but on the road that’s particularly where you must be talking about [the goals scored]. I had to get excited to get over the crowd.”

When asked about changing the name of the radio booth:

“It means a great deal…it validates a career if you will and I’m just beyond words with this move by the Bruins management. It’s just wonderful.”

On broadcasting a few Boston Beanpot tournaments at the Boston Garden:

“I did the [Boston] Beanpot several times, maybe ten or a dozen times I did the Beanpot and that was a lot of fun, except the consolation game was awfully hard to do. Particularly when my favorite team, Northeastern [University] was always in it.”

On one specific great Bruins or NHL memory:

“Well the Stanley Cup in 1972, certainly a highlight of my career. It’s the last Stanley Cup goal that the Bruins scored. It was interesting [because] Phil Esposito told me after the game, Bobby [Orr] came up to him on that final face-off  with about 20 seconds, 30 seconds left in the game. He said, “get the puck to me and I’ll kill it off.” That was Bobby talking to Phil. “Get it to me and I’ll take care of the rest.”

On the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup in 1972:

“It was an exciting time. The Welcome at Logan [Airport] in the middle of the night that was fun.

On if he is following the current Boston Bruins team:

“I get them on [television] and once in a while I can get the radio. The guys are doing a good job. I’m proud of both Jack [Edwards] and Dave [Goucher].”

Are the Boston Bruins for real? Any thoughts on a Stanley Cup?

By Matt Noonan

Every sports fan knows that Boston is the home of champions or at least, the runners up, right? Sure, the past few seasons have been quite enjoyable as fans have been able to relish the fact that the Boston Celtics and Red Sox, as well as New England Patriots are not just competitors, but also, winners.

As of recently it seems that the Boston Bruins are joining that mix and whether you’d like to accept them or not, you might want to consider their most recent success on the road.

For the past week and a half, the Bruins not only left the comforts of their home TD Garden locker room, but spent one night in Long Island, New York before venturing across Canada, where they steamrolled all of their opponents.

So, what should be said about these Bruins? Are they possibly a legit team or contender?

It maybe too early to state that, but make sure you remember those words, especially if that special day does occur.

Although, will the Bruins continue their success against Tampa Bay on Thursday or will they have to rely on their other TD Garden resident, the Boston Celtics to keep on winning, so they can remain in their shadow, especially if the Black and Gold start losing.

It isn’t apparent or definite that the Bruins will immediately resort back to their old ways, where they couldn’t win face-offs or capitalize on power plays, but let’s all not get too confident because again, it was only six-games.

There is still a lot of hockey remaining before the Stanley Cup playoffs begin in April, so don’t get too excited because often times the Bruins can let us down and certainly, it does hurt, doesn’t it?

Does everyone remember what happened last April and May? The Bruins not only stumbled into the playoffs as a the sixth seed, but stunned the city of Boston by beating Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres.

Their next opponent was the seventh seeded Philadelphia Flyers, a team that not only has some history with the Black and Gold, but also was an admirable opponent. After jumping out to a 3-0 series lead, the Bruins fell apart completely, as they allowed the Flyers to become the Red Sox of the NHL and win a seven-game series.

The loss was embarrassing and still is hard to swallow today, so if the Bruins are indeed for real, then possibly, they need to win the Stanley Cup now.

Don’t extend the current championship drought any longer and let’s see the city of Boston rejoice with the Bruins this June.

Couldn’t you see Mayor Thomas Menino and Governor Deval Patrick shaking hands with Bruins greats, such as Cam Neely or Bobby Orr? Possibly, fans could witness the team’s general manager Peter Chiarelli high fiving every Black and Gold supporter and maybe, just maybe, the Celtics would honor Bill Russell with a statue on that same day?

Wait, what did I say?

I’ll save the Bill Russell comment for another day, but in all honesty, hasn’t this current road trip got you thinking Stanley Cup? I know I have, but again, these are the Boston Bruins and anything can certainly happen.

The Bruins will end their 2010-2011 season on the road against the New Jersey Devils on April 10, which means that the second season of hockey is upon us, but again, lets take it one day it a time because the city of Boston is used to having their hearts broken.