Familiar territory for Cahoon, if not UMass
Massachusetts forward Stephen Werner
was a unanimous selection to the Hockey East All-Rookie
weekend tickets: Sold out
the games begin again Friday night, thoughts remain
with Joe Exter, and the Merrimack goaltender's recovery
from the fractured skull he suffered last week. Merrimack
has set up an online
forum for fans to share their best wishes and
prayers for Joe.
can be sent to:
c/o Joe Exter
315 Turnpike Street
North Andover, MA 01845
1 New Hampshire
Wildcat note: The hottest team entering the
weekend, UNH is 5-0-3 in its last eight, averaging 4.75
goals per game in that time.
How UNH wins: Continue to get stellar
play from its top two lines, its power play and its
goaltender. The Wildcats have got all the ingredients
for postseason success.
2 Boston College
Eagle note: Hard to believe, but BC and BU
haven’t met in the Hockey East Tournament in 10
years (a quarterfinal series victory for BU).
How BC wins: The Eagles need to follow
the lead of Ben Eaves, the conference’s best player,
who was held to one point in the Merrimack series.
5 Boston University
Terrier note: A No. 5 seed has never won the
Hockey East Tournament, but BU enters with a 7-0-1 record
in tournaments this season.
How BU wins: As in the Beanpot, the
Terriers need Sean Fields to play well and the offense
to produce timely goals. Getting captain Freddy Meyer
back from a shoulder injury would be a big boost. His
status is up in the air after missing three of the last
Minutemen note: UMass has scored at least
four goals 17 times this season, winning all 17 of
How UMass wins: As Cahoon says of
the UNH matchup: “Against UNH, we need to stay
within ourselves. We can’t play transition hockey
with them for 60 minutes and win. We need to try to
offset the [Lanny] Gares and [Colin] Hemingways of
the world. Gabe also needs to be solid and steal a
few for us because we certainly know that [UNH goalie
Mike] Ayers is a capable guy and can do the same thing.
Ultimately, we need to keep it close and make the
big plays when needed.” The Minutemen would
need a repeat performance were they to reach the finals.
Capsules by Nate Ewell
call him Don “The Builder.” Five years removed
from reaching the pinnacle of his Princeton coaching career
– guiding the Tigers to their only Eastern College
Athletic Conference Tournament title and NCAA berth –
Don “Toot” Cahoon is at it again.
third year at the helm of the University of Massachusetts,
Cahoon is once again putting his stamp on a once-struggling
program. Thanks to a stunning playoff sweep of Maine in
Orono – where UMass had never won in 18 previous contests
– the Minutemen have put the college hockey world
on alert that they are to be taken seriously.
first game is really crucial in a three-game series,"
said Cahoon. "The game broke early and we got goals
that were not the typical goals that you get against Maine.
It was definitely a confidence builder. That set the stage
for us to relax and do things a little better in game two.
was a monumental win for our program and a magical moment
for us. We want to be like [Maine], but we’re not there
but consistent success from season to season will elevate
the program into the top half of Hockey East. Until then,
Cahoon and his staff focus on erasing the memories of seasons
lost and look to what the future holds.
can’t afford to look to our past,” says Cahoon.
“We need to put our footprints in the sand and go
forward for the growth of our program. We look for and want
kids who want to make a difference and create a winning
program. It’s an exciting thing to get involved in.”
speaks from experience. As a forward for Boston University,
he won back-to-back national championships (1971-72) and
was a member of the coaching staff when the Terriers captured
the 1978 title.
coach, Cahoon is best known for the turnaround he engineered
at Princeton. In nine seasons with the Tigers (1991-2000),
he won 102 games and recorded countless firsts for the program.
the Tigers to four ECAC Tournament semifinal appearances,
two championship games, the first winning seasons since
the late 1960s, the school’s only ECAC Tournament
title and its sole NCAA tourney appearance. In addition,
he attracted some of the nation’s best players in
the mid-to-late ‘90s, including forwards Jeff Halpern,
Syl Apps and Casson Masters, as well as defenseman Steve
fourth season at Princeton, the Tigers compiled the first
of four winning campaigns under Cahoon. That 1994-95 squad
went on to playoff upsets of second-seeded Brown and No.
1 Clarkson, before falling in the championship game to Rensselaer.
Two seasons later they were back in the semifinals, upsetting
Vermont along the way. The following year, 1997-98, they
were ECAC champions and NCAA bound after wins over top-four
ECAC teams Brown, Yale and Clarkson.
UMass, it’s taken only three seasons to produce an
above-.500 mark and the playoff upsets have already begun,
so the natural comparisons between Cahoon’s efforts
at Princeton and with the Minutemen are heating up. According
to the coach, though, there are few similarities.
was a very different situation than this,” explains
Cahoon. “They had a different set of circumstances
that was unique to itself, just as UMass did when we came
here. With Princeton it’s the ECAC and the Ivy League
versus Hockey East here. Things are very different.”
yes, but the results thus far have been strikingly similar,
with the first chapter of UMass’s emergence still
prior two seasons at UMass, Cahoon’s squads had a
combined 16-46-6 mark. But what the record didn’t
indicate was the groundwork that was being set for the long-term
success of the program.
enters this weekend’s semifinal matchup against top-seeded
New Hampshire with a 19-16-1 overall record, the program’s
first winning season since joining Hockey East in 1994-95
and second over-.500 campaign since the school restarted
the program in 1993-94 (when it was 20-9-0 as a Division
a pretty honest group,” says Cahoon, “and we’re
pretty diligent about working hard. We’re not a great
team … yet.”
are getting there, though, and the young talent on this
squad is proof that this season has been no fluke.
freshmen are a real interesting class,” explains Cahoon,
“and my associate coaches (Mark Dennehy and Bill Gilligan)
have done a great job of finding good players. We worked
as a committee deciding on players.”
UMass roster is packed with 12 freshmen, ten of who skated
in 16 or more games this season, including four –
Stephen Werner (14-21—35), Matt Anderson (10-21—31),
Chris Capraro (7-16—23) and defenseman Marvin Degon
(2-13—15) – who tallied 15 or more points.
was a no-brainer,” says Cahoon in explaining the decision
to recruit the 18-year old from Chevy Chase, Md. “He’s
done everything we hoped and felt he could do. He’s
emotionally mature and plays two years ahead of where his
development should be.”
according to the coach, has a great sense and understanding
of the game, while Capraro, who has played on a line with
senior captain Tim Turner, “fits in well and has scored
some big goals for us. He also gives Turner confidence.”
raves about Degon as well, calling the blueliner (2-13-15)
one of the best skating defensemen he’s ever been
around. Given Cahoon’s track record, that certainly
speaks volumes about the Millbury, Mass., native.
the biggest contributor from this talented rookie crop,
however, stands between the pipes. Gabe Winer, another 18-year
old, has been a settling force for the Minutemen (17-11-0,
3.03 goals-against average, .873 save percentage, with even
better numbers in league play).
has handled the pressure of taking this team to the next
level,” remarks the coach. “He’s taken
on more than you would want to give a true freshman. He’s
built for big games and, as I like to say, he has a ‘great
disposition for the position.’”
to be overlooked has been the impact of leading scorer Greg
Mauldin, a sophomore who averaged 1.17 points per game in
league play and made the needed leap from his rookie campaign
when he notched 24 points.
though, our success comes down to the five upperclassmen
who steadied the ship,” admits Cahoon. “Turner
has been here all four years and has been the consummate
competitor from day one. He’s crafty around the net
and I’m sure the program’s progress this year
makes the past struggles worthwhile.”
three juniors, Mike Warner and defensemen Thomas Pöck
and Nick Kuiper, have been critical as well. Pöck (17-19—36)
made a successful transition from center to the blueline
due to senior Kelly Sickavish’s injury. His puck-handling
skills and ability to make effective breakout passes has
been valuable to the Minutemen’s transition game.
junior class has been key,” says Cahoon. “They
all play a major role. If they don’t have a great
year, it doesn’t allow the freshmen and sophomores
clear that Cahoon has received contributions from every
element of his club to this point. He needs that to continue
this weekend if the Minutemen have plans to advance to the
Hockey East title game and, possibly, the NCAA Tournament.
be a surprise, but for Cahoon, it wouldn't be a first.