Report: Derrick Gordon to transfer from UMass

Kristen Richard/Daily Collegian

Kristen Richard/Daily Collegian

Derrick Gordon is in the national news once again.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Gordon will reportedly be transferring from the Massachusetts men’s basketball team and will be eligible to play immediately.

After coming out as the first gay Division I basketball player on April 9, 2014, Gordon said that his sexuality had nothing to do with his decision.

“I appreciate everything that the coaches and my teammates have done for me,” Gordon told Goodman. “As far as me leaving, it has absolutely nothing to do with my sexuality. In fact, everyone could not have been more supportive with my situation.”

The 6-foot-2 guard started in all of his 65 career games for the Minutemen, averaging 9.6 points per game as well as 4.2 assists per game. Gordon was a key member to UMass’ return to the NCAA tournament in the 2013-14 season, and emerged as a leader both on and off the court this past season.

“This is just a personal decision for me to chase my dreams,” Gordon added. “I’m trying to put myself in the best situation to be successful, and I hope to go somewhere where I have the opportunity to expand my role and more importantly, win as many games as possible.”

Andrew Cyr can be reached at arcyr@umass.edu, and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

Jake Massie commits to UMass

Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

After losing both Frank Vatrano and Brandon Montour, the Massachusetts hockey team received a commitment Saturday afternoon from Jake Massie.

Massie, a 6-foot-2 defenseman from Quebec, Canada, is the #81 ranked draft prospect among North American skaters on NHL.com and a member of Kimball Union Academy. He is now the third player that has committed to UMass after playing for KUA, with goalie Steve Mastalerz and forward Dennis Kravchenko being the other two.

In 34 games at KUA this season, Massie recorded five goals and 15 assists, and is currently eligible to be drafted this year. While it is unclear whether he will play next year or two years from now in Amherst, Massie’s size and physicality will surely bring a boost to the Minutemen defense. He joins Williams Lagesson and Brian Scoville as defenders who have committed to playing at UMass for the future under coach John Micheletto.

If he does wait until 2016 to make his way to Amherst, he will be a part of a recruiting class that includes top forwards Ty Pelton-Byce and John Leonard.

Jason Kates can be reached at jkates@umass.edu and followed @Jason_Kates.

Report: Brandon Montour on verge of signing contract with Anaheim Ducks

Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian

Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian

For the second time in a week, the Massachusetts hockey team is on the verge of losing a cornerstone player.

According to a report from Mike McMahon, defenseman Brandon Montour will sign a professional contract with the Anaheim Ducks after only one season in Amherst. The Ducks selected Montour with the 55th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, making him the highest draft player in UMass history.

The news comes after former UMass forward and leading scorer Frank Vatrano signed a contract with the Boston Bruins as an undrafted free agent Thursday.

Montour appeared in 21 games for the Minutemen, tallying 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) and blocking 18 shots. Considered a prolific skater and puck-mover, Montour immediately joined the first defensive pairing under UMass coach John Micheletto.

The 6-foot defenseman arrived in Amherst in December. He missed the fall semester while he awaited clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse and instead played for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League. He also played for the Blackhawks the year prior, where he was named USHL Player of the Year after scoring 62 points in 60 games.

If Montour signs, it’s an impressive ascent for a prospect who was initially drafted in the 18th round of the USHL draft. Montour and Vatrano were two of the the Minutemen’s most talented players from a season ago, and their departure is a devastating blow for a program which has struggled over the last three seasons.

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at mchiarel@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli. 

UMass forward Frank Vatrano signs contract with Boston Bruins

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Massachusetts hockey forward Frank Vatrano signed a professional contract with the Boston Bruins Thursday morning, according to a tweet from his coach John Micheletto.

Vatrano, a redshirt sophomore, led UMass with 18 goals in 36 games, finishing the season with 28 points. At 5-foot-10, 215 pounds, Vatrano was the Minutemen’s most prolific offensive threat and fired 194 shots this season.

A Massachusetts native, Vatrano initially arrived at UMass before last season after initially committing to Boston College. An NCAA eligibility issue restricted him from playing for the Minutemen in the regular season, but he made his long-awaited debut against Vermont in the Hockey East tournament.

Vatrano turns 21 on Saturday and will sign with the Bruins as an undrafted free agent.

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at mchiarel@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli. 

Mike Busillo lands with Stockton Thunder

Alex Lindsay/Daily Collegian

Alex Lindsay/Daily Collegian

With last Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame signaling the end to his Massachusetts hockey career, defenseman Mike Busillo signed on with the East Coast Hockey League’s Stockton Thunder, an affiliate of the NHL’s New York Islanders.

Standing at 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, Busillo was one of six seniors on the 2014-15 UMass roster, joining captain Troy Power, Zack LaRue, Oleg Yevenko, Steven Guzzo and Steve Mastalerz. Busillo finished with one goal and six assists in 75 career games.

Continue reading

Surveying the Atlantic 10: Where UMass stacks up as the stretch run approaches

Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian

Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian

Selection Sunday, as well as the fates of many teams embedded in the fringe of the potential NCAA Tournament landscape, is exactly a month away.

Wait, really?

It’s a bit surprising that within the next month, the 2014-15 season will conclude, conference tournaments will take place and brackets will set as bubbles burst. But that’s exactly where we stand, and if you’re a UMass fan, you’re probably wishing the regular season could prolong.

Unlike last season for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team, in which it felt like the Minutemen were forced to wait an eternity for a bid to the NCAA Tournament, this year’s rendition is just now rounding into shape. UMass sports a six-game winning streak and is tied with three other teams (VCU, URI and Dayton) for first place in the Atlantic 10 Conference. But is it enough?

UMass is a part of a conference which, for the most part, will spend the next month scrambling to separate itself from the pack. This could either help or hurt the Minutemen depending on how the season plays out but also sets up for a potentially thrilling final 30 days within conference play.

Let’s take a look at the conference landscape, with an eye on March Madness. We’ll start with the conference standings.

Dayton (19-5, 9-3 A-10)
Massachusetts (16-9, 9-3)
Rhode Island (17-6, 9-3)
Virginia Commonwealth (19-6, 9-3)

Davidson (17-6, 8-4)
George Washington (17-8, 7-5)
St. Bonaventure (13-10, 6-6)
La Salle (14-11, 6-6)
Richmond (13-12, 6-6)
Saint Joseph’s (11-12, 5-6)
Duquesne (8-15, 3-9)
George Mason (8-16, 3-9)
Saint Louis (10-15, 2-10)
Fordham (6-16, 1-10)

*Bold indicates a tie for first place

Teams that should be in: VCU, Dayton  Continue reading

Final: UMass 3, UMass Lowell 3 (OT)

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

After defeating UMass Lowell for the first time since the 2010 season last Saturday, UMass had to settle for a 3-3 tie this time after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period.

In his return from a two-game absence, sophomore Steven Iacobellis scored a short-handed goal on 2-on-1 breakaway, finishing off a pass from Dennis Kravchenko to extend. It was Iacobellis’ sixth of the season, and Kravchenko’s second assist of the game.

Kravchenko now has 27 points on the year, which is the most for a freshman since Casey Wellman had 33 in the 2008-09 season.

UML responded with a shorthanded goal of its own with eight minutes, 53 seconds left in the game by Evan Campbell, cutting the Minutemen lead to one. The River Hawks later tied it at the 2:15 mark on a goal from Michael Kapla.

UMass will be back in action next Friday night when it takes on Providence College on the road in the first game of a weekend home-and-home doubleheader.