After a successful showing at the New York Islanders development camp this past summer, University of Massachusetts goalie Kevin Boyle is ready to take the reigns as the starting goaltender for the Minutemen again.
Last season former UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon split the playing time of his goalies pretty evenly, but towards the end of the season there was a transition to Boyle as he led the goalies in games played with 21 games. Cahoon also started Boyle for both of UMass’ Hockey East playoff games at Boston College.
Last season, Boyle finished with a record of 8-7-4, a 3.00 goals-against average, and a .895 save percentage. Although his numbers may not look too impressive, his stats don’t tell the whole story of his season, especially since UMass was a very inexperienced team. The UMass defensive corps was made up of all freshmen and sophomores with the exception of senior, Michael Marcou.
“Not many freshman goalies can go into the top ranked teams arena and beat them, like [Boyle] did last year against BU, ” former UMass goalie Kevin Moore said.
“I can’t think back to a game he didn’t give us a chance to win. I think him getting [invited] to the Islanders camp reflected that. Having a sub .900 save percentage you wouldn’t always think he had a great year, but if he is getting invited to a prospect camp like that the scouts must be noticing something.”
Now with a new coach, Boyle will have to redisplay the tools he showed last season, which gave him the reigns of the Minutemen goal over junior Jeff Teglia and sophomore Steve Mastalerez.
Boyle got the nod in UMass’ first game of the season against the University of Connecticut, in which he led UMass to a 4-1 win. Boyle stopped 24 of the 25 shots that he faced.
In the following two games, Mastalerez got the nod in goal against Boston College and Boston University, but the Minutemen lost in both games. Boyle was called upon for the homecoming game with BU Saturday, and despite playing really well UMass could not come up with a win. On the season, Boyle is 1-1, with a 2.02 goals against average, and a .933 save percentage.
“We have talked about it a lot with the goalies, but I let them know that this is a new chapter and a clean slate for them,” new UMass hockey coach John Micheletto said.
“You can call it a controversy if you would like, but I see it more as a competition between three guys who have all [previously] proven they can be a number one goaltender,” Micheletto said.
Micheletto will be looking for a few things from his goalies if one wants to claim the starting job.
“The bottom line is you have to give the team a chance to win whenever you are in the net,” Micheletto said.
“To break that down into a little more detail, rebound control is very important, because it puts us on the defensive. If the goalies are steering pucks into a safe area, or smothering the puck, it will establish one guy over the others.”
With the experience of being the only UMass goalie to attend an NHL (Islanders) development camp, Boyle may have given himself a chance to take a step up over with some added confidence.
“There is a confidence factor [playing in development camps], because guys coming off of those usually feel pretty good,” Micheletto said. “They usually have an idea of where they fit compared to that high-end talent.”
Boyle has had a few important mentors during his hockey career. His brother, John, got Kevin into the sport because he played growing up. Kevin’s brother has been going to all his games since he started playing.
At UMass a familiar friend emerged, Kevin Moore. Moore and Boyle had known each other since Boyle was about 12 because they both worked with the same goalie coach growing up in New Jersey.
“When I came in Moore just kind of took me as his little brother, and he helped me with the transition to not only the hockey part of college but also the social aspect,” Boyle said of Moore. “Moore would always calm my nerves down, or he would say something to me pumped up for the games.”
There have been a few talented goalies to pass through the UMass system over the past few years like Jonathan Quick and Paul Dainton, and while Boyle has a ton of respect for them, he has modeled his game after Buffalo Sabres goalie, Ryan Miller.
“Ryan Miller would be my closest comparable by his style of play, and the way he plays,” Boyle said.
“Miller doesn’t really play the puck too much, he is a butterfly goalie, which I am too. He is just so calm and poised in the net, which is something I take pride in doing. I don’t let any pressure situations get to me.”
If Boyle is to claim the starting role for the Minutemen again, he will need to show some of those qualities.
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