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Kevin Czepiel, Rocco Carzo named UMass hockey captains

Kevin Czepiel of UMass keeps the puck away from Maine forward Joey Diamond in the second period of a 2-2 tie at UMass on November 18th.

MIKE BRADLEY Kevin Czepiel of UMass keeps the puck away from Maine forward Joey Diamond in the second period of a 2-2 tie at UMass on November 18th. Purchase photo reprints »

AMHERST — When he returned to campus for his senior season, Kevin Czepiel wanted to be a leader for the University of Massachusetts hockey program, which was adapting to a new coaching staff and trying to become a winning team again.

Coach John Micheletto made that leadership official after Tuesday’s practice when he announced that Czepiel and fellow senior forward Rocco Carzo had been named co-captains and will each wear a “C” on their jerseys for the 2012-13 season.

“It’s a huge honor to have been thought of in that regard,” said Czepiel, a forward from Holyoke. “To be able to help work toward being a championship team is a great honor. I never thought about wearing a letter, but I wanted to be a leader to help during this transition ... After coming into the summer not knowing the coaches, getting that approval was a great thing.”

Micheletto said the coaching staff made the decision after observing the players and getting feedback from their teammates.

“It became evident that the guys had a tremendous amount of respect for Kevin and Rocco from the beginning,” Micheletto said. “I thought those guys really stepped forward and really tried to have an influence on how things were going throughout the summer. From what I’ve heard from before my arrival, about how they kept the guys moving forward, spoke volumes about where they were mentally and what they wanted to do as a part of this program. Having said that, there were a lot of guys that did the same. It’s going to take more guys to lead this program than the two guys with letters.

“I think Rocco and Kevin are going to be great leaders for this program,” Micheletto added. They are “guys that can settle the team down when things are crazy. Guys that can fire the team up when we go a little bit lax.”

SELLOUT EXPECTED — Five of the top 10 hockey crowds in Mullins Center history have come against Boston College, including four of the eight times the Minutemen have cleared the 8,000-fan milestone and the only two official sellouts (8,389).

UMass is anticipating adding to those lists when it plays the defending national champion and third-ranked Eagles Friday at 7 p.m.

After getting 7,123 for Friday’s 4-1 win over Connecticut, UMass is expecting a sellout and encouraging fans to get their tickets ahead of time to avoid long walk-up lines and prevent people from being turned away.

RECRUIT ON THE WAY— According to U.S. Hockey Report (ushr.com), former Ohio State defenseman Ben Gallacher, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound, fourth-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, has committed to UMass. He had a goal and 11 assists in 24 games for the Buckeyes as a freshman. He’s playing this season for Green Bay in the USHL and will have three years of eligibility remaining when he arrives in Amherst for the 2013-14 season.

His father, Bill Gallacher, owns the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.

SERINO REMEMBERED— Former Merrimack hockey coach Chris Serino died Monday after a battle with throat cancer. Serino, whose sons Anthony and Nick played baseball at UMass, was most recently a coach and athletic director at Malden Catholic from 2005-2011. He coached at Northfield Mount Hermon early in his career. He’ll be honored prior to Merrimack’s home opener Oct. 26.

“I knew him a little bit from his time at Merrimack and probably more from his time at Malden Catholic. I wouldn’t say I knew him really well,” Micheletto said. “It’s obviously a big loss for the hockey community as well. My thoughts go out to his family at this very trying time.”

OLCZYK ENSHRINED — Ed Olczyk, the father of UMass senior forward Eddie Olczyk, was inducted into the United State Hockey Hall of Fame, Monday in Eveleth, Minn.

He was honored with longtime Dallas Star and Minnesota North Star Mike Modano and New Jersey Devils executive Lou Lamoriello.

Olczyk had 342 goals and 794 points while playing for the Chicago Black Hawks, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets, the New York Rangers, the Los Angeles Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is now NBC’s lead hockey analyst.

“I’ve just been really lucky throughout my entire career, and I’ve worn a lot of hats,” Olczyk told the Associated Press. “I was a fan, I was a player, I was a coach, broadcaster and a dad, so on any given night, I can have one of those hats on. I love the game, and hockey has been my and my family’s life.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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