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Freshman K.J. Tiefenwerth makes most of opportunity with UMass hockey team

AMHERST — It wasn’t the way K.J. Tiefenwerth hoped to get on one of the University of Massachusetts hockey team’s top lines, but the freshman made the most of his opportunity.

After a leg injury knocked junior forward Troy Power out in the third period of Friday night’s loss to Northeastern at the Mullins Center, Tiefenwerth was promoted to play alongside Branden Gracel and Michael Pereira against the Huskies Saturday at Matthews Arena in Boston. He responded with a goal and two assists, numbers that earned him Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors and more playing time with Gracel and Pereira.

“K.J. did a nice job with Michael and Branden on Saturday night. As of (Wednesday) we had him on the same line there,” Micheletto said. “K.J. has been in the lineup a lot. He’s been productive, not necessarily pointwise, but he’s been a good player for us. It’s nice to see him take advantage of a different opportunity and be productive pointwise Saturday night.”

Tiefenwerth relished playing with Pereira and Gracel.

“They’re both goal scorers who can put the puck in the net,” Tiefenwerth said. “I see myself as a play-maker who can get them the puck. I’m excited to play with them. Last weekend we generated a lot of opportunities and came away with a few points. Hopefully we can keep it going. ... It’s always good to be called up and be one of those guys people count on. I’m going to do my best to do my job and help the team out.”

This is Tiefenwerth’s second time playing with Pereira. The two were teammates at Avold Old Farms (Conn.) before Pereira graduated and Tiefenwerth moved on to junior hockey.

Power, who suffered the injury from a kneeing penalty that led to a major for Northeastern, will likely miss considerable time.

“Troy is going to be a while,” Micheletto said. “I don’t have a date or a time frame. With injuries there’s kind of a settling down period. We’ll wait for the swelling to go down and get a better idea of what the time frame is going to be. But it will certainly be until well after the holidays.”

Senior defenseman Darren Rowe, who suffered an upper body injury Friday, is questionable for this weekend against Colgate, Friday and Saturday at the Mullins Center. Both games are at 7 p.m.

“Darren felt better than he was expecting to feel yesterday,” Micheletto said. “He got out and skated on his own just trying to keep his legs going. At this point I don’t know if he’s going to be in consideration for this weekend or Tuesday (at Yale) or if it’s ‘let’s get you ready for after the holiday.’”

MOVEMBER RECORD — A clean shaven Micheletto said he raised $1,071 during Movember, the annual month-long event where men grow mustaches to raise funds and awareness to fight prostate cancer .

“That broke my previous high,” said Micheletto, who completed his sixth year of participation

The first-year UMass coach appreciated how many players and members of the athletic department participated.

“I wasn’t expecting it, especially with so many people doing it,” Micheletto said. “It was really gratifying. My experience here has been unbelievable. I guess it shouldn’t have shocked me that people have embraced something I’ve thrown out there, but it’s nice to get that validation too.”

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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