Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With UMass Head Coach Don "Toot" Cahoon

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, Febtuary 27 at 1:00 p.m. ET, UMass Head Coach "Toot" Cahoon pays a visit to "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The No. 16 Minutemen host No. 11 Maine this weekend with home ice for the Hockey East playoffs on the line.

Don Cahoon

Don "Toot" Cahoon is in his seventh season at the helm of the University of Massachusetts hockey program, and his 20th overall. His career coaching record stands at 276-299-58 (.476). Perhaps the most impressive statistic in Cahoon's six years have been the 36 Hockey East Academic All-Conference performers that have played under him, including two Distinguished Scholars and two All-Stars. He has also coached members of the University's prestigious Commonwealth College.

The 2005-06 Minutemen gave fans some of the most memorable wins over ranked opponents in the program's history. UMass defeated then-No. 3 Boston College, No. 3 Colorado College, No. 5 Vermont, No. 9 New Hampshire, No. 13 Vermont and No. 14 Boston University. Marvin Degon also became one of the most prolific defensemen in the nation, heading to the AHL after the season concluded.

Cahoon came to UMass from Princeton, where he rebuilt the Tigers struggling hockey program. He led the Tigers to their first-ever ECAC Tournament title, as well as the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1998. Prior to Princeton, Cahoon had three different stints as an assistant under Jack Parker at Boston University (1974-79, 1987-88, 1990-91). He began his coaching career as the head coach at Lehigh University (1973-74).

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: "Toot" won't be stopping by until 1:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, February 27th, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Good afternoon, and welcome to "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. We'll get going with our first chat of the afternoon in just a moment, as we will be joined by UMass head coach Don "Toot" Cahoon.
CSTV.com Moderator: We're joined now by Coach Cahoon.

Joe (Chelmsford): Hey Coach Cahoon. Former student at UMass and a huge supporter of the hockey program. My question is: How excited are the players to possibly have home ice for the first round of the playoffs where the team and its fans has been making it one of the toughest places to play this season?
Coach Cahoon: The players are very excited about prospects of playing at home, but they know there's a tall order staring them right in the face with Maine coming here this weekend. They're a storied program, a program that's been here before, and a program that knows how to compete in this situation. So, we've got our work cut out for us.

Boulat (Amherst, MA): Coach Cahoon, I have a question that is probably on the mind of many UMass fans: when and how did Jon Quick get injured and, more importantly, when do you expect him to be back (i.e. will he be in the weekend series against Maine)? Thank you!
Coach Cahoon: Jon was hurt in the last minute of play in the Friday night Northeastern game. He is currently day-to-day on his recovery schedule. We expect that he'll be practicing during this week. We haven't put a timetable on that as of yet, and we're just keeping our options open as to what the game schedule will bring this weekend.

Chip (Portland, Me): Hello Coach, big series this weekend. My question is will you game plan any differently now that Ben Bishop likely won't play?
Coach Cahoon: No. We'll prepare for Maine, based on what we know about their forecheck, their breakout, their special teams, and their personnel. Clearly, Bishop has been a big part of their team over the last couple of years, but history tells me that whomever they put in that position, he plays well. So, we'll try not to get too bogged down in who their goaltender is going to be.

Bill (Amherst): How does the fact that Maine is your main competition for the last home-ice spot affect the series this weekend? Does it keep guys from being tempted to listen for the out-of-town scores?
Coach Cahoon: We work on a consistent basis on not paying attention to out-of-town scores. We work to just take care of our own business. Clearly, at this point in the season, the out-of-town scores do not matter. It's a moot point.

Rob (Northampton): Coach, it's been a while since the last game against Maine. What do you think has changed most about your team since you last played the Black Bears?
Coach Cahoon: Only speaking for our team, we've grown emotionally, and we certainly know our strengths and our weaknesses a whole lot better than we did in late October. How we manage those strengths and weaknesses will be a key to the weekend.

Jim (Springfield): The seniors on this team were freshmen in that triple-overtime game with Maine for the Hockey East title. Do you think that game still has an impact when these two teams get together?
Coach Cahoon: No, I don't believe it does. It's part of our history, but when you look at it, Chris Capraro didn't play in that game, Matt Anderson didn't play in that game, and Mark Matheson didn't play in that game. The only player of measure in that game was Kevin Jarman, who played very well.

Mike (Boston): Is this the best team you've had at UMass, or does the 03-04 team still stand out because of the postseason? Also, as a Framingham native, I saw Will Ortiz play growing up. Do you think he has a chance to become an elite player in Hockey East?
Coach Cahoon: First, this team is not through playing, so we can't measure whether this is the best team we've had at UMass thus far. When they play for a league championship and maybe win it, only then I'll be able to say that they are. Will Ortiz is a dynamic athlete. He'll be fun to watch for his four-year career here, and should have an impact on our team and in the league during this time.

James (Greenfield, Ma): Coach- Do you think the previous classes of leadership such as Pock, Warner; '04, Lang, MacDonald, Demianiuk; '05 Degon, Werner; '06 have enabled Matt Anderson become the great leader that he is for this years team, Which only has 4 seniors? Good Luck in the post season!
Coach Cahoon: Matt's done a great job of learning in and out of the classroom, and I think he applies all of those situations to his own leadership skills. He is his own man on this front, and he'd be the first to tell you that he benefitted from bringing other players into the leadership equation.

Nick (Amherst): Coach, depending on what happens this weekend, it's possible for these two teams to face each other again next weekend. What kind of impact would having played each other this weekend have on a possible playoff series between UMass and Maine?
Coach Cahoon: We'd really know each other. It'd be familiar ground. It would certainly make the playoffs interesting and perhaps even more challenging. I try not to think beyond this weekend for those reasons.

Brewer, Maine: I remember your'94-'95 Princeton team coming to Alfond and stopping a long UMaine unbeaten streak. Since then it seems like your teams have Maine's number. What are the keys to your success?
Coach Cahoon: I don't know that we have Maine's number. I can remember taking it on the chin more than my share of times. We've had some terrific battles with Maine. I'd even go far to say we had an epic affair in the Hockey East title game in 2004. I think both teams play very hard when they match up against each other. Both teams I coached in the Princeton era and teams I've coached more recently at UMass had dynamic players: Thomas Pock, Greg Malden and Nick Kuiper, and then at Princeton, James Conte, Ian Sharp and Mervin Kopeck. There were dynamic players on those teams that allowed us to play well against some excellent teams. This weekend, Maine has those dynamic players, and we think we have some special players in the likes of Matt Anderson, Cory Quirk, and Jon Quick. That's made them great games, not games that have always gone our way, but great games nonetheless.

Twig - Marblehead, MA.: While you had great success transitioning from a Public High School hockey program (Marblehead High School) to Division I hockey, what advice would you give to a young man trying to follow in your footsteps.
Coach Cahoon: Well, first of all, I didn't transition from public high school hockey to Division I. I spent a year at Kimball Union Academy PGing. That was my formula. That said, this is 2007, and that was 1967, and it's a completely different animal today than it was then. The advice I would give people is to pay attention to what the professional folks on the recruiting side are telling them. Never doubt yourself, but try to put yourself in a position to be successful. The guys at Division III level are having jsut as much fun as the guys at the Division I level. I know this from experience. Find a level where you can succeed and then go for it, full speed ahead.

Josh (Great Neck): Coach, as a proud alumni of UMass and supporter of UMass Hockey, what impact will this season have on the program? I never dreamed that UMass would be in the hockey spotlight. Thanks for a great season. Go Minutemen!
Coach Cahoon: My hope is that this is the start of our program playing consistently at a higher level. Our focus here has been for some time to improve the quality of play within the league format and on a national platform, but to do it in a way where we can work to sustain it over a long period of time. That will be the measure of success for us now.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with Coach Cahoon today.
Coach Cahoon: Thanks everyone for submitting the questions. I really appreciate the support the UMass hockey community has given our program. I look forward to seeing you at future games.
CSTV.com Moderator: That will do it for the first of our "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats today. If you can't be at the Mullins Center for Friday's game, the Rink Rat blog will be up and running with updates after each period at http://slog.cstv.com/rinkrat.
CSTV.com Moderator: We'll be back at the top of the hour with Denver goaltender Peter Mannino.