UMass Transfer Dongara Explains Move
by Nick Canelas/CHN Reporter
Former Northeastern forward Rob Dongara has transferred to Massachusetts after two seasons with the Huskies.
Dongara passed up offers to join schools out west as well as some Hockey East schools that he chose not to name.
While he is officially enrolled at UMass, Dongara will be forced to sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA regulations. He is participating in team activities now and will begin his junior year with the Minutemen in 2013-14.
“The coaching staff made me feel really comfortable about coming here and the role I'm gonna be filling for the team,” Dongara said. “It just felt like a good fit.”
The Scituate, Mass., native tallied 16 points in 42 games in his two years at Northeastern, but after a productive freshman season and a change in coaching, Dongara saw his playing time drop significantly as a sophomore last year.
Jim Madigan took over the summer before Dongara's sophomore year after former coach Greg Cronin left to take a job as an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It appears as if Dongara simply didn't fit Madigan's system; he only saw action in six games and registered a goal and an assist. Dongara admitted that this coaching change had a role his decision to leave.
“We just came to our differences and at the end of the day I no longer felt that it was the right fit for me and my career,” he said.
Dongara said he lost that passion and love for hockey that he carried with him throughout his playing career after such a troublesome season.
“I think mainly (the difference between being at UMass than at Northeastern) is getting the love for the game back,” Dongara said. “It's something I told myself I would never lose again because once the game is not fun anymore then I don't want to play anymore.”
Dongara joins UMass on the heels of its own coaching change after coach Don 'Toot' Cahoon opted to resign in June after 12 seasons in Amherst.
Replacing Cahoon is former Vermont recruiting director John Micheletto, who is taking over a team that finished 13-18-5 last season after being eliminated in the Hockey East Quarterfinals in two games to eventual national champion Boston College.
Micheletto comes in after nine seasons with the Catamounts highlighted by a trip to the Frozen Four in 2009.
However, Cahoon was still head coach when Dongara enrolled at UMass, meaning he will be facing yet another adjustment before stepping onto the ice with his new team.
But Dongara is excited about playing under Micheletto despite the change.
“Things are obviously gonna be different,” Dongara said. “Each coach brings something different to the table. But I'm very confident in coach Micheletto. ... I definitely have a lot of confidence in all of the coaches as a staff.”
Micheletto is just as happy to have Dongara on the team despite inheriting him from the previous coaching regime.
“I certainly remember Rob from his days at Northeastern and playing junior hockey prior to that,” Micheletto said. “I think some of his strengths are his tenacity and his speed. Certainly those talents will translate well into what we're trying to do here.”
Micheletto is confident that Dongara's skill set will fit in well with his system.
“I think he has a tremendous ability of taking pucks away from either position whether it's on the forecheck or the back-pressure,” Micheletto said. “He uses his speed very well to disrupt the other team.
“We're certainly going to take advantage of turnovers and takeaways in our system to get into the offense as much as possible.”
Dongara is also confident in what he can bring to UMass.
“I feel like I'm a hard-nosed player and I work really hard,” Dongara said. “I got good speed which matches up well with the big ice surface.
“I want to do whatever I can for the team because at the end of the day it's about putting W's on the board and winning championships.”
And while Dongara has no games to look forward to this season, he is looking forward to the chance to put the work in at practice in order to prepare himself physically and mentally for 2013.
“You've got to put your nose to the grindstone,” Dongara said. “It's definitely gonna be a mental battle, but I plan on working as hard as I can day in and day out to come back a different player and a better player.”