Quick thoughts; HAPPY NEW YEAR

Gettin’ set to ring in the new year up in snowy Manchester, after watching Jon Quick’s old team, the Manchester Monarchs, get stomped by…yeah…Lowell. (Isn’t it fitting that the New Jersey of Massachusetts has the minor league hockey affiliate of the actual New Jersey?)

Couldn’t agree more with Matt’s thoughts on the hockey result from yesterday. UMass utterly and completely dominated the first half of that game and couldn’t get more than one goal across against Kyle Rank, and there were some tough bounces (Carzo juuuust missing a deflection comes to mind) but the truth of the matter is the Minutemen self-destructed down the stretch. This team’s gotta play with more discipline in 2010 if they want to stay near the top of the HEA standings, and these late-game misconducts need to end. It’s easy to get frustrated when dominant play gets mitigated by brilliant goaltending, but that doesn’t excuse the third-period meltdown. There sounded like a lot of positives in the first two periods (again, especially the first), and truth be told, Bentley was a team playing below their talent level, but then again, the same could be said for Princeton when they knocked off Lowell last month. You simply can’t take a team lightly, and fortunately, I don’t think that’ll be a problem with all the Hockey East rivals on the slate.

This weekend’s matchup with BU will be massive. (Shameless plug alert: I’ll be calling the action alongside Sam Bingham on WMUA radio; you can tune in on 91.1 FM in Amherst or stream it live from wmua.org. Pregame show starts around 3:45 pm.) The defending champs have been hockey’s biggest surprise in a negative sense, although frankly I’m not sure why people expected a team losing two of the Hobey Hat Trick candidates to be anywhere near as good. UMass badly outplayed BU last time they played in Amherst (when the Terriers were laughably ranked 2nd in the nation), but missed some golden chances and let BU nearly steal one, finishing with a 3-2 win. Now UMass is the prohibitive favorite (admittedly an extreme rarity in this one-sided all-time series) and has to avoid a letdown. Hopefully Toot reminds his boys that this is still the defending champion, that there’s plenty of underachieving talent on this squad (ahem, Bonino and Trivino, Millan…uhh, basically everyone who’s back from last year). I’m not sure who has the advantage as far as the rest goes (UMass is playing their third game this week, but BU has the rust factor in play from not playing in a month). I don’t want to give a bad team too much credit, but they’re still BU, this is still Jack Parker…it’ll be a closer game than it should be, but I think UMass pulls out another win. The second-half swoon discussion will certainly be in play otherwise…

As for basketball….ah fuck it, I don’t feel like talking about that right now either (besides, Matt pretty much covered it; though I wanna see these guys actually play an A10 game or two before I write them off completely). 50 minutes left to go in 2009, gonna get back to enjoying it. See you in 2010 folks!

-Max

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