Saturday night was a special night. That is, until approximately 8:00 Pm where I, and most in attendance for the 2-0 embarrassment against Merrimack knew it was going to be the same sub-par team we have been trying to wish away.
Before I talk about the game (I’m pretty sure one occurred) I just want to say that it got a little dusty in the Bill during the senior night presentations. I have of course heard of senior night before coming to UMass, but being there is extremely emotional, and I doubt I will forget the mood of reflection in the student section for the seniors on the ice and in the stands. Sadly, that was the highlight of the night and those seniors will not be seeing another home game as students.
As Max pointed out in his last post, we could technically still make it as high as 3rd in the Hockey East standings, thus getting home ice. While I appreciate the optimism throughout this entire painful second half swoon, any rational thinker who has paid even the slightest amount of attention to this team will tell you it isn’t happening. As of this second, the Baltimore Orioles are still in contention for the AL East pennant, but we all know it isn’t happening. UMass is 0-5 in February, playing 4 games against Northeastern and Merrimack. We are in 7th place in Hockey East standings, yet have played more league games than anyone else. Our final 3 games are all on the road, against BC, who has all momentum coming off the 7-1 shellacking of us earlier this month, and Maine, who currently sits in 3rd place in Hockey East. No good will come of this.
But, then again, it isn’t over until its over. It all comes down to this friday night against BC. If we lose, the already low probability of us doing anything in the Hockey East quarterfinals goes down to a “zero-point-something” which is to say UMass hockey will have fork wounds. However, if we can improbably beat BC this friday, there is hope. Maine is currently going through their own mini-swoon, losing three of their last 4, and heading to play 2 games at Merrimack this weekend. Given Merrimack’s resurgence and unbelievable home record, it is possible to be facing a team in a similar predicament as us during the last weekend of the regular season.
Now I believe regardless of the outcome of the BC game, we will win one game at Maine, but then again that wouldn’t do much of anything for our confidence or momentum. However, with a win on friday, we could easily be back i the drivers seat with a 3 game winning streak to end the season and, just like the fall semester of hockey didn’t affect the spring one, February would be irrelevant to March.
To put it simply, I don’t believe in the high end or low end of predictions for this team. We won’t be getting home ice this year, even if we do the impossible by winning our last 3 games. The same is true at the other end of the spectrum, I do not think that this team will miss the playoffs. Hell, we could be in 8th, but at least we get a few more games to (maybe) get our shit together and get back to the first half hockey that got us in this position. However that is unrealistic. If we want to do anything of substance this year, the discussion begins and ends with the BC game this friday night. So stop weeping about this team and get on the bus and support this team. Swallow your pride and face the possibility of walking out of the Conte Forum with nothing, but know that if we pull it off, it could mean everything for this season.
If we lose on friday, we can quote the Japandroids and say “you can keep tomorrow, after tonight we’re not gonna need it”