…and, given the dire situation UMass found itself in coming into this weekend’s tilts in Middle-of-Nowherono, ME, it may yet be ongoing. But let’s not take anything away from the fact that the Minutemen sounded like a team on a mission tonight. They pounced all over freshman Shawn Sirman, to the point where we actually did get to see old friend Dave WIIIIIIILLLLLSSOOOOONNNN make a cameo (and, oddly enough, he didn’t give up any goals, which is decidedly un-Wilson-like).
Now, granted, we’re talking a UMass team with the season on the line against a Maine team that might not get home ice if they drop both games and the rest of the league action goes against them, not to mention playing in a not-so-hostile Spring Break edition of Alfond Arena. But the stakes for UMass’s last game were basically the same on both ends, and despite playing one of the best defensive games we’ve seen from the maroon-and-white all year long, against an Eagles team playing in front of a listless crowd and with 2nd-place (no more, no less) all but locked up, the Minutemen still weren’t able to capitalize on their chances.
Now, the three principal writers here at Fight Mass were sitting mere feet away at the Hangar on Tuesday for the RNX hockey show, and though we weren’t really able to hear most of Toot’s outburst about his team, we were able to piece together between the various web recap/transcripts and our visible impression of him that Mr. Cahoon was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore, regarding the behind-the-scenes behavioral stuff going on with this team. Clearly, his words finally got through tonight, and Hockey East was reminded that UMass is about as big a wildcard as one can imagine.
Could they still miss the playoffs? Easily. But the Minutemen have nonetheless put themselves into a position to climb as high as 6th, grab some positive momentum (which had slowwwwly been building during two straight frustrating L’s), and crash someone’s playoff party, like they came so very very close to doing to Northeastern last year.
Barring a disaster tomorrow, the Minutemen have, at the very least, shown us that they cared. The eulogy we were prepared to write for these guys a few weeks ago involved more of the same from the past couple years: lamenting the Cahoon Swoon, pondering what might have been had a key underrated defenseman not missed significant time down the stretch, wondering what exactly is going on with the discipline behind closed doors and the mentality of the players, even considering blaming ourselves and our friends for contributing to the players’ sense of celebrity and entitlement on this campus.
But why worry about the eulogy before we know when the funeral is?
P.S. Tomorrow afternoon. Senior night for men’s hoops at the Mullins Center, 4 PM. Free t-shirts, and a chance to honor one of the all-time greats to don the maroon-and-white, or at least one of the best pure scorers in school history, Lex Mongo Ricky Harris. Plus, it’s URI (sucks). So, uhh, go. And get your friends to go too. Did I mention free t-shirts?