UMass Minutemen (0-5-2(0-2-2HEA)) vs. No.8 UNH Wildcats (4-1-2(2-0-1HEA))
Your humble bloggers will be taking a road trip up to Durham, NH tonight to witness what will surely be some fantastic hockey. If we stop blogging after tonight, assume we have been killed as we have heard that New Hampshirites are as hostile toward opposing fans as they are toward moderate legislators.
The story of this game will be told between the pipes. While the Wildcat offense is nothing to shake a stick at (just ask the Patriots, hah!), the true prize of the team is junior goalie Matt DiGirolamo. He has started all seven games in net for UNH this season and has posted stellar numbers (4-1-2, 2.66GAA, .921save%). His numbers in Hockey East play? Even better (2-0-1, 1.30GAA, .958save%). The fact that UNH is only scoring two goals a game against Hockey East foes doesn’t even begin to stop them from looking like a powerhouse.
The UNH offense likes to spread the puck around; eleven Wildcats have at least three points this season and seven have had multiple goals, including three tied for the team lead with four goals apiece (Dalton Speelman, John Henrion, and Stevie Moses). The scoring has also been spread around by the Minutemen, but some players we were hoping to be key scorers at the beginning of the season have not yet stepped up – we’re talking about Brian Keane, with your zero points and your –5 +/-.
Despite this, UMass’s main problem has not been scoring goals (2.71 GPG isn’t fantastic, but it’s certainly not awful). Guys like Darren Rowe (5G, 1A, 6Pts, 3PPG) and Michael Pereira (4G, 2A, 6Pts, 1PPG) have been coming up huge for the offense. The problem has been not keeping pucks out of our own net. 3.86GA/G is a pretty awful thing to have to contend with. This problem lies with the entire team. The forwards have seemed sluggish and lackadaisical at times when trying to clear the puck. The young defense has struggled with its positioning all year long. Both the defensemen and the forwards have made colossal errors in judgment when passing in the defensive zone on the breakout This has led to some beautiful scoring chances for the opposition. Unfortunately, neither UMass netminder has been up to the task of stopping beautiful scoring chances thusfar this season. The consistency is just not there in net from either Dainton (0-3-1, 3.82GAA, .881save%) or Teglia (0-2-1, 3.49GAA, .890). Coach Cahoon has been defending his goalies, saying that they have faced a lot of tough shots. Unfortunately, this is Hockey East, and you are going to face a lot of tough shots if you want to play in net in Hockey East and you are going to need to step your game up at some point or your team will go nowhere.
One final thought, UMass gets to play on the massive sheet of ice up at Lake Whitt tonight. This may behoove a young, small, and fast team that has struggled on smaller ice surfaces. But, we must also remember that this has primarily been a finesse team for the last few years and the Mass Attack has been 0-3-1 at the Whittemore Center in the last three years. Hopefully, the boys can buck that trend this weekend and earn an upset victory that would surely shock most in the college hockey world.