Weekend in Review: February Thaw Edition

The Mass Attack found ways to lose games this weekend. In the Friday game, the Merrimack Warriors proved that it is sometimes better to be lucky than good. After taking a 1-0 lead into the 3rd period, the Minutemen found themselves down 2-1 with less than 6 minutes to go in the game. Enter Adam Phillips (8G/5A/13Pts), who scored back-to-back goals (the first 5-on-5, the second on a 4-on-3 power play) to give the Mass Attack the lead. Credit Mike Pereira (10G/13A/23Pts) with a fantastic screen on the first of these goals, as the shot was one that would’ve been easily savable, if not for the screen. Unfortunately, with less than 1:30 to go in the game, Colin Shea (1G/4A/5Pts) lost his stick and then inadvertently slapped the puck into his own net with his hand. Shea was, unsurprisingly, a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game. Shortly into OT, Paul Dainton (6-13-4, 2.95GAA, .910save%) gave up a juicy rebound that was netted by Carter Madsen (7G/6A/13Pts). And that was that.

Game two was all about Dainton and offensive ineptitude. Shots: 41-16 Merrimack. Score: 2-1 Merrimack. It was pretty much what you’re thinking right now. Dainton had an up and down night on Friday. He made some spectacular saves, but he let in two goals he probably shouldn’t have (including the game winner). On Saturday, Dainton made some spectacular saves. Then, he made some more. Then, he made some more. Dainton was great on Saturday. Unfortunately, Merrimack did what Merrimack does when it gets a lead at home. It clogged the neutral zone. Considering the ice at Lawler is about five feet wide, it isn’t hard to do. The one UMass goal came courtesy of TJ Syner (8G/15A/23Pts) in the 3rd, with the ice opened up because UMass was on a 4-on-3 power play. Saturday’s game did have some terrible officiating, too. Danny Hobbs (8G/14A/22Pts) got absolutely mugged in the corner by an elbow and came off the ice very slowly, but no call. Fortunately, Hobbs returned later in the game. Bunyan and Keenan also missed an incredibly blatant delay of game call with less than 20 seconds to go in the game.

Some notes:

  • The power play went a respectable 2-for-9 (22.2%), but both of those goals were on the 4-on-3. Still, I thought the 5-on-4 power play featured much better player movement and a better net-front presence. The power play did have a difficult time getting into the zone against Merrimack’s stifling forecheck.
  • The penalty kill, on the other hand, was pretty bad. It only killed 5 out of 8 penalties on the weekend (62.5%) and the power play goals came at the worst times. On Friday, power play goals flipped the game from a 1-0 lead to a 2-1 deficit and on Saturday, the game winner was a power play goal. One of the two power play goals on Friday was Dainton’s fault, but even if he didn’t let that in, a 6-for-8 on the PK isn’t very good.
  • Conor Sheary (6G/7A/13Pts) scored again and later added an assist on Friday. It’s nice to see a kid who has excelled at some of the grittier aspects of the game (even given his somewhat diminutive stature) find his scoring touch at this level. It’s also nice to hear “That goal scored by Conor Sheary from Melrose, Massachusetts” (my hometown) come out of John Hennessy’s mouth.
  • Mike Pereira has not scored in a long time. He hasn’t had a goal since the January 29th 2-2 tie with Northeastern. That’s 6 games without a goal for the Mass Attack’s leading goal scorer. Pereira has had 3 assists in that timeframe, but as a guy who accounts for nearly 15% of UMass’s goals in Hockey East play, he needs to be putting more pucks in the net.
  • UMass Lowell was swept by Maine this weekend meaning they have [finally] been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Hopefully we’ll see some brotherly love from this sister school. They play Providence twice next weekend and Vermont twice after that. We could use some UML wins (or ties); maybe the statistical elimination will create some spoiler-drive in the River Hawks.
  • Mike Marcou (3G/6A/9Pts/-14) still sucks. Real bad.
  • Lawler Arena also sucks.
  • And most importantly: Paul Dainton will almost definitely (barring injury) break Brian Regan’s UMass career saves record (3,050) in his next start. After this weekend’s 70 save performance, Dainton needs just 20 saves to get to 3,051 for his career and pass Regan’s record mark.

-Derek

Kublin Kounter

Last Week: 0Pts/Even/1SOG/4PIM

Season Totals: 3G/4A/7Pts/+4/22SOG/32PIM

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3 comments

  1. Mike

    On the tying goal Friday, Velleca centered it out of the corner to Cucci, who says he got a stick on it and put it in. You might be able to say Shea didn’t cover him or tie him up (I think he was without his stick and Cucci said so too which was why he was calling for Velleca to get him the puck quickly), but I don’t think Shea put it in his own net.

    The winning goal, the shot by Flanigan was redirected first by Sheen so I think it caught Dainton by surprise, leading to the rebound that Madsen put in.

    But in general just a case of a veteran team that has learned how to win beating a young team that is still learning.

    UMass has a lot of good young players. Toot said he is tired of hearing “we’re young” as an excuse, but I don’t think it is. Just an explanation. These kids will be better in a year or two and so will the team. Just look at MC for a comparison, lost 14 one-goal games two years ago, this year they’ve won 11 by one goal.

  2. heavydrexler

    On the tying goal, everyone in the Mullins agreed the puck went off of Shea’s glove. The write ups credit Cucci with scoring it and I don’t dispute that he was the last Merrimack player to touch it, but the puck definitely deflected off of Shea’s hand (perhaps slapped was too strong a word) as he tried to block it and changed direction making it a much more difficult save for Dainton to attempt.

    As for the winning goal, the rebound control was bad, but Dainton was also able to reset before the second shot, so I take more issue with his inability to stop that second shot than with his giving up of the initial rebound.

    I am excited for next year’s team; unfortunately the days of being able to walk across campus to the Bill and get in for free will be over for me by then. It’s too bad though, because I can imagine how good this team would have been this year if not for three ship-jumpers who will remain unnamed.

  3. bittym87

    Thanks Mike for the description; the Hockey East/UM Athletics highlights of the game only have the goal being scored live, which (per usual) the cameraman completely missed. Normally they do have some good replay angles, but not this time.

    It does suck that Derek and Matt and Ben and the rest of the seniors in the student section are having an even worse swan song than my class did. Still, following the team as an alum has been an interesting, if slightly more expensive and time-consuming, endeavor.

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