Quickie Weekend Preview

So pardon me for not doling out the usual 1000+ word effort I’ve been falling into the pattern of lately – I have 20 minutes of lunch break time to write this. #firstworldproblems  Anyway, I’ll keep it brief, and if you’re looking for more X’s and O’s, I will defer you to Papa Triangle’s excellent (as usual) preview this week.

UMass followed its biggest win in years not with disappointment, but with a strong two-win weekend against two admittedly pretty awful teams. This is a better outcome than a letdown, for sure, but in order to keep it going, the Minutemen have a much more difficult task ahead this weekend.

First up is Maine, the team many UMass fans seem to think should be our “rival,” even though they’re a six-hour drive away and are already involved in Hockey East’s second-most famous rivalry already (with UNH). Still, the two squads have had a very entertaining series over the past decade, with UMass often getting the upper hand in the regular season and Maine stepping up in the postseason. The Black Bears are reeling after a sweep at the hands of Lowell, and should come in with something to prove. Given UMass’s winning streak, the fact that it’s the last weekend before Thanksgiving break, and the aforementioned belief that this should be a rivalry, I’m hopeful that a big crowd shows. The students have continued to show in big numbers, but the paid-ticket side of the ice has been tremendously disappointing compared to years past. Maine has always drawn a big crowd, though, so maybe this is the weekend a lot of you miserly locals have been waiting for. Somewhat hypocritically, I probably won’t be there (ending my season-long attendance streak, home and away) but Walsh will hopefully be able to give us some first-hand insight.

Saturday night brings a matchup with the woefully awful River Hawks, sitting at dead-last in the wait I’m sorry what now? Well, lookee here. It hurts my fingers to type this, but Lowell is clearly the biggest surprise in Hockey East, surely trumping Providence’s resurgence and Merrimack’s somehow getting even better without Da Costa. UMass has, of course, won the last five meetings, but  since all five were flukes, this game scares the everloving shit out of us. Lowell has clearly been the most talented team in Hockey East for nearly a decade, held back only by shoddy coaching, and they’ve finally cast off the shackles of oppression. Really the only question is whether Scott Wilson or Matt Ferreira should win the Hobey Baker. I say they should split it. Lowell will win this game 12-0. At least I’ll get to witness the glory of River Hawks hockey in person, though I can hardly say I’m worthy.

Alright, that’s all the time I’ve got for now. I’ll write something about baz-ketta-ball over the weekend (and yes, they reverted to baz-ketta-ball last night against NJIT, regardless of the margin of victory) and of course we’ll recap UMass’s epic clash with Maine and subsequent blowout loss to Lowell. See ya then!

– Max

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