Welp, there was no October surprise this year for the Minutemen. Rather, it’s the same tried-and-true campaign politics we’ve been seeing seemingly on loop for the last several years in a row, and it’s getting re-god-damn-diculous. Mass, up 2-0 early, blew its second multi-goal lead in the last three games at home, again in front of a raucous student-dominated crowd, again to a hated Boston rival. The Minutemen are that guy in the UMass Memes thing on Facebook who somehow find a way to take the same awesome memes and fuck them up ad infinitum.
As always seems to be the case, there were silver linings. UMass outshot BU in both games this weekend, and actually dominated play for long stretches, much unlike Friday’s 5-2 loss at Agganis in which the UMass SOG advantage was a mere consequence of a large favorable penalty advantage. Boyle was back in net and played a solid game. Carzo scored the first UMass penalty shot goal since Al Gore was relevant. But as soon as the Terriers scored to cut the lead to 2-1, you could just smell that familiar smell, like when you’re trying to mask the stench of your dumb drunk roommate’s vomit with Febreze. In the end, it still happened, and now you’re not even sure if the masking smell is any better than the first one. Plus, your parents who went to UNH and BC are coming to visit next weekend and you know they can still smell it. Ah fuck it, let’s order Wings.
UMass is 0-3 against actual D1 competition now, a ninth of the way through the Hockey East schedule. The good news is that there’s time to put it together, and the Minutemen could easily be 2-1 with a couple good bounces. Luck will eventually turn, and things like the new, hyper-aggressive forecheck, Rocco Carzo’s continued emergence as a scoring threat, and solid play from freshmen like Stack and Walsh need to continue. What needs to turn around is the power play’s mediocrity, the little mental lapses and the defense’s tendency to fall asleep at the most inopportune times. Next weekend could see the team fall to 0-5 in the league – or the start of a turnaround. My biggest concern? This sounds eerily familiar. Gulp.
One thing I do want to address is the presence of the UMass Marching Band at the game to perform the national anthem, as close as we’ve gotten to having a hockey band since I’ve been a fan. Now, this was supposedly “homecoming” weekend, even though last weekend was homecoming weekend 100 miles from campus at Gillette. Whatever. The point is, we shouldn’t get too horribly excited yet, given that the band only played the anthem and that was the last we saw of them, and thus this might have been a one-off bells-and-whistles deal. But you know me – I”m glass half full, all the time. Here’s hoping this was the school giving a trial run to see how the students would respond to having the band there – I think it went well if that’s the case. It goes without saying that having the band perform at games would go a long way toward changing the reputation of the student section. (Then again, only two “Fuck BU” chants that I could count, and neither took off, as long as you discount the rogues who thought “sucks to BU” was “fuck you BU!” Progress.) Seriously, if the problem (as I hear it) is that the band is too overworked as it is, why are we wasting their talents performing at women’s basketball? All due respect to the players, but I think the 300 fans in attendance can get by with piped-in Gangnam Style and Lady Gaga if that’s what it takes to improve the atmosphere at the school’s first-or-second (depending on who you ask) most popular sport. We’re the only school in the conference without a band. Here’s sincerely hoping last night was the first important step toward changing that.
Also, wanna give a big shout-out to Mark of Fear the Triangle and his friends for putting on yet another outstanding tailgate outside the Practice Rink. I wouldn’t mind seeing another hockey tailgate or two before all’s said and done this season. Also very nice to meet the ladies of @TheBenchCrew at both games, and putting aside our differences after a Twitter disagreement a few weeks ago over the treatment of a certain idiot UConn supporter. We also finally met Joe Meloni of College Hockey News, and from the other side of the ice, QuackQuack from Baystate Roadsports (@bsrb_blog) as well as @downgoeskrieder, We do miss Scoops though.
Oh yeah, and football happezzzzzzzzzzzzzz see ya next week!