While we eagerly await the Most Eagerly-Anticipated Sporting Event Ever to Feature Youngstown State, we’d be remiss to forget about tomorrow night’s clash on the ice between the BC Fightin’ Gaudreaus and yoooooouuuuurrrrrr Miiiiinute….huh? Guys? Where’d everybody go? Come baaaaaack I’m not doooooone!
Truly, the task ahead is daunting. BC’s much-touted freshman class has come in and decided to just skip clear over the whole “adjustment phase” freshmen usually have to go through. Up and down the stat sheet, they’ve gotten some great production from their latest stable of talented stud players. Again. Sigh. Let’s be grateful their other “big two” programs will never see anything remotely similar to this level of competency on the recruiting front, though York, bless his classy little heart, just re-upped through 2020. This, to the uninitiated, is the equivalent of the groundhog coming out during a total solar eclipse and dying immediately. Seven more years (at least!) of this shit. And we were hoping he’d retire due to those eye problems. Hahahahaha kill me.
But of course, we can’t forget the headliner, junior sensation Johnny Gaudreau, whose name is pronounced “good ROW” for a reason because he’s good and he’ll probably score a multitude of goals in a row in the next two nights. His nine goals and nine assists are both tops on the team, though he’s had plenty of help from cohorts Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes, but there’s no question he’s the runaway favorite for the Hobey Baker.
In goal for the Eagles, the ace has been the freshman who will call you when he’s soft, Thatcher Demko We assume Steve Mastalerz is a no-go for this weekend’s games, though the last somewhat-optimistic indicator from Mark Chiarelli in the Daily Hampshire Gazette said Mick is calling him “day to day” so who the hell knows. We’re going to go ahead and prepare for the worst and assume we’ll be seeing either the embattled Wakaluk or the slightly-less-embattled Haight. Maybe even one for each game.
Look, UMass has played a lot of great games against the Eagles in recent years, including a triumphant win last season at the Heights for the first time in seemingly forever. But nothing we’ve seen from either freshman gives much confidence that either will turn in the kind of stellar performance that has been instrumental in most recent wins over BC. Then again, sports have a funny way of handling the type of situation where a team that just lost by nine goals faces a team that won by 11. (That has to be a combined record for teams going into a game against each other, in terms of margin of their previous games, right?) Add that to the odd start time (to accommodate Saturday’s finale at Gillette for the football team) and that one time when Kevin Garnett said that anything was possible, and you have a recipe for…probably just a closer loss than everyone expects. But UMass, the team in HEA that has already left the most points on the table in conference play, can ill-afford many more 0-fer weekends like the last one.
Fascinatingly, the game is being marketed as an “Operation 8K,” as the team pulls out all the stops with free t-shirts and other marketing resources thrown at a game that would likely draw a significant crowd regardless (we’ve been harping about this for days and it’s getting old so whatever). You’d think after how the last home game went, we’d be lucky to draw half that many fans, but this might actually work given that many of the students are likely tone-deaf to just how poorly the last few games went for this team. On the downside, you just know many groan-inducing “Seven Nation Army” and “Fuck BC” moments are in store, and if things get out of hand early, the number of maroon seatbacks visible will be many.
Hey, at least they won’t be wearing the camo jerseys again. There’s nowhere to go but up.