Providence Friars (7-14-6(3-12-5HEA)) vs. UMass Minutemen (6-16-4(5-11-4HEA))
Preface: To any fan who managed to fuck up the goal song badly enough to actually chant “Hey! You suck! Fuck fuck fuck fuck, go UMass!” last night, please go away and die, because you are a horrible person and I don’t want this blog or hockey in general to bring any amount of pleasure into your miserable existence.
Well, last night was what it was. The Mass Attack looked great at times; the offense was very proficient and the defense looked solid for about 95% of the game. Unfortunately, the few lapses the defense did have became markers for BU. The first 2 BU goals came from men who were uncovered and the game-winner in OT came on a short 3-on-1. The Minutemen played disciplined until late in the 3rd period when they gave BU a long 5-on-3 opportunity and then proceeded to have a too many men call during a sloppy line change. The offense got good production out of Pereira, Syner, and Hobbs, but also spread the scoring around; 9 Minutemen had points last night.
So, onto a much weaker opponent tonight in a game that matters more. The Friars are one of the worst teams in Hockey East. In Hockey East play, they average just 1.90 goals per game (worst in Hockey East) and give up 3.45 goals a game (2nd worst in Hockey East). The –1.55 goal differential is also 2nd worst (to Lowell) in Hockey East. The Providence power play (7.2%) is so bad that it makes the UMass power play (10.9%) look halfway decent by comparison. When the Friars do get offensive production, a lot of it comes from a trio of senior forwards: Kyle MacKinnon (13G/7A/20Pts), Ian O’Connor (7G/12A/19Pts), and Matt Germain (7G/8A/15Pts). In a lot of ways, Providence can be thought of as the anti-BU. While BU gives you crisp passing and smart plays, Providence, uh, just doesn’t. The Friars average a league-worst 2.95 assists per game in conference play. Providence’s best player of last year was the guy in between the pipes, but junior goalie Alex Beaudry (6-12-6, 3.25GAA, .901save%) appears to have taken a step back this year.
The game plan for tonight should be simple. Be aggressive. Score early, score often, and don’t let up. Get the Puck to Pereira (10G/11A/21Pts), Hobbs (8G/13A/21Pts), and Syner (7G/13A/20Pts). Run up the score if need be, but whatever you do, don’t take your foot of their throats for a second, because if the Friars are given any life tonight, it might be the death of the 2010-2011 Minutemen. With Vermont’s inexplicable 7-2 win over Maine last night, the Minutemen are now tied with the Catamounts for 7th in Hockey East. One would doubt Maine will have anything less than a win tonight, so a Mass Attack win would put UMass back into 7th alone with a 2 point lead over UVM. More importantly, a win tonight would put UMass 5 points ahead of Providence. A loss or draw would cut the Mass Attack’s lead to either 1 or 3 points ahead of the Friars AND give Providence the tiebreaker. If the Minutemen can’t win tonight, one would have to seriously question and perhaps even doubt the likelihood of UMass making the Hockey East tournament.
After a weekend so devastating that I didn’t even write a recap (even though I drove the 2 fucking hours to see an 11-2 loss in a fucking home depot (ok, maybe I will shit on lawler in the random observations)) the outlook was bleak for our young minutemen. Made worse was the fact that the greatest hockey player to ever grace us with his presence, Sir Douglas Kublin was scratched due to injury and our friday opponent, BU, was coming off a tough loss against the inexplicably less loathsome BC in a meaningless tournament game in Boston. However, on friday night, despite being outscored 16-2 in the previous weekend, the Minutemen went out and showed (probably) their strongest effort of the year against a good, not great BU team. Despite the lack of points in friday’s 4-3 overtime loss (oh why can’t you be like the NHL and give a point for overtime losses) there were alot of positives. UMass dominated the flow of the game for large stretches last night, resulting in a beautiful 2nd period (historically the worst period for this team) where they showed the potential of this team. If the team can continue to grow, where the effort shown last night becomes consistent, this team will be a force.
The saddest part of last night is that we should have won last night. Of the 4 goals scored by BU, 2 were preventable lapses. Goal 2, coming in the last 10 seconds of the 1st, was one that falls into the every growing category of “UMass not finishing the period strong”. It was a tick tack goal that seemed to come out of nowhere. I remember distinctly saying during the intermission “If we tie or lose by one, that goal will hurt”. Well it did and it does. So there.
In related news, the first goal was deserved by BU, but still grinds my gears. Coming 70 seconds into the game, it was an uncontested wrist shot in the slot, thats going in 80% of the time. I’m far too lazy to look it up, but it seems like this team gives up the first goal far too often, and of late its been coming early. Playing from behind is never a good idea, and the results have shown what such tendencies do to you.
Also a hearbreaker was the 3rd goal, a dribbler that slipped by Dainton. This came a minute or so after a Syner shot that looked in and in the very least deserved a review. It was a huge shift of momentum, a goal that would have put us up by 2, ending up going the other way and tieing the game. After that, despite flashes, the minutemen were on their heels. Because of some dumb penalties, UMass played alot of the final moments of the 3rd on the PK. While they ended up killing them all, even a long 5 on 3, the team looked exhausted and defeated by the time it was OT. Unlike the NU game a few weeks ago, victory never seemed imminent. Everyone in attendance seemed to be praying for a tie, and unfortunately we couldn’t get so lucky.
So here we are playing a game tonight against perpetual cellar dwellers Providence, that is now a must win if we want to make the playoffs. Maybe a point will do tonight, but a win is needed for both moral and practical reasons. We need the win to keep this team confident, because I can only imagine how deflating a loss like last night’s would be for a team. Loosing 11-2 is an embarrassment, loosing 4-3 in a winnable game is sad. As for practical purposes, 2 points tonight would be huge for a playoff spot. As it turns out, winning 5 of 6 against VT and Lowell most likely won’t be enough, and honestly, if going into the playoffs on a loosing streak of such sad proportions is our destiny, I’m not even sure its worth making it and causing me to spend $50 to go to 2 lashings by the best teams in Hockey East.
What do I expect tonight? Sadly I expect a 5-3 loss. Yup, after last night I fully expect this team to underperform and let the Providence team steal a win and leave the UMass community defeated and depressed. I don’t trust this team. They are the cheating trollop of a girlfriend who the day after reminding you why you love them, will get drunk and flash the bar. Its not easy to love this team. Lets hope they prove me wrong.
- Ok, Lawler. What a dump of an arena. First off, I honestly thought Merrimack was a sears. Merrimack will now be refered to as the university of sears – North andover for a long as I live. Plus, Lawler is a high school rink. HOW CAN YOU BE IN HOCKEY EAST AND NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS AT YOUR BOX OFFICE???? Plus, the arena itself is a glorified Home Depot (given the ceiling). The sightlines: Bad. The fans: apathetic. The penalty boxes: without doors or glass (I’m not joking, the players have to climb over to get in and out and can just lean over the boards while in the sin bin). The PA announcer: continuously making mistakes (he kept on referring to goals as penalties. He isn’t even a JV announcer, he got cut from the freshman team). The puck band: the reason I’m weary about having a UMass puck band. Pathetic in size, fidelity and execution. I’ve been to elementary school band recitals that sounded better. I really wish I was joking. Speaking of jokes, everything about that shithole of an arena. Yes your team is good, but you in no way deserve it. I hate you so much Merrimack, you have no idea.
- The OT goal last night happened while the lowest common denominator (lol, t shirt night) started a “Fuck BU” chant. It made the loss a little more acceptable, because it withheld joy from those idiots. Karma my friends. Its all your fault everyone that chanted fuck BU last night. I also hate you so much.
- The Beer summit with Papa triangle ended up happening last night. Good times all around. Two quick stories. First, my beer selection progressively got less manly last night. I started out with a Brooklyn cuvee noire (so, so good). Then I had an Alagash White (good, but bitches love Belgian whites) and then ended with an origional sin hard cider (also good, but don’t think Walsh wasn’t mocking me openly). Secondly, and far more hilariously, Triangle almost got cut off last night. So, around last call, triangle asks for a last drink. He is in no way visibly drunk (I dare not guess his actual BAC, but hell, he seemed fine). So the bartender asks if he’s driving tonight (in stereotypical hipster fashion). He is confused. She backs off slightly with the “its just a simple straightforward question”. I point out that “BU 4 UMass 3” is the reason this man needs an extra beer, She says she does not know what that means, and as justification, points out her mormon faith. Triangle ends up getting his beer (you damn right he does!) and still tips (classy, classy man). I (who may be a little drunk) continues to think about making a magic underwear joke the rest of the night. I do not. Moral of the story: beer is fun.
- Drunkenly yelling at people cutting the student line is alot more fun than I could have ever imagined. Walsh got tripped by some dude! I envy him. I was in a punching mood. Wearing a hockey jersey does that.
- I will reiterate that I hate T shirt games so much. So, so, so much
- Mike Pereira’s mom is a really nice lady, however she can’t hold a candle to the heavenly grace that is Mrs Christine Gracel. Lady’s a saint.
- apparently the basketball team came out during the 2nd intermission to ask people to come to the game on sunday. I didn’t see it (intermissions are for cigarettes and makers mark) but I imagine it was violently awkward.
As usual for most saturday morning recaps, this was written at work, so apologies for all inevitable spelling errors.
See you at the Bill tonight
All you need to know about tomorrow night’s game is that Jeff Teglia is starting in net for the Minutemen… Wait, is that how I’m supposed to start these?
UMass Minutemen (0-2-0 (0-0-0HEA)) vs. No.10 Boston University Terriers (2-0-0 (0-0-0HEA))
Freshman netminder Jeff Teglia will get his first start tomorrow night for the injured Paul Dainton. He gets to enjoy this start against a team that just put up a total of nine goals in two nights against two ranked teams. This is a team that also has 11 NHL-drafted players, including five forwards. To say it will be tough sledding for Teglia is a massive understatement. Threats come from everywhere on the BU squad; in only two games, thirteen BU players already have points. Special teams-wise the Terriers have been outstanding (in an obviously small sample). Three for nine on the powerplay last weekend while allowing only two goals in twelve opponents’ powerplay chances. BU is a fantastic passing team, as is evidenced by the fact that eight of their nine goals had two assists, with the ninth having one.
If the Terriers do have an Achilles heal right now, its in net. Neither Kieran Millan nor Grant Rollheiser looked particularly good last weekend. Millan will probably start tomorrow night, and he carries a .905 career save%. That’s more of a keep the team in the game number than evidence of a great goalie. However, when the offense is playing like this, keeping the team in the game is really all the goalie needs to do.
This doesn’t mean that UMass doesn’t have a chance. The snipers have been hot for the Minutemen, who scored seven goals of their own last weekend against a ranked team. Those seven goals were scored by six different players, and among those who looked really good were Mike Marcou, TJ Syner, Darren Rowe (what?! really?), and Michael Pereira (although that last one needs to work on finishing the great chances he gets).
Unfortunately, the defense has been ATROCIOUS. I don’t know if they haven’t been standing around too much and watching the play happen or if they’ve been overpersuing the puck carrier and leaving men open, but I know they haven’t been moving the right amount. Conor Allen was a –4 last weekend. A MINUS FOUR!!! And the PK gave up four goals on nien chances (although one of them was on a five minute major)! If that defensive performance didn’t cut it with Paul Dainton in net, there is no chance for Teglia, whose career save% now stands at .818.
There seems to be a confluence of fail surrounding tomorrow night for our beloved Mass Attack. There have been so many injuries, including to their captain netminder. They have to face a ranked team whose offense is white hot at the moment. And they have to do it all in the generic splendor (read: heavy sarcasm. That place is an awful, stupid “multi-purpose” arena that has no business hosting hockey games.) of Agganis Arena, which, incidentally, has been a house of horrors for the Minutemen of late. So if the defense doesn’t show up, expect a big loss. I’m talking anywhere from eight to twelve goals for BU. If the defense does decide to show up, then we’ll see. Maybe we’ll have a hockey game.
Other Hockey East teams in action this weekend:
On Thursday, No.8 Maine drew No.20 Michigan State 4-4.
RPI @ Northeastern; UMass Lowell @ Niagara; Providence @ No.7 Minnesota-Duluth; No.8 Maine @ No.20 Michigan State; No.1 Boston College @ No.6 Denver
No.3 Michigan @ No.9 New Hampshire; Connecticut @ Merrimack; UMass Lowell @ RIT; No.1 Boston College @ No.6 Denver; Providence @ No.7 Minnesota-Duluth
It’s come to my attention that a certain Lowell blog recently wasted several hours writing a dissertation about, well, me. I’m not personally going to respond to its direct claims at the moment cause, quite honestly, I haven’t read it yet. I’m going to try and not read it until the 14th, where it’ll serve as amusing pre-game material for Lowell vs. UMass (Matt suggested “drink for every contrived argument” but added “wait, I don’t want to die”). I’ll probably respond to it then, in my writeup of the game.
It’s certainly adorable to see full-grown adults writing personal attack pieces, and I’m amused that my little rant got such a wild overreaction, but I’ve done some thinking lately and realized that I don’t have as much against Lowell as a whole as I thought. The people I know personally who go to the school are, for the most part, quality people. Furthermore, let’s be honest here, it’s a few (admittedly rather vocal) apples on a blog and some message boards who are skewing my perception of Lowell’s fan base. The ones I know personally (who actually attended the school recently or currently) have a more humble opinion of their program. After all, they have one freakin’ D1 program in the whole school, who am I to deprive them of their fun? Hell, I would have outright rooted for Lowell last year had they been playing anyone other than BU.
Based on Matt’s reaction to the attack thesis (his thoughts are forthcoming), I have a feeling that, in a few weeks when I do read it, I’m gonna be a lot less amicable about the subject. But for now, I’ll just say thanks for the extra site traffic (likely an extra 4-5 visitors!) and good luck to your team the rest of the way. And now, back to your regularly scheduled hockey blog.
Folks, in my four years at the University of Massachusetts, I’ve seen some crazy finishes. I’ve seen the highs: Chris Lowe driving coast-to-coast to completely ruin Rhody’s season, the David Boehm OT game-winner, the Alabama NIT game, beating Kansas on the road, erasing a massive deficit right in the face of thousands of orange-clad douchebags. But this has to be up there at the top of the list, especially since I got to be there in person. Just an all-around fantastic win for Derek Kellogg and his program. When we were within 1 at halftime, I said I was proud of the way the team played. When we built the 7-point lead in the second half, I said “even if we blow this, I’m proud of these guys.” And I would’ve been proud even if Memphis had managed to corral that ball in the final seconds before it miraculously snuck through to Ricky and then to a wide-open Vinson in the lane. The atmosphere at the Garden was unreal, like MSG for the NIT but with (obviously) a far greater percentage of UMass fans. Special props to the bartender upstairs at the Fours before the game; she put on quite the show dealing with the mob of maroon-wearers.
negativity alert, It sucked that a few loose cannons almost ruined the ending; these dumbass freshmen were so intent on storming the court that they felt obliged to fight against TD Garden security. It’s those one or two clowns that are way more visible than the 99.99% of us UMass kids who can control ourselves, and that’s where the misguided reputation comes from. We’re not storming the court (in an arena that isn’t even ours) over a win over the #26 team in the country.
resume positivity That said, I finally saw a team on the floor that I’m pretty confident will be competing with the best in the country in the next year or two (and when we beat a ranked team at the Mullins Center, then we’ll storm the court – hell, I certainly would). And, dare I say (excess optimism alert) one that might just have enough sheer talent to make a surprise run in conference play. No, I don’t think they’re quite ready to compete on a national level – not just yet. However, I’m blinded by sleep deprivation, a busy day of moving out of the dorm for break, and travel to and from Boston for a wire-to-wire thriller of a basketball game. And as such, I will go ahead and say these guys might be closer than we thought.
(Meanwhile, I have a bone to pick with ESPN. Great that they covered the game, but I can’t believe an upset like this doesn’t even manage to make the front page of the basketball section, let alone the front page. If Vinson’s not a SportsCenter Top Play, heads will roll.)
EDIT: #1 play on Top Plays. Alright, SportsCenter, I owe you an apology, you guys are on the ball.
All-in-all, an amazing day for the program. Let’s see if they go on a roll now. Who knows, maybe we’ll actually have a student section next game!