Friday: Bentley 3 – Massachusetts 5
The return of Danny Hobbs clearly sparked the first line in Friday night’s game as Hobbs, Pereira, and Syner combined for four goals and 10 points. Hobbs’s first goal of the season came after the Minutemen had given up an early goal to Bentley’s Aaron Stonacek. It came courtesy of a slick feed from linemate Franchise Pereira. UMass went down 2-1 on a powerplay goal scored by Alex Grieve and trailed to end the first period. The Mass Attack then scored three consecutive goals, two by the Franchise and one by Branden Gracel, before giving up another powerplay tally. The score stood at 4-3 until Pereira scored on an empty net to complete his hat trick.
The offense played well and the Mass Attack really controlled the flow of play from the second period on. After outshooting the Falcons 12-10 in the first period, the Minutemen went on to outshoot them by a much wider margin, 35-14, in the final two periods. The first line looked like gods and no one skater looked particularly bad, although The Mike Marcou Show Starring Mike Marcou was on the ice for all three goals against. The penalty kill was somewhat suspect, but so was freshman goaltender Kevin Boyle, who allowed too many rebounds and didn’t recover quickly enough to challenge second shots.
Douglas F. Kublin Memorial Player of the Game
Derek: Danny Hobbs
Yes, yes, Pereira had a hat trick, but one of those three goals was an empty netter and the other two were set up by Hobbs, one fantastically so. Hobbs’s one goal of the night was a timely one, scored shortly after Bentley took an early 1-0 lead, and it was not a coincidence that the first line, as a whole, had a breakout game on the same night he returned to the lineup.
Saturday: Massachusetts 4 – Providence 6
If you were there, you would know that the real first star of Saturday night’s game was Don Cahoon. For the Providence Friars. Listen, I’m not gonna blame Kevin Boyle. He had an off night, and it happens to all goalies. But I most certainly will blame Toot for leaving Boyle in to give up five bad goals. The first two weren’t absolutely terrible, they were rebound goals, one on the powerplay, pretty standard Kevin Boyle M.O. goals. However, the final three goals were all softies, two of which were literally give-up shots that were lobbed at the goalie to get a line change. I cannot fathom why Toot would leave in a goalie, who by most accounts is currently the number two goalie on the team, who clearly didn’t have anything when the number one goalie is sitting on the bench just waiting to go. Teglia stopped all eight shots he faced once he was finally put in net late in the second period.
I cannot complain about the way any of the skaters played on Friday night. To a man, they played hard, they played smart, and they played with skill. They earned almost twice as many powerplays as they gave up (9-5). They scored twice on the powerplay and held the Friars off the board on four of their five PP chances. Other than the first half of the third period, where they had issues possessing the puck, they played just about as well as anyone could hope they would play. I can’t single out any skater for the Minutemen who played poorly, only some who played exceptionally well. Danny Hobbs scored twice, once on the powerplay. TJ Syner had three assists. Conor Sheary made good on my promise that he would score, delivering on the powerplay. Conor Allen looked good on the back end. The list goes on. It’s just a shame that these guys weren’t given a decent shot at winning.
Douglas F. Kublin Memorial Player of the Game
Derek: Danny Hobbs
For the second night in a row, Hobbs delivered. Two goals, one on the powerplay, four shots on goal, and he threw the body around like an absolute beast. He was the Mass Attack’s best scoring threat AND the Mass Attack’s best forechecker on Saturday night. Kid’s playing like his hair’s on fire right now.
Other Games/Top Performers
- Boston University 3 – Providence 5
- BU comes out flat against the Friars, who get goals from five first time goal scorers, including four freshmen, to pull off the huge upset.
- Providence – Stefan Demopoulos: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 Rating, 5 Shots
- BU – Matt Nieto: 1 Goal, 3 Shots
- New Hampshire 0 –Northeastern 4
- The Wildcats are shutout again as Chris Rawlings rebounds from a tough start against Maine. Matt DiGirolamo’s slump continues.
- Northeastern – Chris Rawlings: Shutout, 27 Saves
- Northeastern – Luke Eibler: 2 Assists, +2 Rating
- Denver 4 – Boston College 2
- The top team in the nation falls as Denver takes advantage of less than stellar goaltending
- Denver – Jason Zucker: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +1 Rating, 5 Shots
- BC – Kevin Hayes: 1 Goal, 1 Assist (PP), 3 Shot
- Maine 1 – North Dakota 3
- Maine outshoots ND but Brad Eidsness stands tall in net for the Fighting Sioux.
- ND – Brad Eidsness: 30 Saves, 1 Goal Allowed
- ND – Ben Blood: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 Rating
- UMass Lowell 4 – Minnesota State 2
- Lowell controls the flow of play and blasts 37 shots on net to become the only Hockey East team to win a non-conference game on Friday
- UML – Riley Wetmore: 2 Goals, +1 Rating, 3 Shots
- UML – Terrence Wallin: 1 Goal, 2 Assists, +3 Rating\
- Exhibition USA Under-18 2 – Vermont 1
- Lol, rly?
- Vermont – No one.
- Boston College 5 – New Hampshire 1
- UNH’s scoring offense and goaltending both continue to stink as BC rolls over the once vaunted Wildcats.
- BC – Parker Milner: 39 Saves, 1 Goal Allowed
- BC – Paul Carey: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 Rating, 6 Shots
- Army 2 – Merrimack 3
- Merrimack’s offense almost doubles up Army’s shots on goal, but Cannata gives up two and the Warriors barely eek out a win at home.
- Merrimack – John Heffernan: 1 Goal, 1 Assist +2 Rating, 3 Shots
- Army – Rob Tadazak: 37 Saves, 3 Goals Allowed
- Denver 3 – Boston University 4
- Denver’s third period surge is not quite enough to complete the east coast sweep.
- BU – Matt Nieto: 1 Goal (SH), +1 Rating
- BU – Kieran Millan: 35 Saves, 3 Goals allowed
- Maine 3 – North Dakota 3
- Maine goes up 2-0 early but needs to score last to earn the 3-3 tie.
- ND – Danny Kristo: 2 Goals (2 PP), 1 Assist, 5 Shots
- Maine – Spencer Abbot: 3 Assists (2 PP), +1 Rating, 4 Shots
- UMass Lowell 4 – Minnesota State 1
- The River Hawks control the game from late in the first period on to sweep the weekend series with Minnesota State.
- UML – Derek Arnold: 2 Goals (1 PP), 1 Assist (PP), +1 Rating, 5 Shots
- UML – Doug Carr: 24 Saves, 1 Goal Allowed
Hockey East Awards
Hockey East has yet to post their weekly awards. I’m not sure if they’re waiting for the UConn-UML game to be played on Tuesday night to release them or if they’re just being slow. One way or another, there will be a supplement to this post once the weekly awards are up.
Hockey East Standings
|Rank||Team||HE Games Played (Record)||Points|
|3||Boston College||1 (1-0-0)||2|
|Boston University||2 (1-1-0)||2|
|New Hampshire||3 (0-3-0)||0|
Hockey East Teams in the USCHO.com Poll
Ranked: #2 Boston College, #7 Boston University, #13 Merrimack, #18 Maine
Receiving Votes: Providence (69), UMass Lowell (12), Northeastern (3)
Bentley Falcons (0-2-0, 0-0-0 Atlantic Hockey) vs. UMass Minutemen (0-0-1, 0-0-1 HE)
It is once again the most wonderful time of the year for the young students of the University of Massachusetts. The home opener is upon us again, bringing with it majesty, grandeur, and fresh hope. Although our beloved Mass Attack has already been tested in a fiery duel of aggressive offenses and spectacular goaltending, this Friday’s bout with the Falcons will be the first chance most of the UMass fan base will have to see the team play with their own eyes this year.
In their first game of the season, the aforementioned duel to the death… or tie, the Minutemen found heroes old and new. Senior co-captain TJ Syner scored and was instrumental on the powerplay, sophomore winger Conor Sheary started to make good on my prediction of a 20G/20A season by notching two brilliant assists, winger Emerson Auvenshire tallied his first career NCAA point by assisting on Branden Gracel’s goal, and, perhaps most importantly, goalie Kevin Boyle stood tall in net and made 29 instrumental saves in his very first collegiate start. Unfortunately, the team tired in the third period and Northeastern was hungry for a point. The Mass Attack failed to notch their first win of the year by less than three seconds, and honestly would have had the win if not for some really outrageously bad turnovers in their own zone throughout the entire game. BUT, you, noble reader, must keep in mind that the Minutemen were missing a couple key faces on the ice last Friday in Boston. These faces are, of course, those belonging to senior co-captain Danny Hobbs and sophomore netminder Jeff Teglia; they are once again healthy and ready to join the fray.
Looking at the team offensively, Hobbs can only add to an offense that was firing on all cylinders last week. The Minutemen scored three goals, blasted 39 shots on Chris Rawlings, took nine shots on net in five-plus (technically six, but one lasted only 13 seconds) powerplay opportunities (believe me, I’ve been watching UMass hockey for awhile now, this is a tad better than usual), and even scored a powerplay goal!!!!!!!!!!11 This was all done without last year’s leading scorer, Hobbs, who will certainly be a force to be reckoned with if he wants to improve on last season’s point total of 28.
Defensively, the team certainly will not be made worse by the return of Jeff Teglia. Boyle stopped 29 of the 32 pucks sent his way last week, for a very respectable .906 save percentage. If Teglia wants the full-time starting goalie job, he’ll have to do a lot better than that, and he certainly seems capable. Hopefully a little competition between the two (and, also, Steve Mastalerz) will bring out the best in both goalies and whoever starts Friday night should be looking to shut out an obviously inferior team.
But wait, are the 0-2 Falcons really that bad? Well, to be fair, we can’t really say that just yet. In two games this season, Bentley has scored two goals and given up nine. These numbers have, however, been posted against Michigan. The Michigan that’s ranked number four in the country. That Michigan. So Bentley’s numbers thus far this year are a little skewed. Let’s look at Bentley’s numbers from last year. They went 10-18-6, with nine of those wins coming against fellow Atlantic Hockey cupcakes. They scored 2.53 goals a game while giving up 3.44 and their 8.4% powerplay success rate made the Mass Attack’s mediocre man advantage (12.5%) look downright lethal. Bentley’s meager offense lost two of its top three scorers at the end of last season and only return one guy (sophomore forward Brett Gensler) who scored more than eight goals last year.
One can go on and on about Bentley’s offense, from their lack of true playmakers to the absolute dearth of scoring ability from the point, but what may give Bentley fans a glimmer of hope this year is what’s between the pipes. On back to back nights last weekend, Bentley’s skaters were dominated on the ice by a far superior team; however, their two netminders acquitted themselves quite nicely. Despite giving up five goals, senior Kyle Rank made 44 saves. A save percentage of .898 is not something most goalies aspire to, but it is certainly nothing to sneeze at when you post it against the fourth best team in the nation while they are blasting 49 shots at you. Compared to Rank, sophomore Branden Komm got off lightly, having to face only 42 shots. He saved 39 of those for a very tidy .929 save percentage. That, by the way, is the same percentage Chris Rawlings posted against the Mass Attack while he was standing on his head last Friday.
Okay, I’m just going to say it. Even if Bentley’s goalies play well again, we should win this game. This is a game Kevin Morris probably couldn’t lost. It’s embarrassing enough that I can actually remember the last time we played the Falcons. Because we lost. It was the middle of the beginning of the end for the 2009-2010 Minutemen, who proceeded to follow up the Bentley loss with the worst (by far) Cahoon swoon ever seen. But that’s all in the past, and this is the first half of the season. The Bentley Falcons are a team that managed to finish tenth out of twelve teams in the worst conference in D1 hockey last year. They are, frankly, a joke, and for guys like TJ Syner, Danny Hobbs, Kevin Czepiel, Darren Rowe, Rocco Carzo, Eddie Olczyk, and The Mike Marcou Show Starring Mike Marcou (By the way, what the fuck was The Mike Marcou Show Starring Mike Marcou doing out there last Friday night?! I mean, yeah, two assists, that’s nice, but where the fuck were you on the defensive end? Clear the fucking puck! For fuck’s sake, man! You are a fucking defenseman. Not offenseman, DEFENSEman. I’m so fucking sick of this. Just make the fucking simple fucking play and get the puck out of the fucking zone. Fuck, am I the only one who sees this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.) to lose twice to Bentley, in two tries, would be absurd. Come on guys, I know you remember that last loss, make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Really, all it’s gonna take to win this Friday is smart play. That’s it, simple, smart play. No bad penalties (I’m looking at you, Oleg), no dumb turnovers in the defensive zone, and just put plenty of rubber on goal. As long as whoever’s in net for Bentley doesn’t decide that last week was just a springboard for an even better performance this week, enough pucks will find their way to the back of the net to top the Falcons’ anemic offense. And, if not, well, I’ll eat Scoops Mazurek’s hat.
P.S. Check back for part two of this weekend preview, which will appear sometime late Saturday morning or early Saturday afternoon.
Unsurprisingly, Merrimack’s Chris Barton won Hockey East Player of the Week honors after he followed up his 4 assist night against Northeastern with a 2 goal and 3 assist performance durring the 11-2 drubbing of UMass on Saturday. Rob Madore continued his Jekyll-and-Hyde season by winning Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week following his 70 save (.972 save%) weekend against Providence. For the second week in a row, no UMass player even made Hockey East’s weekly “Top Performers” list.
In other news of Hockey East players winning awards at the Mass Attack’s expense, Chris Rawlings was named Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for January. Rawlings (seriously guys, why the fuck are his eyes so close together?) went 2-0-1 against the Minutemen in January, including a shutout. In slightly happier news, Mike Pereira was named a runner up for Hockey East’s Rookie of the Month Award. In 8 games in January, Pereira had 3 goals and 4 assists.
After going 3-0-1 against the bottom of Hockey East, the Minutemen have gone 0-3-1 in their last four games against the top and middle of Hockey East. Over this period, they have been outshot 135-110 outscored 21-4. In the BC game alone, UMass was outshot 43-16. The penalty kill self-destructed on Saturday (giving up 3 goals on 6 chances) and the power play is as inept as ever (it went 0-for-19 over the last 4 games). The return of Mike Marcou has done anything but stabilize the defense (he was on ice for at least 6 of the Merrimack goals; the game sheet fails to list the defense on ice for the 9th MC goal). Excepting only the tie against Northeastern, the Minutemen have been beat in all 3 zones recently, and in the last two games the Minutemen were beaten in literally every single facet of the game.
Perhaps the embarrassing blowout at Merrimack will light a fire under the team (hoping for a silver lining, I am). This team has two home games this weekend. One against a tough BU team and another against a very, very weak Providence team. This team can either step up and compete (and beat Providence and at least show some competitiveness against BU (idk, maybe tie? if they actually somehow magically won I’d probably die of a heart attack on the spot)) or it can fold and take less than two points from this weekend, in which case the outlook for the rest of the season is worse than any I have seen in my time at UMass (bad enough to make me question whether we can even make it into the playoffs).
Well, it can only go up from here.
Last night’s 3-0 loss against the Huskies of Northeastern was not as bad as the score may indicate. Make no mistake, UMass was beaten soundly and in no way deserved to win last night, but it was in no way a colossal failure on par with the now infamous “3 goals in 38 seconds” game.
In the begining, prospects looked bleak. UMass was outplayed soundly in the first period, giving up 13 shots, all of which had a chance to find the back of the net. Dainton stood on his head this period, and despite the loss, deserves alot of credit for keeping the game in reach for the minutemen. On offence, it was slim pickings. Unable to create a sustained offensive oppertunity, the minutemen got a few cheap shots on the rush, but never made me feel like they had a legitimate scoring chance. Things were bleak heading into the second period, although the game was still tied.
Coming out of intermision, the minutemen continued to play uninspired, lazy hockey. Early in the 2nd they gave up the inevitable goal off an absolutely horid attempt at a clear by Kublin (et tu Kubby?). However, coming off that goal, UMass controled most of the period, generating good opertunities but always being an inch or two away from a much needed goal. And that, my friends, is the problem with the team last night. Close was never close enough. Every pass that would have led to an easy goal was a few inches off, every rebound was barely blocked by Rawlings (who played out of his mind yesterday) and every break was broken up by some small mistake. Terrible execution.
It was over when the second NU goal went in top shelf against Dainton (no thanks to the defence which gave up the uncontested shot off the rush) which the fans at home wern’t able to see because of a NESN comercial break. After that, it was more “almost’s” that never made me feel like we had a chance. It was hopeless, and by the time we gave up the empty netter, we were defeated and depressed (as oposed to when we arived, when we were ripping high)
That being said, I still remain optimistic about tonight’s game at the Bill. UMass could have (and should have) easily won the first meeting against the Huskies, and if we play as well as we did last night, with a few easy bounces we could easily leave victors. The key too this team has long been limit the mental mistakes, and tonight will be no different. Don’t turn over the puck in your own zones, don’t give away easy breakaways, and for the love of god, stay in the net Dainton. I expect a goal or two, but its not going to be a high scoring game by any means. We need to beat Rawlings when he gives us the oppertunity (which he did last night). If we can make the most of these, and have Dainton keep on playing as well as he has, we should win.
Not that it hasn’t been said before, but this weekend is extremely important for the minutemen. There are no easy games ahead (Providence is not going to be easy this year, if the haloween weekend was any indication) and we desperately need points in order to make the playoffs in a respectable seed. At this point, standings wise, tonights game isn’t that important. Its only one game against a team I realisticly don’t expect to catch up to. However, if the minutemen want to be respectable in this conference, they need a win tonight. I think they can do it, but this team has consistantly proved my optimism wrong. Lets hope they turn it around
- NESN didn’t have a scorebar up for the first 15 minutes of the game. Good job NESN. Collosal fail.
- We didn’t give up a PP goal last night. Silver lining?
- Tonight is 80’s night at the Mullins Center, which brings up a mixture of emotions. Does this mean that Northeastern will be relevant in Hockey East and UMass won’t exist? Will the swesties be out in full skankish force? Will free neon sunglasses (Ugggggg) draw T shirt like crowds? Will anyone who actively dresses for 80’s night actually be born in the 80’s?
- Note: because of the glasses, 2 goals by any UMass player will herein be refered to as a “glass trick” where we all throw our terrible glasses on the ice. If it happens, you must do it. Matt commands you.
- Saturday Night game+morning shift at work=more time to pregame=hammered bloggers. With that in mind, please understand if my tweets tonight are misspelt nonsense
- If basketball is the only team with a win this weekend I’ll be sad. Thats more of a statement about my love for hockey than disenfranchisement with Basketball, but still
- I hope we win tonight, sunglasses are hard to drunkienly set on fire on the walk home
- I wrote this at work, so apoligized for the terrible wording/spelling/opinions
See you at the Bill kids!
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
Your UMass Minutemen take on the No. 15 Minnesota Golden Gophers
So the Mass Attack begins the season with two in the upper Midwest against a ranked opponent. Sound frightening? Sound like the Minutemen are way overmatched? Why? Let’s see, the Golden Gophers were 18-19-2 last year, 12-14-2 in the WCHA. They finished 7th in their conference and were bounced in the first round of their conference tourney. Your Minutemen finished at .500 with a record of 18-18-0 (despite a MASSIVE Cahoon Swoon), 13-14-0 in Hockey East. They finished 6th in the conference and were also bounced in the first round of their tourney. Okay, so we’re willing to concede that Minnesota played a MUCH more difficult non-conference schedule last year, but even given that, this was a sub-.500 team, they certainly weren’t world-beaters.
Well, we lost some key guys. Yeah, well so did they. The Gophers return fifteen from last year’s roster (10 forwards, 3 defensemen, 2 goalies), that’s the same amount as your Minutemen who return 10 forwards, 4 defensemen, and 1 goalie (not included are Anthony Raiola, who was redshirted, and Kevin Moore, who has yet to play a minute in his two years with the team). Among the Gophers’ losses were their top two point scorers, Tony Lucia (11G/17A/28Pts) and Jordan Schroeder (9G/19A/28Pts), as well as two of their top four defensemen (David Fischer and Kevin Wehrs). However, the Gophers do return Mike Hoeffel (14G/10A/24Pts/7PPG), their top goal scorer and top powerplay goal scorer, from last year, along with top defensemen Cade Fairchild (4G/21A/21Pts) and Aaron Ness. Also back is forward Jay Barriball, who will be their captain this year. He played only five games last year before receiving a medical redshirt due to a season ending knee injury. Although Barriball hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in the last three years, he could always return to the form of his freshman year, when he put up 20 goal, 23 assist, 43 point numbers. Minnesota also returns both starting goalie Alex Kangas (16-15-1, 2.61 GAA, .911 save%) and backup Kent Patterson (2-4-1, 3.10 GAA, .901 save%).
The Mass Attack’s depletion is a little more severe. Brace yourself, we’re about to drag up some memories; we’ll try to make this as quick as possible. Gone are: the top 5 point scorers from last year: James Marcou (11G/40A/51Pts), Casey Wellman (23G/22A/45Pts), Justin Braun (8G/23A/31Pts), Will Ortiz (13G/13A/26Pts), and Matt Irwin (7G/17A/24Pts); three of last year’s top four blue-liners: Braun, Irwin, and Martin Nolet (5G/4A/9Pts/59PIM); and a true heart and soul guy, great leader, and fantastic P.J. Axelsson-esque 2-way forward in Brett Watson (3G/6A/9Pts). Key returning skaters include last years no. 6 point scorer, T.J. Syner (8G/12A/20Pts), as well as defensemen Mike Marcou (7G/3A/10Pts) and Doug Kublin (we’ll get to his importance later on). Also returning is the man who is now undeniably, unquestionably the most important player on the team. That man is Paul Dainton. Dainton had the best record of his career last year (15-15-0), but otherwise had his statistically poorest season (3.08 GAA, .901 save%). Compare this to the numbers from his freshman (12-14-6, 2.56 GAA, .911 save%) and sophomore (12-14-1, 2.45 GAA, .913 save%) seasons. If the Minutemen are to succeed this year, Dainton needs to prove last year was an outlier and continue the trend of the previous two years (something in the 2.40 GAA, .920 save% range would be fantastic, but I’d be very happy with something like 2.60, .910).
Since both these teams lost a lot, it stands to reason that they are both pretty young. The Minnesota roster features 10 freshmen (6 forwards, 4 defensemen) and UMass has 13 (8 forwards, 4 defensemen, 1 goalie). The quality of recruits may be where the Gophers have the edge. UMass is counting on guys like Troy Power, Eric Filiou, Peter DeAngelo, and Michael Pereira. And these guys are all solid recruits. But if you google the names of the Minnesota freshmen, you are likely to find a professional scouting report on all of them. One in particular, 6’4” 188lb. center Nick Bjugstad, was the 19th overall pick of the NHL draft this year. He supposedly has good speed and vision and a fantastic shot to go along with his size. So, yeah, there’s that. But prospects are only prospects and no one knows how well they’ll do; just ask Danny Hobbs. (Incidentally, Danny Hobbs, you looked very, very good in the exhibition game, and we really need a guy like you to step up and shine now that Jimmy and Casey are gone. So if you could do that, we’d really appreciate it.)
There is one more reason to be excited for this season opening series, and that is this: Doug Kublin does not have mono. Allow me to explain how important Doug Kublin is to the UMass Minutemen. He played 25 games last year. In those games, the Mass Attack was 16-9-0. In games without Doug Kublin in the lineup, the Minutemen were 2-9-0. Stark contrast? Yes, but it goes deeper than record. In the 25 games the Manlius, NY defenseman played, the Minutemen averaged 3.08 goals against. In the 11 games he missed, 3.64 goals against! Almost half a goal more per game! Every 2 games you play without Kubbie, you spot the opposition a goal. So ignore the fact that Doug Kublin has career scoring numbers that look like your mother’s (1G/5A/6Pts in 74GP); he is a plus player and vital to this team and if Paul Dainton needs to stand on his head and get numbers like those mentioned above to give this team a shot at going anywhere, Doug Kublin needs to be in the lineup and on the ice to give him a fighting chance.
So there it is, my vehement defense of our beloved Mass Attack’s chances this weekend. It’s gonna be tough and it ain’t gonna be pretty, but damnit, our freshmen look good and our vets look energized and if we could steal some wins this weekend we could have a dangerous team on our hands that just might think it’s good enough to go somewhere. And it might shut up Roman Augustoviz, whose tweets are some of the most annoying on the planet. Go ahead, check them out, I dare you. @eyeonupuk do it.
Also: Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Don Lucia was a hoodrat. Now you finally know that.
So… yeah, let’s get back at it. Is it Friday yet?
~Update: Apparently Eddie Olczyk’s injury is more severe than my “source” stated. According to Dick Baker, Olczyk will likely miss the Minnesota series, as will freshman Troy Power, who sustained an undisclosed injury in practice on Tuesday.
Today I graduated from the University of Massachusetts, joining the thousands of alumni who have survived the four years in the Pioneer Valley. It’s a bittersweet moment in my life; on one hand, life moves on, I will have a degree from a fine national institution of higher learning and might possibly be done forever with the toils of homework, essays, and graded projects. On the other hand, the real world is a scary place in this climate, and the comfort of the wonderful place I called home for four years will never fully be regained. It’s a celebratory day, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little choked up leaving Amherst for the last time as a student (barring an unlikely but possible grad school stint).
Just as the Boston pro sports teams have been a constant in my life, so too did UMass athletics in both good times and bad during my time at the school. It’s through UMass sports that I’ve met and/or bonded with some of the greatest people I had the privilege of spending time with. It was through football that Derek and myself met Matt, and it was through basketball and hockey that we became the good friends we are today. Sports led me to some really great friendships. Goggles, Hamel, Tyler, Andres, Beth, Ben…you guys will be sorely missed and I really hope we remain in touch and our paths cross again as we alumni come back to root on our alma mater in the bright times ahead. Melissa, Matt, Derek…you guys have the reigns (in my opinion) of the student section and I hope to see it continue to grow and flourish.
As for the blog? Matt and Derek are in charge now. As I head off to Florida for the next eight months, I’ll be tracking these teams from afar as closely as I can, although I can’t guarantee much until January when I make my triumphant, tanned return to the Bay State. At that point hopefully I can make it out to Amherst for some games (if all goes to plan, I’ll be down in Bristol, just a 90-minute drive away!). Either way, I’ll provide as much insight as I can, but it’s in Matt and Walsh’s (and anyone they choose to add along the way’s) hands. And lemme tell you, you’re in good hands. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but these two are the best, most devoted fans the class of ’11 has to offer.
So that’s the skinny on that. Thanks again to everyone who’s made UMass the best four years of my life (so far) and I’ll see you all again reaaaall soon.
It’s fitting that the Boston area is being pounded by a driving rainstorm tonight. The droves of UMass fans who made the trip to Conte Forum tonight, amassing a student section that put BC’s home crowd to shame for the second straight night, were sent home disappointed by a 5-2 final that was much more exciting than the score would indicate.
Who’s the goat tonight? If we had to pick one, it’d be the officiating crew, which trumped last night’s “performance” with a disjointed clusterfuck of a 2nd period featuring a number of dubious calls in BC’s favor, followed by yet another “let ’em play” 3rd period in which BC was able to pretty much do whatever they wanted without fear of a whistle. But blaming the refs only takes you so far; Dainton was better than he was last night, but a couple of defensive lapses here, a couple of missed scoring chances there, in series where UMass needed to catch a number of breaks…it just wasn’t happening. BC was the superior physical team, and the Minutemen sadly ran out of gas in the third period. That old sports cliche usually reserved for basketball rings true for hockey: you just can’t keep playing from behind, it takes too much out of you.
Give the team all the credit in the world. They easily could have packed it in after the horror-show of February, but first in Maine and now this last weekend, we saw a team with heart, desire, and the talent to hang around with anyone in Hockey East. It’s really unfortunate that they didn’t pull off home ice, especially how close Hockey East was and with an 0-6 February in which they played well enough to win at least 3 of them, and with all those close losses that could have been ties. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Whatever. The fact is, they put themselves in a position to erase all those bad memories, and they fell just a little short.
So what’s next? While the other three HEA playoff series go to a game 3 tomorrow, UMass prepares for an offseason which will certainly weaken their defensive corps and, depending on what happens to Jimmy and Casey, may make next year into a full-on rebuilding season. On the other hand, if one or both of UMass’s offensive stars are here next year, there’s a lot to look forward to. We’ll get into more detail soon (it’s a long offseason, after all), but I see next year being a big “step-up” season for guys like Lecomte, Keane, Langeraap, and Kublin, all of whom battled injuries at times this year. And let’s not forget that we return Paul Dainton in net. But make no mistake: the key to next year, besides whether James and Casey are here, is who, if anyone, can fill the shoes of Nolet and Braun on the blue line. Mike Marcou and Darren Rowe both showed some signs at times early on, yet both had atrocious ends to the season. Irwin and Kublin are good anchors to have, but between the other guys and the incoming frosh, someone (preferably, more than one) needs to step up.
We’ll cross that bridge when it comes. For now, it’s the time of year where we hang up our maroon and white – for now – and enjoy the spectacle that is playoff season in college hockey, not to mention March Madness (the first weekend of which perennially comprises my favorite four-day span of the sporting year). Thank you Ortiz, thank you Watson, thank you Meyers, thank you Nolet, and thank you Braun, and good luck to you all in future endeavors. Thanks for the rest of the team for a fantastic run. And thank you, the readers, for coming along on the ride with us. We’ll continue to write this summer, even as our paths take us in different directions (mine, for example, to Orlando until January, where I’ll continue to follow the teams from a distance online and hopefully be able to see in person when I return). While I won’t be here in person, the other writers will be taking the reins, and I hope this site takes off even further next year and that more students can get involved, whether it’s reading, commenting, or even contributing themselves.
Until then…ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh SEE YA ASSHOLES!
Well, after a night of heavy drinking and a full day of recovery and putting my mind to other things, my thoughts, as always, have come back to the UMass hockey team, its once-promising season now left in shambles following its second consecutive weekend of getting swept by an inferior team in a home-and-home. Once again, the defense was atrocious in the road game, and once again, the Minutemen failed to score at home. Throw Joe Cannata up there with Rawlings and Madore in the “not-all-that-great goalies stepping their game up big-time against UMass” discussion; he was sensational.
Here’s the problem with this game though: you simply cannot turn games against inferior opponents into must-wins, and that’s what UMass did not once, but twice in this second half. The blowout losses to BU and UNH to start the second half forced them to need that win at Matthews, and for a while, the season appeared to stabilize, winning four straight. The ensuing shutout loss on that Sunday afternoon against Vermont and Madore didn’t seem so bad, since the defense played well enough to win, Madore stood on his head, etc. But the awful games that followed – at BU (again) and against BC at home – forced the Minutemen to go into these two series against hungry Northeastern and Merrimack teams desperately needing wins, and you can never count on winning a game by sheer talent disparity. These last two home shutouts prove that: UMass dominated play for the entire game, dictated the shots on goal, played solid defense for the most part, but too many mental mistakes and the collective snakebittenness of the entire fucking offense right now, combined with stellar goaltending efforts by guys whose teams desperately needed them, doomed UMass to their current fate.
Which, by the way, is somehow not as bad as it seems. With 3 games left, UMass still mathematically could finish as high as third. Seriously. And it is actually even in their own hands to a degree, since the team currently in third, Maine, is UMass’s opponent for the last two games. It would, of course, entail UMass playing with a lot more urgency than they have of late (even last night, the team visibly had given up by the midway point of the third, prompting a “please do something” chant). It would also, of course, involve a ridiculous turnaround in the luck department. And UMass would, in all likelihood, first have to win this Friday at BC, where they’ll have the misfortune of yours truly calling the game for WMUA (they’re 1-4 with me behind the mic; after the 3-2 win against BU, I’ve called the UNH home loss, the first Agganis trip and the Madore shutout) as well as playing a team which, in two games, has shown they can both grind out tough wins AND blow people the fuck out, both at the Bill.
Here’s the flipside: now that guys like Jimmy and Casey are probably tuning out the season and looking ahead at their NHL prospects (although I’m not exactly sure that “having a team on your shoulders and completely disappearing for eight games” is something NHL scouts are looking for), the Minutemen quite easily could lose these last three contests and fall out of the playoffs completely.
And if that doesn’t put Toot Cahoon on the hot seat for the duration of next season — the last year on his contract — I’m not sure what will.
Wednesday afternoon, the University of Massachusetts closed its campus for the day in preparation for an anticipated nor’easter. At around 1 PM, we still didn’t have a flake of snow on the ground, but hey, we’re college kids. We’ll take a day off any way we can get one. (Actually, I don’t have classes scheduled on Wednesdays anyway, so it didn’t do much for me, but I’ve been told it was much-appreciated by most everyone else.)
Last night, UMass’s offensive performance was about as potent as the “snowstorm:” it looked poised to strike on paper, it certainly threatened, and there were flurries of offensive chances, but the goal tally matched the total snow accumulation in inches. (Rounded to the nearest whole number. You know what, shut up, it’s my metaphor and I’ll stretch it if I so please.)
Derek said it, and I’m starting to agree: this was almost worse in a lot of ways than losing 7-1, because at least then you know it’s over after one period and you don’t have your heart ripped out at the end. This one was 1-0 until the last five minutes, and UMass was > < this close to knotting it up and breaking the offense funk seemingly a million times. Like the other shutout game, against Madore and Vermont, the boys played well enough to win in basically every aspect of the game – the luck just wasn’t on their side. The defense was miles ahead of where it was against BC and BU the last few games, the offense got plenty of opportunities, but it comes down to finishing, and right now the Minutemen can’t do it. It didn’t help that the hottest goalie in Hockey East played out of his mind, but when your backup goalie holds the other team to one goal for the majority of the game, that’s a game you just have to win. (By the way, even though both of the goals Meyers have up were sort of weak, particularly the second one, you really can’t blame the goalie when you get shut out. Still, unless Dainton’s hurt, I would’ve preferred to see him in net and let Meyers start against Merrimack on senior night if you want to give him a start at all. Just my opinion.)
So, where do we go from here? Six games left, five on the road, and it starts tonight at Matthews. “Must-win” is sort of cliche, and we do play in a league where a team that is completely and totally dead in the water can dominate a team on an absolute roll. But realistically, if UMass gets swept by the Huskies tonight, they can say goodbye to home ice – if they haven’t already. Either way, this whole “Cahoon swoon” thing is getting more and more legitimate as the season continues.
…by the way, hockey aside, it was a pretty good start to the weekend for UMass sports. Softball won, lax opened their season with a win, and basketball actually pulled off one of their recent second-half comeback attempts to beat Duquesne in OT. (Big City’s stat line? 6 minutes. I think DK finally gets it.) The boys are back at home tomorrow afternoon at 4, hopefully they can see what a conference winning streak looks like. (Or any type of UMass winning streak. Sigh.)