All apologies to our student contributor, Jarod Hendrickson, who continues to submit articles to my inbox that get buried and then I find them a couple days later. Jarod had the following to say going into last week’s Ivy League tilts for UMass:
“The Good Left Undone”
Last week was that time of the year again where hockey fans take a break
and ponder what we’re thankful for. One game comes to mind right away for UMass
fans. BC! We beat #1 BC! One of my most memorable nights as a sports fan. After
that, they smoked Holy Cross 7-2 and put a solid effort in to top Northeastern 4-2
the following night. A three game win streak, how about that. I’d love to stop there
and say our next game is against Maine, but it’s not. After coming back from two
goals down to tie Maine 2-2, the Mass Attack have dropped three embarrassing
losses in a row to Lowell, an utterly awful Vermont team and…Quinnipiac? The win
streak seems like a decade ago, and this team is in complete disarray. I honestly
don’t know how they beat BC, where did that team go? The team is now (4-7-3) and
(2-6-3) in Hockey East, tied with Maine in 8th place with 7 points.
Our powerplay sucks. Not too eloquent, but it conveys the right message.
UMass is 1-22 in their last 22 chances. For a season total the team is only converting
17.7% of their chances. Unacceptable. The once high-powered offense has gone cold,
generating just 16, 19 and 21 shots in their last three games respectively. Before
that, the Minutemen were averaging a little over 34 shots through their first 11
games. It’s not just the fact that they’re losing to awful teams, but HOW they’re
losing. This isn’t just shitty luck in OT, or a bad bounce giving the opposing team the
close win. No, UMass has been thoroughly outplayed in all facets of the game (aside
from goaltending, which ironically enough was the major question mark going into
the season). They look slow and disinterested. As far as the QU loss and future
losses to ECAC foes, it doesn’t matter for our Hockey East standings, and an at large
bid is beyond out of reach. The next two games are at home, starting this Friday vs
Harvard, followed by a Wednesday night tilt against Yale. Although these are
basically two exhibition games, they can serve as a tune up and a chance to get back
on track for the second half of the season against our usual Hockey East
competition. Aside from a 3rd period comeback that fell short at Quinnipiac, there
has to be major concern that the team appears to have zero desire to compete. If the
Minutemen drop these next two games, they will be in a complete tailspin they
might not be able to recover from. If this lack of effort continues, the season could be
lost by the end of January. And let the grumblings about a coaching change begin,
because it sure as hell looks like we need one right now.
Well, if Jarod is representative of the average denizen of the student section (and damnit, he is), a tie against Harvard and a win over Yale have to have gone a long way toward soothing all of y’all’s concerns. Granted, the inability to actually keep the lead against the Crimson is slightly concerning, but I don’t think anyone can argue against this: the effort, focus, and drive were not present at all against Lowell, Quinnipiac, or Vermont, and you could feel the wheels starting to come off of an already-shaky train. 1-0-1 against a decent Harvard team and a nationally-ranked Yale squad doesn’t have any direct impact on UMass’s conference record, but they desperately needed that boost going into the holiday break. Of course, they still have a holiday tournament ahead, two more games that could either instill further confidence or put the momentum to a screeching halt before January opens with a trip to Providence and then, on the exact opposite end of the excitement scale, Frozen Fenway. For now, let’s relish the chance for UMass to regroup and get healthy, and come out with a renewed sense of purpose in the second half.
Lowell beat BC last night, 3-2. Guys, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Lowell is for real this year. If there’s one saving grace, it’s that the guys they’re winning with are Blaise recruits. Blaise might be one of those great recruiters who just sucks as a head coach. Of course, I’d rather have a guy who’s good at both (ahem, Mark Dennehy), but maybe it bodes well for the future? Whatever. I may hate Lowell the school, but it’s hard not to like what their hockey team is doing. Good for them.
Basketball beat Siena by four last night, as Chaz and Freddie bailed the boys out in the last ten minutes after a lackluster first 30. The gimmicky defense is starting to show its holes, and the offense is far too reliant on guys getting hot, but at least Riley is continuing to (finally!) thaw from his early slump. Siena’s a better team than their record, but UMass needs to make a statement against QU next time out – if you’re gonna play a cupcake schedule, you can’t sleepwalk through most of the game and rely on hot shooting to bail you out, even if that has worked so far. That said – after what happened last year, I can’t imagine this team coming out flat against Central Connecticut State. (…right?)