Oh, yeah, you read that right. FightCast. A portmanteau of Fi…guys? Guys? Where’d you go? Come back!
Yeah, welcome to the digital era, where the future will be televised. On the radio. On the, err, Internet. On the Maine. I should stop talking now. Just listen. Disclaimers:
– We recorded this last Friday right after the CCSU game, so the material is slightly dated. But hey, I managed to get it posted before the next UMass game, so there’s that. Besides, none of you were gonna listen to it
at all during New Year’s anyway
– It’s an hour long. Load it on your iPod and drive somewhere while listening to it.
– Language. Par for the course here, but uhh yeah, not safe for work.
– Inside jokes. There are some. Sorry.
– There are a few rants, including Matt about UMassHoops, and both of us about politics. It’s got some rough edges. Deal with it.
Anyway, it’s all kinds of fun, so without further ado:
So also, there’s hockey tomorrow, not that anyone cares because Frozen Fenway is coming up and Providence, ho hum, been there done that. However, our intrepid Jarod Hendrickson, who by the way is the only person writing Contributor’s Corner articles these days hint hint someone write for ussssss! anyway, here’s another look back at the Florida games and ahead to a rematch with the Friars. The Fight Mass boys won’t be there, but Jarod’s planning on making the trip down. Take it away, J:
Contributor’s Corner: “Providence/The Town Preview”
UMass looks to turn the page to 2012 with a strong start to the second half of the season. The Minutemen put in a solid all around game and upset #13 Cornell at the Florida College Classic behind a pair of goals from sophomore Conor Sheary. They then fell 5-2 to Maine in the championship game the following night, going 0-5 with the man advantage. UMass now finds themselves at (6-8-4) (2-6-3 HEA), good for 9th place in the standings.
Moving on from there…Saturday…Jan 7th…Fenway Park. A day we’ve been all looking forward to for a very, very long time that hasn’t come soon enough. All that stands between our beloved team and that epic experience is a date with Providence on Thursday. As usual, these two points on the line are huge for the Mass Attack, who currently find themselves on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. The good news is only 3 points separate 5th place Providence (8-8-1)(6-4-0 HEA) and us, a 4 point weekend would go a long way into propelling UMass back up in the standings. The Friars have surprised a lot of people this season, playing solid all year and sweeping a then #1, unbeaten Merrimack last month. But hey, we beat #1 BC, so that’s a wash. Providence has started the new year with a 5-2 loss to Brown. PC is led by freshmen Ross Mauermann (6 G/8 A) and junior Tim Schaller (9 G/4 A). Alex Beaudry (7-7-1, 2.93 GAA, .898 save%) should be in net. This game is no pushover like the past (like we won those anyways..) and UMass can’t overlook this game while having their sights set on Frozen Fenway. I’m looking forward to be making my first trip to PC and seeing the game in person, and they better not disappoint. This game offers a great tune up for Saturday’s tilt, and hopefully UMass can gain some momentum going into Fenway.
And then there’s the biggie. The granddaddy of them all (sorry Rose Bowl)…Frozen Fenway. After a two-year hiatus, college hockey is back at the cathedral of Boston, starting with your UMass Minutemen vs. Vermont at 4pm followed by UNH (sucks) vs. Maine at 7pm. The games will also be televised on NESN as part of their “hockey is really fucking awesome day in New England”. What an amazing experience this will be for all fans (yes even UNH) involved, especially those making their first ever trip to Fenway, including yours truly. The logo and signs for these games should read “Frozen” Fenway. Thanks to global warming, this ass backwards winter season will continue through the weekend. The flask in my back pocket will be cooler than the temperature for the game. The forecast for Saturday calls for a high of 48 degrees with sun and 10% chance of rain. So the fans will be drunk AND comfortable. The ice…meh at best. If you thought you’ve seen shitty ice at the Mullins, we’re all in for a treat this weekend. Expect slow, sloppy play, forcing teams to go to a “back to basics” game plan. Short, crisp passes will be key, and UMass’s speed will be hampered by the conditions. There’s nothing we can do about the weather, however, it is what it is and both teams will have to deal with it. At least it’s not supposed to rain (knocks wood). Both goaltenders will have to adjust to the changing light and the unique sightlines Fenway presents. Which leads to the question of who will occupy the net for UMass. It’s been a guessing game all season, but I see Teglia (0-4-1, 3.30 GAA, .891 save%) getting the start Thursday and Boyle (5-3-3, 2.99 GAA, .898 save%) in net at Fenway, although it’s definitely possible for Boyle (who’s emerging as our #1 goalie) to pick up both starts. As for Vermont (4-13-1)(1-9-1 HEA), they’re awful. Like a “only have 3 points in Hockey East and are in 10th place” level of shitty. Despite this, UMass dropped a 2-1 decision up in Burlington last November, getting only 19 shots on goal and giving Vermont their first and only win in Hockey East so far. The leading scorer for the Catamounts is Sebastian Stalberg (7G/12A) and their backstop is Rob Madore (3-10-1, 3.96 GAA .865 save%). So yeah, it’s a game the Minutemen can easily win, yet as they’ve proven with bottom tier Hockey East teams in the past, can also inexplicably lose.
The Minutemen’s keys to victory need to be simple for Fenway. Their penalty kill is third worst in the nation, so it is crucial they stay out of the box. Weather conditions will play a factor, so smart hockey and a full 60 minute effort should put UMass in a good spot when the clock hits :00. This is going to be an unreal experience, so take it all in and enjoy this awesome privilege we’ve been given. On this day, UMass can have nice things, and hopefully they can deliver a win to cap off a great day of hockey.
So there you have it. I’ll try to write something after Thursday’s action on the ice (as well as basketball’s A-10 opener against Fordham), but if not, you probably won’t be hearing from us until Saturday. See you all at Fenway!
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?)
Welcome to the second installment of my new weekly feature, “Max Outsources The Labor of Writing of His Blog to his Readers.” In today’s episode, Jarod gives his own account of the student section experience from the Bentley game, which I thought was a solid crowd but nothing compared to what it’ll look like Friday. There’s also some actual hockey talk sprinkled in there, along with a few of my own italicized thoughts. Give it a read and start getting amped for a weekend with
Scoops Mazurik’s Jack Parker’s Terriers.
Off the Glass – by Jarod Hendrickson
It’s a privilege to now be a contributor to a blog I’ve read religiously since freshmen year. My main focus is hockey, as football is in CAA purgatory for a year while we undergo the transition to D1, and I will refuse to acknowledge the clusterfuck that is UMass basketball. [Editor’s note: But…but…there’s no more dribble drive!!!1 – Max] I’ll try and keep this column updated on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, while dealing with the “sack up and raise your GPA this year” period, which is also referred to as junior year in college. Anywho, down to my recap of the first four games and some thoughts (rants).
Well so much for that eh? Just when this team offers you a small glimmer of hope, they quickly piss it away less than 24 hours later. Maybe this is just a drunk, knee jerk reaction, but seriously. I’ve always been a glass half full of whiskey kind of guy, and Friday’s home opener, “good enough for 2 points and a W” performance was enough to offer me hope that this team was headed in the right direction. Sure freshmen backstop Kevin Boyle let in a couple of questionable goals, but keep in mind he’s a freshmen and would hopefully learn the ropes sooner than later. On Saturday however, he took a step back from that development, and was chased from the game in favor of sophomore Jeff Teglia after giving up 5 bad goals. Why it took Toot so long to pull him nobody knows, the kid obviously didn’t have it from the opening drop. UMass then gave us the usual “valiant effort but still falling short in the end” comeback that we’ve become accustomed to, and dropped 2 points to (lowly?) Providence in the empty cavern that is Schneider Arena. [Also dark. It’s very dark. – MB] In two games against Northeastern and Providence, UMass has only come away with 1 point. Honestly, that sucks. We really needed those points against two lower tier Hockey East teams. The following weekend, UMass dropped a 4-2 loss to #1 BC. Teglia got the start, and stood on his head and played extremely well, despite the score (which could have easily been 34-2). UMass now sits at (1-2-1), good for 7th in Hockey East.
Friday’s home opener vs. the high flying Falcons of Bentley has been well recapped and is old news, so I’ll point out what I saw from the student section from halfway up section R (due to a sober driver who missed the exit on rt. 116, thanks bro). Fans were loud and supportive, but some of the chants died off way too early. Remember kids, we do the whole “fuck ‘em up fuck ‘em” routine again after the faceoff after a goal. I’m kind of glad we got stuck up a ways in the seats, as everyone soon followed along after they saw our group chanting again. No worries, the new faces in the stands will learn soon enough. During intermissions (which I’m pretty sure are primarily for cigarettes and Yukon Jack outside while avoiding eye contact with security) some people left early and others were still showing up. The thing that really got me were the loud cheers after a Bentley goal. Cheers for Bentley? No. Cheers for some douchebag in a Hawaiian shirt who couldn’t hold his alcohol and was slumped in his seat for half the game, then finally dragged out by his friend? Yes. Pathetic. Fuck him and watch the game. We’ve all had those nights, but there are much better things to focus on than the lightweight. Overall, I’ll give the student section a B- for the night, because I’m nice and it was Bentley after all.
Back to the road ahead…a home and home with #12 Boston University this weekend. This Friday should easily be a sell out. A big name like BU coming to town, a NESN telecast, Halloween weekend, no excuses. The campus is buzzing over the upcoming weekend, and what better way to start it than with everyone’s beloved UMass hockey. So get there early (doors open at 5:30), be loud, and stay for the whole game. You’ve got all night for Halloween weekend shenanigans, what’s a couple of hours? [No, but seriously kids…get there early. Even if the game doesn’t sell out, there’s only so much room in the student section, and at some point they cut that off and make students buy general admission tix. Even if your friends are saving your seats, don’t expect to get in if you stroll up to the Bill after 6:30 or so. – Max]
Grabbing two points this weekend would be out-fucking-standing. Hopefully they can look back at this start of the season and call it a “character building experience” and say these first four games proved to be a shot of reality that shoved them in the direction that we’d like to call progress and success. You can see the potential is there. It’s no doubt they could hang with the top teams in Hockey East. The offense (primarily the first line) is lighting it up, defense is solid, the question now is between the pipes, something we’re not used to saying. This team is on the cusp of something, and they are starting to gel right before our eyes. But we can only use this excuse for so long before they have to take the ice night in and night out and get the wins. There are no moral victories anymore. Last year was rebuilding, this year needs to translate into a higher seed in the hockey east tournament and maybe a key upset and advancement into the second round. But we’re not there yet, no not even close. It’s only October..much more hockey to be played, and the toughest stretch of the season coming up. This team needs a couple of good; solid wins under their belt. With the confidence from said wins, who knows what can happen. What better place to start than against BU? Oh and is it Friday yet?
Alright kids, there you have it. I will stress one more time for those newbies out there: get there early. BU and BC games are always near-sellouts, and like I said, the student section has a maximum capacity that normally gets reached before the ticketed seats go, and likewise, the cheaper general admission seats go before the assigned (and more expensive) seats do. UMass has been playing Providence for Halloween weekend for several years now, so to be playing a much better draw of an opponent means expect chaos. Oh, and enjoy – Halloween (with the costumes and such) is one of my favorite times of year in Amherst. I’m excited to get to return after spending the holiday in Orlando last year. See you all at the Bill.
Hey guys, hey. The home opener is mere days away and this week we’ve noticed a bump in views and such. We welcome you aboard and I promise to find the time tomorrow to roll out a full year 3 introduction to the site for those of you who are joining us for the first time, and I guess for the rest of you to get reacquainted.
In the meantime, I’ve been harping on and on and on about how much I want to get you, the readers, involved in the site this year, in whatever capacity seems appropriate. If you want to contribute to the site, you shoot me a message on Facebook or Twitter or whatever and, if I smell what you’re stepping in, you just may have yourself your 15 minutes of non-fame.
To that end, I present a piece by one of our supporters, Jarod Hendrickson, who wrote my student section article before I did, and made a lot of interesting points. Bear in mind this was written after the end of last season, since my hardcore procrastination on writing that article extended to me posting other peoples’ articles on the same subject as well. (Or, just maybe, I didn’t want to get shown up by some upstart kid before I got around to my own piece. And by then it was, well, summer.) Anywho, in the glass half full category, this article is pretty timely given that the home opener is coming up and I am committed to making sure this year’s freshman class gets off on the right foot. Take it away, Jarod:
“I Can’t Complain if I Don’t Know How”
by Jarod Hendrickson ’13
Unfortunately I missed the glory days of hockey’s 2007 NCAA tourney run and two home playoff games at the Mullins, and how great the student section must have been that season. I can only base this article on what I’ve seen over the end of one era (the Jimmy and Casey reign and abrupt mail in of 09-10), and the rebuilding but entertaining and still equally heartbreaking 10-11 campaign. So here are some observations from a current sophomore [Ed: junior as of now], completely dedicated to this team, only to find out that a majority of his fellow “fans” aren’t even aware where they are during the game, let alone go to them.
When I arrived in Amherst the fall of 2009, I was already familiar with the student section. YouTube helped point me in the right direction, so unfortunately I was probably already ahead of most freshmen. The drunken haze of the 9-2 start to the season was great. The Bill was rocking every home game for our nationally ranked team, and chants were loud and coordinated. For the first half of the season, everything went fine, and even with the Cahoon Swoon in full effect during the second half, fan turnout was still good. As we fell flat on our face to conclude the 09-10 season (hell, at least we made it dramatic), I was cautiously optimistic of what the future of UMass hockey had in store for me and our fans. However what I saw this year out of our fans has led me to worry about the state of our student section.
To say we got off to a slow start to this season would be an understatement, earning our first win in a late November tilt against Vermont. The home opener against BU (that first goal still gives me chills) gave me hope fans would still show up, but that wasn’t the case. Obviously attendance was affected by the poor record, but should that really matter if we’re truly fans? Night after night we were competitive (with the exception of the Army game..no comment). People look at the record and immediately dismiss this team, but there is a future here (I promise!). Facebook helped spread the word of upcoming games, as did the slips of papers on tables at DC’s that people hopefully looked at. Home attendance was still good for the free t-shirt games (except senior night..embarrassing). Fans still missed out on the games that really mattered, such as the 2/12 Providence game, where our season was on the line (we didn’t lose that one btw). And at games where student turnout was good, the majority of them left early. I mean thanks for showing up for the start I guess. But it’s hard to consider such individuals “fans”, who show up shitfaced (nothing wrong there), know nothing about hockey, get their free shirt, and then leave after the first period. It was frustrating to see this happen on a regular basis, I know we’re better than that.
What’s the hurry to leave anyways? You’re just gonna end up back in your dorm at 8:30, where you will probably end up staying the remainder of the night blacking out. DU isn’t open, and Phillips and Sunset are on lockdown by the cops. Or maybe you will stagger to a party that will be busted within the first 10 minutes of your arrival. So why not make yourself useful and stay at the game for another hour and support your team? Oh we’re down by 3 goals? Well tough shit. This is college hockey, and that deficit can become a tied game in a matter of minutes, as was the case this season (but you wouldn’t know, would you, because you left every game early this year). Seriously, it happens with football and basketball..(please..rolls eyes) too, and I’m guilty as charged with leaving those games early sometimes. But let’s just stick to the team that matters, the Mass Attack. You (that’s right, YOU and all your fucking friends who know nothing about hockey) need to stay. Maybe you’ll learn something. Students need to make an attempt to learn the basics of hockey and our traditions that make the Mullins Center special. (BTW it’s “Fuck ‘em up, Fuck ‘em up, Go UMass” when we score, not “Fuck Fuck Fuck Go UMass” and obvious penalties against us don’t warrant a “Bullshit!” chant) [Editor’s note: More about that in the freshman primer that I will try to get done by Friday. – MB] For christ sake it’s only a few simple chants, nothing too hard to grasp.
So where do we go from here? Maybe it was just a down year in terms of fans and things will pick up again next year. Or it could continue to deteriorate even further. As other Fight Mass writers have suggested, there needs to be some organization and leadership to the student section, other than “that one drunk asshole everyone can hear” [Editor’s note: hey bud, Matt resembles that remark :P]. And how this changes remains to be seen. We have something special here at UMass, whether we realize it or not. I will feel personally responsible if our student section suddenly went to hell and closely resembled a line waiting to get into a frat. It’s up to us current students (with maybe some guidance from alumni) to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Not bad kid. Not bad at all. And, casual fans, if I may say something… if he and I and the rest of us are being a tad harsh at times, remember, we do this out of love. We love the team. We love this school. And hell, we have a funny way of showing it, but we love you. Even while we hate you. Don’t think about it. Just show up, this Friday and every home game after that. I cannot stress enough how much the future direction of our athletics program is in more than just the players’ and the administration’s hands.