Tagged: those last two Maine games

Doesn’t it always come down to this?

Walsh has some more pressing things to deal with at the moment, so it’s me, Max, to the rescue with your weekend preview of the Maine series. So without further ado, here are the keys to #WINNING.

1) The playoff scenario is pretty clear. UMass, Vermont, and Providence – three teams, two playoff slots. UVM gets Lowell for two. Providence gets Merrimack for two. The most likely scenario is UVM wins two and clinches 7th place, and Providence loses both and would finish out of the playoffs. UMass just needs to win one of these two games and it would take a miracle sweep for the Friars to knock out UMass. But a win tonight and a Providence loss would clinch that playoff spot and take all the pressure off of senior night. Let’s try to do that one.

2) Maine hasn’t won a game in Amherst since October 2005. I was still a BU fan back then – that’s how frickin’ long it’s been. Meanwhile, let’s look at some fun shit.

Note: Fucking Hockey East Online. I can never get this stuff to format properly, and if you think I’m not too lazy to retype it all, you obviously don’t know me very well.

Fri
03/02/07
vs. MAINE *
W 3-1
Box
Recap
Sat
03/03/07
vs. MAINE *
W 5-3
Box
Recap
Fri
03/09/07
vs. MAINE

Hockey East Quarterfinals
W 3-2
Box
Recap
Sat
03/10/07
vs. MAINE
Hockey East Quarterfinals
W 5-2
Box
Recap

And then…

Fri
02/20/09
vs. MAINE hea
W 4-3 OT
Sat
02/21/09
vs. MAINE hea
W 4-3

And oh yeah, even though it wasn’t in Amherst…

Fri
03/05/10
at Maine hea
W 5-2
Sat
03/06/10
at Maine hea
TV-WABI
W 4-3

So, seriously, guys. It’s tradition. Don’t fuck this up.

3) A glance at Maine’s top three scorers: Gustav Nyquist (16-26-42), Spencer Abbott (15-20-35), Brian Flynn (18-14-32). They’re all juniors. Needless to say, if Gus returns for his senior year (he’s Red Wings property), combined with UNH losing its formidable senior class and Merrimack’s inevitable return to Earth with Cannata graduating and the Flyers hovering around Da Costa like vultures, Maine will be likely to give BC a run for its money next year.

But that’s next year. This year, even with all that talent, they enter the weekend out of a home ice slot in Hockey East, although they walloped Merrimack last weekend. And we all know how important home ice can be in the playoffs. Hopefully, the pressure gets to them like it did a year ago, and that was on their own home ice!

4) Dan Sullivan is fucking ridiculous. Like, almost Tim Thomas-in-Boston-this-year ridiculous. Well, okay, not rally. But a 2.28 GAA. A 90.3 save percentage – not the greatest ever, but pretty damn good for a freshman. But, uhh, fuck it. Break him. His mom’s name is Doris, by the way. (And just for good measure, in case we see another goalie, Shawn Sirman’s mom’s name is Heather. Martin Ouellette’s mom’s name is…uhhh…France Gagnon? What the fuck kind of name is that? You can’t even chant that. Never mind. Call him Frenchie or Marty McFly or something, I don’t even know.)

4a) BTW, “Wilson” chants are, and always will be, still relevant somehow.

4b) Oh, and “She-Man” chants for Adam “I like to fake getting seriously injured so my team can be justified in headhunting Casey Wellman, then play the very next night because it was all an act, and also my name sounds girly” Shemansky. He’s #26. And he sucks.

5) We are all rooting for UNH this weekend, and not just because I’d root for the Yankees, Canadiens, Jets, and Lakers if they were all playing BC. But really, the tiebreaker scenarios only involve that series in one unlikely situation: the bottom 3 all winding up tied with 17 points if UMass and Maine tie both games. Then, the three-way tiebreakers (I believe) come down to the teams’ record against the conference champion, and so the difference between 7th place and 9th place (thus sharing the basement with Lowell)  will be whether UNH or BC finishes atop the conference. TL;DR: UNH-BC probably means nothing, but the only way it helps us is if UNH wins.

6) It’s for the seniors. Saunders, Keane, Langeraap, Kubbie, Concannon, Lecomte, and of course Dainton. It’s certainly not the greatest senior class we’ve ever had (although it might have been if certain people had stayed) but it is one of the most likable and hard-working. They deserve one last gasp against BC or UNH next weekend, both of whom UMass has shown they can hang around with this year. It’s the playoffs. Anything can happen.

6a) Oh, that goes for the senior fans, too. Matt and Derek and Ben in particular, and also everyone else who has spent the last four years making the trek to the Bill to cheer on this team. This senior class has had a rough go of it hockey-wise, and, while likely, it would suck if they went their whole four years without seeing a Garden run. It was bad enough for my class, getting that taste freshman year and never seeing it again. This freshman class has a bright future, no matter how much this year has sucked, and a surprise run right now would be a great springboard going forward. They’ve been so damn close to breaking through for four straight games. Which ties in to my final key:

7) Winning. Duh.

-Max

P.S. There are also temporary plans to join Triangle in gracing Garber Field with our presence as our 9th-ranked(!) lax team takes on Brown, which is the color of poo. But we make no promises.

Still Fighting It

Well, as usual, it’s gonna come down to Maine. Would we have it any other way?

Once again, in last night’s 2-1 heartbreaker at Conte Forum, UMass came frustratingly close to stealing a game and all-but locking up a playoff spot. The Mass Attack, who in the course of one weekend lost to these two teams by a combined 16-2 score for some reason only played each team twice this year, finished their two weeks of hell against two top-5 teams by losing all four games by a single goal. For the third straight game, they trailed 2-0, then rallied but fell short in the end. And for seemingly the billionth year in a row, the season-ending pair of games against Maine will determine this team’s playoff fate.

Ironically, unlike last year, the Minutemen don’t need to sweep the two games to make the playoffs, although that would be lovely. UMass leads Providence by two games for the final playoff spot, and the Friars have a home-and-home with Merrimack coming up. And let’s face it, if you can’t beat Lowell when your playoff life is on the line, the Warriors aren’t who you want to see. Of course, UMass gets the Black Bears, who still have an outside shot at home ice if they sweep and Merrimack somehow gets swept. But the team with the most to play for next weekend is the Minutemen, because the embarrassment of being one of those two teams out of the playoffs is there for the taking.

After four straight heartbreakers in a rebuilding year, it’s natural to look at the games in the context of “what to build off of for next year.” There’s some optimism for next year, and of course there’s also some concern. The young defensemen – Phillips, Allen and Hanley in particular – have really been stepping up of late, the former on offense and the later two as defensive stalwarts who have stopped making nearly as many “freshman mistakes.” Syner and Hobbs are setting themselves up as the clear senior leaders offensively for next year’s squad. Even guys like Kiley and Power, not exactly major contributors this year, have shown some energy out there. On the other hand, we lose Kublin (!!!) and, of course, the main reason we’ve been in these games lately, Paul Dainton, whose ascent to the team saves record was accelerated by the massive shot totals he faced these past two weekends. Sure, he’s had his low points this year, and there’s plenty of young talent between Teglia and Boyle coming in, but losing a four-year starter at goal is an adjustment no matter how you spin it. It’s also a bit concerning that Mike Pereira’s production has tailed off so harshly, and we’re hopeful that he’s just hitting the rookie wall and not prematurely hitting a sophomore slump. We’ll obviously be analyzing the team’s prospects for next year at season’s end, but these are just a few of the storylines to watch.

No matter how painful these games are – especially for the seniors, both in the stands and on the team – just keep in mind that this team was picked by experts to finish 9th for a reason. They’re young as hell and they lost a key group of juniors and seniors, some unexpectedly, to the pros. They also just seem unlucky this year, ending up on the wrong end of some really closely fought games and not getting the bounces a young team needs to be successful. That said, a trip to Durham or back to Not-Boston to take on the Wildcats or Eagles, and hopefully continuing to compete as they have the past week weeks, would be an even bigger building block for the youngsters, and a point of pride for the seniors.

And while they could bank on backing into that 8th spot via Merrimack sweeping Providence, we DID see Lowell take 3 points this weekend. Let’s not leave anything to chance.

Beat Maine. Hell, sweep the two games. After all, it’s freaking tradition.

-Max