“Frisky” would be the word I would best use to describe our beloved UMass Minutemen hockey team after the first two games of the season.
Yes, it’s true that the Minutemen surrendered a natural hat trick in the second game, and failed to capitalize on a five-minute major early in the first game. Yeah, Pauly D’s injury (and the prospect of a clearly unready Jeff Teglia in net for an extended period of time) has us sweating just a bit. And yes, it’s true that the quote-unquote “experts” on the cold intellectual abyss known as the USCHO forums are talking a hell of a lot more about how poorly Minnesota played than about how well UMass played.
Well if that’s how the respect gets doled out in the online college hockey discussion, then UMass has to feel positively Dangerfieldian at this point. These were two gutsy, gutsy hockey games played in an intimidating arena, although thanks to the Twinkies’ poor excuse for a playoff run (and sorry, Craig Finn, but after that, I’m gonna call them Twinkies), Mariucci Arena wasn’t its usual sold-out self. Just the same, this is the #15 team in the country we’re talking about, loaded with NHL talent and confidence, and UMass could have easily taken both games. Pauly D stood on his head at times in the first game (if Hennessey’s call is to be believed – I didn’t have the video feed), true, but both Minnesota goalkeepers had spectacular moments of their own.
Let’s face it, the success of this team is going to be measured against expectations. Two narrow losses to Minnesota last year would be seen as a heartbreaking opportunity lost to enhance UMass’s possible tournament resume, a la the Quinnipiac game. This year? Nobody is crazy enough to expect a team this young and inexperienced to push for an at-large bid (are you? You’re crazy), so these non-conference games are really being played with house money. Any real chance these guys have for surprising, meaningful success lies in their ability to improve and gel throughout the season, to where they’re that hot team nobody wants to see in the Hockey East tourney. BC, Maine, and UNH are just too talented this year for “sneaking into the last home ice slot” not to be UMass’s ceiling. That would make for a very intriguing March, and given the way this team played this weekend, even with all the injuries and first-game jitters, I actually believe it can be done.
Realistically, though? I’ll be happy to watch this team play, win or lose, if they play with the level of intensity and heart that they brought to Minnesota. Teams like that stick around in games right down to the wire, even if they lack the experience to put them away. More importantly, teams like that are fun to watch. I, for once, am looking forward to seeing guys like Power and Gracel and Raiola and Pereira and Shea play after this weekend. They might lose some games, sure, but if these first two games are any indication, this isn’t the horrible team everyone expected to see with all the defections. This is a legitimate rebuilding project that now appears poised for serious progress. We’ll see how long our optimism lasts.
It is what it is: a rebuilding year. Temper your expectations and cherish the opportunity to see a team with loads of young talent gel before your eyes.
…and also the blog. Or at least, it will be. You’ve noticed the new tabs at the top perhaps; the new Writers section is under construction and About has been separated into Encyclopedia UMass-ica, which will hopefully have some actual content by the end of the week. I mean, we do have lives outside of this website, kinda.
Also forthcoming, a new logo and a new layout which will theoretically be more UMass-themed (read: maroon and white) and more space-efficient (read: columns will be on both sides instead of just the left). All of these fancy new things, whenever I feel like getting around to it. Look forward to it, damnit!
Also, we’ve continued having 100-plus views every day since the BC event page was posted last week. We really appreciate your patronage and we hope you guys continue to check in daily and SPREAD THE WORD. You can also follow us on Twitter: Fight_Mass. I swear we’re gonna get around to putting up flyers before hockey season ends…I think.
So, uhh, is it Friday yet?
Self-explanatory I think. As the picture says, the credit for the original photo goes to Brian Long. It’s taken from the BC game this year (and let us never point to that fact again) and the writers of this blog all in it, somewhere. Lemme know whatcha think.
Since this post is technically coming on Monday, that means UMass vs. Union is TOMORROW. Now that the groundwork for the blog has been laid (and, apparently, the feathers of “disrespect” already ruffled), I must say, it’ll be fun to actually have some hockey to talk about and overreact to for a change. Wednesday will be double the fun, with hockey (knock on wood!) in the UConn Classic finals and basketball visiting Stephen Curry’s old team in Davidson.
As always, go UMass!
…welcome to Fight Mass. A UMass hockey blog by and for UMass students and alumni.
My inspiration for this blog comes from a few of the established ones I’ve been reading throughout the ‘o9-’10 season, namely Fear the Triangle and Tri-Corner Blog, as well as The Ice is Life, which is admittedly a very witty and well-written Lowell blog LOL JK it’s a bunch of monkeys with typewriters trying to recreate a Curious George book and failing. And while those are all excellent in their own right, I hope we can blaze our own path with this one, focusing more on the student fan perspective to go along with analysis as this exciting season progresses.
We’re at about the halfway point of the year now, with the boys getting set to take on Union at the end of the month in the UConn holiday tournament. This break means that there won’t be much new to discuss, so I intend to use this time to recap the season’s happening thus far and to look at the big picture in Hockey East. I’ll be attending the UMass basketball game against Memphis in Boston on Saturday and I’ll be sure to write about that as well – this blog’s not just for hockey, although that is the main focus.
Right now it’s just me, but I hope to get others involved ASAP. Let me know if you’re interested in contributing to the blog. In the meantime, I’ve written up a long About section and I hope you check it out; it’s a lot of my personal background and what got me into UMass hockey, as well as other stuff about this blog and the team.