Well, with Plymouth just down the road from where I’m writing, it seems fitting to take the time to give thanks.
I am thankful for the power play. With last night’s 3 for 6 effort on the extra man advantage UMass is now converting at an mind-boggling rate of 29.1%, 3rd best in the country. Last season the team finished the year with a power play of 16.1%. What’s the difference? I think it is simply the fact that you have a group of players that see the ice well, make smart passes, and most importantly seem to mesh very well with the other guys on the ice. There have been some major line shuffling due to injury and such and yet the guys don’t seem to be missing a beat and are able to find each other on the ice. Last season I don’t think that was the case.
I’m thankful for the penalty kill. Not only is UMass killing 84% of the penalties, but they are doing a great job of staying out of the box in general.
I’m thankful for the young defensemen. Some very talented blueliners graduated last year and to be successful this season it was going to take some improved play from guys like Matt Irwin, Doug Kublin, and Mike Marcou plus some quality minutes from Darren Rowe and Mike Donnellan. Well, the team has gotten exactly what it needed from all of them. Irwin was already emerging as a top defensemen by the end of last year but Kublin has been very steady on D while Mike Marcou has been the same and has added a little offense to go with it. Donnellan and Rowe have played with poise and limited their mistakes despite platooning for that last defensive spot.
I’m thankful for the schedule. Starting the season with a bunch of games in the Mullins Center allowed the team to gel and the freshmen to get comfortable. Now with two wins in a row on the road over ranked teams, that development time in the comfort of the Bill is paying off. However it doesn’t get any easier as there are some even more challenging road games on the horizon starting this Saturday at #9 Quinnipiac.
I’m thankful for Casey Wellman. Casey is doing it all. 9 goals in 11 games. That puts him at 5th in the country in goals per game and only two behind his entire total from last year. He also has 9 asissts in that same time and has become the goto man for key faceoffs. And he’s only a sophomore.
I’m thankful for James Marcou. With 21 points he’s tied for the lead in the nation and tops for points per game. With his 5 assists last night he now has 100 points for his career, good for 7th all time at UMass (passing Pond Club President Mike Merchant). With only 4 more he’ll be in 3rd place. I always figured Pat Keenan’s 180 points was out of reach. If Marcou comes back next year, it may not be.
I’m thankful for solid goaltending. With the unexpected scoring explosion so far this season it’s probably easy to overlook the good job both Paul Dainton and Dan Meyers have done to date. Well so far UMass has the 3rd best scoring defense in the conference overall and the best in league games.
I’m thankful that I’ve been able to get to most of the games. Thanks to a favorable work schedule and only two games beyond reasonable driving distance; Niagara and Vermont. And for those couple games I couldn’t make I’m thankful for John Hennessey and Brock Hines for bringing the game to me.
I’m thankful for the team’s determination. Multiple times they gone down by a goal or two, played well and still been losing, been pushed to the brink, but they haven’t given up yet. They’ve scratched and clawed, scored dramatic game tying goals with only seconds left and then put away game winners in overtime. They find a way to win and as one FTT reader said, that’s what good teams do.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Casey Wellman
When you score three goals in less than ten minutes, add and assist, and win 65% of your faceoffs, you’re pretty much a shoo-in for this award. Obviously under other circumstances it would’ve gone to the guy with five assists instead.
The athletic department’s official writeup notes that Marcou’s five assists were the most by a UMass player since 1957.
Here’s the recap from the Collegian.
The Burlington Free Press warns teams to beware Marcou, Wellman, and the UMass power play.
There was a surprising result from the Coffin last night as the Friars beat #3 Lowell 4-2. BU was able to squeak by Harvard in overtime. A game of interest being played tonight will be Princeton travelling to Connecticut to take on Saturday’s opponent, Quinnipiac.
John Parker’s recent performance is mentioned in the weekly USHL recap. Also noted in the recap is the first goal of the season for Eddie Olczyk’s brother, Tommy.
Peter DeAngelo had a nice goal described in this story from a Monarch’s game. Makes me wish I had gone to the game as I had originally hoped to, but I didn’t want to chance missing any of the Patriots game.