#2 Boston College Eagles 22-7-1 (16-6-1) Hockey East T-2nd
Massachusetts Minutemen 6-18-5 (5-13-5) Hockey East T-7th
Boston College is the #2 team in the country, defending national champions, Beanpot winners, and one of the most dominant programs in college hockey today. UMass has just 6 wins on the season, is most definitely in a rebuilding year, and has only been able to beat teams below them in the Hockey East standings this year. Looking at all that this weekend’s games are already decided right? Well, it might not be that simple. BC is coming off a weekend that saw them lose to and tie a team that was playing without their head coach. They’ve given up a total of 15 goals in their last 3 games, well above their average. And they were just knocked off their perch atop the national rankings. Meanwhile UMass had a Merrimack team, which took the season series from BC, on the ropes on Friday only to let a win slip through their fingers. They bounced back on Saturday with a superb defensive effort that allowed them to remain in the game until the end with a chance to tie or win even though it was played in one of their personal house of horrors.
Now all that’s not to say I’m making any bold predictions for this weekend, but perhaps there is an opportunity for the Minutemen here. Despite their overall record UMass has been close but no cigar with some top notch teams all season; such as Boston University, UNH, Minnesota, Merrimack. Perhaps a good showing, demonstrating their ability to go toe to toe with the talented Eagles, will be enough to at least give them momentum going into the final weekend against Maine. Momentum and, probably more importantly, confidence is something they could use as there’s a legitimate chance they’ll be playing the Black Bears next weekend with a chance at the playoffs on the line. This weekend’s series against BC might be where they can get the ball rolling into the playoffs, even if it doesn’t necessarily hinge on taking points from the talented Eagles.
UMass did show already that they can withstand the offensive onslaught of BC, for two periods at least, back when they met at the beginning of the month. Paul Dainton and those in front of him stood tall and kept the Eagles to a single goal for the first 38 minutes before an avalanche of scoring in the third drastically changed what had been a respectable showing. The BC forwards were buzzing throughout , putting 30 shots on net in the first two periods, but Dainton played some of his best hockey of the year and the team as a whole did what they had to in order to limit BC to far angles and keep them off the rebounds. Those first two periods were some of the best us UMass fans have witnessed in this trying season.
I could talk a lot about the Xs and Os in that game, or at least I could try to. It was a physical game. UMass, predictably struggled on the power play (though Adam Phillips was a ring off the crossbar away from a PPG), probably took too many penalties, and couldn’t keep consistent pressure on Muse. Could all those things happen again. Sure. But Friday could be different in the friendly confines of the Mullins Center and the prior X’s and O’s might not matter.. With a good crowd, a sense of history in the air as Dainton tries to break Brian Regan’s save record, and a “not in my house” mentality the game and perhaps the results could be very different. The team is due for a full on 60 minute game with good execution and better focus.
Does that happen tomorrow, I don’t know. But one of these days they have to realize their potential. A good effort, a good crowd behind them, who knows what this team is capable of. We know that they’re close to beating good teams. But can they beat one of the elite? Friday gives them a good chance. And at the very least, the weekend is a good tune up for a couple must win games against Maine next weekend which could be the make or break for this long, trying season.
Beer The Triangle
Like UMass I’m due. No, overdue. For a trip to Sunset Grill. I didn’t make UMass’ lone trip to Agganis ,this year which means I didn’t even get to visit Mini-Sunset (aka Sunset Cantina) this year. Luckily I have in my possession gift certificates to both Sunset and their upstairs game room, Big City, because those closest to me know how to really spoil me. So a pregame there and then jumping on the green line for the trip to Conte seems to be in order. I won’t recommend anything specifically because there are too many to recommend. But since I’m playing with house money, I may get a DFH World Wide Stout or an Ommegang Cup O Kyndness or a Clown Shoes Double Brown. Wait, $6 Golden Monkey? Damn, I just hope I can make it to the game. Screw it, just hand me a Dogfish Olde School Barleywine.
Congrats to recruit Kevin Boyle for making the BCHL All-Rookie team. Boyle came into Westside (thousands of miles from his home in New Jersey mind you) and as the starting goaltender helped lead them to a 4 seed in the playoffs which start tomorow.