Obviously every weekend you’re hoping for a win or at least a tie to get some points, especially with UMass’ playoff chances in jeopardy. But aside from that, as I wrote in my preview, I really wanted to see UMass play well and show they can compete with a team as good as Boston College. And I think they did so. I thought they had good effort throughout, they played relatively mistake free, and got some good play from a lot of different guys who contributed in their own way.
The problem is while they played relatively mistake free BC is better at converting a mistake into a goal better than anyone. And that’s what happened on the 3rd and 4th goals. With UMass out of position BC was able to use their speed that led to a two on one which they put home. On the 4th goal Branden Gracel turned the puck over behind his net and a fraction of a second later it was in the back of the net. The Eagles are just waiting to jump on every little miscue because that’s what really good teams do. Still, overall I thought UMass limited the turnovers and other mistakes. You can make the point that they took too many penalties again, which led to two BC power play goals, but personally I thought the officiating was pretty poor last night (shocking) so I’m going to refrain from making the case that UMass played undisciplined last night. I thought a lot of calls the refs got wrong or shouldn’t have been called at all. But that’s hockey.
One huge positive from last night was the power play which went 2 for 5. It’s their third straight game with at least one power play goal. They only generated three shots, but that’s misleading as both the power play goals were scored on the first shot of the extra man advantage. Looking at the the power play goals, what is impressive is that the first came from long out when Joel Hanley scored his with a couple second remaining in the second. The second power play goal came when Hanley shot again and Danny Hobbs was sitting right in front to put home the rebound. It was nice to see them convert both inside and out with the extra man.
There were some great individual efforts last night. Conor Allen had one of his better games in quite a while, playing solid defense but also being really active on offense. He actually ended with the most shots on net on the team with four and of course started the scoring for the Minutemen. Rocco Carzo still has been unable to find the scoring touch he showed last year, but last night he was a wrecking ball out there, throwing some of the best hits of the night and allowing UMass to match the physical play of some of BC’s bigger players. Doug Kublin had a good game defensively and made some key plays, but frankly that surprises no one. As a team I thought UMass was active in getting in the passing lanes and also did a good job of blocking shots.
There were some areas to work on after night. Most glaring could be faceoffs, which were won by BC 41 to 25. In a game against a great defense where shots and offensive possession could be hard to come by it’s absolutely critical to do better in the faceoff circle, especially in the offensive zone. I also thought there were a couple times where the team HAD to get a shot off and didn’t because they hesitated or were actually too unselfish. Shots are sometimes pretty tough to come by for this team, so it hurts to see them pass up chances to get the puck on net. With the team improving on getting people in front and putting rebounds home, they simply have to shoot when the opportunity is there, even if it may not be the perfect shot.
So I hoped for a good effort and for the team to compete hard enough where they had a shot at taking some points. They did that. Sure, there are no moral victories, especially when points are so critical right now, but it was good to see. Three straight one goal losses to teams in the top 5 in the country isn’t too bad and hopefully is instilling in them that with the proper effort they can play with these talented teams. Hopefully they can continue that tonight and maybe even steal a point or two at BC.
The other story from last night’s game was Paul Dainton passing Brian Regan on the all-time saves list. It was a little challenging to track in the crowd since the video scoreboards were having problems all night (something Coach Cahoon was pissed about since they were unable to track penalties). But thanks to a couple online box score sites and smartphones a lot of the fans were able to know when Paul tied and then broke the record. This is a huge accomplishment. Brian Regan was a great goaltender who unfortunately played during tough times for the UMass program. The legacy he left at UMass was one of having to put up spectacular performances night in and night out just for UMass to have a chance in the game. He did that and subsequently saw a lot of high shot total games. Dainton hasn’t necessarily had to stand on his head night in and night out like Regan did, which in some ways makes breaking this record even more impressive. What has led Dainton to this record is exactly what his legacy will be when his career ends in a week or two. Dependability, longevity, and skill. Without those three things he doesn’t break the record and more importantly UMass is likely a lot worse off over the last four years. All you really want from a goaltender is for him to allow you to stay in the game and have a chance at a win, night in and night out. Four years and 3,062 saves later, Dainton has done exactly that.
It should be noted that Dainton also became the all time leader in minutes played, passing Gabe Winer.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Joel Hanley
Hanley’s aggressiveness on offense helped UMass get back into last night’s game. His goal with just under 3 seconds left in the second was a momentum changer and set up an exciting third period which also saw him assist on Hobbs’ goal. When watching the highlights of last night I couldn’t help but notice he pointed up to the sky after he scored, perhaps as a tribute to his brother who he lost at the beginning of the semester. It’s a remind that it’s been a very challenging freshman year for Hanley way beyond wins and losses so it’s great to see him making significant contributions at this time.
UMass did not get a ton of help around Hockey East last night for their playoff prospects. Lowell blew a 3-1 lead allowing Providence to gain a tie and move to just two points behind the Minutemen with 3 games to play. Of course that wasn’t as bad as the chokejob by BU which allowed Vermont to score 3 goals in the last 15 minutes of the 3rd and also gain a tie, thereby moving into sole possession of 7th place. That means if UMass loses tonight and the Friars beat the River Hawks at home tonight the Minutemen will be out of the playoffs going into the last weekend of the season.
Dainton called breaking the record bittersweet in the Gazette’s recap, saying he’d rather have the win.
Cahoon like the effort according to the Republican recap.
In this week’s coach’s show Toot mentioned that Adam Phillips, checking in at 6’6″, will be the second tallest player on the team next year. In last night’s press conference he mentioned again that there is a 6’7″ player who has committed next year. I’ve done some research and haven’t figured out who this player is and where he’s playing now, but I’ll pass along any information I uncover.