You can’t say the effort wasn’t there. In something we haven’t seen a whole lot this season UMass was ready to play and gave a full effort from the moment the puck dropped. In fact, they were more ready to play than Boston College at the outset of the game and controlled play for the first 10 minutes. Unfortunately, they could not take advantage of their early domination, BC regrouped and slowly and methodically took back control of the game and breezed to a 4-1 win.
As said, UMass came out flying, picking up the first 5 shots of the game. If UMass had been able to pick up an early goal in that first 10 minutes, where they outshot BC 9-4, who knows what the end result of the game would’ve been. They did have a couple solid chances in that time, with a shot (from Doug Kublin I think) through traffic from the high slot coming to mind, but John Muse played it well and was in the right position and UMass was unable to find a corner to put the puck in. During the course of the game when UMass did shoot, they found the net, with only 4 of 36 total attempts going wide. This is an improvement from much of the season that has seen shot opportunities sail over or around the net. The problem was UMass just didn’t shoot enough, sadly sometimes passing up some good opportunities while close in on offense. The team did move the puck and maintain puck possession better than in previous games with the Eagles. UMass’ lone goal came from Danny Hobbs halfway through the second on the power play but that would be it for the Minutemen.
I thought UMass played fairly well defensively. There were a few breakdowns here and there, but most of those time Paul Dainton was there with a big save to keep the game from getting out of hand. Unfortunately it was the timing of the goals that seemed to seal the Minutemen’s fate. Jimmy Hayes sent a shot rattling around the net just over 10 minutes into the game and stopped UMass’ strong momentum dead at that point. Still, only down 1-0 at the end of one left UMass within striking distance. Yet, as all hockey fans know, goals at the end and beginning of periods are always a killer. And that’s exactly what they gave up just 14 seconds into the second. That made UMass having to play catchup the rest of the night, a race they would not win. The shorthanded goal that BC scored 11 minutes into the second after a Mike Marcou turnover was likely the dagger, especially considering Hobbs’ goal game just second later. A 2-1 deficit down the stretch would’ve been much different than 3-1.
It was good to see UMass get good effort from Anthony Raiola and Shawn Saunders, a couple guys who probably would not be playing if not for injuries. Raiola again was mostly solid on defense while Saunders as usual was flying all over the ice and even made some solid contributions on offense. Doug Kublin also had some good chances on offense, trying to extend the streak of UMass being undefeated when he scores a goal. UMass won the faceoff battle in the game led by Chase Langeraap winning 12 of 19 chances. BC was pretty effective in shutting down T.J Syner last night and at times looked much faster than the Minutemen, something rarely seen this season. Special teams failed the Minutemen against, not only by giving up the shorthanded goal but only going 1 for 8 on their extra man opportunities.
I have mixed feelings about tonight. UMass is on the brink of elimination (again) and one would hope that they can muster up enough to pull out a win and extend their season. But Boston College is really, really good. It’s disheartening to see the Minutemen put forth one of their best full game efforts of the entire season and still take a three goal loss. Just playing hard against these guys isn’t enough, UMass is going to have to execute nearly perfectly in order to pull out a win.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Paul Dainton
The UMass captain had 31 saves last night, some of them flat out amazing. There were a number of times when he looked caught on one side of the crease only to sprawl across and rob a BC player with a seemingly open net. Dainton has saved some of his best hockey for the last few games of his UMass career.
UMass got outplayed according to Conor Allen in the Republican recap.
Toot called the shorthanded goal a backbreaker in the Gazette recap.
Elsewhere in Hockey East Boston University picked up a win last night to pull even with Northeastern in their series. The two will play game three on Sunday. UNH beat Vermont 3-1 to take game 1 while Merrimack squeezed by Maine 5-4 at home.
The Rochester Democrat had a great feature on Mike Kostka who is still pursuing his dream to play in the NHL.