Well, with four games under their belts, including one against the team that ended their season last Spring, there’s enough evidence to have an opinion on this year’s team. And unfortunately my conclusion is that this team isn’t any better than last year’s. The makeup of the team is a little different, but overall I haven’t seen anything through the four games to make me think they’ll be significantly better than last year. Certainly what was seen in Conte Forum last night didn’t feel any different from what we saw last February or March. Now obviously I didn’t expect with an offseason under their belts they were going in to beat an excellent BC team at home. But I at least thought they would be able to compete with them a little closer than last year. Instead they were dominated and for most of the time.
Now if there was going to be one weakness going into the game it would be goaltending, right? After all, Jeff Teglia was making his first start of the year. No. In fact UMass got strong goaltending from Teglia. What they didn’t get was offense. For all the hype about how this UMass team was performing much better offensively, they looked just as anemic as last year. They had only two shots during the entire second period. The power play went 0 for 7 with just four shots on net. And those that needed to score didn’t, with one goal coming from a freshman playing only his second shift in his UMass career and the second coming from a defenseman late. Now some of the blame goes to the players who did not challenge BC goaltender Parker Milner. They can also take the blame for taking way too many penalties. Ten all in all, including 6 from the team’s co-captains. That’s unacceptable.
But Toot Cahoon can take some of the blame as well. After last weekend when the T.J. Syner/Danny Hobbs/Mike Pereira quickly established itself as one of the most productive lines in all of college hockey, he decided to split them up. The result? No goals, no assists. Danny Hobbs who dominated last weekend generated just one shot. I’m sure Toot was thinking he wanted to distribute the potent offense to more than one lines. Instead he got four lines that cannot score at all. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I was in total shock when I heard before the game that the lines were being split. I actually had to flag down Dick Baker to confirm it via the line sheet. Would keeping the top line together have made a difference tonight? Who knows. Probably not given that UMass had to play shorthanded so often. But changing the lines tonight was totally unnecessary. UMass split last weekend because of goaltending, not offense. So why change it up except for the sake of changing it up?
The one moment for UMass fans to cheer was Andrew Tegeler scoring a goal in the early moments of his first every game. The goal also marked the first point for Oleg Yevenko. Overall Tegeler played pretty well and almost came up with another goal in the third. Beyond that, there honestly wasn’t a lot to cheer about. It wasn’t an entertaining game for anyone with the constant whistles as a result of two no-name Hockey East refs sending players from both teams off every couple minutes.
Back to the drawing board for UMass. Like last year they seem incapable of playing an all around good game. When the offense is working they get poor goaltending and lose. When the goaltending is good they can’t score. When they get both, they’re unable to do little things, like clear the puck, to seal a win. It’s still early in the year but so far this one is looking like a repeat of last season. The only difference is UMass had a relatively workable schedule early last year. They don’t have that luxury this season.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Jeff Teglia
Seems a little odd that the player of the game goes to the guy who gave up four goals, but if Teglia doesn’t play as well as he did this game is easily 6-2 of 7-2. There was really only one of the four goals that I thought was soft and that’s when Johnny Gaudreau caught Teglia leaning the wrong way and put it between the post and his skate. The other three goals were because BC forwards worked for it or the UMass defense was caught watching, like the first goal. No one on defense for UMass looked good last night and Teglia had to battle to keep the game close. Overall Teglia looked good. Good enough to get at least one of the games in net against BU next weekend.
Here’s the recap from the Republican.
The Herald recap says Billy Arnold was the star.