If Massachusetts fans thought that what they saw in the first two periods against Boston College was the new norm for this team and the third period collapse was only due to fatigue, that doesn’t appear to be the case. A well-rested Minuteman team came into the Agganis Arena last night and just never looked like they were on the same page and thus, for the most part, was never in the game.
I thought the defense played pretty well, especially early on, and likely kept UMass in the game for much of the first half of the game. Conor Allen played another strong game, though did make some costly mistakes at times. Joel Hanley did well, netting his first goal of the season, but also struggled a bit during certain periods. Colin Shea was probably the most consistent of the defensemen. Adam Phillips was back in the lineup and I thought played well enough to dress again tonight. Steve Mastalerz had another strong game in net and again has nothing to show for it. Personally I would not fault him for any of the goals except for the fourth which trickled in after hitting his glove/pads.
Overall I would say the defense and goaltending looked solid. The offense however looked totally disjointed throughout the game, despite outshooting the Terriers 30-25. UMass was just never able to really establish any real possession in the offensive zone and were unable to properly cycle the puck around to get a decent shot only the impressive freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor. Instead it was rush into the zone and just shoot from wherever they could. Very rarely did they get to the rebounds for a second chance. And usually within seconds BU had the puck back and were heading the other direction. The offense last night looked simply terrible.
I don’t think it’s the main reason the offense struggled, but I personally did not like the new top line of Mike Pereira, Kevin Czepiel, and Conor Sheary. Personally I thought Pereira and Sheary looked much better last week when they had Troy Power on their line. Czepiel is a talented player and a key part of the team this year but I don’t think he’s the best type of center to put with those two guys. Obviously it’s a concern that Pereira and Sheary, the team’s two best forwards, have yet to score a goal. However I think trying Stephen Guzzo or Branden Gracel on their line would be a much better option than Czepiel.
Hopefully UMass will figure it out tonight as they’re faced with a possibility of being winless in the league through three games. Only Maine, which is struggling mightily right now, has no points and they currently join UMass in last place. It’s a tough schedule to start the season for the Minutemen, but they absolutely must capture the points up for grabs at home during this stretch no matter the opponent.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Shane Walsh
Allen, Hanley, and Gracel all played well enough to be considered for the POTG but I thought Shea and freshman Shane Walsh were the only players on the ice who played mistake free throughout. Walsh continues to play with energy, has a physical edge to his game, and his five shots last night were a team high. Personally I’m liking what I’m seeing so far from him.
This headline is telling from College Hockey News’ Takeaways from last night: “Freshmen Carry BU Past UMass”. Now obviously BU has a very talented freshman class, probably the best incoming class of the conference. But the fact that a young Terrier team can easily beat UMass is concerning. One of UMass’ biggest asset is their experience as they have 18 upperclassmen on their roster, 19 if you count Guzzo, a redshirt sophomore. This is a team of veterans, yet last night and even last week against BC they were beaten by younger, less experienced teams. If UMass can’t figure out a way to make the most of their experience this season then they’re without what was thought to be a major advantage.
Mistakes cost the Minutemen says the Republican’s Harry Plumer. (By the way, that’s not John Micheletto in the picture that ran with the story)
Here’s a very BU-centric recap from the Herald.
Ditto for the Globe’s game story.