Merrimack Preview

Merrimack College Warriors 14-14-6 (12-10-3) Hockey East 6th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 11-18-3 (8-15-2) Hockey East 9th

Massachusetts enters the final weekend of the regular season and if they want to keep playing beyond they’ll need to get at least a point and then get some help.  UMass can get away with just a tie of Merrimack but they’d then need New Hampshire to sweep Maine up in Durham.  While UNH is clearly the better team I wouldn’t rule out something flukey happening in this weekend’s chapter of that storied rivalry.  Whatever transpires, UMass must get at least one more point than Maine in this weekend’s games.  That would leave the two teams tied and the Minutemen would move on to the playoffs by virtue of having more conference wins.

It’s not going to be easy to get any points however from this Warrior team.  The teams met last month in North Andover in an oddly close, but dominant win by the Warriors.  UMass could not generate any offense during the game, only testing goaltender Sam Marotta 18 times.  But, they were able to keep the game close and were tied at two apiece going into the third before ultimately falling 4-2.  Kevin Boyle played fantastic, making 37 saves including 17 in the first period alone.  It didn’t matter though and the game was the most recent of a long line of losses at Lawler where UMass hasn’t won since spring of 2008.

The Warriors are not as hot a team as they were when they last faced UMass though.  In fact they’re winless in their last five, losing their last four.  Since scoring four against the Minutemen they haven’t managed to score more than two goals against anyone else and were shutout last Friday by Lowell.  The recent slump has coincided with leading scorer Mike Collins going cold.  Collins has more than twice as many goals as anyone else on the team with 15 but hasn’t found the back of the net since the game against the Minutemen.  The team is 12-6-3 when he registers a point and 2-8-3 when he doesn’t.

Marotta got the win against the Minutemen and seemed to have grabbed hold of the starter job back in January.  But Rasmus Tirronen got the most recent start in a loss to Lowell.  Honestly, the losing streak hasn’t been the fault of Marotta and I’d assume he’ll play both games this weekend.  Other than a poor game against BU where he got pulled after surrendering three goals in a period, he has only allowed two goals in each of the other games during this winless streak

In addition to who is on the ice this weekend, another huge factor may end up being who is not.  Merrimack will be without the services of key defenseman Kyle Bigos, who will be missing his own senior night tomorrow because of the number of game misconducts he has picked up this season.  Unfortunately I would rather he be gone for the game at the Mullins as I think the Warriors can more easily adjust for his absence on the smaller Lawler ice.  The other player whose participation is in question is Mike Pereira, who left the UNH game early after absorbing a hard hit.  It is unknown if he’ll dress this weekend and UMass may have to make due without their most productive player in recent weeks.

It all comes down to this. Two games.  I could talk about what strategies UMass could use to defeat Merrimack.  Opine about the adjustments needed from recent play.  But it really comes down to motivation.  Will the team be motivated to get the necessary points to extend their season?  Can they extend the program’s playoff streak to 11 years?  Will they allow the four seniors the chance to put the UMass jersey on at least a couple more times after Saturday?  We’ll see.

Speaking of the seniors, the annual ceremony honoring them is changing a bit this year.  It will take place AFTER the game, not before.  This is similar to how it’s done up in Maine.  So please make sure to stick around until then and take the chance to thank them for their dedication and commitment to UMass.

Beer The Triangle
One of the many recent snowstorms forced the rescheduling of the last game at Merrimack and postponed my trip to The Tap in Haverhill.  That will be corrected tomorrow and I’m desperately hoping they still have Snowbound on draft.  Saturday will be the last pregame at the Hangar on the season.  However I have to find a way to get across the street to Amherst Brewing Company as well as they have a keg of 2011 Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine on.  One of my favorite barleywines.

Preview from the Republican says it’s all about the process.  Daily Collegian preview says it’s about poise.  But both talk about Rocco Carzo’s eating habits.

He doesn’t have anything up currently, but Mike McMahon is sure to have some good information and perspective on the Mack Report.

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New Hampshire Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 11-17-2 (8-14-1) Hockey East 8th

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New Hampshire Wildcats 17-8-5 (12-7-4) Hockey East T-1st

Massachusetts will attempt to stay ahead of Maine for 8th place and the final playoff this weekend.  It won’t be easy.  They’ll be heading to Durham, New Hampshire for two games with the Wildcats who have a lot to play for as well.  The Cats are part of a four way tie for first place in Hockey East with just two weekends to go, not to mention part of the logjam at the top of the standings that has six teams all within two points of each other.

UMass will look to recapture whatever they had going on at the beginning of November when they shocked then undefeated UNH at the Mullins Center.  Kevin Boyle outdueled Wildcat goaltender Casey DeSmith in the thrilling 2-1 overtime win for the Minutemen.  It’ll be harder to duplicate that kind of result this weekend at the Whittemore Center as the Cats are 9-3-1 at home this year.

Defense and DeSmith have been leading UNH to victories this year.  Their 2.30 goals allowed per game is best in Hockey East and a lot of that has to do with DeSmith who has a .925 save percentage this season.  The Cats have the third best penalty kill in the country at 89.9%.  Offensively they’ve relied on the play of forwards Austin Block, Grayson Downing, and Kevin Goumas, all of whom have at least 10 goals this season.

To stay ahead of the Black Bears in the playoff race UMass will have to do something they haven’t done in a very long time.  Win at New Hampshire.  The program hasn’t gained a victory there since the fall of 2006 when Jon Quick was still in net.  But they desperately need at least a split this weekend considering Maine will be hosting a much easier opponent at Alfond with the Northeastern Huskies.  Forget the quarterfinals in a couple weeks.  Playoff hockey starts tonight for the Minutemen.

Beer The Triangle
Since I’m busy this weekend and the games are televised on FCS/WBIN, I’ll be beering it from my couch.  Luckily being the beer snob I am my fridge has a nice selection of Heady Topper, Founders Breakfast Stout, and some Bell’s.  For those heading north though there aren’t many brewpubs better than the Portsmouth Brewery.

Here’s a preview from the Republican, the Daily Collegian, as well as the Concord Monitor.

 

Maine Preview; Triangle Time

Maine Black Bears 8-16-6 (4-11-6) Hockey East 14pts 9th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 10-16-2 (7-13-1) Hockey East 15pts 8th

I think we can all agree that the Massachusetts hockey team is not exactly where Minuteman fans hoped they’d be at this point of the season.  However, on the bright side it should be a pretty exciting last three weeks of the season with a lot at stake every game, every period, every shift.  The final stretch starts tomorrow with the first of two games against Maine, just one point behind the Minutemen who sit in 8th and the final playoff spot currently.

In a strange reversal, it might actually be in UMass’ favor if these games were being playing in Orono rather than the friendly confines of the Mullins Center.  That’s because while the Black Bears are only 8-16-6 overall their results are much better away from Alfond Arena, posting a 6-7-1 record in those games.  Those victories include one over the River Hawks in Lowell and a shocking two game sweep at Boston College at the end of January.  Of course these two teams did meet once in Orono this season, a come from behind 2-2 tie with Conor Allen scoring an extra man goal with just over a minute left.

Maine’s strength this year has been their defense and the goaltending they’ve gotten from Martin Ouellette.  On the season he has a goals against average of 2.32 and a save percentage of .918.  During the stretch of games in January that helped put Maine back in the race for the playoffs Ouellette did quite well, putting up a GAA of 1.94 during that time.  He’s had a little tougher time recently though, giving up 11 goals in his last three games including five last time out to Boston University.  The Black Bears have been without key defenseman Nick Pryor since early January with injury.

The Maine offense has been anemic this season.  The 1.83 goals scored per game is by far the worst among Hockey East teams and second worst in the country next to Alabama-Huntsville.  On the power play they’ve converted just 11.6% of their chances.  Joey Diamond is the player to keep an eye out for as he’s scored greater than one out of every five Black Bear goals.  Of course it’s also important to keep an eye out for him since he has racked up 35 penalties this season.  A couple of young players have contributed to the scoring effort as sophomore Connor Leen has seven goals and Ryan Lomberg has six.  Freshman defenseman Devin Shore has racked up 18 points so far this season and leads the team with 15 assists.

I honestly have no idea what to expect out of UMass at this point.  You hope that some kind of recognition that they are soon to have a premature end to their season will kick in and they’ll return to the type of play we saw in January.  That will mean improved play at goaltender, no matter who is in net.  It means they have to play significantly better at defense where it has seemed like every mistake has led to an opposing goal.  And, the offense needs to get on the same page.  They’ve still been scoring recently, but it doesn’t feel like they’re maximizing opportunities out there.  Plus, most of the scoring of late has come from Mike Pereira who has accounted for 7 of their last 18 goals.  He can’t be asked to carry the load himself like that.

I don’t know what is going on in the players’ heads right now.  Are the recent struggles continued growing pains from the transition to a new coach?  I would hope not.  I would hope the new staff would be able to get the team to a point where they’d be improving with over 25 games together.  Have the players decided to tune out a new coach who’s not the one they came to play for?  Perhaps.  Whatever it is, they need to be ready to play.  Maine can smell the blood in the water.  This is one of the worse Black Bears teams we’ve seen in years, but they can’t be taken lightly.  They swept BC a few weeks back and were a bounce or two away from taking four points from BU last weekend.  The Black Bears decided a few weeks ago that they were not going down this season without fight.  Will the Minutemen do the same?

I don’t know what’s going on with the team, but I do know what’s going on with the team karma.  Going 1-5-0 in their last six and now having to battle the 9th place team just to make the playoffs three weeks before the season ends means it’s time to break out the triangles.

Speaking of my favorite jersey, it’s good to know that INCH still considers them one of the ugliest ever.  Long live the triangle!

Beer The Triangle
Not only does hockey tomorrow, hoops Saturday afternoon, and hockey Saturday night mean potential bad Mullins ice (tonight’s concert likely won’t help) but it probably means the chance to hit a plethora of places this weekend.  ABC, Moan & Dove, Dirty Truth, High Horse, People’s Pint?  All solid choices.  But at some point I’ll have to make it to the Hangar to grab some Bear Republic Café Racer 15 which just came back on tap.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like any weekend previews have been posted anywhere as of this time.

Northeastern Preview

Northeastern Huskies 8-16-3 (4-13-3) Hockey East 10th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 10-15-2 (7-12-1) Hockey East 8th

Two struggling teams will be meeting tomorrow in a makeup game from the blizzard that hit a couple weekends ago.  Massachusetts and Northeastern both come into the rare mid-week game after getting swept this past weekend.  UMass lost a home and home to Lowell while the Huskies just dropped a pair of games to Vermont at home.  Earlier in the month it appeared as if Northeastern may be on the upswing after they beat Boston University in the Beanpot opener and then played Boston College tough in the championship before ultimately falling.  But last week the Huskies managed just two goals total against the Catamounts and will have to run off a streak of wins if they want to make the Hockey East playoffs this season.

These teams split a weekend series at the end of November with the Huskies grabbing a 1-0 win at the Mullins on the Friday and UMass bouncing back 6-3 the next night. Chris Rawlings, who has played well against the Minutemen in his career, grabbed the shutout in the NU win and turned away 31 shots. But the next night UMass poured 46 shots on him and got the win.

It’s no secret that the Minutemen will have to try to contain freashman Kevin Roy tomorrow. Despite his team losing Roy was named the MVP of the Beanpot after he scored five goals in the two games.  His 17 goals this season are second best among Hockey East players. The Huskies have just one win this season when Roy doesn’t register a point, the 1-0 shutout of UMass. There’s a big gap between him and Cody Ferriero who has the second most goals for NU with nine.

Roy has helped the Huskies to respectable numbers offensively, but they’ve struggled on the defensive end all season. The 3.30 goals given up per game is dead last among Hockey East games. It’s likely that UMass will see Rawlings tomorrow since he was given Saturday off.  He has played inconsistently all season, being chased in three games to date. But when taken as a whole his numbers are pretty good, compiling a 2.90 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. He’s definitely a better option in net than Bryan Mountain who is 0-6-2 on the season.

Coach Micheletto said after the Lowell loss on Saturday that the team is not hitting the panic button yet.  And that’s fair, it’s not time to panic regarding the team being able to make the playoffs.  But is that really what the team should be striving for?  Just barely making the playoffs (again)?  There’s still time to move up the standings, back to 7th, and perhaps further.  But to do so they’ll have to play a lot better in every aspect of the game.  They’ll get a tune-up versus the last place Huskies before the final stretch of games begins this weekend against Maine.  A loss tomorrow would simply be devastating for the team and its fans.

Beer The Triangle
Warning to pregamers!  The Hangar does not open until 4pm on Tuesdays (because no one wants the best damn wings in the world for an early week lunch?), so if you plan to get there mid-afternoon, seek other libations.  Luckily Amherst offers other locales as a stopgap before that time.  There’s always the venerable ABC, where last week I enjoyed an ABC/Northampton/Wormtown collaboration Third Degree IPA.  However tomorrow I might give the High Horse Brewpub another chance.  I’m not sure why since on my first visit they had mediocre beer and on the second they had improved beer served up by rude bartenders.  We’ll see what happens.  However I do have the entire day off and perhaps I’ll take the northern route into Amherst and check out the Blind Pig in Athol that I’ve been hearing so many good things about.

Conor Allen will be back in the line, per the Republican preview.

College Hockey News has their Hockey East power rankings and makes the case that the league should continue to limit playoff participation in order to add meaning to the regular season, especially the final few weeks.  I agree.

Lowell Preview

Lowell River Hawks 14-9-2 (8-8-2) Hockey East 18pts 6th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 10-13-2 (7-10-1) Hockey East 15pts 7th

 These two teams met back before Thanksgiving, two teams that appeared to be going in two different directions.  Massachusetts had a tough schedule to start the season and were just 1-3-0 in their first four games.  But from there they appeared to be righting the ship by going 2-1-1 in their next four with the only loss being a close defeat at the hands of Boston College.  Lowell surprised many by getting off to an awful start to the season despite returning nearly everyone from last year’s NCAA team and went into their match with UMass just 2-5-1.  UMass was looking to establish some consistent winning while Lowell was hoping to turn things around.  In the end it was a statement game for the River Hawks as they embarrassed the Minutemen in their home arena by the score of 8-2.  Starting with that game Lowell has had a 12-4-1 record and are battling for an NCAA spot.  The Minutemen meanwhile have not been able to put together any kind of streak of success and are battling just to maintain their spot in the Hockey East playoffs.

There’s not much to break down from that earlier game except to say that UMass frankly looked like they wanted to be anywhere but in the Mullins Center playing hockey.  It was the most uninspiring hockey I’ve seen from this program in years.  Year.  UMass stood and watched as Riley Wetmore scored a hat trick on them, Joseph Pendenza had a couple goals and an assist, and Scott Wilson gathered four points.  Those three have been the offensive stars for Lowell this season as they are top three in terms of goals for the team.  Still, it’s not just them thatopposing teams have to look out for as nine total players have five or more goals this season.  The Hawks find themselves fourth among league teams in offense, scoring 2.96 goals per game, while their power play is also fourth, converting 17.2% of the time.

Lowell had a goaltender controversy during the middle part of the season when Doug Carr and freshman Connor Hellebuyck started trading starts with the younger netminder winning six straight and puting up the better stats.  But Hellebuyck was injured in mid-January and it’s allowed Carr to regain the starter spot.  He and the Hawks come into the weekend losing two straight, but one of those was by a score of 1-0 so it was of no fault to Carr.  Carr has a goals against average of 2.79 versus Hellebuyck’s 1.54.

Massachusetts has a lot to motivate them this coming weekend.  First they’ve yet to prove that they can win consistently this season and that’s something they’ll have to do sooner rather than later if they have any kind of post-season plans.  They have Maine and Vermont on their heels when it comes to the Hockey East standings and the prospect of missing the playoffs entirely for the first time since 2002 is not out of the equation.  This past Sunday’s game was incredibly disappointing given the anemic offense and mistake-prone defense, I would think the team wants to improve upon that showing.  But the biggest motivation for this series should come from that game in November where the team played absolutely horribly.  It was easily one of the worst performances from this team in many seasons.  For the fans that loss is still one that gnaws at them and I hope the same goes for the players.  It’ll take at least a couple decent performances in a row until that game is totally forgotten.

Beer The Triangle
I cant’ guarantee a trip to Lowell and Lowell Beer Works so it’ll it least be the usual of a Hangar trip pregame and ABC after, where I recommend the Allagash Yakuza.  First had last year on a trip to Orono.

Like the preview above, Harry Plumer’s preview in the Republican is also all about motivation.

Merrimack Preview; New Recruit Commitments

 

Massachusetts Minutemen 10-12-2 (7-9-1) Hockey East 7th

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#20 Merrimack Warriors 12-10-5 (10-6-2) Hockey East 3rd

It’s unfortunate that UMass must play all three games against Merrimack in the second half of the season because this is a much different team than the one on the ice at the end of 2012.  Going into the season there were a lot of questions of how Merrimack would fare after graduating star goaltender Joe Cannatta.  Early on in the season they didn’t do a good job answers those questions, getting swept by the Alaska teams and having to endure a couple of three game losing streaks.  At the close of 2012 the team was just 6-8-4 and seemed destined for middle of the pack in Hockey East at best.  But in 2013 the Warriors have gone 6-2-1 and now find themselves in 3rd place in the conference.

They’ve won recently thanks to solid defense, holding their opponents to just 1.89 goals per game in the nine games since New Years.  Junior goaltender Sam Marotta has started all but one of those games and is responsible for just one of the losses.  During that time he’s had shutouts over Maine and Lowell.  Marotta currently leads all Hockey East goaltenders with a goals against average of 2.09 and a save percentage of .929.  Of course he has some pretty solid defensemen in front of him in the form of Kyle Bigos, Jordan Heywood, and Tom McCarthy.

Offensively the star has been junior forward Mike Collins who accounts for nearly 1/5th of the team’s total goals with 14.  No one else on the team has more than five.  Overall the Warriors have scored 2.67 goals per game, which puts them at 7th among Hockey East teams.  They have gotten some good contributions from their defense as well as Brendan Ellis has accumulated 10 assists while Heywood is tied for second on the team with five goals.

Due to the snow, UMass got a couple extra days of rest as Friday’s game against Northeastern was rescheduled to later in the month and yesterday’s game was pushed back to today.  Hopefully those extra days will help give UMass the energy and focus needed to win someplace where they haven’t done so in a while.  Lawler Arena has been a house of horrors for the Minutemen in recent years.  They’ve lost their last six games there, including an 11-2 shellacking in 2011.  Their last win in North Andover was March of 2008.  Hopefully that streak ends this afternoon as with their win last night Vermont is again right behind the Minutemen in the standings.

Beer The Triangle
There aren’t a lot of good pregaming options for Merrimack, but with a quality place like The Tap you don’t need many.  I’m looking forward to drinking an appropriately named Snowbound.

For those making the trip, I got this notice in my email:

Tomorrow’s game between #20 Merrimack and UMass-Amherst will begin at 4:00pm at Lawler Arena with KidsFest to begin at 2:30pm in the Volpe Gym.

The Merrimack College staff is continuing to clear snow from campus parking lots but with the massive amounts some lots will undoubtedly lose parking spaces. We encourage you to arrive early and adhere to the direction of campus police for parking instruction in order to arrive at the game on time (doors open @ 3:00pm).

Thank you in advance for your understanding and safe travels to all who will be on the road this weekend.

There doesn’t appear to be any previews up for the game as of now, but Mike McMahon will likely have coverage soon on his blog.

UMass picked up three commitments on Friday.  Two of the newest Minutemen are brothers, Brandon and Jake Wahlin.  Brandon is a 5’8”, 170lb forward currently playing for Austin in the NAHL where he leads the league in total scoring.  Thus far this season he has 18 goals and 39 assists in 45 games.  According to this story on his commitment he also had interest from Lowell, Nebraska-Omaha, and Bemidji State.  It appears that the Minnesota native will be in Amherst this coming fall.  Here are some highlights of his play in previous years:

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While Brandon is due to join the team next year, his brother Jake is pegged to come to Amherst in 2015, the first commitment for that class.  According to the Western College Hockey Blog Jake is rated as the second best sophomore playing Minnesota High School hockey.  He currently has 15 goals and 30 assists in 26 games playing for White Bear Lake.  Wahlin is considered one of the top ‘96 born players in the country.  Overall these look like two great pickups for coach Micheletto, especially the younger Jake whose trajectory is looking pretty bright at this stage of his career.

If White Bear Lake sounds familiar for UMass fans, it should.  Justin Braun’s hockey career started there, went through Amherst, and then of course on to the pros with the San Jose Sharks.

The other commitment came from 6’0”, 180lb defenseman Maddison Smiley.  Smiley is currently teammates with UMass recruit Patrick Lee for the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.  The Bandits are an amazing 47-3-3 on the season.  Smiley puts up a lot of points for a defenseman as he has 16 goals and 19 assists in 33 games this season and recently returned from injury.  Like Lee he earned an invitation to the Team Canada West Camp for the World Junior Challenge.  Here’s the release from the AJHL which includes some quotes from his coach.  And here’s an article about him from last fall.  Smiley is due in Amherst in the fall of 2014.

Boston University Preview

#11 Boston University Terriers 13-9-1 (10-6-1) T-2nd Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 9-12-2 (6-9-1) 7th Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team will only have one game to focus on this weekend, which is a good thing because it’ll be a tough one but a win versus the Terriers is not outside the realm of possibility.  Boston University is still very talented and not easy to beat, the Minutemen know this with the weekend sweep at the hands of the Terriers in the beginning of the season.  But they’re not exactly untouchable either.  They’re just 1-2-1 in their last four and 3-4-1 since winter break.

Offensively these Terriers are pretty much what you’d expect.  Their 3.09 goals per game is good for third in the league, tied with Lowell and behind Boston College and New Hampshire.  Their power play is only middle-of-the-pack though, converting just over 16% of their chances.  BU has gotten production from all their classes, as shown from their leaders in goals scored so far.  Tops on the team is senior Wade Megan who has 12 goals on the season, tied for third best among Hockey East players.  Behind him is freshman Danny O’Regan who has 9 goals to go with 13 assists.  Those two both had two goals apiece against the Minutemen when the teams met for a home and home series in late October.

Defensively is where the Terriers, at least statistically, look a little more out of character.  However, I think that’s probably to be expected when you’re trying to break in two freshman goaltenders (see: UMass last year).  It’s important to note that Matt O’Connor and Sean Maguire haven’t done terribly in their debut seasons.  O’Connor has played more of the games, compiling a 2.90 goals against average and .910 save percentage.  Maguire has the better stats with a 2.34 GAA and .925 save percentage.  The two have been roughly alternating since early December and the Boston Hockey Blog reported on Twitter that Maguire would get the start.  BU has struggled on the penalty kill, sitting at 82% and 8th in the league.

Frankly, this is a vulnerable Terrier team.  It’s also a BU team could’ve been facing the prospect of losing a season series to the Minutemen tomorrow.  However in the last time these teams meet in the Mullins Center the Minutemen gave up a 2-0 lead and somehow could not find the back of the net despite 20 third period shots on O’Connor.  The result ended up being a 3-2 loss for UMass and now BU has a chance at a season sweep tomorrow night.  Hopefully pride and the fact that Vermont, Maine, and Northeastern are all breathing down their necks will give the Minutemen the motivation needed to upset the 11th ranked Terriers.  To do so they’ll need a consistent effort on offense.  The team as a whole has played good defense since winter break ended, with the exception of the Providence game at home when they gave up five goals.  But defensively UMass has been playing some of its best hockey of the season, even on special teams.  Scoring however has been hit or miss in that time.  They’ve been able to generate a lot of shots but some nights the puck finds the back of the net and the next opposing goaltenders look like world-beaters.  The finishers that are on the team, most specifically the first like of Branden Gracel, Mike Pereira, and Conor Sheary, will have to make sure Sean Maguire looks human tomorrow.

Beer The Triangle
Seems like a long time since I’ve been to the Hangar.  I wonder what they have on draft?  Since they tend to highlight Lagunitas I hope they have the Lagunitas Sucks on draft, one of the top beers from a favorite brewery.

A number of BU Twitter accounts have reported that BU will dress seven defensemen tomorrow night, with Ryan Ruikka in the lineup at forward.  The Boston Hockey Blog also tweeted that Evan Rodrigues will dress after missing last Saturday’s game against Providence due to injury.  Rodrigues has eight goals on the season.

The Republican has this profile on Darren Rowe as part of their preview of tomorrow.  Overall Rowe has been one of the better stories of the UMass season after getting very limited playing time last season.  While there are certainly still times on the ice where his defensive limitations prove frustrating for UMass fans, the fact is when he’s doing what he needs to on defense and combining it with offensive contributions he’s a very valuable part of the team.  And he’s done well in both aspects in recent games notching two goals and six assists in the last seven games while maintaining an even plus/minus rating.  I always thought Rowe’s skills weren’t totally maximized during his UMass career and continue to contend that he should’ve been moved to forward earlier in his career.  But he continues to do his best on defense while making the most of his offensive instincts during his senior season, shaking off a mid-season slump.  And the team has benefitted when he’s moving and shooting the puck well on the season.

Here’s some additional coverage of Matt Anderson, who picked up his first NHL point/assist tonight for the Devils.

Dick Baker had this article about Anderson’s accomplishments framed around the legacy of Springfield hockey legend Gary Dineen.

And Collegian alum Andrew Merritt wrote this enjoyable piece on Anderson for the New England Hockey Journal.  I know I mentioned it the other night but, like Mike Kostka, I’m thrilled to see Anderson get his shot in the NHL.  I have followed the program for almost two decades and there are few better representatives of the dear old alma mater and the Minuteman hockey program than those two.

Oh hey Casey Wellman was traded again and is now in his fourth NHL organization since the beginning of last season.  Maybe sometime between now and when I retire at the end of the season I’ll do a View From Section U column expressing what I really think about Wellman.

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