UMass Dominated By UConn In Finale; Will Travel to Notre Dame For Playoffs

The Massachusetts hockey team concluded its regular season much as it began way back in October.  By being utterly dominated.  In the season opener it was an 8-1 defeat at the hands of Boston University, who ultimately went on to win the Hockey East regular season title.  On Friday UMass travelled to Hartford to take on UConn and fell to the Huskies by the score of 4-0.

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Recap: UMass Splits A Pair Of Overtime Thrillers With #12 Providence

This weekend’s Massachusetts hockey game were not for the faint of heart.  The home and home series with 12th ranked Providence were nearly carbon copies of each other.  Nearly.  Both featured great goaltending on both sides.  UMass taking a lead into the third.  UMass ultimately surrendering that lead.  But luckily the games had vastly different outcomes.

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UMass Upsets #12 Lowell, falls to Northeastern in weekend split

The Massachusetts hockey team was able to put last weekend’s disappointing finish against #2 Boston University and gain two Hockey East points and arguably their best win of the season in a weekend split.  It looked like it’d be a tough weekend for the team when they gave up another third period lead on Friday to Northeastern, losing 5-3.  But they rebounded the next night by dominating the 12th ranked River Hawks on the way to a 5-2 win.

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Penalties Prevent UMass From Completing The Upset Over #2 BU

It’s like déjà vu all over again.  Mimicking what we saw in the season opener the Minutemen hung tough with Boston University for two periods and found themselves down only a goal going into the final period.  They had momentum and a chance to tie or win but ultimately surrendered six goals in the third period, just as they did in October, getting blown out 9-5.  There were a few new twists in this one from the earlier matchup.  First is that unlike when the teams met in the season opener, the Terriers are ranked #2 in the country and this would’ve been a signature win for UMass.  Another difference was the Minutemen actually taking the lead twice in the final stanza.  But the main differentiation was how the team lost.  In October it was poor defense that did them in.  Last night the story was penalties, penalties, and more penalties.

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Recap: UMass Takes Three Points From #14 Merrimack; Kravchenko Wins Rookie of the Week

When the Massachusetts Minutemen returned from winter break with a 4-1 loss to Providence it dropped their record to 4-13-0.  Just four wins in 17 games.  The next night they won against Air Force and they’ve done pretty well ever since.  With this weekend’s tie and win against 14th ranked Merrimack UMass has now picked up as many wins in their last eight games as their did over their first 17, going 4-3-1 in that time.  Splits with New Hampshire and Maine in the past couple weeks showed that the team could hang with some of the other teams at the bottom of the Hockey East standings.  But to take three points from ranked Merrimack who was coming off a weekend where they were College Hockey News’ Team of the Week shows that things may be turning around for this UMass team.

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Recap: UMass Splits Against Maine, Wins Second Home Game Of Season

Splits tend to bring forth both positives and negatives for a hockey team and that’s exactly what happened for Massachusetts this weekend as they split the weekend non-conference series with the Maine Black Bears.  The positives for the weekend were that UMass got another win in a season that hasn’t seen a lot of them.  Friday’s game featured an impressive come from behind victory, something the team hasn’t been able to do a lot this season.  The win that night was just the second win of the season at the Mullins Center.  There were some excellent individual efforts this weekend, namely from Shane Walsh and Henry Dill.  And, due in large part to Dill, the Minutemen only allowed 5 goals total all weekend.

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Recap: UConn Gains Its First Hockey Road Win, Drops UMass 4-3

The Massachusetts hockey team picked up right where they left off in 2014 in terms of league play performance and that’s not a good thing.  UConn came into the Mullins Center in their first Hockey East game against the Minutemen and picked up their first road win in their new league 4-3.  The Huskies have now won two straight games against the Minutemen, the first consecutive wins in the series between the programs for the Huskies since 1979, the year the UMass hockey program went dark before being resurrected in 1993.

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Recap: Minutemen Top Air Force 5-1 To Close Out Catamount Cup

The Massachusetts Minutemen desperately needed a win.  Losers of five straight and eight of their last nine, UMass was paired with Air Force for the second leg of the Catamount Cup tournament.  The matchup was a favorable one for UMass as the Falcons have also struggled on the season, winning just five games and neck and neck with the Minutemen in the Pairwise and KRACH computer rankings.  As expected, the game played pretty evenly through two periods with UMass taking a 2-1 lead into the final period.  Fans, myself included, were wary of another poor final period by the team but instead the Minutemen were on the right side of a third period goal outburst and ended up getting a very solid and much needed 5-1 win over the Air Force.

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Recap: UMass Drops 8-3 Decision To Northeastern To Close Out Disastrous First Half

I’m not going to get into too much detail in breaking down last night’s 8-3 defeat at the hands of Northeastern.  If you saw the 8-1 loss to BU on opening night, or 11-1 shellacking by Vermont, or Notre Dame’s 7-5 victory a couple weekends ago then you saw last night as well.  The only major difference was the string of goals that the Minutemen gave up putting the game out of reach happened right from the first faceoff rather than the accustomed time later in the game.

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Recap: Notre Dame Completes Sweep In Amherst With 4-0 Win

The big question going into last night was how the Massachusetts hockey team would respond against the visiting Notre Dame Irish coming off another third period collapse on Friday.  The hope was that the team would be fired up, looking for redemption for another blown lead and playing with desperation to gain a second league win in their last Hockey East before winter break.  Instead the 2,469 fans in attendance were treated to another series of defensive meltdowns (this time coming in the second period) and one of the most ineffective offensive outputs I’ve seen in quite a long time.

1 and 2.  The first number is the total amount of shots on goal the Minutemen had in the first period.  The second number is the amount of shots they had exactly halfway through the game.  That’s it.  Two shots was all the team could muster through 30 minutes as they finished with 14 shots total on the game.  I’ll give credit to the Notre Dame defense and Irish goaltender Cal Petersen, who picked up his second shutout of the season.  However the Irish defense is not one of the best we’ve seen this season and should not be capable of holding UMass to so few shots.  Coming into the weekend the Domers were 45th in the country in shots allowed per game.  A lot of the offensive futility for the home team last night was self inflicted.  Some of it came from what looked like a lack of effort and execution.  Some of it came from the fact that UMass was killing the 16 penalties they took last night.  Yes, the team had more penalties than shots in last night’s game.  Most of those penalties came from frustration and lazy stick calls.  I’m the first to complain about unbalance officiating, especially when you see a power play disparity of 9 to 3 in favor of UMass’ opponent, but the Minutemen deserved most of the calls.  Things didn’t go their way, they got mad, and instead of taking their frustration out on the back of the Irish net, they got chippy.

For the second time in three games UMass was held to under 20 shots.  The 14 was the lowest since they only generated 10 against Quinnipiac last season.  That is really concerning considering this team is supposed to be aggressive and up tempo.  It is also worrisome to look at the box score and see no shots registered for key offensive contributors Dennis Kravchenko and Steven Iacobellis.  Kravchenko has been especially cold as of late, going without a shot in three games since the team played AIC, totally just 7 shots on goal in those seven games.

Defensively the team started out pretty good, surrendering just 8 shots on net in a first period that did not see any scoring.  But in the second they had another one of their stretches where defensive breakdowns led to a flurry of opponent goals.  In this case it was three Irish goals in 6 minutes and 20 seconds early in the middle period, including a couple goals just seconds apart, that effectively took the Minutemen out of the game.  Immediately after is when UMass let their tempers get the best of them and took a rash of penalties and seemed more interested in fighting the Irish from that point on than trying to beat them on the scoreboard.

This team is in a lot of trouble.  They are regressing as the season is going along, not improving.  Notre Dame came into the Mullins this weekend in a tailspin and yet walk out after dominating the Minutemen on their home ice for two nights, outscoring UMass 11-5, and grabbing all four of the oh so important Hockey East points.  The Minutemen are 4-11-0 overall, just 1-9-0 in Hockey East, and in dead last place.  The team is doing very little right in any aspect of their game currently and the few fans that are still coming to the games are being treated to a mix of what looks like disinterest and confusion by their team on the ice.  Has Micheletto lost his team?  I’m not sure.  But the fact that that is even a valid question right now is scary.  This was supposed to be the season where UMass began to turn around the program and instead it has sunk to lows it hasn’t seen since it was in DI infancy in the mid-90s.  UMass is off until 12/16 when they’ll host the Northeastern Huskies for a non-conference mid-week affair.  Brandon Montour, the jewel of this year’s recruiting class, is expected to make his UMass debut after sitting out the first semester due to clearinghouse issues.  It’s unlikely that the 2nd round Ducks draft pick will solve all of the team’s problems by himself, but maybe just his addition on the ice and in the locker room gives the team a spark and allow them to regain focus and not have this season go down as a complete disaster.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steve Mastalerz
Mastalerz made his first start in five games and looked solid overall.  He didn’t have a chance on most (or maybe all) of the goals as they were more a result of defensive breakdowns in front of him.  The game could’ve been a lot uglier without his play and he was a big reason why the Irish were only 1 for 9 on the power play.

Fear The Triangle Moron of the Weekend

Recap and Box Score from UMass Athletics.

Game recap from the Collegian as well as a piece on the 16 penalties UMass took in the game.

Good to see Masslive’s Dan Malone covering the team again.  Too bad he didn’t have a better game to write about.  Here’s his short recap and notes from last night.

McGaucheon Watch is in full effect after it was reported AD John McCutcheon is pursuing the AD job for the USCB Gauchos.  Matt Vautour has his story in the Gazette while Malone has a followup piece to his first story on Masslive.  McCutcheon says his primary focus is on UMass, which seems a little weird since he admits it was him that initiated contact with UCSB.

This weekend was pretty depressing for UMass fans.  So here’s a video of a giant teddy bear eventually being tossed on the Lynah ice to cheer you up.

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