#13 Boston University Terriers 1-1-0 (1-1-0) T-3rd Hockey East
Massachusetts Minutemen 1-1-0 (0-1-0) T-7th Hockey East
This will be a key weekend for Massachusetts who looks to bounce back from a very disappointing performance last Friday that saw them drop a game to Boston College despite having a two goal lead late. This is more than just trying to gain some momentum and confidence however. UMass must pick up points this weekend to avoid finding themselves near or at the bottom of the standings just three games into the conference schedule. It won’t be easy though as they’ll have two games against #13 Boston University, including one at Agganis Arena where the Minutemen have traditionally struggled.
BU has a win and a loss on the early season, topping Providence 4-2 in the season opener but losing 4-1 in Durham last week to UNH. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in net for the Terriers this weekend. Freshman Matt O’Connor started the first game and did well only allowing the two goals. Last week against UNH fellow freshman Sean Maguire got the nod but was pulled after 32 mins and four goals. O’Connor came in to relieve him and was perfect for the remainder of the game.
So far the Terriers are getting their scoring from all around as their five goals have been scored by five different players. A couple of those names aren’t unexpected, like Wade Megan and Garrett Noonan. But they’ve also gotten some good production from a couple of sophomores like Evan Rodrigues who has three assists so far and Carson Hohmann who as a goal and a couple assists as well. None of their heralded freshman class has tallied a goal to this point, but it’s probably only time until someone like Sam Kurker or Danny O’Regan puts one in th enet. BU will look to improve upon their power play and by improve I mean score. So far the Terriers are an uncharacteristic 0 for 7 on the season with the extra man.
UMass on the other hand will look to continue their impressive work on special teams. They’ve scored three power play goals on 13 chances thus far on the season, good for 23.1% and second among Hockey East teams. On the other side of things they’ve killed 11 of 12 of their opponents’ power play chances. That’s an excellent start for a team that struggled mightily on the penalty kill last year.
There shouldn’t be a lot of adjustments for the team to make as they’re playing pretty good hockey so far. They looked a bit rusty against UConn but played well enough to get the easy win. And they dominated the defending national champion for 40 minutes last week before a shortened bench caught up to them at the end. Even in that third period the team didn’t necessarily play poorly, BC just had a step on the Minutemen who simply ran out of gas. The one glaring thing the team will need to change from the first two games is the amount of penalties they’re taking. Double digit penalties like occurred against UConn absolutely cannot happen and losing Joel Hanley to an early misconduct ultimately became the difference maker last year.
While UMass has usually not done well at Agganis they did upset the then top ranked Terriers there last year. The veterans will look to rekindle whatever drove them to the win there tomorrow night before coming home to what should be another good crowd on Saturday. Not to sound like a broken record but it is imperative for UMass to scratch and claw for any points they can get early in the season. It doesn’t get any easier after this weekend as next week brings a white hot UNH team to town and an early season rematch with the Eagles. Two or three points against a good BU team would pay dividends in the long run for the Minutemen.
Beer The Triangle
No trip to Agganis is complete without a visit to mini-Sunset across the street. Last year we were lucky enough to be able to celebrate UMass’ big win with Alchemist Heady Toppers there. Now I’m lucky enough to be drinking a Heady as I write this preview. A look at Sunset’s menu shows a rarely seen Anderson Valley Cerveza Crema, a Green Flash/St Feullians collaboration, and a Southern Tier 2X Milk Stout. Saturday I plan to deviate from the usual pregame plans at the Hangar and hangout with friends and alumni for Homecoming festivities. Part of those festivities will be drinking some Bell’s Brewing that the legendary Flag Guy, veteran of the UMass student section, will be bootlegging from Pennsylvania.
As first relayed by Matt Vautour this afternoon, UMass picked up a commitment from forward Patrick Lee. Lee is currently playing for the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The 5’9” 155lb Lee is a native of Calgary. So far this year for Brooks he has eight goals and seven assists in just 13 games, that’s good for 17th in the league for goals and 20th for overall points. He’s already well ahead of his pace of last year when he scored nine goals to go with 23 assists in 51 games with Brooks. UMass has had luck with forwards coming out of the AJHL before, the most recent being Branden Gracel.
Here’s a goal of his last season, complete with Chelsea Dagger:
Lee has already been picked AJHL Player of the Week once this year. Lee was also recently invited to the selection camp to represent Canada West at the World Junior Championships. No word on when Lee is coming to Amherst, but one would have to think it’d be for 2014 since there are already five and perhaps six player committed for next fall.
Matty V previews the game and adds that Mike Pereira is 100% good to go.
Harry Plumer has his game preview where Coach Mick says fatigue is not a worry, despite last week’s late game collapse. Plumer also had this feature on Gracel and Stephen Guzzo earlier in the week.
Michael King of College Hockey News has this story on the team trying to bounce back from last week’s loss. CHN also has their look at the weekend ahead as well as their Hockey East power rankings with UMass sticking at #7.
NESN has a preview of the home and home with BU where they predict Kevin Boyle will start on Friday.
The Collegian had this look at the student fan support in last week’s game.
Coach Mick was a guest on the Slap Schotts podcast this week, which provides excellent coverage of the ECAC.
Hockey’s Future has this profile of Conor Sheary.