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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UMass Looks To Upset #2 BU; McCutcheon Leaves UMass For UCSB

Massachusetts Minutemen 8-16-1 (3-11-1)  Hockey East T-11th

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#2 Boston University Terriers 15-4-4 (10-2-2)  Hockey East 1st

Almost four months ago Massachusetts and Boston University took to the ice in kind of similar spots.  Both were coming off disappointing seasons with relatively new coaches and featured large freshman classes that would be relied upon to produce early on.  And through two periods the teams looked pretty similar, with BU taking a narrow 2-1 lead into the third period.  But the Terriers exploded for six goals in the final period on the way to an 8-1 win and then the teams went their very separate ways for the next few month.  While the Minutemen were left embarrassed on opening night and would struggle mightily through the entire first half of the season, BU continued their strong play and come into the rematch the second ranked team in the country.

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Recruit Update: Des Moines Forward Joe Widmar Commits to UMass

Coach John Micheletto and the Massachusetts hockey program has picked up another commitment, presumably for this coming fall.  Des Moines forward Joe Widmar announced on twitter tonight that he has committed to the Minutemen.

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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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Preview: #14 Merrimack Warriors On-Deck For Minutemen

#14 Merrimack Warriors 13-7-2 (4-5-1) Hockey East 9th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 7-16-0 (2-11-0) Hockey East 12th

The Massachusetts Minutemen will look to continue their improved play in a home and home series against the 14th ranked Merrimack Warriors this weekend.  UMass is 3-3-0 in their last six and will look for at least a split against one of the most pleasant surprises in the league this season.  Through out of conference success the Warriors are ranked in the top 15 and are in the hunt for an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 1oth in the conference.

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Recruit Update: Leonard Hits 100 Career Points

It’s Tuesday, so time to take a look at how the recruits fared this past week, including yesterday’s new addition William Lagesson.

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Weekend Wrap-Around: Lagesson Commits To UMass For Next Fall

As first reported by Over The Boards, Dubuque Saint defenseman William Lagesson committed to Massachusetts for this coming fall.  This is a huge pickup for Coach Micheletto and his staff, especially this late in the recruiting cycle.  The Swedish-born Lagesson was the first pick of the fourth round of this past June’s NHL Draft, taken by the Edmonton Oilers.  The 6’2’ blueliner  played in his native Sweden before joining the USHL’s Saints this year.

Lagesson has one goal and 11 assists in 25 games with the Saints.  He recently returned to the Saints after representing Sweden in the World Junior Championships.  Team Sweden finished fourth in the tournament while Lagesson had an assist and finished a +1.  Though he’s billed as a two way defenseman, it sounds like his primary focus may be his own zone, which will fill a big need with both Oleg Yevenko and Mike Busillo graduating this season.  He has good size and it sounds like he is a very physical player.

The Oilers had this profile on him last month.

Here’s an in-depth look at him prior to the draft from a New Jersey Devils blog.

An Edmonton blog, Oiler’s Rig, had this profile of him last Summer.

Overall this looks like an excellent addition to next year’s incoming class.  Lagesson was likely one of the top non-committed players that could come in next fall.  And, his presence will shore up a defense that will be losing two stay at home defensemen to graduation.

All eyes in Hockey East this weekend were on Agganis Arena as the Boston College Eagles and Boston University Terriers renewed their rivalry.  The Eagles ended up charging out to a 3-0 lead and ended up taking down the #2 Terriers 4-2 in the game.  The celebration was short lived though for BC as they then went up to Orono and dropped a 4-2 decision to Maine yesterday.

The other big story around the league this past weekend was the performance of UMass’ next opponent, the Merrimack Warriors.  Mark Dennehy’s squad continues to defy expectations and swept a home and home with #12 Quinnipiac.  For his role in the wins, Warrior forward Brett Seney was named Hockey East Rookie of the Week.  Notre Dame’s Robbie Russo as Player of the Week while Danny Tirone, who picked up the win against UMass on Saturday, was Defensive Player of the Week.

With Maine’s upset of BC the Minutemen continue to stay in last place in the league despite picking up two points this past weekend:

Conference     Overall
    GP W-L-T   PTS GF-GA     GP W-L-T GF-GA
1 Mass.-Lowell 12 8-2-2   18 42-22     23 15-5-3 83-54
  Boston University 12 8-2-2   18 44-26     21 13-4-4 72-43
3 Vermont 12 7-4-1   15 38-24     23 15-6-2 68-41
4 Boston College 13 6-5-2   14 35-30     23 13-8-2 70-55
5 Notre Dame 10 5-2-3   13 32-24     24 10-11-3 71-66
6 Providence 11 6-5-0   12 19-15     23 14-8-1 58-47
7 Northeastern 13 4-7-2   10 27-40     23 8-11-4 55-67
  Connecticut 11 4-5-2   10 25-32     23 7-11-5 47-62
9 Merrimack 9 4-4-1   9 19-18     21 13-6-2 55-41
10 New Hampshire 10 3-6-1   7 23-31     22 8-12-2 63-62
11 Maine 10 3-7-0   6 23-32     24 8-15-1 59-76
12 Massachusetts 13 2-11-0   4 33-66     23 7-16-0 63-98

BU rebounded from their BC loss with an overtime win over Lowell Sunday afternoon and only slid one spot in the USCHO rankings to #3 as a result.  Lowell moved up a spot to #5.   Vermont tied and lost to Northeastern this past weekend and dropped a couple spots to #12.  The sweep of Quinnipiac propelled Merrimack all the way from #20 to #14.  Providence fell to #18 after losing to UNH early in the week and BC’s defeat knocked them down to #19.

USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll

January 19, 2015

Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 Minnesota State (42) 18- 4-1 992 1
2 North Dakota ( 7) 16- 5-2 941 3
3 Boston University 13- 4-4 874 2
4 Harvard ( 1) 11- 3-2 820 4
5 Massachusetts-Lowell 15- 5-3 762 6
6 Bowling Green 14- 4-4 705 7
7 Minnesota-Duluth 13- 8-1 695 5
8 Nebraska-Omaha 15- 6-3 670 8
9 Miami 14- 8-0 607 9
10 Michigan Tech 16- 7-1 527 11
11 Denver 13- 7-1 507 13
12 Vermont 15- 6-2 434 10
13 Yale 11- 4-2 326 18
14 Merrimack 13- 6-2 289 20
15 Colgate 14- 7-1 246 15
16 Michigan 13- 7-0 235 19
17 Minnesota 11- 7-2 228 16
18 Providence 14- 8-1 214 14
19 Boston College 13- 8-2 193 17
20 Quinnipiac 15- 8-1 182 12
Others receiving votes: Robert Morris 45, Western Michigan 5, Penn State 2, Mercyhurst 1.

 

Hockey East has five teams in the top 16 of the Pairwise.  UMass continues to come in last among league teams in the Pairwise at #50, just behind Maine.

Rk Team PCWs RPI Rk QWB-† W-L-T Win % Wgtd Win % – ‡
1 Minnesota State 58 .6072 1 .0091 18-4-1 .8043 .8120
2 Nebraska-Omaha 57 .5834 2 .0071 15-6-3 .6875 .6891
3 Bowling Green 56 .5818 3 .0045 14-4-4 .7273 .7412
4 North Dakota 55 .5784 4 .0066 16-5-2 .7391 .7193
5 Minnesota-Duluth 54 .5770 5 .0112 13-8-1 .6136 .6140
6 Miami 53 .5769 6 .0080 14-8-0 .6364 .6442
7 Harvard 52 .5728 7 .0049 11-3-2 .7500 .7412
8 Boston University 51 .5671 8 .0044 13-4-4 .7143 .7037
9 Mass.-Lowell 50 .5651 9 .0014 15-5-3 .7174 .7080
10 Yale 49 .5599 10 .0071 11-4-2 .7059 .7035
11 Michigan Tech 48 .5587 11 .0032 16-7-1 .6875 .6772
12 Vermont 46 .5586 12 .0007 15-6-2 .6957 .7105
13 Merrimack 46 .5571 13 .0021 13-6-2 .6667 .6684
14 Denver 45 .5567 14 .0041 13-7-1 .6429 .6250
15 Providence 44 .5534 15 .0065 14-8-1 .6304 .6316
16 Colgate 42 .5508 16 .0000 14-7-1 .6591 .6789
50 Massachusetts 9 .4452 49 .0003 7-16-0 .3043 .2966

Recap: UMass Splits With UNH, Gains 2nd Hockey East Victory

The Massachusetts hockey team played really well for five periods this weekend in their home and home series with New Hampshire.  Unfortunately that one bad period cost them a chance at sweeping the Wildcats and gaining four points in the standings.  Still, this was a UNH team that was on the upswing and probably better than their record, so the split itself is a sign of progress for the Minutemen.

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Preview: UMass Still Searching For 2nd Hockey East Win In Home And Home With UNH

New Hampshire Wildcats 7-11-2 (2-5-1) Hockey East 10th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 6-15-0 (1-10-0) Hockey East 12th

Unfortunately for the Massachusetts hockey team they’re having to play the New Hampshire Wildcats at the worst possible time.  From the beginning of the season through early December UNH had just four wins.  It looked like they were going to go into winter break in a dreadful slump, going 0-5-1 from 11/15 through 12/12.  But just before everyone headed home for the Christmas holiday they beat rival Maine 7-4.  Starting with that win they’ve gone 3-1-1 in their last five and have posted impressive wins over #12 Nebraska-Omaha on the road and #14 Providence this past Tuesday.

The Wildcats are a very balanced team.  How balanced?  Well they’re average goals for and average goals against per game are both 2.70.  Their statistical ranking among Hockey East teams is pretty much in the middle of the pack across the board.  They’re ranked 6th offensively and 8th defensively.  Their power play is 6th best in the league while their penalty kill is 5th.  It would seem then that they’d be middle of the pack in terms of standings too, but instead they’re 10th, just three points ahead of the Minutemen (though with three games in hand).  The disconnect between their statistical ranking and place in the standings is because in addition to their two ties they’ve lost 7 games by one goal or one goal plus an empty net goal.  They spent most of the first half of the season being a shift or a bounce away from winning.  But it wasn’t until recently that they were able to get over that hump.

So what happened in that game against Maine before break and ever since?  Well for one, Grayson Downing happened.  The senior forward had four goals in the first 15 games.  He has 8 goals and 11 total points in the last five alone, including the game winners against both Omaha and Providence.  Needless to say he’s is absolutely on fire right now.  Sophomore Tyler Kelleher hasn’t been too bad in that time either.  In the last five games he has 2 goals and 5 assists.  Needless to say UMass will have to be extra careful when those two players are on the ice this weekend.

When Casey DeSmith ran into trouble with the law during the offseason coach Dick Umile turned to freshman Adam Clark to take care of the crease and overall the big netminder has done pretty well on the season.  His 5-11-2 record is more a product of all those one goal losses as statistically his .905 save percentage and 2.68 goals against average aren’t too bad.  It’s unclear if UMass will see him for one, two, or no games this weekend though.  Joining the Wildcats for the second semester was Daniel Tirone and in two games he’s been spectacular, picking up the wins against both the Omaha and Providence.  In those two games he has a .947 save percentage and 1.50 goals against average.  In front of either goaltender UNH has a very solid defenseman in Carolina draft pick junior Brett Pesce.

A few weeks ago consecutive weeks against Maine and UNH looked like a big opportunity for UMass to rack up some wins against the other poor performing teams in Hockey East.  However, this looks like a Wildcat team that is starting to find itself and is probably not going to be the easier competition that the team had hoped for.  Both offensively and defensively UNH is playing very good right now.  UMass on the other hand continues to be inconsistent.  This past weekend against Maine featured some of the best goaltending and defensive play we’ve seen in consecutive games all season.  But their offense sputtered, scoring just three goals in two games against a defensively poor Black Bear team.  Earlier in the season UMass was having no problem scoring, but were giving up 5, 6, 7 goals a game.  They have to bring both parts of the game together.

Down the stretch it’s going to be important for the coaching staff to get the freshmen involved in the scoring again.  In the first part of the season, cumulating with the AIC win, the freshmen were scoring 1.4 goals per game for the Minutemen.  Since that time they’ve only scored 0.5 goals per game.  They’re still generating roughly the same amount of shots in those time periods (10.8 vs 9.5), they’re just not finding the back of the net.

Coach Micheletto has said on the radio show and in postgame interviews that he’s very happy with the progress he’s seen since the team came out of the holiday break.  And they have at times looked a lot better in that period, though they’re still just 2-3-0 in the five games in question.  It’s also important to realize that in that times they’ve played one very good team (Providence), one average team (UConn), and two bad teams (Air Force, Maine).  Coming out flat against Maine on Saturday after the uplifting, come from behind win on Friday was worrisome.  However, if the Minutemen can get two, perhaps three Hockey East points from an improving UNH team then I think fans can buy into the idea that the team is finally starting to show progress versus their first half woes.

Beer The Triangle
Still trying to find that Berkshire Imperial Steel Rail!

Weekend Preview From UMass Athletics.

Weekend Preview From UNH.

The Collegian has their preview for the UNH series.

For a UNH viewpoint, here’s a preview from the Foster’s Daily Democrat.

SBN College Hockey has a great feature on Frank Vatrano, chronicling his journey to finally playing college hockey every night.

Recruit Update: FTT Scouts Incoming 2017 Recruit John Leonard

Usually the FTT updates on incoming Massachusetts hockey recruits is relegated to stat updates and links found from afar.  But I’m happy to say that tonight’s update includes some first hand scouting on John Leonard.


Nic Renyard

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