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Weekend Preview; Pereira To Stay Local?; Syner Out Tonight

Niagara Purple Eagles 0-5-1, (CHA 0-0-0 T-2nd)
vs
Massachusetts Minutemen 4-1-0, (Hockey East 3-1-0 1st)

Niagara Purple Eagles Official Site

On paper this looks like a complete and total mismatch.  UMass is off to a great start with a 4-1 record, a win over the defending national champs, and a spot atop the early Hockey East standing.  Niagara on the other hand is winless through six games and will be coming into Amherst after a grueling road trip that’s seen them travel to the hinterlands of New York’s North Country, the unfriendly confines of Michigan’s Yost Arena, and then back to NY to take two more losses to upstate foes.  HoweverUMass will be unwise to think they’ll be able to just sweep away what’s probably a hungry Purple Eagles team.

One thing in Niagara’s favor to get at least one win this weekend is the odd home and home series.  After meeting tonight in the Mullins Center the teams will travel six-plus hours across the New York Thruway for an early Sunday afternoon start.  The fact that Niagara will be psyched to finally be playing on familiar ice after their long trip combined with the strange start time will likely work to their favor.  But what the Minutemen really need to be wary of this weekend is the fact that Niagara is much better than their 0-5-1 record.  It should be noted that two of their losses were to #5 Michigan and #6 Cornell, both of those by only one goal, in fact they took the Big Red to overtime.  Their games to SLU and Clarkson were also one goal losses including another OT loss to the Knights.  A couple bounces and this team could be 4-1-1 instead with some very quality wins.

On offense Niagara is paced  by the Zanette brothers, junior Paul and freshman Marc.  Marc is their top scoring forward this season so far with 5 points in 6 game while his brother leads the team in goals with three.  Defenseman Tyler Gotto is actually the leading scorer for the team averaging a point a game with a couple of goals on the season.  NU coach Dave Burkholder seems to still be feeling out his goaltending situation as he’s played all three of the goalies on his roster so far this season.  Junior Adam Avramenko has played in 4 of the games with a 3.48 GAA.  Sophomore Chris Noonan has an identical GAA in a couple games while freshman Andrew Hare gave up four goals in his only game of the season.

For UMass I think if they can have success on special teams they’ll win both games.  UMass comes into the game with perhaps the best power play in college, converting chances at 30.6% while Niagara has a kill of 78.1%.  On the other side of the coin UMass has a chance to improve upon their struggling PK of 75% against a team that has only scored one power play goal all season on 25 chances.  Other than that it’ll just come down to effort and execution, two things that were missing for large parts of last Saturday.  I’m interested to see how this team responds to their first loss.  There are certainly signs that perhaps this team does have a different makeup than past years where UMass would take lower profile teams more lightly and end up losing games they probably should’ve won.  If they can play hard both games this weekend for the entire sixty minutes in two completely different environments it could show how mentally prepared this team is for the long haul.

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Here are the game notes from Niagara.  NU will be honoring the 10th anniversary of their program’s historic 99-00 season where the Purple Eagles upset UNH in the NCAA tourney.

James Marcou is pictured on the front page of USCHO while their weekly Hockey East column talks about how so far Hockey East is up for grabs.

Toot agrees that the Purple Eagles are much better than their record in the preview from the Collegian while Brian Keane says the Minutemen learned their lesson about not giving full effort last Saturday in the Republican.

The Gazette has a brief preview as well.

Andrew Merritt of the New England Hockey Journal notes that the Minutemen are playing with fire by taking so many penalties.

Δ

So USHR put out a correction saying that Mike Pereira was added to Sioux City’s protected list, not Lincoln’s.  But then later on they reported that Periera is likely to transfer to another prep school versus heading west to play in the USHL.  Stay tuned.

John Parker and Team USA defeated Sweden in the quarterfinals of the Under 18 Junior A Challenge and will be taking on Russia today at 1pm.

Δ

A recap of tonight’s game may be late in getting on the site.  With tailgating for tomorrow’s football game starting somewhere around the crack of dawn I may not have the time to write something up.  At the very least I’ll have something up by tomorrow night.

Update:  Much thanks to a real reporter friend who caught this article in the Collegian saying that T.J. Syner will be sitting out tonight.  It doesn’t say if it’s injury or not or what his status will be for Sunday.

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3 Comments

  1. Jeff

     /  November 6, 2009

    It should be noted that the PIMs are largely related to the Maine game and have been coming down ~1PIM/game since then.

    Like

    • Thanks. Some dude named Jeff that sits next to me mentioned the same thing tonight. I’m shocked to hear that Bunyon may be contributing to too many penalty minutes being called.

      Like

  2. Ryan

     /  November 6, 2009

    We should really watch out for the goalies. I mean I know they are big and all but, since they are really so special we should even glance at them, nevermind touch them and take a penalty. Seriously though, against Marcou a good call, against Czepial…..

    Like

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