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Friday Recap

Well it wasn’t pretty and frankly UMass had no business winning this game, but win they did and the Minutemen stole two Hockey East points from UNH.  UMass came out well in the first and jumped to the 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Lecomte and Braun.  Even though UMass had the early lead they still didn’t look all that sharp as they were considerably outshot in the first stanza and went 0-for-2 on the power play.  Braun’s play has seemed a little off as of late but I thought he played considerably better through most of tonight.

In the second the wheels came completely off for the Minutemen.  The defense looked really disinterested in playing any semblance of defense and continually left Paul Dainton to fend for himself.  Luckily, Dainton was up to the task and single handedly kept UMass in the game behind a career high 42 saves, and quite a few of them were spectacular.  Neither of the first two goals were his fault as the defense was slow to clear the puck in front of him.  The third could probably be hung on him as he made a kick save from far out that rebounded right into the slot.

The third period was more of the same with the defense getting a little better but the offense seemed completely disjointed.  The only line that consistently looked good was the Lecomte/Langeraap/Ortiz line which worked hard all night.  Unfortunately the top line looked out of sorts which is strange because they seemed to adjust fine to the Danny Hobbs addition last week.  Not so much tonight.  Not to say any individual player on the line played badly, they were just never on the same page.  Hobbs’ play was impressive again tonight and I’m glad to see him start to establish himself as a legitimate Hockey East player.  While UMass was able to put some pressure on in the third they still were unable to generate any real scoring chances.  That is until 11 seconds left when Wellman found himself with the puck all alone on the left side of the net after Braun was somehow able to get it over to him despite getting pushed down on the ice.  Wellman sends it to OT and in the extra frame Boehm puts a hard shot on net that the struggling Brian Foster just couldn’t find and the game ends.  It wasn’t a pretty win, I’m not sure it was a deserved win, but sometimes the puck bounces the right way at the right time and you come away with a win.  Hopefully tomorrow night the Minutemen will be able to keep an early lead and avoid a similar situation.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Paul Dainton
It seems that whenever a team wins in overtime the first star or player of the game always goes to the guy who scores the game-winner.  Certainly David Boehm deserves a ton of credit not only for his overtime goal but for his solid play throughout.  However if Paul Dainton doesn’t play as well as he did the game never goes to overtime.  Hell, the Minutemen could have easily found themselves losing after the first period without some key saves from Dainton.

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The Republican recap decides to twist the knife a little by reminding us all of Bubby Butler’s OT winner in the Hockey East semifinals. 

Dick Umile says UNH played hard and has nothing to show for it in the USCHO recap.

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A couple of other interesting results in Hockey East tonight.  Maine beat Northeastern 6-2 at Matthews while BU continues to lose after dropped a 6-3 decision to Merrimack.

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UNH Preview

New Hampshire Wildcats 2-5-2, (Hockey East 2-1-1 T-3rd)
vs
Massachusetts Minutemen 6-1-0, (Hockey East 3-1-0 2nd)

New Hampshire Wildcats Official Site

UMass is handed a gold opportunity this weekend.  Usually a two game series against the New Hampshire entails a trip north to the hostile, expansive environment of Lake Whitt.  But  the scheduling Gods have blessed the Minutemen with two games in two nights against the struggling Wildcats at home in the Mullins Center.  There is no doubt that UMass has had a favorable schedule thus far.  Even the victory over defending champ BU seems diminished at this point given their five losses early on.  But if UMass wants to show that they’re a legitimate squad capable of sustaining this early success I think this weekend against UNH will be key.

While the season has gone well so far for the Minutemen, they have no gone as well for UNH.  They opened the season with a loss to RPI the night after the Engineers lost in the Mullins and have only picked up two wins in the time since.  Granted, their schedule has not been the easiest as they had to play a two game series with top ranked Miami where they managed a tie and then got pummelled out in Madison against Wisconsin, a tough place for anyone to play.  They certainly did not look good this past Sunday when they took on Lowell, losing 6-3 with one of their goals scored by Lowell’s Ryan Blair on his own net.  To say that goaltender Brian Foster has been struggling is an understatement.  He gave up at least two bad goals against Lowell and currently has a GAA of 4.19 and save percentage of .871.  It seems inconceivable that he’d start both games this weekend but who knows if Dick Umile will end up with giving sophomore Matt Girolamo a shot in net or not.

While UNH might be hurting on defense and in net they still are quite capable on offense, though perhaps not quite as deep as in previous years.  Bobby Butler has put together a nice start to his senior year with 6 goals in 9 games while Mike Silso continues to be one of the most hardworking forwards in the conference.  Sophomore defenseman Blake Kessel has had to take a bigger role on offense and currently leads UNH with 7 assists to go with 3 goals.

For UMass to be successful I say shoot early and shoot often.  Foster is struggling and Girolamo is inexperienced.  Add in the fact that UNH has the worst goals against in the league at 4.22 and this seems like a team that can be defeated by getting an early lead and trying to build upon it.  Certainly the UMass power play which has been stellar so far could be key as UNH is only killing penalties at a rate of 72%.  I think if the first line clicks, whether it be with a healthy Syner or a fill-in Hobbs on the wing, UMass can do some damage this weekend.

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A couple of things to know about the games this weekend.  First is that the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Graduate History are sponsoring a food drive for both games.  So don’t forget your cans, boxes, and other prepared foods.  Second, the ticket office is doing a ticket promotion where if you bring you stub from Friday’s game you can get a ticket for Saturday for only $5.  Hopefully the Mullins will be a good place to dry off after the monsoon rolls through the football game that afternoon.

The Republican has a nice feature on Mike Marcou.  I, for one, have been pleasantly surprised by the younger Marcou’s play this year.  Going into the year it was clear that one or two of the defensemen would have to step up and give quality minutes this year and he’s certainly done so.  He’s certainly not physically imposing or overly athletic but his strengths are playing smart and especially getting in a good position and he’s been able to leverage those skills and provide some very solid play for a sophomore..

Here’s the preview from the Collegian where it’s revealed that the two game home series was negotiated between the head coaches.  The Collegian also reports that Langeraap could be back this weekend in their notes section.

Here’s a preview from the Hampshire Gazette.

Foster’s Daily Democrat is the second NH paper to say the Wildcats’ woes result from taking penalties.

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INCH’s Jeff Howe has a good story about a better bond the team is finding which each other this year.

James Marcou stays at #2 in this week’s Hobey Watch from Inside Hockey.

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