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Quinnipiac Recap

Will Ortiz (photo by Karen Winger)

Save for the UConn tournament following Christmas the non-conference schedule is in the books for the 2009-2010 Minutemen.  Now I realize that these games are important in terms of PWR/RPI/KRACH and whatever acronyms you personally adhere to but quite frankly next to the Hockey East slate, they’re nothing.  I’ll always take the wins regardless but I think what may be more important are the lessons they learn out of conference to help prepare for another grueling Hockey East gauntlet.  Lessons learned last night; do not take periods off, do not spot good teams 3-0 leads to start the game.  At the same time the lesson that we, as fans, were introduced to against UNH, reviewed again versus Yale, and after last night have been well schooled in; this UMass team will not quit when down.

Ok, no need to do a play by play recap, I’m sure there are much better ones in the paper (which I’ll link to anyway).  Instead let’s address the main issues surrounding the game. 

The Meyers decision.  It was certainly surprising to arrive at the arena and find Dan Meyers was getting the start.  Meyers has played very well in his starts against Niagara and Yale but with the high profile matchup of the game against a supercharged offense, it seemed to me like Paul Dainton would be the  choice.  That said, was Meyers performance in the first period the difference of the game?  Not in my opinion.  He has certainly looked much sharper at times and the numbers do not look good, but it’s tough to put those goals on his shoulders.  He was a bit shaky and gave up some rebounds but got very little help in clearing them out of the slot from his defensemen and with the offensive unable to maintain possession he had the puck in front of him way too often.  While I was happy to see Dainton in net to start the second, it was because I hoped it would light a charge underneath the Minutemen (which I think it did) rather than a statement on Meyers’ play to that point.

The first period.  The thing that stood out in that first period was how conservative the team looked, both offensively and defensively.  Quinnipiac effectively clogged both the neutral zone and the slot and prevented UMass from getting any rhythm offensively.  Defensively I’m not sure what the team was trying to do in the first but once the team went down and had to open things up on both sides of the ice the defensemen seemed to be able to move in their own zone better and shut down the talented Bobcats forwards from then on.

The comeback.  Down by three goals Toot appeared to loosen the reigns and it seemed to make the difference.  The offense responded to start the second and were able to at least put something on the scoreboard with a nice put back by Casey Wellman.  The third was highlighted by a great shot and score by Will Ortiz and then just eleven seconds after a second goal by Wellman catching an unprepared Dan Clarke.  The goal by Mike Lecomte to tie was a skill shot taking a rebound and roofing it straight up and in.  But it wasn’t just a reawakened offense that got UMass back into the game and ultimately a lead.  What made the difference was some great defensive work by Brett Watson, Danny Hobbs, and Ortiz on the forwards to keep the Bobcats out of the offensive zone.

The interference call.  I would love to see the interference called on Justin Braun with just over two minutes again.  I didn’t have the best angle from where I was sitting but it looked pretty questionable from what I did see.  Aside from some blatantly missed calls by the ECAC officiating crew on both sides (specifically some obvious offsides and an elbow to Marcou’s head that went without a whistle) the refs seemed like they were going to let a lot go in what was a very physical game.  That’s fine with me, just as long as they’re consistent and they call it that way throughout.  But they weren’t consistent when they put away their whistles for nearly the entire third period and then pull them out for a ticky-tack interference call on a faceoff.  In the context of the many penalties which went uncalled throughout the game, it was ridiculous.  That said, I refuse to say that UMass lost the game because of the referees.  They lost because they gave one of the best offensive teams in the country a three goal head start to begin the game.  The team was flat out dominated for that first twenty minutes.  If the team played like they did in the following periods for even parts of the first and it never comes down to a Braun penalty or an overtime goal and the Minutemen leave Connecticut with a win over a top ten team for the second time in ten days.

Not surprisingly I don’t think the team took the loss very well, completely understandable considering everything they had to do to get back in the game and even take the lead.  I do hope however that they look back and realize how well they’ve played thus far, how well they played for good stretches against a skilled QU team, and I hope they play just as hard in the next few weeks.  Six Hockey East points are up for grabs against three tough conference opponents between now and Christmas.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Will Ortiz
I haven’t gone through all the box scores yet, but I have to assume that with 5 goals this week Casey Wellman will be getting some deserved recognition in the hockey world.  But I like the FTT player of the game to go beyond statistics sometimes.  Will Ortiz played a huge role in the comeback effort on both sides of the puck.  Ortiz played some great defense 5 on 5, was key on the power play, scored the momentum swinging goal, put a body on anyone who came near him, and looked to be the emotional leader on the ice.

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Toot says the team lost in the first period in the USCHO recap.  I have to agree.

He has this to say about starting Meyers in the Republican game story:

“Paul still had started nine of the first 12,” he said. “I’ve seen other schools try to ride one goaltender sometimes successfully. But more times than not, he gets beaten up by the end of the year.”

Here is a Quinnipiac viewpoint of the game from the New Haven Register.

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Quinnipiac has been added to the Road Trip page.  TD Bank Sports Center is truly a very nice arena for an up and coming program and is a great symbol of the school’s committment to their hockey program.  Frankly, I would think a UConn fan must be embarassed to find that the premiere college hockey arena in the state is located outside of Storrs.  Frietas looks like a practice rink compared to both TD Bank SC and Ingalls Rink.

Make sure to check out the comments of the Road Trip page also as readers have put in their two cents for good places to go for this weekend’s trip to Lowell.

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1 Comment

  1. Gregg Anderson

     /  December 2, 2009

    The call on Braun was among the worst I’ve ever seen- the “offense” itself as well as the time in the game, as well as the “let ’em play” attutude through most of the game. This was the worst reffed game I’ve seen in years- missed icings an offsides, penalties not called… MAN!

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