Saturday Recap

Paul Dainton (photo by Karen Winger)

This appears to be a statement weekend by UMass. They proved that they are recovering from whatever ailed them since Thanksgiving, gaining their third win a row. They proved they can take advantage of games against teams near them in the standings, taking 4 points from Lowell as well as the all important tiebreaker. And they showed that they can succeed where past teams have failed, bringing back the Alumni Cup to Amherst for the first time in too long.

They also demonstrated that they can find a way to win against a good team even when they’re not at the top of their game. Better yet, they can find a way to win even when they play one of their worst periods of hockey all season, which we saw during the second period last night. In that period they managed only two shots on net and overall looked completely disjointed offensively. By the end of the second they had gone 0-for-3 on the power play generating exactly 0 shots on the man advantage. It’s tough to win with those kind of numbers. So what was the difference of the game? Paul Dainton. Dainton made 28 saves and single-handedly kept UMass in the game during stretches when they were simply unable to get anything going offensively. He kept them in it and when the third came the forwads played much better and were able to edge the River Hawks in the crucial final period.

One of the more bizarre penalty calls I think I’ve seen in my 16 years of watching this team happened in the third period when Patrick Cey was called for interference, just one of many instances where Lowell’s players were going after Marcou. James, however, was also called for embellishment on the play which seemed a little odd since he was hit hard enough to open up a cut on his chin that required him to leave the game briefly to get it stitched up. The question is, how is it diving when the hit itself draws blood? Thinking about it on the way home I think this was referee Tom Fyrer getting back at Marcou for something that happened earlier in the game. In the beginning of the second Maury Edwards was called for a five minute major for a high stick to Marcou. James was shaken up a bit and took some time to get off the ice with a little help from the trainer. But in the time it took to sort out the penalty and then the obligatory explanation to Blaise McDonald who was understandably not happy, Marcou cleared the cobwebs and was ready to return for the faceoff. Fyrer didn’t allow him back on the ice but Marcou was back on his line seconds after the faceoff was won. I have a feeling Fyrer thought James showed up him with this sequence of events and let him know this with the diving call in the third. It’s not the most upstanding of ways to officiate but I don’t think Fyrer has even been considered one of the better Hockey East officials anyway.

Last night’s win gave UMass its first four point weekend of the season and did it against what was supposed to be one of the best teams in Hockey East this year. I think BU’s fall from last year’s pinnacle has overshadowed what has transpired with Lowell’s hockey team. This is a team that returned everyone from last year’s squad that went to the Hockey East championship, was the preseason #2 in the league, and has two of the league’s better goaltenders at their disposal. So what’s their problem? Not the goaltending, as both Nevin Hamilton and Carter Hutton played very well this weekend, with the latter making one of the best saves I’ve seen this season early in the 3rd of last night’s game. They’re not the most offensive minded club but with their defense and goaltending they don’t necessarily have to be. Their problem is they’re completely undisciplined taking too many penalties at the worst possible time in games. It nearly cost them last week’s game at Northeastern and it certainly played a role in both games this weekend. If Lowell ends up missing the NCAAs for the 14th year in a row, they can look back at all those cheap, unnecessary penalties and think about the season that could’ve been.

As for UMass, it’s time to look ahead. They’ll have another key chance to grab some Hockey East points this weekend with Vermont coming to town for two games. UMass finds itself in third place in Hockey East just three points out of first, though UNH still has one game in hand on the Minutemen. They’ll have to remain focused and get at least three points from this weekend to set themselves up for the remaining schedule. It’s a little scary to think that after this coming weekend there will only be three games left in the friendly confines of the Mullins, so the team simply cannot let the opportunity pass to get points at home.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Paul Dainton
Without Dainton’s play, especially in the first two periods, this game gets ugly fast.


Matt Irwin credits Will Ortiz’s screen for his game-winner in the USCHO game story.

Thank equipment manager Josh Penn for spotting the Lowell player in the crease on the disallowed goal according to the Republican recap.

Here’s how things looked for the uncredited Gazette reporter.


Jon Quick get the shootout win over the Bruins yesterday afternoon. had a nice feature on how Quick used to study Olympic teammate Tim Thomas’ style while a student at UMass.