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Weekend Preview

#15 Massachusetts Minutemen 15-9-0, (Hockey East 10-7-0 T-2nd)
at
Boston University Terriers 8-11-3, (Hockey East 6-9-2 T-6th)  

Official Boston University Hockey Site
Boston Hockey Blog

Tonight’s matchup with Boston University could tell us a lot about this UMass team.  Just four weeks ago the Minutemen suffered through a shameful 7-3 loss to these Terriers on national TV and then followed it up with another blowout defeat to UNH.  Since that time the Minutemen have looked much better, taking 8 out of a possible 10 Hockey East points.  But can they redeem themselves for that earlier embarrassment?  They’ll have their work cut out for them since Agganis has been anything but friendly to the UMass program.

BU has done pretty well since that game on the 2nd as well, with that game being the first of four wins in their last six games.  By far January has been the most successful month of this unusual season for the Terriers.  But, BU continues to struggle on both sides of the ice.  They’re only managing a bit over 3 goals per game, well off their pace from last year, but what is killing them the most is their defense which is allowing almost 3.50 goals a game.  On top of that they find their specials team in the lower half of the conference rankings.

But do not underestimate them, they still, as always, have skilled players.  Though struggling with the rest of his team on defense, Kevin Shattenkirk is leading the Terriers in total points currently with 19.  Nick Bonino and Vinny Saponari have led the forwards in scoring while Chris Connelly is enjoying a breakout sophomore season with 7 goals and 8 assists so far.  Kieran Millan continues to struggle to put up the stellar numbers he put up last year without the NHL caliber defensive corps in front of him.  His goals against of 3.35 and save percentage of .878 are near the bottom for starters in Hockey East.

UMass’ main problem when they played on Comm Ave at the beginning of the month was a total inability to generate offense.  They were faced with a team struggling on defense and without strong goaltending yet were only able to muster 23 total shots, including a mere 11 through the first two periods.  This simply cannot happen if they want to have a chance to win tonight.  Put pressure on Millan and they’ll likely be in a good spot to take the game.  If they play conservative or without confidence they might as well not even show up and just head straight to Providence to prepare for tomorrow.  UMass teams have had some pretty good success against BU in recent years.  But only at home.  For whatever reason though when the bus exits Storrow Drive they seem to step off it beaten before the puck even drops.  This can’t happen tonight.  BU has a losing record.  UMass is the better team.  This is not a Terrier squad to be in awe of.  UMass should, not just can, beat this team.  Let’s see if they’ve realized it yet.

#15 Massachusetts Minutemen 15-9-0, (Hockey East 10-7-0 T-2nd)
at
Providence Friars 9-13-1, (Hockey East 4-11-1 10th)

Providence College Hockey Official Site

The season started out promising for the Friars, a team not expected to do much of anything this season.  A 6-3-0 record out of the gate, including a 2-1 result over UMass, got the few remaining Friar faithful hopeful but since that time they’ve only managed a mere 3 wins and Tim Army finds himself back in their fandom’s doghouse.  That’s not to say they’re playing entirely bad however as they recently took conference leading UNH to overtime before falling and picked up four points a couple weeks ago against Maine and BU.

What the Friars have going for them is defense.  For Hockey East teams they’re behind only Lowell in scoring defense, giving up just 2.65 goals a game.  Their penalty kill is also second in the conference at 85.7%.  Quite a bit of the credit for this goes to Alex Beaudry, who is among the goaltending leaders with a 2.40 goals against average and a stingy .927 save percentage.  They have two defensemen, young and old, to keep an eye on in the form of freshman Alex Velischek and senior Mark Fayne.  Fayne finds himself third on the team in total points.  Ahead of him are junior forward Kyle MacKinnon and sophomore Matt Bergland.  Don’t expect to see the Friars put the puck in the net too many times though as they are dead last in Hockey East at 2.26 per game, far below everyone else.

UMass should be wary of the Friars.  Not only have they played some quality teams close while beating others, they’ve also proven they can shutdown the UMass offense as they did en route to a 2-1 victory last Halloween.  In that game Alex Beaudry had perhaps his best game of his career, stopping an amazing 47 Minutemen shots, including 20 in the third period alone.  Does he have another performance like that in him?  Will he even need to go to that extent if the defenseman in front of him play as well as they have of late?  Should be interesting to see.

Δ

Here is Dick Baker’s weekend preview for the Republican.  He reports that Chase Langeraap and Marc Concannon may return to the lineup this weekend.

Unfortunately Matt Vautour reports that Danny Hobbs will be out with an injury sustained in practice.  Neither have anything to say about Doug Kublin who missed both games against UVM.

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Casey Wellman is a popular topic among former Collegian writers this week.  Andrew Merritt of the New England Hockey Journal has a good story on Wellman’s journey from baseball player’s son to goalscorer on the ice.

Wellman is #7 (appropriately enough) on Inside Hockey’s Hobey Watch while James Marcou continues to hold on to the top spot.

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Boston.com is profiling all Olympians with New England connections.  Here’s their entry for Jon Quick.

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1 Comment

  1. Ryan

     /  January 29, 2010

    I really won’t be happy unless 4 points are taken this weekend. Let’s kick these teams while they are down, as UMass is clearly the best team in both matchups. Just remember everyone Beaudry > Millan so let’s get some good shots.

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