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Saturday Recap

It appears UMass’ strong performances against the likes of Minnesota and BU may have indicated they were a little further along in their progression as a team than they actually are.  At least that’s my feeling coming out of last night’s 3-2 loss at Schneider Arena in front of a friends and family Providence crowd.  UMass’ close games against two ranked teams led me to think they’d be able to at least split with the veteran, yet 1-4-0 Friar team, but in the end UMass gained just one Hockey East point on the weekend.

Last night the team just couldn’t convert on enough scoring chances, despite outshooting the Friars 34-27 and getting 8 power play chances.  Credit goes to Friar goaltender Alex Beaudry who had a great night and didn’t show any of the struggles that plagued him earlier this season when Providence went out to Minnesota-Duluth.  But at the same time UMass seemed to make things easier for him at times by not finding corners or holes to the back of the net.  There were a couple of point blank chances that ended up going directly into Beaudry’s chest.

Last night’s game was very physical, which tells me that Tim Army has crafted the right type of team to play well on the small ice of the Coffin.  I thought UMass responded well to the physical play of the Friars, not backing down when hit and doing their best to give it right back.  But this is still a team made up almost exclusively of small, speedy type players and that could hinder them when they play in these type of rinks against a team like Providence.  Though the effort was there, there was too often that Providence was able to outmuscle them and take control of the puck in the corners.  There’s no real solution to this other than probably some scheming, better puck possession, and perhaps guys like Troy Power and Brian Keane, as two of the more physical players, taking on a bigger role in these games.

I thought the offense overall looked improved from the previous night with the Minutemen able to keep possession of the puck for long stretches in time, not hurt of course by all the power plays they drew.  The passing seemed a little off for most of the game, perhaps driven by the smaller ice and compressed playing area than what the team is used to.  Paul Dainton looked much improved from the night before.  It’s tough to really fault him on any of the goals.  I thought overall UMass had one of their best defensive efforts of the season last night with the one glaring miscue coming on the third Friar goal where Ian O’Connor was allowed to skate with the puck from the corner into the slot completely untouched.

So perhaps it’s necessary to bring the expectations down a notch for this team.  Going into the season a one point weekend against the Friars wasn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.  But then again I don’t think anyone expected UMass to hang with the tough teams they had to date, especially when they were dealing with some significant injuries.  So time to readjust.  As I said in my season preview, I’m not as worried about how this inexperienced team starts the season as how they end it.  They’ve at least shown that there is a lot to build on at this point, it’s just going to take a while longer before they’re able to start turning that base talent into wins.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Joel Hanley
At the time it appeared that Hanley’s shot was actually tipped in by T.J. Syner.  In fact the PA announcer at Providence and Cox broadcasters said as much.  But the box score says it was Hanley’s goal and he gets my player of the game.  Certainly Hanley’s had a rough start to his time at college, so it’s great to see him get this milestone and hopefully it gives him the confidence to become a bigger part UMass’ game on both sides of the ice.

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No game stories from any of the local papers, Valley or Providence, so here’s the recap from UMassathletics.

USCHO has a recap from last night however.

There were some strange results from around Hockey East this weekend.  Greg Cronin is probably not enjoying his Sunday morning after his Northeastern Huskies got swept by Atlantic Hockey, dropping games to both Holy Cross and Bentley.  Probably not quite as shocking, but still very impressive, was Merrimack’s win over Boston College to gain the weekend split.  UNH put up a touchdown on Cornell on Friday winning 7-4.  And elsewhere Maine beat UVM in overtime last night while BU completed a sweep of Lowell.

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Friday Recap

Friday’s game against Providence went very differently than I anticipated.  In my preview I mentioned that I thought the offense would continue to be strong, the defense would be a weak spot, and with Dainton in net the goaltending would be solid.  Instead the offense struggled, mightily at times, the defense was pretty good for most of the game, and Dainton let in a couple goals he probably shouldn’t have.

To the credit of Dainton and his leadership skills he pretty much threw himself under the bus after the game, saying he wanted the first and third goals back and that he “owes the guys for this one” since they bailed him out and got a tie.  He did say he feels 100% and that the injury was not a factor.  To his defense he did make some very tough saves to keep UMass in the game, especially early on and in the second when the offense was struggling. 

Overall I liked how the defense played in front of him, it may have been their best game so far that I’ve seen (I did not watch the game at BU).  The only glaring mistake I can remember was on the 2nd goal when Joel Hanley let a guy get around him and to the front of the net.  I thought the timing of the goals hurt the Minutemen a lot, with PC scoring with under two minutes left in the first to tie it at 1 and then allowing the goal with a second left in the second to knot it at 2.  If UMass is able to get to the locker room with the lead in both those periods, it may be a very different outcome.  Instead Providence carries momentum over to the next period which was especially evident to start the third.

Offensively the Minutemen started out well, generating 16 shots in the first period including 7 over two power plays in that time.  Getting the power play going was one of the better things to take away from last night.  Of course Darren Rowe’s game-tying goal came on the extra man as well.  After the first though the team struggled to maintain constant pressure on PC goaltender Alex Beaudry.  In fact the Minutemen were outshot 13-4 in the second, their second straight game coming out flat in the middle period.  At one point in the third the Friar were outshooting UMass 31-21.  Of course they then turned on the jets, as we’ve seen over and over this season, and were able to tie it up and get back in the game late.  One of these games though I’d like to see that kind of intensity in the first or second and see the team get off to a good start and establish more than a one goal lead.

Individually I thought a lot of players stood out on offense.  Brendan Gracel had another good game.  His vision and puck moving skills are stellar and he his able to get a shot off when needed (his 6 shots led the team) but he just has to work on making them count.  He’s second on the team in shots to T.J. Syner but still without a goal.  I foresee one coming in the near future.  I thought Troy Power had maybe his best game so far, being very active in the corners and moving the puck well.  Brian Keane and Marc Concannon both played very well, with Concannon assisting on the Mike Pereira goal.  On defense Colin Shea had one of his better games of the season so far.

All in all it wasn’t a bad game.  Frustrating, but not horrible.  It will be interesting to see how they bounce back tonight when this young, speedy team plays its first game of the year on small ice.  I’ll also be interested to see if Coach Cahoon has Teglia in net, so as not to overwork Dainton while he’s coming back from an injury, or puts Paul back in right away feeling he has something to prove from last night.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Darren Rowe
I thought a lot of players did very well last night while no one really stood out as being outstanding.  So the player of the game goes to the guy who got the game-tying goal with under four left in the 3rd.  Rowe made sure to be in the right spot on the power play when he was able to deflect T.J. Syner shot/pass into the back of the net.  Rowe is now tied for 8th in the country in goals scored and leads Hockey East in total goals with Maine’s Spencer Abbott.

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Here’s the recap from the Gazette.

Coach Cahoon says he doesn’t think the team should “feel too good” with the tie in the Republican recap.  Want a chuckle?  Check out the caption of the first picture in the story.

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David Leaderer has been called up to the Albany Devils from the ECHL.  Leaderer had two shots and a penalty last night in his AHL debut.

Providence Preview


Providence Friars 1-4-0 (1-2-0) T-3rd

vs

Massachusetts Minutemen 0-3-1 (0-1-1) T-7th

It’s the end of October which means it must be time to play two against Providence.  I don’t think many people can be surprised to find this young UMass team 0-3-1 at this point in time given who and where they’ve had to play.  I’m sure it has raised a few eyebrows that UMass has been in every game and, if not for a mistake here and there, could have their record flipped right now.  That said, I think the time for pats on the back for effort and close losses are over.  This team has four games under their belt.  They’ve travelled cross country with each other.  Hell, they’ve even had to deal with some injury related adversity already.  The feeling out, getting to know you period is over.  As the expression goes, it’s time to make hay while the sun shines.  UMass needs to take as many points as possible this weekend.  Hockey East points are going to be hard to come by in the fall semester and this weekend presents one of only two chances to get multiple points (the other being against UNH).

Standing in the way of that is Providence.  I’m sure many people are not surprised to see the Friars at 1-4-0 overall.  But a closer look at how they’ve gotten to that result shows that this team won’t necessarily be a pushover.  In Hockey East the Friars have already beaten Northeastern, lost to Lowell in overtime, and last weekend lost to BU 2-1 while doubling up the Terriers in shots 40-20.  Take out a trip west to Duluth where they got slapped around 12-4 in a Bulldog sweep and the Friars are probably feeling pretty good about themselves all things considered.

Offensively they’ve been led by senior Kyle MacKinnon who has 3 goals on the season and sophomore Tim Schaller who has accounted for 5 points.  They’ve also gotten some good contribution from freshman Derek Army, yes, coach Tim Army’s son.  Sophomore Alex Velischeck, who impressed when I saw them last year, seems to have gotten off to a good start on defense.  Providence has done most of their damage at even strength as their power play is one of the worst in the country, converting at just 8%.  In their three Hockey East games they’ve scored just once on the advantage in 15 chances. 

Of course when most people think of Providence they think of goaltender Alex Beaudry, who at times has appeared to be one of the better goaltenders in the league.  His performance so far this year has been shaky at best, especially if you look at those games out in Duluth where he gave up four goals both nights, one of which he got the gate after just 25 minutes of play.  In conference he has played better, giving up 3 goals a game and a save percentage of .895.  It’s tough to know exactly which Beaudry UMass will see this weekend, but they’ll likely see him both games as backup Justin Gates has only seen mop up duty so far.

Considering that coming into the season most pundits cited the large amount of scoring they’d have to replace as a reason why UMass would struggle, so far that hasn’t been the case.  UMass is scoring 3 goals a game, more than their average overall all of last season.  I think that scoring will continue, especially as the younger players get more comfortable and the team in general is able to anticipate each other’s actions better.  Whether he’s on offense, defense, or wherever hopefully Darren Rowe continues to do what he’s doing.  I don’t think anything dramatic has changed for him from last year, as he showed the same vision and offensive mind that he is currently.  I think the big difference is just opportunity, which he’s made the most of so far.  Look for guys like Mike Pereira, Conor Sheary, and Branden Gracel to start to get on the scoreboard more as they’ve all played very well and have been buzzing all around the net, just missing on their chances.  They need to carry over that active play to  the power play though where they’ve been going long stretches on the advantage without even a shot.  I’m not sure if this is a scheme problem or they’re just gripping the stick too tight as soon as those two minutes go up on the board, but it would be nice to see them get this on track this weekend.  Especially tonight when they have the big ice to work with and to move the puck around more freely.

What has been the problem for UMass has been their defense, which isn’t exactly a shock given they’ve only returned two defenseman who saw minutes in key situations last year.  It’s really going to have to be a team effort for UMass on the defensive end with the forwards making sure to get back and get active in their zone.  This is especially the case on the penalty kill where they’re only preventing 72% of the opponents’ chances.  My gut tells me we’ll see both goaltenders this weekend.  Maybe Jeff Teglia tonight and Paul Dainton tomorrow where he’s already used to the smaller ice.

For UMass they have to score early and score often.  Thus far in the season they’ve been outscored 6-1 and outshot by a margin of 20 in the 1st period.  If they can play the first and second like they’ve been playing the third periods recently they should be all set.  UMass really has been just a few, but significant, miscues away from success in each game.  Obviously concentrating on execution and being where they should be on the ice off the puck is likely the key to the game.  Hopefully the early season butterflies are gone.  The time for this team to introduce themselves to each other is over.  The time to get better together has begun.

Beer The Triangle
Pregame at the Hangar was pretty good last week as they have two very good stouts on tap currently in the form of North Coast’s Old Rasputin and Founders’ Breakfast Stout.  The Rasputin is one of the better russian imperial stouts I’ve had.  It’s hearty but unlike a lot of russian imperials I’ve had lately it doesn’t have an overwhelming alcohol taste.  Founders’ Breakfast is called such because it’s one of the better coffee flavored stouts out there.  On Saturday I plan on hitting the Abbey, just down the street from the Coffin.  It doesn’t have the most spectacular draft list, but there’s a lot on bottles, especially belgians, plus some excellent burgers.

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Here are the game notes from the UMass side as well as the Providence point of view.

Here’s a preview from the Gazette pretty much confirming that Dainton will see some time this weekend.

These teams find themselves at the bottom of the Boston Hockey Blog’s power rankings this week.

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Casey Wellman finds himself back with the Wild and played in last night’s game.  He has a couple goals in 6 AHL games.

Coach Cahoon is quoted in this story about Mike Gilligan’s entry to the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame.  Mike is the brother of former UMass assistant coach Bill Gilligan.

Still a little ways off but the Swedish Under 18 team will be playing Williams College the night before they come to the Mullins Center.  Here’s a good preview of the Swedes.

View From Section U: Enlist In The Pond Club

Time for my second installment of my Wednesday column, which I think is going to end up being called View From Section U.  View because, well, it’s my view on something surrounding the program, college hockey in general, or the university.  And Section U because that’s where I like to plant myself to watch the games together with a group of fellow hardcore fans, most also dating back to the triangle era.  Of course you don’t have to have seen this team play in their triangles to be a considered a hardcore fan or big supporter of the program.  But if you do think of yourself as one of those two things, I highly recommend considering joining the Pond Club.

For those unfamiliar with it, the Pond Club is the UMass hockey booster organization.  It’s a great way to meet and interact with others who live and die UMass hockey; such as fellow fans, members of the UMass and Amherst community, players’ families, and former players.  I personally have met some great people through my membership in the club and look forward to connecting with them at every home and away game.  In fact, I happily admit that some of my closest friends are people I’ve met at UMass hockey games.  Of course, most of that interaction takes place in the Massachusetts Room which is open to Pond Club members during the 1st and 2nd intermissions.  The room offers, of course, a great view of the arena in addition to snacks, soda, water, coffee, wine, and the only place in the building to enjoy a beer.  And you know me when it comes to beer, I would not hype up the option to grab a brew if there wasn’t something decent to drink.  So I’m happy to report that for the last few years Western Mass’ own Opa-Opa has been offered in addition to some of the highly advertised barley flavored sports drinks you may drink for some reason.  Besides the room and amenities you also have access to the UMass Hall of Fame, displaying plaques for all the UMass athletic greats in addition to the trophies and momentos gathered over the school’s storied history.

In addition to offering fans a place to gather in-between periods the Pond Club organizes some great events throughout the year.  In the Spring is the Reverse Raffle, an end of season celebration giving attendees the chance to have a great meal as well as a chance to win $5000 or other great prizes.  Over the Summer the Pond Club has their annual golf tournament at one of the premiere clubs in the area, The Orchards in South Hadley.  Again a fun time to meet a lot of the personalities involved with UMass hockey in addition to chasing a ball around someone’s lawn.  The Pond Club also will put together pre-game gatherings at various spots where UMass is playing away from the Bill.  Hell, sometimes even Grammy award winners show up to their events.

Of course all these great events and perks are secondary to the Pond Club’s main purpose; to help bring the UMass hockey program to the pinnacle of college hockey.  Proceeds from membership and events go towards ways to improve the program that otherwise would likely be impossible.  Specific examples from recent years include video equipment used for scouting and breaking down gametape, a completely refurbished hockey locker room, as well as helping offset the day to day operational expenses of the program.  As we know, Hockey East is an extremely competitive league filled with some of the powerhouses of college hockey who aren’t afraid to pour seemingly unlimited funds into their programs.  The only way UMass can do its best to keep up with these teams is with the support of the fans who invest in the program through the Pond Club.  There are a few different levels of membership, ranging from $200 to $1,000.  All levels include access to the Massachusetts Room between periods for you and a guest while the upper levels include perks like dinner at Coach Cahoon’s house.  Details of membership can be found here (it says 09-10, but all information is relevant for this season).  So I would hope fans will consider joining.  You’re helping the team while getting the opportunity to hang out with a great group of people who share a common interest.

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Coach Cahoon was asked about Paul Dainton’s status and availability in yesterday’s radio show.  He essentially said Dainton is practicing and he (Dainton) has the expectation that he’ll play sometime this weekend.  Toot was pretty coy about the subject (shocking), saying he hasn’t decided anything yet, but I’m guessing we’ll see Dainton for at least one of the nights.  My pick is Saturday.

Another subject that came up during the show, while referencing Maine’s big home sweep against North Dakota, is the difficulty it can be to get those elite western programs to come out east to play.  Essentially Toot said he’s working hard to try to get Wisconsin and Minnesota to return the games from this season.  And that, frankly, sucks.  If UMass is going to go out there to their buildings for two game series they can at least have the respect (and guts) to reciprocate without lobbying.  If they want to do one in Amherst and one with the Boston area teams, so be it.  They have a lot of alumni in the city, so that’s understandable.  But at least return the trip.  I mean, who do they think they are?  Yale?  Harvard?

By the way, the hockey shows are available as podcasts through iTunes for those interested.  Good stuff.

The Collegian has their preview of this weekend’s action, focusing on the good play from Danny Hobbs and Darren Rowe as of late.  They also have a piece on the team’s resiliency.

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Alex Berry is mentioned in this Hockey’s Future look at the Lightning organization.

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Last week I mentioned that Lowell had lost one of their hockey greats, Craig Charron.  What I did not know was that Charron was the nephew of olympic hockey legend Jim Craig.  Craig will be attending the River Hawks’ game this Friday when they take on his alma mater BU.  He’ll be dropping the puck and raffling off an autographed USA sweater.  Lowell is also selling Charron jerseys the team wore in warmups.  I believe these are in the old ULowell Chiefs motif, which I have to say as someone who collects jerseys are very sharp looking.  I mean granted they don’t have an oversized geometric shape on the front of them, but still.

Recruit Update; Dear Mullins Staff, Do Your Job

Time to see how the recruits did over the weekend.

Shane Walsh was held off the scoreboard in both his games, a win and a loss for the Tri-City Storm.

John Parker registered an assist as the Muskegon Lumberjacks picked up their first ever home win.

Kevin Boyle had his best game of the young BCHL season as he allowed just one goal on 34 shots for the Westside Warriors.

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Saturday’s game will be broadcast on Cox.

Dick Baker has a quick blurb about the success on faceoffs.

He also talks about an incident that occurred in the student line before the game that led to the students being cut off.  I usually refrain from talking about student behavior at games because I don’t think there’s much I can do about it and if I mentioned it every time it bothered me I would be writing about it incessantly.  However, let me get to a couple points.  First, on the issue of problems with students in line rushing the doors, if students are going to act that way start giving out tickets beforehand during the week.  Once the limit is reached, no more tickets and only ticketed students show up in line.  Pretty much how they did it back in the 90’s with basketball.  In fact it brings back some good memories of waking up early on Wednesdays, waiting outside the Cage in the snow and cold, grabbing breakfast in the little grill in Whitmore, heading back up to the dorm, and proceeding to sleep through my next two classes.  Overall, I think the student line issue would be solved by such a simple solution.

What worries me more was what happened inside.  It wasn’t the incredibly unclever, “F’ BU!” and such chants which have become commonplace.  I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that our students will continue to be incapable of coming up with creative chants like the good hockey schools until a group of students step up try to lead from within the group.  What pissed me off was not once, but twice students chose to throw stuff onto the ice.  That in itself is bad enough.  If you don’t respect your UMass team enough that you’ll disrupt their game then do us all a favor and stay back in your dorm.  But the really frustrating thing was one incident which occurred right in front of me.  Other students around the assclown who threw the bottle immediately started booing him and a good number of them even pointed him out to anyone who was paying attention, which is comendable.  Sure enough, a guy in the bright yellow jacket at the top of the section was looking right at the aftermath and could’ve easily gone down and done something, anything, since the offender was identified.  But didn’t.  Until the university, the private company that operates the Mullins Center, and those in charge of security finally act to punish people who disrupt the game, I fear these type of issues will continue to escalate.

I love seeing student crowds like the other night, as does the team and the coaches.  Toot, Jack Parker, and Jeff Teglia all mentioned the student crowd in the post game press conference  The energy they bring is finally giving the Mullins Center a home ice advantage that was missing for too long in the program’s history.  But without the Mullins staff doing the very basics of their job it is detrimental to the UMass hockey experience; for the players, fans, and the other students who are mature enough not to disrupt the game they just stood in line for so long to watch.

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The AHL website has a story on all the UMass connections with the Worcester Sharks.  No mentions of James Marcou’s skills with a grocery bag.

Awards and Polls

Congrats to Danny Hobbs and Darren Rowe who both made Hockey East’s Top Performers for their play on Friday.  Rowe had two goals while Hobbs had three assists, a +2 rating, and some key work on the penalty kill.

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For whatever reason USCHO is down at the present time.  Hopefully they’re going back to their old site, I’m finding the new one incredibly slow to do much of anything on.  But I will tell you that their rankings look very much like the USA Hockey/USA Today rankings which, with BC’s loss to Notre Dame over the weekend, feature a new top team, Miami.

The Eagles keep their top spot in INCH’s Power Rankings however.

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Since I didn’t post yesterday, I was recovering physically and mentally from the amazing/horrendous football game at Gillette Saturday, I have a lot of links to share from Friday’s game.

Here is Dick Baker’s analysis of the game, making the case that UMass didn’t necessarily play worse than the week before, BU played better.  He also talks about UMass being winless through four games.  This doesn’t bother me at this point.  As I mentioned in my season preview what I’m looking for is a team that steadily improves as the games go on.  I would say, despite the record, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the team’s play so far, especially given the injury to Dainton. 

Here’s the game story from the Collegian, including video highlights.  They also have a good story on Paul Dainton mentoring Jeff Teglia.

Here’s what Inside Hockey had to say about the game.

Teglia is mentioned in this story from Kat Hasenauer Cornetta on goalies and their quirks.  For those on Twitter, I recommend following Kat on Twitter (link at the bottom of her story).  Not only does she have a lot of college hockey stories and content, but she also follows the two local pro lacrosse teams (Cannons and Blazers) which always seem to have a good number of UMass alumni on them.

College hockey got a reminder that even with all the safety equipment on the players, this is a damn dangerous sport.

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Baker also catches up with the Worcester Minutemen.

Speaking of those guys:

BU Recap

Burn the third jerseys!

Ok, maybe that’s a little overboard.  Actually I liked the new jerseys overall.  A simple design with the Minuteman logo on the front and maroon coloring along the shoulders.  The great thing about designing jerseys for UMass is there’s no pressure.  Because whatever you do you’ll never be able to design a worse or better jersey than the triangle.  Period.

Anyway, onto the game.  Amazing to think that UMass has played four games against ranked opponents and has only been outscored by three goals (if you don’t count that empty netter in Minnesota).  Even more amazing is that UMass could’ve won a couple of those if they only executed better.  UMass lost the game last night because they took off a substantial part of the second period and made two huge breakdowns late that resulted in two breakaway goals.

Let’s talk about the breakaway goals.  Down 2-1 late in a second period in which UMass disappeared for long stretches Joe Pereira comes out of the penalty box, heads straight to the opposing blue line, collects a pass and goes in and scores.  Inexcusable.  Really inexcusable with a couple assistant captains on the ice.  A guy coming out of the box is just an awareness thing.  Maybe UMass had a little tunnel vision on the power play, since it struggled again tonight, and wasn’t paying attention to the big picture.  And then late they give up the puck at their own blueline and allow Sahir Gill to come in and net what ends up being the gamewinner.  Two key plays that could’ve been prevented.

Those two plays are the most obvious ones to point to, but what also hurt them was the power play and the inability to generate decent shots.   For the second straight game UMass could manage just one lonely shot on the power play.  Luckily they made the most of its as Darren Rowe scored with it.  But it has to improve.  But the power play was just part of the bigger problem on offense.  UMass took the 1-0 lead in the first despite being outshot 10-4.  They got a little better as the game went along but still were outshot 37-26 for the game.  It’s not for lack of effort, I thought the team was buzzing all night long.  They’re just not quite hitting on passes, not quite finding the open spots, not quite skating where they should be without the puck.  I was shocked to look at the score sheet after the game and see Mike Pereira and Conor Sheary with zero shots on the net for the game, because I thought those two played excellent, especially Sheary.  But I think that goes to show that there’s a tough time getting in good position to shoot and then getting it on net.  What is interesting is UMass seemed to be able to do the most damage with some of BU’s better players on the ice, like Alex Chiasson and Corey Trivino.

There were a lot of positives tonight as well.  Once again, this team does not give up when done.  Doesn’t.  Down late by two goals they still were able to make the last few seconds mean something.  That aspect of this team is very impressive.  I thought Danny Hobbs played very well last night.  He ended up +2 on the game with 3 shots and like he did previously was able to have a key steal and possession on the penalty kill.  Jeff Teglia had another solid game.  33 saves and two of the goals he gave up were on the breakaway, though I thought he could’ve made a little better move on the Pereira goal, and even he admitted as much afterward.  But it’s tough to get on a goaltender for giving up breakaway goals.  Brendan Gracel continues to be enjoyable to watch, the energy and skill he brings to the ice every shift is unmatched.  He’s due for a real breakout game soon.

I know a lot of people are probably talking about the Mike Pereira goal that was waved off for offsides.  I received a lot of messages when it happened, including from the Northeastern press box of all places, saying it was on sides.  I haven’t seen it, but it seemed on for me.  It’s certainly unfortunate since the goal would’ve tied it up.  However UMass made enough mistakes afterward to make it moot.  Plus as Matt Vautour mentioned after the game, just because most in the crowd didn’t hear the whistle doesn’t mean Kieran Millan didn’t.  He may have already knew the play was dead and wanted nothing to do with stopping Pereira’s shot.  We’ll never know.  Better execution and it won’t have to come down to potentially missed calls.

It was nice to see the students come out in force for the game.  The line when I showed up at 5:30 was amazing going all the way back to the ticket office.  It brought me back to my days waiting in line for basketball in the mid-90s.  Coach Parker, Toot, and Jeff Teglia all mentioned how impressive the crowd was after the game.  The team continues to have a lot to build on, going toe to toe with some very talented teams early on.  But they have a lot to work on as well.  That should keep them busy in practice as they prepare to take on Providence for the newly traditional Halloween series.  Trick or treat?  We’ll see.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Darren Rowe
Rowe continues to impress on offense and seems poised for an impactful sophomore season with his two goals last night bringing his total to four for the season.  I know I’ve pointed out that I’d like to see him on forward more because I think his skills are better suited up front, but he played decent on defense tonight when he was back there.  In fact I thought he had a key blocked shot late, seemed to take it right in the gut in fact, that helped keep UMass in the game.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his first goal was setup with a spectacular pass across the slot from Gracel.

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Here’s the game recap from the Gazette.

The Boston Hockey Blog has full coverage as well.

BU Preview

#8 Boston University Terriers 2-0-1 (0-0-1) T-4th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 0-2-1 (0-0-1) T-4th

WordPress, which has been a huge pain in the ass recently, ate my game preview last week where I went over the components of the BU team in some detail. In fact I continue to have blog problems so if there a lot of typos, I mean more than usual, I apologize now. Anyway, I don’t really feel like recreating what I did last week. Instead I’d like to breakdown last week’s tie at Agganis and see if we can see what went well and what needs improving.

Let’s start with the obvious. UMass gave up two goals early and had to claw their way back. This HAS to stop. UMass has yet to play with a lead this season. It would make Jeff Teglia’s, who will start tonight in place of Paul Dainton, night a lot easier if the Minutemen can get on the scoreboard first. This means they have to come out flying. At the point that BU took the 2-0 lead they were outshooting UMass 8-4. From that point to the end of regulation UMass outshot the Terriers 24-21. Not only will it be important for the freshman goaltender to get an early lead, it’ll also be a great way to get what’s going to be a big crowd into the game early.

Another must for the Minutemen is to get the power play going. The extra man advantage looked strong in the season opener against the Gophers where they went 2 for 6 and put 13 shots on net. The next night it dried up going 0 for 5, but they were still active with 10 shots in those opportunities. However last weekend they again went 0 for 5 but managed just one shot in those times. Obviously this can’t happen. I hope Toot has them looking at tape from that first game to see what was clicking. Things improved on the other side of the special teams as UMass killed all four of BU’s chances. However they still come into the game with the 45th penalty kill in the nation, giving up 4 goals on 13 chances.

Teglia received praise for his game last week and from everything I’ve heard he deserved it, holding a top ten team to just two goals on the game. But, at least looking at the numbers, it appears that the defense in front of him improved as well. First off, for the first time this season UMass allowed less than 30 shots on goal for 6o minutes (BU had 6 shots on goal in overtime). But what really stood out to me was the increase in the number of blocked shots. In the two games out in Minnesota UMass blocked 25% of the shots taken by the Gophers. Last weekend against the Terriers this number increased to 32%. Hopefully this is in indication that UMass is getting better positioning on the forwards as well as moving better in their defensive zone.

The last key for UMass tonight goes back to something I mentioned in my first point. The crowd. It really should be a good one, hopefully. BU always tends to bring out the big crowds and tonight should be another one of those. The team should be happy to be back home after starting the season in two of the tougher barns in hockey, even if neither was full when they played. But for 13 players this will be their first taste of hockey in the Mullins. Hopefully the fans will be loud and into it and the players can feed off the energy. Hockey returns to Amherst. I thought you’d never get here.

Beer The Triangle
Last weekend for Homecoming I met up with some fellow alumni at the Moan and Dove in South Amherst to be pleasantly surprised to find they were offering all pints of their beers for just $4. Yes, only $4! But if you’re hoping to partake in such an amazing deal, forget about it. It’s over. But a glance at the M&D’s current blackboard shows a bottle special of Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere. Now if you’re looking for a pumpkin flavored beer with lots of cinnamon, this isn’t it. Jolly Pumpkin is the name of the brewery, based out of Dexter, Michigan. They also have a brewpub in Ann Arbor where I was introduced to their beer while out there last month for the UMass football game and I liked it so much I went back the night before I left. And in fact, I was told by one of their servers that despite their name they never even had a pumpkin beer for their first five years of existence. And the one they have tastes nothing like pumpkin, but is still oh so good. I would call their beer very “artisan”. Sort of artistic, craft brewing. A lot of saisons and sours. Something a beer snob would like. Anyway, it’s rare to find Jolly Pumpkin out this way so I recommend swinging by South Amherst and checking them out while you can.

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Matt Vautour has a preview of tonight’s game, praising Darren Rowe’s play of late.

Channel 22 WWLP looks at tonight’s home opener as well.

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The Burlington Free Press picks UMass to finish 8th this season.

Waiting For Gameday

Just a few links to get you ready for gameday tomorrow.

The Collegian gears up for tomorrow’s game with a preview and a feature on Teglia’s performance last week.

Andrew Merritt of the New England Hockey Journal picked Jeff Teglia as his Hockey East Player of the Week.

Dick Baker has a post about his Dodger fan connection with Darren Rowe and why he thinks Toot should keep him on the blueline.  Personally I disagree.  Rowe has been inconsistent at best on defense in his short time at UMass while his best games have come at forward, whether he’s on a regular line there or playing up on the power play.  Even offensively he seems to have better vision and passing across the slot and from the corners than he does from the point.  I think with Joel Hanley’s return tomorrow we’ll see Rowe more and more at forward.  And I think he’ll continue to increase his production doing so.

Cheer For Jack Parker On Friday (no, seriously)

Well, the blog, now in year two, is starting to get a pretty good rhythm to it.  Thursdays tend to be news and links leading in to the weekend.  Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are filled with game previews and recaps.  Mondays are all about the polls and awards, as well as more recapping of the weekend.  Tuesdays have become a chance to catch up with our recruits scattered around the continent.  And Wednesdays…well usually there’s not much going on for Wednesdays.  So in my desire to continue to evolve the blog and offer more original content to complement the news links and recruiting information, I’m going to try to write a piece every Wednesday on some issue surrounding UMass hockey, the university itself, or college hockey in general.

So for my first installment of whatever this feature should be named (Hump Day Happenings?  Minuteman Musings? Fear The Rambling?) I am making an odd request of you, my fellow UMass hockey fans.  Cheer for Jack Parker when he’s announced on Friday night.  I know, I know.  It’s a strange plea for me to be making.  When UMass is not involved there are a few other Hockey East teams I root for strongly.  Boston University is not one of them.  I have a lot of respect for the school (which I nearly attended until I wisely chose UMass instead) and the hockey team, one of the elite programs in college hockey history.  But if the Terriers win or lose and it’s not affecting UMass, I’m ambivalent.  I even have to admit that while I was trying my best to root for the conference representative at the 2009 Frozen Four, something inside me was enjoying the Terriers losing the championship.  Until Miami choked.

Of course when they enter the Mullins I treat the team as I do any opponent.  Usually with some kind of verbal (but not vulgar) hostility.  The Terriers are a fun team to hate.  It hasn’t hurt that there have been some great games played between these squads in recent years.  And the fact that the Terriers are usually always good, that they attract some of the best crowds to the Bill, and of course that they have Jack Parker behind their bench.  You know Parker, the guy who seems to rule Hockey East and has all the referees at his beck and call.  Plus he has all those goddamn wins (I don’t even want to think how many have come at the expense of the Minutemen).  Everybody hates a winner, right?  So I’ll admit that in the past when he has been announced or perhaps as he makes his way off and on the ice I might’ve yelled something or sent a boo in his general direction once or twice.

Not Friday.  Friday I’ll gladly be cheering Jack Parker when he brings his Terriers into the Mullins Center.  In late July Parker had heart bypass surgery to clear a blockage.  Amazingly, less than three months afterward he’s dedicated and perhaps just a little crazy enough to be behind the bench to guide his team through another college hockey season.  You have to admire that kind of loyalty to his team and profession to work that hard at recovery to be back so soon.  Just as you have to admire his three national championships, seven Hockey East titles, 21 Beanpots, and the countless players he has help hone their skills to reach the NHL or Olympics.  But he’s helped a lot more people than that, including our own Don Cahoon, who played at BU when Parker was an assistant and later coached under Parker as an assistant himself.  Toot mentioned on his radio show this week that he still talks to Parker a couple times a week.  And of course, it’s not just the players he has gotten into the pros, he’s had a positive effect on many players who have come into contact with him.  Probably especially so in the case of Travis Roy, the BU player who was paralyzed just 11 seconds into his college career, whom Parker has done so much for and still does to this day.  Roy has called him one of his closest friends.

Let’s face it.  Hockey East just wouldn’t be the same without Jack Parker.  Through the history of the league he has always continued to set the bar higher, contributing in a major way to the conference being known as an elite conference across the country.  College hockey is better because of him.  He won’t always be behind the bench at Agganis Arena, but after what were probably some harrowing days in July he at least will be for the forseeable future at least.  And for that I think he deserves some applause.

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With the home opener upon us the Daily Collegian has an extensive season preview of the team, eight articles worth.

It was rumored and today the athletic department made official the time change for the 12/4 game against Lowell.  The game will now be played at 1pm to allow fans to travel to Boston where the basketball team will take on Boston College at 6:30pm.  And for that I’m thankful.

The game notes are up for this weekend’s game.

Dick Baker is reporting that Joel Hanley is back with the team but his status for Friday is unknown.

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A lot of UMass mentions in this release about the Hartford Wolf Pack (soon to be the awkwardly named Connecticut Whale), with former captain Dean Stork and former assistant coach Bill Gilligan playing a part in getting former Harvard goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris a spot on the team.  Plus fans can start voting for Thomas Pöck for the All-Time Wolf Pack Team.

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Sad to report that Lowell lost one of their hockey greats on the eve of his induction into their hockey hall of fame.

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