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Saturday Recap

Going into the weekend playing a ranked team in their barn with so many inexperienced players I think picking the Minutemen to get swept was probably a pretty safe bet, and that’s exactly what happened.  However, despite dropping both games I think the UMass team surprised everyone with the fact that they were able to make the Gophers work hard both nights just to squeak out the win.

UMass had a disastrous first period last night, one which saw them give up a hat trick to Jay Barriball, Marc Concannon be sent off for a misconduct, and captain Paul Dainton leave the game hurt after just 11 minutes.  I’m sure many people at that time contemplated turning off the TV to avoid the carnage that would ensue.  But that’s not what happened, after Anthony Raiola scored in front of his hometown crowd, the team, like they did the night before, kept hustling and brought themselves back into the game and by the closing seconds the team was buzzing in front of the net with a chance to tie.  For the final two periods UMass was not only the better team, but dominated through much of it.

It’s tough to single out individual players to highlight as, for the final two periods, pretty much everyone played pretty well.  Even Jeff Teglia, who looked bad at times in the first, was able to settle down toward the end of the game and made the saves needed to keep the team in the game.  That said, he still looks like he could use some more practice time under his belt so hopefully Dainton is ready to go next weekend. 

So what did we learn this weekend?  We learned that the this freshman class have come to school ready to play and contribute.  We’ve learned that the team isn’t going to stop working even when they’re down big.  We’ve learned that Mike Pereira is as good as advertised and can be counted upon to be a big part of the offense.  Guys like Branden Gracel, Conor Sheary, and Danny Hobbs will be very active in front of the net.  We’ve learned this team can move the puck and keep possession extremely well.  The freshmen on defense and in goal have talent, but probably have the most to work on for this team to be successful.  Despite the team’s youth, Toot is going to be aggressive as we saw with the forecheck (especially on the penalty kill) and pulling the goalie with almost three minutes left.  We’ve learned that the team is not going to fall back on excuses of injuries and missing players.  We’ve learned that this team is pretty good, even when they don’t have their full cast of players.  Overall, I’m coming out of this weekend with some positive feelings about the team.  I’m sure there will be more losses ahead, probably a couple bad ones, but the young talent that we all hoped for was certainly on display in the Twin Cities this weekend.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game
Once again I’m almost giving this to T.J. Syner whose clutch goal late brought the Minutemen back from the brink but instead it’s going to Conor Sheary who I thought was moving the puck excellent all game and scored his first collegiate goal with a nice wrister in the 2nd.  He also was on the ice for three of the four goals and finished the game +2.

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Here’s the game recap from the Republican as well as the game analysis from Baker.  Neither has any news on Dainton.

Here’s a recap from the Minnesota Star Tribune.

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Elsewhere in Hockey East BC edged Northeastern 2-0 at Matthews Arena.  That means Northeastern now starts off 0-2-0 in the conference after losing to Providence Friday.  Up north after pounding Lowell the night before #7 Maine surprisingly tied UConn 3-3.  I’m not sure what that says about Maine, or Lowell for that matter. Ties were abound last night as Vermont tied Denver and Merrimack tied Niagara as well.  UNH did bounce back from their Friday loss to beat Miami 6-3.  BU will play in the finals of the Icebreaker against Notre Dame this afternoon.

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Casey Wellman’s time with the big club didn’t last long as he was sent down to the Houston Aeros yesterday.  So all three of last year’s early defectors are now in the minors.  In fact, it doesn’t even look like Matt Irwin is dressing regularly.

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