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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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15 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  October 10, 2010

    Usually agree with you but you’re dead wrong on this one. Anthony Raiola was the player of the game, and I’m fairly certain his teammates would agree. His goal changed the momentum of the game, and his teammates/the bench, were still buzzing 3 shifts after his goal – and – apparently – the rest of the game as well. Good for you Anthony – hopefully the first of many.

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    • I’ll certainly agree with you that Raiola’s goal was a key moment in the game. It was almost storybook given it was his first game and coming in his hone state. It’s certainly a top highlight of the season thus far

      But for player of the game I look fort a player that contributes over the whole game. Raiola’s minutes were still limited before and after. That’s why I went for someone else.

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      • Anonymous

         /  October 11, 2010

        Rocks, understood that you (your blog) look for a player that contributes over the whole – I guess that’s why I don’t understand your pick.

        Said player made poor decision that led to a breakaway goal – enuf said – dont want to beat this to death.

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        • Very fair to point out Sheary coughing up the puck that led to the breakaway. Personally I felt his play for the whole game made up for it. Syner’s play made him a close second in my eyes.

          If I were to pick out a player who gave the team a spark, it would be Raiola with his goal. But I don’t think he had a huge impact beyond that.

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  2. Adam

     /  October 11, 2010

    I have no gripe with player of the game. Im proud of how our boys showed up and would not die. but i am cautiously optimistic. Minnesota was not nearly to form. and we have two or three hockey east teams that are widely regarded as much better than them. thats nine in conference games.

    But I am sooo happy with the grit. Rocks, you had mentioned this and i had commented on it in the preseason, they were gonna have to dig a lot deeper than last year. And they showed it, taking the body and defending their team mates. But damn pereira looked good.

    My big question for the year is not who will be the next Marcou or Syner. I think the interesting question would be who is going to be the next Ortiz. A presence like his could do wonders for this squad.

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  3. Anonymous

     /  October 11, 2010

    His name is Troy Power.

    Like

  4. ganderson

     /  October 11, 2010

    I agree that this is not a great Gopher team, but I also think there are many positives from the weekend. Also don’t underestimate how it must be to go into that building- sold out but half full on Friday, but pretty close to full on Saturday. It’s an intimidating atmosphere

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  5. kalepads

     /  October 11, 2010

    Are we really going to be a “great effort” team this year? uuggh..I don’t think I can take it. I watched the games and yes, great effort, I guess, but really? When are we going to be the team that wins 5-4 (like Minnesota) and be chastised for lack of effort. As in – the Minutemen make their third consecutive trip to the HE finals despite having what most observers would contend is an “off year” – that is the conversation they are having in places like Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, etc

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    • justin

       /  October 11, 2010

      couple of points to respond to your post

      1. Do you think that UMass has the program that the three schools you mentioned have? I’d love it if they had the national reputations that the Minnesotas and Maines had, but the simple fact is we don’t, although hopefully we are building towards something like that. I just don’t think the expectations of the UMass program are the same as those schools right now, which makes the comparison a bit unfair.

      2. I don’t think that anyone around here will be excited about “good efforts” without results as the year goes on, but for a team that was decimated by graduations/defections, is on the road in a tough environment, and is coming off a year filled with poor effort games, to work as hard as they did and compete as they did on opening weekend sure sounds good to me.

      3. UMass may never become one of those programs where not making the final four means a coach is on the hotseat, but if they do, it’s going to take a while. As a fan of the program, I think it would be silly for me not to take a patient approach to this, otherwise I might have unrealistic expectations and be disappointed quite a bit. That was a good weekend of hockey, asking for much more at this stage seems unreasonable.

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      • kalepads

         /  October 12, 2010

        patience? how about 10 years worth of patience. what are the signs that this is turning around? are we winning the battles for blue chip recruits? (the answer is no), are we keeping players after two years rather then them turning pro (no…and other HE teams are losing players, yes, but many more are staying on. Cam Atkinson is a great example, so is Stephane DeCosta). what are the signs?

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        • The frustration you feel about the program not taking the next step is fair, I won’t argue that.

          But I think you need to take a closer look at the recruiting. UMass is getting elite NHL prospects, Jon Quick and John Carlson (if not lured north by the OHL). UMass is getting All-American and NHL caliber players, Marcou and Wellman. They’re getting NHL players who stay all four years, Justin Braun the HEA defenseman of the year. Just this year they have one of the elite players from prep, Pereira, and one of the top USHL goaltenders, Teglia. Those two plus Filiou, Hanley, and Gracel all were NHL prospects.

          Now you can argue why is UMass not seeing results if the recruiting is that good. But you can’t knock the recruiting itself.

          Also, Da Costa came back for his sophomore year. I wouldn’t count him as a four year player just yet. Fact is, with the overtures they were getting, getting both Marcou and Braun to stay at UMass last year was an accomplishment.

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      • justin

         /  October 12, 2010

        I’ve been patient for more than 10 seasons. It’s not easy. I’ve been very public about my expectations for the program and my thoughts on the current coaching staff.

        Let’s try a little exercise here. Why don’t you start naming programs that have built a long term successful organization that competes with the top programs year in and year out, as you are suggesting UMass should be doing. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute.

        Now, here’s my list of programs that rose up to compete with the more traditional powers.

        1. Maine
        2. UNH
        3. Miami

        That’s it. that’s the list of schools that have cracked into the BC/BU/Mich/Minn/Wisc/MSU/Denver/NoDak/etc list of top programs. Hell, Miami and UNH don’t even have titles, so you could argue that it’s only Maine. Look at some others- Harvard has a solid program (and a title), Lake State was awesome for a few years, Notre Dame has been good recently, Cornell could join that list of elite programs, even St. Cloud has made the tourney a whole bunch, but none of those schools fit in with what you’re talking about, reloading and challenging for a league title every season.

        I really think you should reassess your current expectations for UMass hockey, because otherwise you’re going to be pretty miserable for a while.

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  6. Mel

     /  October 11, 2010

    Pretty much agree with everything you wrote. I came away impressed with how well the young guys played and as the season progresses I will have no expectations and only optimism about how good I think the future will be. This team will score plenty of goals and if it gets its defensive act together, it will make the Hockey East playoffs and throw a scare into whomever it plays.

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    • kalepads

       /  October 12, 2010

      Hey Rocks – i think you are off base here. First off, Jon Quick was not a top-notch recruit. Yes he played great at Avon and there was interest but he was not a blue-chip prospect. Academically there were few schools that could even alk him through the door. John Carlson used Umass as a bargaining chip with his Major Junior team…you know that. He was never coming to UMass. Marcou and Wellman were not NHL-caliber when they got here and Marcou wasn’t even NHL caliber last year. Don’t forget..he was the last of the group to sign. He is too small to play at the next level and please don’t compare him to Nathan Gerbe who is one of the most skilled players to ever play in HE. You saw the games this weekend…did any of those freshman strike you as impact players? Teglia apparently chose Umass over Yale, Michigan, and Notre Dame. What we don’t know is if he was recruited and / or offered money from any of them. Braun would not have played even in the AHL if he left after his junior year.

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      • So you’re more concerned with how players are ranked/perceived BEFORE they get here versus how well they play while here or afterward? I don’t get it.

        Toot is recruiting All-Americans, NHL players, and Hobey candidates. What’s the problem?

        Like

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