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.


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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