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Recruit Update

Last time we took a look at the recruits the Westside Warriors had just traded for a goaltender leaving us wondering what that meant for Kevin Boyle.  After missing a couple games due to illness, he’s still playing and playing well.  He won both games he played in the past week, giving up a total of four goals and saving 54 of 58 shots.  He’s now 7-1 in his last 8 games.

Shane Walsh didn’t register a point in the two games with his new team, the Dubuque Fighting Saints.  Dubuque’s leading scorer is a familiar face to UMass fans.  None other than former Terrier/soon to be Eagle Vinny Saponari.

John Parker had identical line scores for his last two games; 1 assist, +1 rating, and 2 PIM.  Unfortunately his young Lumberjack squad had identical results with two losses.

Still no commitments to report, though I did hear that the team had players from the OPJHL and prep league visit recently.

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Here’s the recap of the chat T.J. Syner did with Hockey East today.  Interesting to note that all the team’s captains live together off campus.

INCH had Mike Pereira as one of their runners-up to their national Player of the Week.

Dick Baker had an interesting look at the progression of Conor Allen as well as how afternoon games affect the team’s schedule.

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Of course the big UMass news today was that the school may be on the verge of upgrading the football program and heading to the MAC.  Suffice to say as someone who has been in favor of moving to the bowl level since the 1998 national championship season and attends football games near and far, I’m psyched.  While I have a ton of thoughts on the subject I want to remain true to my mission for FTT and stick to providing readers with as much information and opinion I can gather and convey relating to the UMass hockey program.  And beer.

That said if there’s someplace to go to find all the news on the football program and the potential upgrade it would likely be the UMass Football Blog.  Frank, who runs the blog, does a great job of scouring the interwebs for anything relating to the Minutemen of the gridiron.  His blog was an inspiration for me to start Fear The Triangle.

All sports blog, Minutemen Nation, is also covering the football story and has been staying on top of what’s being said in the Twitterverse.

Certainly exciting times to be a fan of Massachusetts.

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Awards and Polls

UMass nearly swept the Hockey East weekly awards with Adam Phillips gaining the Rookie of the Week, Paul Dainton named Defensive Player of the Week, and the Minutemen as a whole named Team of the Week.  Mike Pereira was named a Top Performer.

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The conference continues to impress nationally with half of Hockey East represented in this week’s USCHO poll.  Things look about the same with the USA Hockey/USA Today poll, with Merrimack yet to crack the Top 15 there.

BU is dropping in the INCH Power Rankings.

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The Collegian recaps the Quinnipiac game.

The UMass website has their weekly update of alumni in the pros.  Pretty good week all around for former Minutemen.

T.J. Syner will be conducting a web chat on the Hockey East website tomorrow afternoon.

Quinnipiac Recap

Now we’re talking.

I’m not sure exactly what Coach Cahoon worked on during the ten days UMass had off before the Vermont game, but I hope it continues.  UMass has shown marked improvement on offense, defense, and special teams in the two games this past week.  What I’m finding interesting is that they’re making their shots count.  Up until Tuesday the team had only scored 4 goals once, coming in the second game against Minnesota (I’m not counting the exhibition).  Yet, they scored 9 goals total this week, but didn’t have an overwhelming number of shots.  In fact they only had 25 shots total in each of the wins.  This tells me that they’re beginning to understand the offensive system better, moving the puck to get better looks, and being more patient and not just firing it into the goaltender’s chest or defender’s shins.

On defense and the penalty kill again I think they’re being more patient and not overcommitting and putting themselves out of position.  They seem to just be sticking to the basics of staying between their guy and the net and having active sticks in the passing lanes.  The improved forecheck has also helped considerably, led by T.J. Syner who has been picking the puck off of opponents sticks at a pretty good pace.  I think the team has also seen improved play along the boards, with guys like Conor Sheary and Brian Keane doing a good job of getting to or at least tying up pucks in the corners.

The special teams got a nice little boost this week.  The power play which had been mired in an 0 for 18 slump was 3 for 16.  There were still times when the team was completely unable to establish any kind of offense on the extra man and couldn’t keep the puck in the zone.  But there were other times when the power play looked respectable.  Probably still some areas to work on but at least the coaching staff now has some tape of what’s working, which there was little of before this week.  The penalty kill was probably the biggest surprise, killing 9 of 10 opportunities.  A lot of credit has to go to Paul Dainton for those kills, but I thought the team played well in front of him in those situations as well.

All in all though you’re probably going to get the win when you can count on four goals from defensemen in the game.  But that’s what they got with two from Adam Phillips and one from Conor Allen from the point and Doug Kublin ended up netting a nice one on a great center pass from Danny Hobbs on the rush.  And even the lone forward scored goal by forward Danny Hobbs was a deflection of a Joel Hanley slapshot from the point.  I thought last night was Hobbs’ best game since missing a few games with injury earlier in the season.

All in all a great week of hockey.  It’s unfortunate that the holiday seemed to prevent a lot of UMass fans from experiencing it firsthand as the crowds were sparse for both of the tilts.  But hopefully they begin to comeback for a key Hockey East matchup next Saturday afternoon against Lowell.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Adam Phillips
He had just two shots on the game but made them both count and by doing so doubled his total goal output from all of last year in the USHL.  Phillips has shown good stick work on offense all season, it’s nice to see him get some success with his shot as well.

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Dick Baker has the recap for the Republican.

Around the league UMass was helped when Northeastern and Vermont tied on Friday, allowing neither to gain much ground on the Minutemen in the standings.  Vermont plays their third game in six days when they visit Boston College this afternoon.  BC continues to look less dominant than expected, getting beat by the improved Merrimack squad on Friday.  Merrimack was then beat 2-1 by UNH last night.  Brown had a respectable showing against Hockey East this weekend tying both UNH and BU.  In other weekend games Providence beat Holy Cross and Lowell got swept at home by Minnesota State by a combined score of 11-5.

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It was a good night in the Mullins for the Minutemen last night and a good night around the NHL as well.

Greg Mauldin scored two goals for the Avalanche.  The linked story shows a nice picture of him roofing one over Nik Backstrom.

Meanwhile Justin Braun had a two assists night in just his second game in San Jose.

Unfortunately Jon Quick could not complete the NHL Minuteman hat trick as his Kings lost 2-1.

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A reader pointed out to me earlier this week and then I got a reminder yesterday that BC is having a Black Friday sale through tomorrow where they’re selling tickets to the two games against UMass for just $10 each.

Quinnipiac Preview

Quinnpiac Bobcats 7-5-1 (3-3-1) ECAC 3rd

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Massachusetts Minutemen 1-6-3 (1-3-3) Hockey East 8th

Last year at this time these two teams matched up as two top ten teams and gave those in attendance down in Hamden, CT and watching TV one of the more exciting games of the season.  Of course UMass fell in overtime  after roaring back from a 3-0 deficit.  It ended up being the pinnacle of the season for the then #9 Bobcats, since they then went 1-11-2 following their game against UMass.  UMass’ season went on a similar trajectory, though not quite as steep, and squandered their early season success for another disappointing season. 

The matchup this year does not have the same hype to it as last year.  Quinnipiac is doing pretty well at 7-5-1 and find themselves just on the outside of the rankings, but they don’t have any real signature wins to date.  UMass of course is just coming off their first win of the year but have battled nearly every team they’ve played closely on the season.  Quinnipiac’s schedule to date has consisted of a couple Atlantic Hockey teams, St Cloud, Ohio State, Colgate, and a bunch of the Ivies which has seen them gain some success.  Most of that has come at home however as they’re only 2-3-1 on the road.

The Bobcats have had a tough time scoring, averaging just 2.23 goals per game, though they are averaging 31 shots.  Most of their scoring has come from their underclassmen with freshmen or sophomores accounting for five of their top eight scorers.   It’ll be important for UMass to keep up with the Joneses, namely freshmen twin brother Kellen and Connor who are both at or near the top in scoring for their team.  The scoring has been spread out for the Bobcats however as nine different players have between two and four goals for them so far.  It’ll be interesting to see if UMass can carryover their good penalty kill play from the Vermont game as Quinnipiac has been struggling in this area, converting on just 14.3% of their power play opportunities.

In net Quinnipiac has split time between junior Dan Clarke and sophomore Eric Hartzell.  Clarke has gotten more minutes thus far, 469 to 313, but Hartzell has by far the better stats.  His goals against is a stellar 1.72 to go with a .942 save percentage compared to Clarke’s numbers of 3.20 and .882.  Hartzell got the loss in Quinnipiac’s 3-0 decision to Princeton on Tuesday, but gave up just two goals in the effort.

For UMass they have a win to build off of the first time this season.  There are a lot of positives when they look at the tape of Tuesday’s game, things like the forecheck, the improved defensive play, and the penalty kill.  But giving up power play goals, even with Quinnipiac’s struggles in the area, is still a threat if UMass continues to go to the box regularly.  They’ll have to improve upon the 8 penalties picked up in their last game as they still find themselves as one of the top ten penalized teams in the country.  Certainly they cannot depend on their goaltender bailing them out in the first after another lackluster effort from the opening.  And they’ll have to improve their overall offensive output.  It’s always good to make your shots count like they did on Tuesday, scoring four goals on 25 shots.  But if they’re up against a good goaltender in Hartzell it’ll be important to put a lot of pressure on him and keep him moving.  This game is an important one to tweak a few things before two key conference matchups before winter break starts.  Here’s hoping the tryptophan is fully out of their system.

Beer The Triangle
I already did my beering for the weekend, visiting the Keegan Ales brewery yesterday in Kingston, NY.  Their Mother’s Milk Stout and Hurricane Kitty have long been favorites so it was cool to finally visit the source.  If you’re ever in the mid-Hudson Valley I suggest a stop by the brewery/bar.

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Here’s a preview of the game out of the Republican.

Justin Braun made his NHL debut for the Sharks.  Unfortunately they got pounded 6-1 by Vancouver but it looks like Braun did alright playing 16 minutes, taking two shots, and ending up -1 on the night.

Leftovers

Just a few links to share today.

The Collegian has a recap of Tuesday’s win over Vermont.  I hadn’t realized the power play situation was as dire as 0 for 18 before Mike Pereira’s goal against the Catamounts.

The athletic website relays the circumstances surrounding Justin Braun’s callup to San Jose.  Braun could make his debut tonight as the Sharks take on the Canucks.

USCHO features what every Hockey East team should be thankful for so far this season.

Jerry York will continue to be behind the BC bench for a while.

Lastly, on this holiday weekend of reflection and giving thanks for everything in our lives I recommend reading this piece from College Hockey News on the inspiration that is Travis Roy.  There are few people in hockey or in life that I admire more.

Giving Thanks

Time to reflect upon and give thanks for all the blessings in my life.

I am thankful for UMass hockey’s first win of the season.

I am thankful that Jack Parker did not feel it necessary to do everything he could to get Mike Pereira to join his brother on Comm Ave.

I am thankful to have a senior captain goaltender in the same year that he has so many inexperienced freshmen in front of him.

I am thankful that the future in net looks bright with Jeff Teglia between the pipes for three years.

I am thankful that the team is finishing strong in games and outscoring opponents by four goals in the third period.

I am thankful that UMass hockey, with four different players putting in time in the NHL this season, continues to establish itself as a program where players can develop for the next level.

I am thankful that all those WCHA teams missed out on AJHL talent Branden Gracel.

I am thankful that UMass had the most players on the Hockey East All-Academic team because after all, that’s what it’s all about.

I am thankful for whatever it is that makes T.J. Syner the fastest player in the league.

I am thankful that the UMass penalty kill completely shutdown Vermont on Tuesday.

I am thankful for the opportunity to experience Wisconsin hockey at the Kohl Center next month.

I am thankful for the quiet defensive dependability of Doug Kublin.

I am thankful that UMass isn’t the only team in the conference experiencing growing pains this season.

I am thankful that UMass plays in the best hockey conference in the country.

I am thankful that Derek Kellogg’s crew has gotten off to such a good start.

I am thankful for Toot recruiting fast, exciting players suited to the big ice of the Mullins Center.

I am thankful for Stoney at the Hangar for bringing in such great beers from around the world for me to enjoy with my wings before each and every game.

I am thankful that Hockey East hasn’t decided to implement shootouts (again).

I am thankful for continuing to find ways around the new, unfortunate $10 charge to park in the usual Mullins lot.

I am thankful to spend Thanksgiving in Western Mass, which I consider home despite growing up between the north shore and Colorado and now living on the south shore.

I am thankful the Dan Hawkins era is over in Boulder.

I am thankful that my UMass degrees helped me find a new job this year that is much better than the one I had.

I am thankful for the cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee that I start each day with.

 I am thankful to not only have a wife that allows me to travel all over New England and the country watch hockey, but enjoys doing so herself.

I am thankful for all the other great UMass hockey fans I’ve met over the years.

I am thankful that in two days I get to be in the Mullins Center to watch yet another UMass hockey game.

Happy Thanksgiving UMass hockey fans!

Vermont Recap; Braun Called Up

In the aftermath of UMass’ first win the players acted like this was any other game, the coach could be described as only mildly pleased with the effort, and the team as a whole went off their separate ways with plans to return to the ice Thanksgiving Day to prepare for Quinnipiac.  But while the team may have been subdued following their first win of the season, the fans, the small crowd in the Mullins and those following the game elsewhere, were anything but, judging from the countless “UMass wins!” messages I saw on Facebook following the game.  While it’s good the players immediately set their sights on win number two, this first one is a good win for the fans to celebrate.

A happy ending did not look likely following a first period where UMass got outshot 13-5 and were only kept in the game thanks to some stellar goaltending from Paul Dainton and some key penalty killing.  Let me repeat that, key penalty killing.  UMass came into the game with one of the worst kills in the country yet last night turned back five UVM penalty kills and the 12 resulting shots.  And they looked good doing it.  I thought the game was a good step forward for the Minutemen defensively as a whole.  They seemed to be doing a lot of the extra things that lead to good defensive play.  Blocking shots (UMass had 17 of them), making that extra effort to poke the puck out of the defensive zone, and tough play along the boards.  If I gave a defensive skater of the game award it would likely have gone to Marc Concannon, who continues to just outwork his opponents and continue to be a presence on the ice.

Offensively the team looked awful in the first.  They struggled to get outlet passes out of their own zone, would get tripped up when crossing the opponents blue line and turn it over, and seemed unable to control the puck in the offensive zone more than a few seconds.  That all seemed to change in the second when they ramped up their forecheck and suddenly the Catamounts found themselves on their heels.  Eventually UMass was able to create more offense without the forecheck but there is no doubt that it swung the momentum early in the second.  No one did more on the forecheck last night than T.J. Syner.  The first goal, on the power play, resulted when UVM goaltender Rob Madore came out to play the puck and swing it around behind the net only to have Syner there waiting to pick it off and put it in front to Mike Pereira.  Again in the second T.J. Syner on the forecheck picked off the puck at the opposing blueline, centered a pass to Branden Gracel who roofed it to put UMass up 3-0.

While the lone power play goal came from Madore being caught with his pants down there was some improvement to the extra man play as the game went along.  The power play opportunity in the first was much like what we’ve seen all season, no shots and unable to maintain possession.  Most of the power plays from there on were decent and resulted in some quality scoring chances.

Mike Pereira continues to impress, scoring two goals and now finding himself near the top in the league in the category.  His second goal came off a great play from Chase Langeraap who skated into the zone, made a nifty move around a Catamount player, and passed the puck to Pereira all in one motion, who put it home and put the game away.  At the beginning of the season I was unsure whether Langeraap would even see much playing time this season and in fact he was a healthy scratch for a few games.  But he is certainly earning his ice time with his play as of late and looked to be one of the best players out there last night.

Not only was the win last night a big confidence builder, but it had material impact on where UMass stands.  With the two points the Minutemen leap-frogged UVM and Lowell in the standings, with team having three games in hand to the latter.  Coach Cahoon however made sure to let everyone know that he was not entirely happy with the effort after the game, saying the team still has a lot of work to do.  He specifically mentioned undisciplined play and disparity of effort from period to period as the areas to work on.  He won’t have long to address these and other issues as the team practices at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day.  Until then though us fans can be thankful for the effort taken to put the Minutemen in the win column.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Paul Dainton

Mike Pereira is certainly deserving of recognition for his multiple goal game last night and was named the game’s number one star.  But Paul Dainton at times stood on his head last night and without him UMass goes down 2-0 or more in the first period when they were unable to gain possession of the puck.  If not for an unfortunate turnover that led to a shorthanded breakaway goal, Dainton was perfect last night.  He went out of his way to credit his defense after the game and they do deserve praise with 17 blocked shots.  But 45 still got through to Dainton and he stopped them all but one.  He did all this and remained poised despite repeated times where he was getting knocked down by UVM players.  This game was one of his best while wearing the maroon and white.

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Matty V has his recap where he goes into Cahoon’s postgame comments in more detail.  Matt was also determined last night to come up with a name for this traditional pre-Thanksgiving matchup complete with an elaborate, yet slightly odd, half hockey stick half turkey leg trophy.  I think by the end of the night he was leaning towards Turkey Tuesday Tilt after it was endorsed by Toot.  I hope to see some schematics of the proposed trophy on his blog soon.

Dick Baker makes good use of the phrase “cold turkey” in his recap.

Here are how things looked for the writers up north.

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UMass will continue to have three players in the NHL as Justin Braun has been called up by the Sharks and will likely make his debut tonight but Casey Wellman was sent down to Houston by the Wild.  Jon Quick and Greg Mauldin are the other Minutemen on NHL rosters currently.

Vermont Preview; Walsh Traded

Vermont Catamounts 1-4-3 (1-3-2) T-8th Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 0-6-3 (0-3-3) 10th Hockey East

Turkey Tuesday is upon us which means it’s time for the traditional tilt against Vermont.  The teams should be well rested with neither playing in the last ten days.  That last game was a big one for the Catamounts however as they picked up their first win of the season with a 5-3 decision over Boston College.  UMass comes into the game looking to get into the win column themselves.

Picked to finish 6th in Hockey East, Vermont’s season thus far has been a disappointment for Catamount fans with just that lone win to their name.  They’ve played everyone close however, gaining three ties thus far and losing a game to Maine in overtime.  They’ve only allowed more than three goals once and that came in their season opener against Denver.

Offensively the Catamounts are led by Wahsontiio Stacey who with 6 goals accounts for nearly one third of his teams’ total to date.  Only one other player has more than two goals and that would be sophomore Chris McCarthy.  Obviously shutting down Stacey would go a long way, but another player to keep an eye out for is Connor Brickley.  Brickley was taken in the 2nd round of this year’s NHL draft after having a strong year in the USHL last season.

Defensively the Catamounts are led by Drew MacKenzie and Kyle Medvec who I’ve thought to be one of the more underrated defensemen in the conference in the last few years.  Of course in net will be Rob Madore who the Minutemen have only been able to defeat once.  Despite his record, Madore has a decent .917 save percentage.

Looking at Vermont’s stats there are a few areas of concern for the Minutemen.  Despite their record, Vermont has been pretty even with their opponents in terms of shots taken.  And one especially troubling stat that jumps out is that UVM has scored 6 more goals than their opponents in the first period.  UMass on the other hand has scored 9 less in the opening period.  It is absolutely critical that the Minutemen come out firing and try to get that first goal tonight.  Neither the UVM power play or penalty kill is particularly dominant, but UMass has made nearly every opponent’s special teams look good so far.  Vermont is only averaging 4.4 penalties per game versus 6.2 for UMass.  They’ll have to look to play with more discipline and not give the other team the advantage by being in the box.

It’ll be interesting to see how UMass comes out in this game.  At the start of the season there was little practice time for all the newcomers to learn the system and their teammates before being thrust into the meat of the season’s schedule.  With the extended time off it perhaps has offered Coach Cahoon a chance to step back and cover some aspects of his strategy in more detail or perhaps work to refine his lines.  If anything hopefully the team has had a chance to catch their breath and refocus.  There is still a lot of hockey to be played and a lot of points to be won in Hockey East.  UMass and UVM have only played 6 conference games so far while five others have already played 8 or more.  These games in hand could be a huge advantage to the Minutemen if they’re able to get things on track starting tomorrow.

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Here’s a look at this week’s polls and Hockey East awards.

Dick Baker looks at Paul Dainton moving up the UMass statistical ranks.

The Collegian has a lengthy story on Darren Rowe and how he went from the West Coast to East Coast.  The Mullins is a relatively small arena?  It has the largest capacity in Hockey East.

Mike Pereira is once again on the watch list for next year’s draft.

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Recruit Shane Walsh was traded from Tri-City to Dubuque.

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Here’s another piece on Greg Mauldin, this time from the MetroWest Daily.

Casey Wellman answers fanmail on the Wild website.

Weekend Randomness

A weekend without UMass hockey allowed me to sit at home and relax and not drag my ass all over New England for once.  I’m grateful that I decided to skip going to the football game at Rhode Island where once again the Minutemen underachive despite having some of the best players at their level and will be sitting at home during the playoffs for another year.

No UMass hockey did give me the chance to sit down and watch the Bruins last night as they fell to former UMass goaltender Jon Quick and the Kings in a shootout.  Quick ended up with 38 saves, some of them quite good, and got the better of the goaltender matchup with former Vermont backstop Tim Thomas.  Quick continues to impress in LA and defies those who predicted he wouldn’t make it as an everyday NHL starter.  Many doubted he wouldn’t be able to take the job away from Erik Ersberg a couple of seasons ago and those same doubters predicted he would lose his job this season to the highly rated Jonathan Bernier.  Instead Quick is third in the league in goals against, third in wins, and sixth in save percentage.

In other alumni news the Albany Times Union has a Q&A with Matt Anderson.

And the Herald has an article on Greg Mauldin’s return to the NHL.

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Around the league this weekend UNH and BU split their series.  BC got themselves back on track with a 4-0 win over Maine at home.  The teams will play again this afternoon.  Merrimack swept Lowell while Northeastern gained a won and tied against Providence. Northeastern’s performance puts the Minutemen in the basement of the league all alone, one point behind Lowell and Vermont.  However the River Hawks have already played 4 more games than UMass to this point.

View From Section U: How Long Patient?

“Patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”
– Proverb

“Patience: A minor form of despair disguised as a virtue.”
-Ambrose Bierce

Everyone knew that a challenging campaign lay ahead of the Minutemen coming into the season, considering the stars lost and the large freshman class burdened with carrying so much of the load from the get-go.  However, a quarter into the 2010-11 season I don’t think many thought that UMass would be the lone team in all of college hockey to find itself without a win.  In the long run I’m not sure how significant that is.  I’ve said all along it’s not how this team starts but how they finish.  Yet, just how long should we, as fans, wait patiently?

I don’t want to rehash it too much, but obviously this team had serious challenges from the very start of the season.  Of course they had to deal with the usual attrition from graduation, bringing in freshmen to replace key guys like Justin Braun.  Then they lost their two top offensive players early in James Marcou and Casey Wellman and had to scramble to try to bring guys in perhaps earlier than planned.  The two first points led to a much larger than normal freshman class and Coach Cahoon now finds himself putting teams on the ice made up of half first year players.  But UMass is not unique in this aspect.  Across the state in Lowell, Blaise MacDonald is faced with the same thing.  In fact for some reason he’s doing this every four years, choosing not to break up his available scholarships more equally among the classes.  Yet the River Hawks and their inexperienced players have two wins on the season, including one over Providence which UMass was unable to beat.

At the time the inability to Providence was extremely frustrating.  Any maybe it still should be to an extent.  But this year’s Friar squad doesn’t seem to be the pushovers that they used to be.  In fact they find themselves with a winning record and in a tie for 3rd in Hockey East.  And UMass played them closely, like they have just about everyone.  UMass’ schedule has not been easy to start the season, with two games against BU who has spent time at #1, two at current #7 UNH, and two out in Minnesota.  And with the exception of last Friday in Durham, UMass has been in each and every one of those games.  Something I’m not sure we would’ve expected going into the season and looking over the schedule.  No, allowing for an improved Providence squad, I think most can say that the only game where the team vastly underperformed was the spanking given to them by Army.  That’s the game where no excuse of youth or anything else is allowable given how thoroughly they were outworked and dominated for the entire time on the ice.

So, fine.  If this team beats Army as they should have and perhaps beat Providence rather than tying them then they’re 2-5-2.  Given who they had to faced I think faced that record we’d all be doing our best Denny Green impression.  They were who we thought they were.  But, that has happened.  Unfortunately we’ve had a team that has found a way to lose games due to stretches of time where they have very poor execution.  But how long can that continue before we should take notice.  How many more losses until we can no longer shrug it off and tell each other “they’re young”.  How long can we admire the obvious talent of this freshman class without worrying that they keep making the same mistakes again and again.  My answer, not long.

UMass has three games coming up, at home, against teams they have a legitimate chance to beat.  Not only that, but the schedule allows for ample time to prepare and heal for each one of them.  Counting the leadup to Tuesday’s game they’ll have 21 days to face three beatable teams in the friendly confines of home.  First up is Vermont, a team which only got its first win of the season last weekend.  Quinnipiac, which has won 5 games so far but does not resemble some of the better teams of the past few years, follows.  And they finish with Lowell, which I’ve already mentioned as going through the same youth movement as UMass.  If UMass cannot find a way, cannot will themselves to at least one win in these next three games then it’s time to hit the panic button and buckle yourself in.  Because the rest of the season could resemble the new trainwreck disaster film in theatres, with no Denzel to save us all.

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USCHO takes a look at all the Hockey East teams status so far.

Dick Baker has a season reset of his own.

The Collegian takes a look at the goaltending play thus far into the season.

Elsewhere in Hockey East Merrimack has given coach Mark Dennehy a contract extension through 2015-16.

Hockey’s Future takes a look at the Sharks organization and the many Minutemen who inhabit it.

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