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Saturday Recap

Listening to last night’s game I have to assume it was a much better effort than the night before.  The box scores are at least dramatically different.  I’m sure it pains the team a bit to be less than a minute from their first win and only come away with a tie.  Especially since one of UNH’s goals came with 7, yes 7, skaters on the ice.  I’ll have to look it up later, but I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules.  Yet, the game is something to build on and it’s back to the type of play we saw at the beginning of the season against the likes of Minnesota and BU.  What was encouraging was that the team was ready to compete from the moment the puck was dropped.  True, UNH got off to the early lead, but UMass put together one of their best first periods of the season last night.  That’s something that has to continue.

Yesterday I mentioned that Mike Pereira’s absence was a big factor in the loss on Friday and sure enough he comes back, has a good game, and scores what could’ve been the game winner with a minute left.  That goal was a putback on a T.J. Syner shot.  Syner had a very strong game, setting up the Pereira goal and scoring one himself on a heads up play picking up a loose puck on the forecheck and coming back in to the zone and blistering one past Digirolamo.  And of course it’s been a long time coming, only because he has looked so good on offense the entire season, but Branden Gracel picked up his first collegiate goal in the first.

There are still a lot of things to work on, the first being the power play which was horrible last night.  UMass had five power play opportunities and only managed one shot in that 4:41 of time.  The penalty kill improved a bit, only allowing 1 goal on 5 opportunities, an outing that will help their stats.  A lot of that came from strong goaltending in those periods.

The team now gets a week and a half off before taking on Vermont on the traditional Turkey Tuesday game.  Vermont got off the winless snide beating BC in Burlington yesterday.  This is an excellent chance to heal some bumps and bruises but also take a step back and adjust the game plan.  Hopefully the coaching staff is able to focus on whatever it’s going to take to get the special teams in order.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Paul Dainton
A career high 43 saves including 18 in the third period alone.  UNH is a great team and they completely poured it on in the third to try to get the win at home in the third and Dainton was there to deny them.  I wish I had been able to watch the game as some of them sounded downright amazing given the reactions of John and Brock.  Two nights, two excellent performances from the UMass goaltenders.  Goalie competition?  That’s usually not a bad thing.

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Elsewhere in Hockey East this weekend, BC and Vermont split as mentioned.  Merrimack and BU traded a couple home and home ties.  Maine swept Northeastern in Orono while Providence took two from Alabama-Huntsville down south.

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Dick Baker recounts UMass getting away with too many men on the ice for a goal from ten years ago, scored by the infamous Brad Nizwantowski.  He also has a recap from the game itself.

UNH, understandably, was not happy with how Pereira celebrated his go-ahead goal.  I’ve said from the beginning that Pereira seems to play with a chip on his shoulder, which I personally love.  But it’s all about time and place.

Here’s another recap from north of the border.

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