Wisconsin Recap

Two games, two different levels of effort, but unfortunately two similar results as UMass went into a foggy Madison and ended 2010 with a sweep at the hands of #15 Wisconsin.  It would’ve been very optimistic to have expected a three win team to head west and beat a WCHA team in their own barn, but I was hoping they’d be at least more competitive.  Still, the non-conference schedule is over and if getting beat down in cheeseland gives them experience needed to win some Hockey East games, then that’ll help make up for this disappointing trip.

Now I’ve already seen and heard some fans pinning these losses on Jeff Teglia, which is ridiculous.  I guess it’s easy to look at a box score and see that the Badgers scored all of their goals against the freshman and therefore conclude that he’s the reason for the losses.  However I’m not sure how you can put them on his shoulders when his team scored only two goals for him while he was in net, with one being Langeraap’s in the last few seconds of Friday’s loss.  You also have to consider how much he had to play the puck in those times.  On Thursday UMass was outshot 20-12 while he was in the net and they had a challenging time establishing anything in Wisconsin zone for more than a few seconds.  Quite frankly, there were times early in that one where Teglia was keeping UMass in the game.  Teglia is fine.  He’s a freshman goaltender and has aspects of his game he needs to work on.  Luckily, his instincts are outstanding because that’s something you can’t teach.  What you can teach is positioning and angles, something he did struggle with.  But that’s something he can work on.  It was refreshing after the second game to talk to one of the hockey parents, who is deeply involved in junior hockey, reaffirm that Teglia was in fact the best goaltender in the USHL last year.

Onto Friday’s fiasco.  Poor effort will get you killed against a team like Wisconsin.  They’re big and strong and have a great goaltender in Gudmandson.  I was also impressed by their skating ability as they were one of the few teams that seemed to either keep up or find ways to subdue UMass’ speed.  The Minutemen could’ve played one of their best games and still lost both of the matchups in Madison.  But Thursday they lost and lost badly because the effort was poor.  They looked very much like a team that had been off for an extended time and were not ready to play.

They also had a tough time getting offensive production from the guys they really need to.  Mike Pereira managed just one shot on goal and seemed to have very little impact on the game.  It’s tough to know if this was due to him or the fact that his line was being centered by the struggling Rocco Carzo.  Overall no one had a great offensive game though and the Minutemen didn’t manage more than 7 shots in a period the entire night.  This one was complete and utter domination and some strong goaltending by Dainton in the third, which saw Wisconsin shoot 14 times, kept it from being extremely embarrassing.

Between Thursday and Friday UMass got in the right mindset and came out playing hard and playing well at the start.  Likely the game will end up being remembered by what happened at the end of the first period when Paul Dainton was given a game misconduct after a scrum in front of his net.  UMass had the lead 1-0 at this point but the ejection proved to be the turning point and the Badgers stepped up their game and took the 4-2 decision.  Again, it’s tough to put this one on Teglia since UMass wouldn’t score in the game again until there were only 30 seconds left in the third.  But the penalty was the difference because UMass came out in the second and had lost a bit from their confidence and played a little more timidly from there on out.

My opinion of the penalty?  Laughable.  It was a scrum in front of the net, guys were pushing and Dainton got hit by a Wisconsin player.  He puts his hands up to the player’s cage and pushes him away.  You see skaters do it all the time on the end boards after a big check.  But a goaltender does it in the crease and he gets thrown out.  Utterly laughable.  Yet, despite some pretty poor calls and non-calls later on though, I’m not putting this loss on the officiating.  First off, UMass had the lead and did much better on offense in the game, but they still could not get it past on Gudmandson when it counted most.  Secondly, UMass’ lead came as a result of a 5 on 3 power play, so you can’t say the WCHA officials were favoring the home team.  In fact I thought the prior night’s game, worked by the same refs, was one of the better officiated games I’ve seen all season.  Lastly, Wisconsin really played better as the game went along and were able to do what they had to, including using their physical advantage, in order to secure the win. 

There were some positives to take out of the series.  First, UMass kept Wisconsin’s power play off the board for the most part.  In fact the Badgers, with one of the top power plays in the country, only went 1 for 9 on the power play in the series.  If there was one highlight I would take from Thursday it was the penalty kill for Langeraap’s five minute major that also included a full two minutes of 5 on 3.  Another positive was UMass’ 2 for 4 on the power play on Friday, though one of those was with the two man advantage.  And lastly it was great to see Mike Lecomte back on the ice after sitting out the fall semester recovering from injury.  I thought he had an excellent first period of play where he was active and skated to the net with the puck, which is something UMass needs at this point.

My first trip to a WCHA arena was enjoyable.  Unfortunately Madison was somewhat of a ghost town with the students on break and half of the city in Pasadena for yesterday’s Rose Bowl.  But those that did show up to Kohl Center were into the game and made a good showing.  With the band in California a couple dozen alumni brought their instruments and made for a very good pep band.  It’s very disheartening to see other teams can put together a top notch band made up of former students and UMass continues to be without one entirely.  And the alumni were good, playing well and more importantly cuing the students for their cheers and other fun stuff.  Though on break and less than their usual number, the students still filled an endzone and were very entertaining.

Madison itself was a good college town.  Unfortunately I only got to “see” the town on Friday night because the entire part of the state had very heavy fog, bad enough they were cancelling flights.  It was clear enough for a visit over to Camp Randall Stadium though and of course I made sure to check out all the local brewpubs.  The Great Dane Pub and Ale Asylum both had good beers but I found Capital Brewing to be a little lacking.  Being in the midwest I was also able to get my hands on Bells Brewing Two Hearted Ale and their Expedition Stout which may have been the highlight of the trip.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game (Thursday) – T.J. Syner
This one was pretty easy since Syner had the long goal, worked hard to almost get another all night, and even finished the game +1.  Honorable mention goes to Doug Kublin’s parents who after the fog cancelled flights into Wisconsin decided to rent a car and drive all the way from Detroit where they were stranded trying to make their connection.  They made the Kohl Center by the end of the first period.  That’s dedication.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game (Friday) – Danny Hobbs
Hobbs had two goals on Friday but the second was called back for being in the crease (personally, I thought he was checked into the crease/Gudmanson, but whatever).  Either way Hobbs had a strong game and did his best to try to counter the Badgers’ physical play in addition to scoring.

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  1. Mel

     /  January 2, 2011

    Hopefully this will help them make the playoffs in Hockey East. I think this year is pretty much a wash and we have the next two seasons to look forward to.


  2. Jeff

     /  January 2, 2011

    Wow, four years after UMass went slightly further west and got beaten by UAH and then made the NCAAs folks are willing to throw the towel in on the 2nd of January again.

    Granted the 06/07 team had more wins going out to Minnesota – the current team is still developing and I think will shock some teams down the stretch and could make a good run in the playoffs.

    Is this a NCAA team, only if they win Hockey East, but I think they make the playoffs in the 6/7 spot.


  3. George

     /  January 3, 2011

    As always good write up. I think the officiating overall was good, but the the two gaffes they made were huge, the one talked about and the Hobbs one. Take a look at that January schedule. A chance to really make some hay!


  4. Anonymous

     /  January 3, 2011

    one game at a time george, see any big shifts in lines this weekend rocks?

    lecompte looked very good sat night.


    • Personally I thought the top two lines were good together in the second change. I wouldn’t change them.
      I would put Chase in the third line instead of Coco. I’d like to see Toot keep Rocco in and see if he can play out of his slump and I think Lecomte’s return allows him to do so And then mix up the 4th line according to the opposition. Northeastern bangs so
      I would put Donnellan in again. Not sure if we’ll see Shea or Rowe
      on D.


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