Saturday Recap

Getting just one point from this weekend’s series is pretty close to a worst case scenario for this UMass team.  However, it’s tough to be disappointed with how the team played in last night’s tie 2-2 tie with Northeastern.  The power play continues to be awful and while the faceoffs improved from the night before, they still weren’t where they need to be.  Yet, the team did much better on offense, putting 41 shots on Chris Rawlings, and they did their best to match the physical play of Northeastern, or at least play through it.

I think we’re starting to see the limitations of this team as it’s presently constructed.  They’re very skilled.  They’re very fast.  The defense has been solid and is getting better.  But the lack of grinders (Danny Hobbs’ absence last night did not help things) and lack of a pure sniper makes it near impossible for UMass to take these close games against good defensive teams.  That does not bode well for them next weekend when they travel to take on Boston College and Merrimack, who currently have the top two defenses in the league.  It’s also going to hurt them when they have to finish the season with two games against Maine with who knows what on the line.

The bright spot this weekend was the fact that Vermont and Providence both got swept so UMass was able to pick up one point on those two teams behind them in the standings.  The Minutemen find themselves 4 points ahead of Providence and 5 points ahead of Vermont.  Overall the month of January has to be seen as a lost opportunity however.  Of the eight games played this month seven came against teams in the bottom half of the Hockey East standings, providing an excellent chance to get some points against easier competition than they’ll see in February and solidify their position as a playoff-bound team.  They ended up going 3-3-1 in those seven games with two of those wins coming at the expense of the lowly Lowell River Hawks.  Ahead of them will be three games with Boston College, likely to be the new #1 team in the country with Yale getting swept this weekend, two with #12 Maine, three with #14 Merrimack, one with #16 Boston University, and a game with Providence.  My guess is three wins in those last ten games will secure a playoff spot.  Four wins will likely give them the best chance at holding onto 7th place.  They’ll need to go .500 or better to catch up to Northeastern, who has an equally tough schedule down the stretch.  10 games, 9 against ranked teams, in five weeks.  “Men’s league” indeed.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Mike Pereira
After having a bit lull in scoring from Thanksgiving through the middle of January Pereira is again starting to heat up.  With his goal last night Pereira is just one point behind BU’s Charlie Coyle for top scoring freshmen in the league.

Here’s the recap from the Republican.

And here’s how things looked for the Gazette.