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Polls & Awards; Playoff Scenarios

North Dakota is the top ranked team in the country again in the USCHO polls.  With their sweep over the Minutemen, Boston College remains in 2nd place.  UNH moved up a couple spots to #7 while Merrimack fell hard after getting swept in Orono, dropping 5 spots to ninth.  BU checks in at #13 while Maine, which will be coming into the Mullins this weekend, is #14.

Maine finds itself in the USA Hockey/USA Today poll this week as well.

Maine was named the Team of the Week while Black Bear Dan Sullivan was named Goaltender of the Week by Hockey East.  No UMass players were named award winners or Top Performers.  Paul Dainton, Joel Hanley, and T.J. Syner are all mentioned under milestones.

One weekend left and UMass could still finish anywhere from 7th to out of the playoffs altogether at 9th.  Vermont is in 7th place currently and has two games at home against Lowell while Providence will play a home and home with Merrimack.  UMass holds the tiebreaker against UVM but loses the head to head tiebreaker with Providence.  If all three teams end with 16 pts (UVM loses out, UMass gets a tie, and PC either win or ties twice) then UMass finishes 7th with Vermont 8th.  If all three teams finish with 17 points with UMass getting two ties and BC finishing 1st the Minutemen will miss out on the playoffs.  If all three teams finish with 17 points with UMass getting two ties and UNH finishes first UMass will finish in 7th and Vermont in 8th.  If all three teams finish with 17 points with UMass winning either night then UMass will finish 7th with Vermont 8th.

I started to type out each and ever possible scenario and show how the bottom of the standings would look, but I stopped because there are many different ways it could shake out.  Plus, in the end it really doesn’t matter.  UMass’ goal and their goal from the start of the season should’ve been to get to the playoffs with this young team.  They’re in excellent position to do so.  And, most importantly they control their own destiny.  Win two and they’re guaranteed a spot.  Sure a sweep of Maine seems unlikely, but you could’ve said the same last season when they swept the Black Bears on the final weekend.  And those games were in Alfond.

Playoff Status has UMass with a 72% chance of finishing 8th, 20% chance of finishing 9th, and an 8% chance of finishing 7th.  Obviously that’s accounting for the fact that there’s a slim chance Providence is successful against Merrimack, though the Warriors just had one awful weekend.  But the Friars didn’t exactly have a banner weekend themselves giving up three points to Lowell.  Maybe the River Hawks can do the same this weekend and give the Minutemen a chance to finish 7th, which would be nice since UMass held that spot for a good chunk of the season and it would match their seeding of last year despite all they lost.

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Saturday Recap

Another solid game by the Minutemen but unfortunately another tight loss.  UMass has now lost four straight games, all to top 5 teams, by the margin of one goal.  It seems that they’re getting close to being a good team, but obviously not close enough.  Though Boston College swept the season series, UMass played them tough for 8 of the 9 periods they played.  Only the third period of the meeting earlier this month at Conte Forum did the Minutemen look completely overmatched.  Hopefully it bodes well for the future that this team full of freshmen played so well against one of the favorites for the national championship.

The difference last night was penalties.  UMass took way too many of them.  It’s tough enough to generate offense against this Eagle team, but even tougher when you’re constantly killing penalties.  The penalty kill did play very well, only giving up one power play goal on 7 opportunities, but the constant line of guys going to the box made it extremely challenging to come back after BC went up by 2.   UMass was down a man for nearly 10 minutes of game time.

It was good to see the team improve on their dismal faceoff performance the night before, winning 31 of 65.  Anthony Raiola had a very good night and is making the case to be an every day player next year after Doug Kublin graduates.  He had an excellent pass which set up T.J. Syner’s goal.

Overall the team did what I had hoped they would for the weekend, even though they weren’t able to pick up any points.  But they did play well and they played consistently throughout both games.  There were no dropoffs in effort or execution which haunted them for most of the season.  These games against top teams has shown that the team is making some progress.  Just how much progress they’ve made and if they can turn that progress into wins will be seen next weekend when they have to face a suddenly dominating Maine team.  The Black Bears swept Merrimack by a combined score of 11-1 over the weekend and are battling for home ice.  But UMass has something to play for as well and with Providence and Vermont losing last night they control their own destiny.  For UMass, the playoffs start this coming weekend.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Paul Dainton
Dainton and his 36 saves helped UMass stay in the game and have something to play for at the end.  Dainton is playing some of the best goaltending of his career here as his time at UMass winds down.

Jerry York says UMass helped create a playoff atmosphere for BC this weekend in the Boston Globe.

Dick Baker has the recap for the Republican.

Friday Recap; Dainton Breaks Saves Record

Obviously every weekend you’re hoping for a win or at least a tie to get some points, especially with UMass’ playoff chances in jeopardy.  But aside from that, as I wrote in my preview, I really wanted to see UMass play well and show they can compete with a team as good as Boston College.  And I think they did so.  I thought they had good effort throughout, they played relatively mistake free,  and got some good play from a lot of different guys who contributed in their own way.

The problem is while they played relatively mistake free BC is better at converting a mistake into a goal better than anyone.  And that’s what happened on the 3rd and 4th goals.  With UMass out of position BC was able to use their speed that led to a two on one which they put home.  On the 4th goal Branden Gracel turned the puck over behind his net and a fraction of a second later it was in the back of the net.  The Eagles are just waiting to jump on every little miscue because that’s what really good teams do.  Still, overall I thought UMass limited the turnovers and other mistakes.  You can make the point that they took too many penalties again, which led to two BC power play goals, but personally I thought the officiating was pretty poor last night (shocking) so I’m going to refrain from making the case that UMass played undisciplined last night.  I thought a lot of calls the refs got wrong or shouldn’t have been called at all.  But that’s hockey.

One huge positive from last night was the power play which went 2 for 5.  It’s their third straight game with at least one power play goal.  They only generated three shots, but that’s misleading as both the power play goals were scored on the first shot of the extra man advantage.  Looking at the the power play goals, what is impressive is that the first came from long out when Joel Hanley scored his with a couple second remaining in the second.  The second power play goal came when Hanley shot again and Danny Hobbs was sitting right in front to put home the rebound.  It was nice to see them convert both inside and out with the extra man.

There were some great individual efforts last night.  Conor Allen had one of his better games in quite a while, playing solid defense but also being really active on offense.  He actually ended with the most shots on net on the team with four and of course started the scoring for the Minutemen.  Rocco Carzo still has been unable to find the scoring touch he showed last year, but last night he was a wrecking ball out there, throwing some of the best hits of the night and allowing UMass to match the physical play of some of BC’s bigger players.  Doug Kublin had a good game defensively and made some key plays, but frankly that surprises no one.   As a team I thought UMass was active in getting in the passing lanes and also did a good job of blocking shots.

There were some areas to work on after night.  Most glaring could be faceoffs, which were won by BC 41 to 25.  In a game against a great defense where shots and offensive possession could be hard to come by it’s absolutely critical to do better in the faceoff circle, especially in the offensive zone.  I also thought there were a couple times where the team HAD to get a shot off and didn’t because they hesitated or were actually too unselfish.  Shots are sometimes pretty tough to come by for this team, so it hurts to see them pass up chances to get the puck on net.  With the team improving on getting people in front and putting rebounds home, they simply have to shoot when the opportunity is there, even if it may not be the perfect shot.

So I hoped for a good effort and for the team to compete hard enough where they had a shot at taking some points.  They did that.  Sure, there are no moral victories, especially when points are so critical right now, but it was good to see.  Three straight one goal losses to teams in the top 5 in the country isn’t too bad and hopefully is instilling in them that with the proper effort they can play with these talented teams.  Hopefully they can continue that tonight and maybe even steal a point or two at BC.

The other story from last night’s game was Paul Dainton passing Brian Regan on the all-time saves list.  It was a little challenging to track in the crowd since the video scoreboards were having problems all night (something Coach Cahoon was pissed about since they were unable to track penalties).  But thanks to a couple online box score sites and smartphones a lot of the fans were able to know when Paul tied and then broke the record.  This is a huge accomplishment.  Brian Regan was a great goaltender who unfortunately played during tough times for the UMass program.  The legacy he left at UMass was one of having to put up spectacular performances night in and night out just for UMass to have a chance in the game.  He did that and subsequently saw a lot of high shot total games.  Dainton hasn’t necessarily had to stand on his head night in and night out like Regan did, which in some ways makes breaking this record even more impressive.  What has led Dainton to this record is exactly what his legacy will be when his career ends in a week or two.  Dependability, longevity, and skill.  Without those three things he doesn’t break the record and more importantly UMass is likely a lot worse off over the last four years.  All you really want from a goaltender is for him to allow you to stay in the game and have a chance at a win, night in and night out.  Four years and 3,062 saves later, Dainton has done exactly that.

It should be noted that Dainton also became the all time leader in minutes played, passing Gabe Winer.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Joel Hanley
Hanley’s aggressiveness on offense helped UMass get back into last night’s game.  His goal with just under 3 seconds left in the second was a momentum changer and set up an exciting third period which also saw him assist on Hobbs’ goal.  When watching the highlights of last night I couldn’t help but notice he pointed up to the sky after he scored, perhaps as a tribute to his brother who he lost at the beginning of the semester.  It’s a remind that it’s been a very challenging freshman year for Hanley way beyond wins and losses so it’s great to see him making significant contributions at this time.

UMass did not get a ton of help around Hockey East last night for their playoff prospects.  Lowell blew a 3-1 lead allowing Providence to gain a tie and move to just two points behind the Minutemen with 3 games to play.  Of course that wasn’t as bad as the chokejob by BU which allowed Vermont to score 3 goals in the last 15 minutes of the 3rd and also gain a tie, thereby moving into sole possession of 7th place.  That means if UMass loses tonight and the Friars beat the River Hawks at home tonight the Minutemen will be out of the playoffs going into the last weekend of the season.

Dainton called breaking the record bittersweet in the Gazette’s recap, saying he’d rather have the win.

Cahoon like the effort according to the Republican recap.

In this week’s coach’s show Toot mentioned that Adam Phillips, checking in at 6’6″, will be the second tallest player on the team next year.  In last night’s press conference he mentioned again that there is a 6’7″ player who has committed next year.  I’ve done some research and haven’t figured out who this player is and where he’s playing now, but I’ll pass along any information I uncover.

Boston College Preview

#2 Boston College Eagles 22-7-1 (16-6-1) Hockey East T-2nd

vs

Massachusetts Minutemen 6-18-5 (5-13-5) Hockey East T-7th

Boston College is the #2 team in the country, defending national champions, Beanpot winners, and one of the most dominant programs in college hockey today.  UMass has just 6 wins on the season, is most definitely in a rebuilding year, and has only been able to beat teams below them in the Hockey East standings this year.  Looking at all that this weekend’s games are already decided right?  Well, it might not be that simple.  BC is coming off a weekend that saw them lose to and tie a team that was playing without their head coach.  They’ve given up a total of 15 goals in their last 3 games, well above their average.  And they were just knocked off their perch atop the national rankings.  Meanwhile UMass had a Merrimack team, which took the season series from BC, on the ropes on Friday only to let a win slip through their fingers.  They bounced back on Saturday with a superb defensive effort that allowed them to remain in the game until the end with a chance to tie or win even though it was played in one of their personal house of horrors.

Now all that’s not to say I’m making any bold predictions for this weekend, but perhaps there is an opportunity for the Minutemen here.  Despite their overall record UMass has been close but no cigar with some top notch teams all season;  such as Boston University, UNH, Minnesota, Merrimack.  Perhaps a good showing, demonstrating their ability to go toe to toe with the talented Eagles, will be enough to at least give them momentum going into the final weekend against Maine.  Momentum and, probably more importantly, confidence is something they could use as there’s a legitimate chance they’ll be playing the Black Bears next weekend with a chance at the playoffs on the line.  This weekend’s series against BC might be where they can get the ball rolling into the playoffs, even if it doesn’t necessarily hinge on taking points from the talented Eagles.

UMass did show already that they can withstand the offensive onslaught of BC, for two periods at least, back when they met at the beginning of the month.  Paul Dainton and those in front of him stood tall and kept the Eagles to a single goal for the first 38 minutes before an avalanche of scoring in the third drastically changed what had been a respectable showing.  The BC forwards were buzzing throughout , putting 30 shots on net in the first two periods, but Dainton played some of his best hockey of the year and the team as a whole did what they had to in order to limit BC to far angles and keep them off the rebounds.  Those first two periods were some of the best us UMass fans have witnessed in this trying season.

I could talk a lot about the Xs and Os in that game, or at least I could try to.  It was a physical game.  UMass, predictably struggled on the power play (though Adam Phillips was a ring off the crossbar away from a PPG), probably took too many penalties, and couldn’t keep consistent pressure on Muse.  Could all those things happen again.  Sure.  But Friday could be different in the friendly confines of the Mullins Center and the prior X’s and O’s might not matter..  With a good crowd, a sense of history in the air as Dainton tries to break Brian Regan’s save record, and a “not in my house” mentality the game and perhaps the results could be very different.  The team is due for a full on 60 minute game with good execution and better focus.

Does that happen tomorrow, I don’t know.  But one of these days they have to realize their potential.  A good effort, a good crowd behind them, who knows what this team is capable of.  We know that they’re close to beating good teams.  But can they beat one of the elite?  Friday gives them a good chance.  And at the very least, the weekend is a good tune up for a couple must win games against Maine next weekend which could be the make or break for this long, trying season.

Beer The Triangle
Like UMass I’m due.   No, overdue.  For a trip to Sunset Grill.  I didn’t make UMass’ lone trip to Agganis ,this year which means I didn’t even get to  visit Mini-Sunset (aka Sunset Cantina) this year.  Luckily I have in my possession gift certificates to both Sunset and their upstairs game room, Big City, because those closest to me know how to really spoil me.  So a pregame there and then jumping on the green line for the trip to Conte seems to be in order.  I won’t recommend anything specifically because there are too many to recommend.  But since I’m playing with house money, I may get a DFH World Wide Stout or an Ommegang Cup O Kyndness or a Clown Shoes Double Brown.  Wait, $6 Golden Monkey?  Damn, I just hope I can make it to the game.  Screw it, just hand me a Dogfish Olde School Barleywine.

The Collegian previews the weekend series and has a nice feature on captain Paul Dainton on the likely eve of his record breaking evening.

Congrats to recruit Kevin Boyle for making the BCHL All-Rookie team.  Boyle came into Westside (thousands of miles from his home in New Jersey mind you) and as the starting goaltender helped lead them to a 4 seed in the playoffs which start tomorow.

Mastalerz Commits To UMass

Originally I had planned to write something about Greg Mauldin for my View From Section U feature but I think I’ll put that off for the time being and focus on relaying some information on UMass’ newest commitment.  Plus, I want to get a jump on my weekend preview tonight as well since I might not have time tomorrow due to potentially being busy with an important appointment (Blue Hills Brewery event at Union Brewhouse).

Chris Heisenberg brought news that UMass picked up a commitment from Stephen Mastalerz, a 6’1″ 200 lb goaltender currently playing for Kimball Union in the New England Prep League.  The North Andover native will be coming to Amherst this fall.  Kimball Union is 23-5-4 on the season with Mastalerz getting most of those wins behind a .928 save percentage.  Sorry for the lack of complete stats, but USHR continues to be outside my budget.  Last year Mastalerz backed up current Maine goaltender Martin Ouellette.

Other than that, I can’t find too much on Mastalerz.  He wasn’t even listed on Heisenberg’s site before this and he’ll usually have most of the college bound players before they’re committed.  That’s not saying Mastalerz isn’t a DI goaltender however.  He could just be a late bloomer plus playing behind an NHL draft pick doesn’t make it easy to get noticed early.

To me this looks like an insurance policy in case Jeff Teglia  and/or Kevin Boyle don’t develop into everyday players, either due to performance or injury.  In any case a little competition at the goaltender position never hurt anyone and will require all three players to play their hardest in order to see the ice.  What this means for current third string goaltender and fan favorite Kevin Moore, I can’t tell you.  Coach Cahoon did have four goaltenders on the roster last year with Paul Dainton, Dan Meyers, Moore, and Randy Wolcott.  Maybe he does that again.  At the same time while Moore is a junior in terms of eligibility, he may be further along academically and perhaps could be graduating early anyway.  Time will tell.

Heisenberg hasn’t updated his site to show Joseph Manno to UMass yet.  Not sure if the news hasn’t reach him yet or if I got fed some bad info.  Time will tell on that one as well.

Someone had asked me recently if the coaching staff had offered a scholarship to Malden Catholic’s Brendan Collier who recently committed to BU.  I can tell you that they did in fact.   But so did the rest of Hockey East.

Dick Baker profiles Peter DeAngelo and Kevin Moore in his most recent blog post.

Recruit Update

Late post tonight as I was in Providence crossing another hockey arena off my list.  With my visit to Meehan Auditorium tonight to watch Harvard squeak by Brown 2-1 I’ve now been to all the DI college hockey rinks in New England except Sacred Heart.  I’ve also nearly completed visiting all the ECAC rinks except Colgate and Princeton. 

Surprisingly Meehan was a pretty good place to watch a game.  It doesn’t have nice amenities like multiple food stands, convenient bathrooms, or decent promotional giveaways (tonight was Brown paper clip holder night, seriously).  But there’s not a bad seat in the house and the standing room area is even better as you can see below:

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
39 GP / 20-16-1 / 3.02 GAA / .902 sv%
Another up and down weekend for Boyle.  First he allowed 3 goals in under 30 minutes of play then the next night he got a shutout, his first of the season.  That’s it for the BCHL regular season.  Boyle finished 12th in GAA and 14th in save percentage in the 12 team league.  His Warriors are a 4 seed in the Interior Conference and playoffs start Friday.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
39 GP / 11 G / 37 A /  48 Pts / 50 PIM
Shattuck is in the middle of a stretch where they don’t play from February 10th until the 26th.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
50 GP / 33 G / 36 A / 69 Pts / 26 PIM
LaRue has had a goal and three assists in three playoff games so far for the Waxers.  His goal was a gamewinner.  His team is up 2-1 in the series.

 Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
32 GP / 6 G / 6 A / 12 Pts / 10 PIM
Walsh had a great weekend netting a couple of goals in three games.

Joseph Manno -RW – South Kent (NE Prep)
21 GP / 15 G / 26 A / 41 Pts
These stats come from a reader since USHR has priced themselves beyond my taste.  Not sure how often I’ll be able to update these.

The Collegian takes a look at the close contests UMass has been a part of (usually on the losing end).

Former Collegian editor Andrew Merritt has a must read about Greg Mauldin finally getting an extended chance in the NHL in the New England Hockey Journal.  Mauldin was even featured on the cover of this month’s edition.  A timely link as Mauldin will be the feature of my View From Section U column tomorrow.

Polls & Awards

Alright, after a day spent wrist deep in the guts of my computer, Fear The Triangle is back online and ready to go for the Hockey East stretch run.

Coming away from the weekend with only a tie was enough to drop Boston College out of the top spot in the USCHO rankings.  The Fight Sioux are the new top team in the land.  Merrimack’s sweep of UMass not only allowed them to jump to #4, but Merrimack is even receiving a first place vote currently.

North Dakota takes over #1 in the USA Hockey/USA Today poll as well. 

Pretty much the same with INCH’s Power Rankings as well.

No weekly awards for Minutemen from Hockey East today.  They do mention that Paul Dainton is 19 saves shy of tying Brian Regan for the all-time saves mark at UMass.  After Merrimack put up 21 shots in the first period on Saturday I started wondering if we’d see him break the record sometime later in that game.

Of course BC dropping three points to Northeastern this past weekend is a big surprise considering that Huskies coach Greg Cronin was suspended indefinitely for possible recruiting violations before Friday’s matchup between the two teams.  USCHO’s Jim Connolly has an interesting look at the situation, including some past issues with programs that Cronin has been a part of that I wasn’t aware of.  Personally I hope this ends up being a misunderstanding.  I respect Cronin and think he’s doing a stellar job turning around the Northeastern program which I’ve always thought has had a ton of potential but not a lot of success.  Let’s hope the recent accomplishments by Northeastern are not tarnished by whatever this situation may entail.

BC is hoping to regain that second seed spot so they can avoid the Huskies again the Hockey East Quarterfinals.  I have a feeling losing three points to Northeastern will make for an angry Eagle team this coming weekend.

I think it’s important to remember that Western Mass is an area with a rich hockey tradition beyond the Mullins Center, Orr Rink, and the campus pond where UMass hockey has called home.  Legends of the game from Eddie Shore to Billy Guerin have left their mark on the local hockey scene.   And covering that scene was Sam Pompei, whom Dick Baker has an entertaining remembrance of in today’s Republican.

Saturday Recap; Manno Commits

Apologies for a minimalistic recap, but my computer has died so this is being written on my iPhone.

I was impressed by the Minutemen defensively last night. Yes they allowed a ton of shots, but they limited Merrimack to a lot of non-quality chances and when they did get a good look Paul Dainton was there to stop them. The defense also did a good job of sweeping rebounds from in front of the net or getting between the Merrimack forwards and the loose pucks. Overall, I don’t have too many complaints about the effort defensively against this high scoring offense that put up 11 last time they met in this building.

The UMass offense however was nonexistent. The started the game with 7 shots in the first and unfortunately the totals went down from there. This team, as it’s currently built, seems completely unable to compete on small ice. The forwards just do not seem to have the strength to maintain possession when bringing the puck into the zone and too often they’re stopped in the neutral zone before even getting there. One positive offensively is that UMass scored on the power play for the second straight night, with both coming on the four on three.

This was a very beatable top ten team,made even more beatable with the fact that they were missing their best player. A win or more would’ve been a feather in the cap of this UMass team going forward and show that they’re making progress from when they first assembled last fall. I think they showed they can compete but is lacking enough to truly be able to win key games. Unfortunately I think what they’re lacking is all mental. Key mistakes, lack of consistent focus, and shaky confidence from some of the younger players is limiting this team’s ability to win. Unfortunately things get much tougher from here with a home and home with Boston College. Fortunately Northeastern just showed that the Eagles are in fact human.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game -Paul Dainton
Despite being peppered all night the only two pucks that got past Dainton were on a 2 on 1 and on the power play. If Dainton is not on the top of his game last night this could’ve been a repeat of another 11-2 disaster.

^
Sorry, can’t do links to the game recaps at this time.

Vermont’s tie with UNH lifted them into 7th place with UMass. The Minutemen still own the tiebreaker. Providence lost and remain 3 points back in 9th place. The Catamounts have two at BU next week while Providence has a home and home with Lowell.

^

It appears that South Kent forward Joseph Manno has committed to UMass and is scheduled to come to Amherst this fall.

(Sorry for the misinformation, but it now appears that I received bad information or Manno backed out.  I cannot confirm his committment at this time – MC)

Friday Recap

This team cannot finish.  They can’t finish their shots and they certainly cannot finish games.  Too often this season, like the game up at UNH last fall or last night, they’ve had a team, talented teams at that, on the ropes and just cannot maintain focus long enough to pick up the win.  Why we see this over and over I don’t know.   Last fall I would’ve chalked it up to youth.  But I can’t anymore.  This team has almost 30 games under its belt.  Even young teams will evolve over the course of the season and learn how to win.  Look at Boston College last year.  Granted the talent level is very different, but that was a young team that struggled in the beginning of the season but developed over the course of the year and showed marked improvement by the spring and won a championship.  This UMass team continues to make the same mistakes, continues to take shifts or periods off, and continues to be unable to claw their way to a win.  They can certainly claw their way back into games, as we saw last night.  But they appear to lack the mental toughness to finish the job.  And because of that they ruined a great defensive effort, some excellent goaltending, and the heroics of Adam Phillips to get them back into the game.  All wasted.  Another night, another lost chance at points in the standings.

Last night could’ve been a signature win of the season.  It could’ve been something to build off for these last few weeks and the offseason.  Instead it’s another reminder that this team is quite frankly not good.   But bad defense killed that chance.  With a one goal lead and under three minutes to play Merrimack was allowed to skate into the zone and shoot at will.  And that’s that.  Merrimack gets the win and UMass has been without one for the last seven games.  One has to wonder if they’ll win another all season. 

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Conor Sheary
Obviously Phillips deserves a lot of credit for doing what he could to get the win, but I was really impressed by Sheary’s play last night.  A goal, an assist, he did the little things as well and what I really liked to see was him doing his best to skate through checks and overcome Merrimack’s defense.

The only bright spot last night was that Vermont and Providence also lost, meaning there’s no changes in the standings and UMass remains in 7th place. 

Toot cites special teams play as the difference in the Republican recap.

We beat ourselves is the message in the Gazette.

Merrimack was outplayed says the Eagle Tribune.  Mark Dennehy said the same thing after the game, saying his team stole these points.  No, Mark, they were given to you on a silver platter.

Matt Irwin has been called up by the San Jose Sharks.

Merrimack Preview

Merrimack College Warriors 19-5-4 (13-5-3) 3rd Hockey East

vs

Massachusetts Minutemen 6-16-5 (5-11-5) 7th Hockey East

 

2/5/11 Merrimack 11, UMass 2. 

Play with heart.  Play for pride.  Fight for redemption.

 

 

Beer The Triangle
I’m always pretty happy when I get some nice insider info on the state of the team or perhaps some recruiting news.  But I really love when I get some beer insider info.  So the breaking FTT beer news is that the Hangar is eyeing a couple of blue chip beers to bring into the fold soon.  First is Rogue Double Mocha Porter..  This one was already on site but not yet tapped as of last weekend.  Rogue is one of my favorite brewers and perhaps the highlight of 2010 for me was visiting their brewery on the Oregon coast.  But the real scoop is that Stoney has worked his craft beer magic and is hoping to soon to be in possession of a keg of Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout.  Founders KBS is currently rated as the 4th best beer in existence by Beer Advocate.  Quite a brew coup by the Hangar.

Looking forward to a return trip to The Tap/Haverhill Brewery on Saturday.  I had a good time there a few weeks ago.  Then I mistakenly left to attend the UMass-Merrimack game.  Enough said.

For those wanting to know more about Merrimack than the spartan (which is how I hope the team plays this weekend) preview above, here’s the one I wrote a few weeks ago.  Changed since then is the fact that Merrimack embarrassed UMass, Stephane Da Costa got hurt and his status for this weekend is unknown (I’m still guessing he’s out), and Merrimack proved they can beat good teams without him.

I’m sad to share the news that that Mike Lecomte will not be rejoining the team this season, per Dick Baker.  This is awful to hear.  Not only could the team use him right now, but you never want to see a player end their UMass career from the stands.  Especially because last season he emerged as a key player on offense before going down to injury and even provided a spark when he was in uniform this season scoring two goals and picking up an assists in 6 games.  The team really could use him right now.  Thanks for all you did in the maroon and white, Mike.

Success requires intensity says the Collegian.

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