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Merrimack Recap

When I started this blog and named it Fear The Triangle I did so to pay homage to some truly ugly sweaters, the teams that wore them, and the fans who watched from the stands rarely seeing their team succeed and witnessing some of the most lopsided games in Hockey East history.  I thought it was a good name for a blog because that era was over and the UMass program had moved on to bigger and better things and we’d never have to suffer through those types of losses again.  Right?  Apparently not.

I apologize for those coming on here for some type of post game analysis of how the team played and why they lost.  It’s impossible to write such a thing.  They lost because they sucked.  Offensively, defensively, goaltending, special teams, coaching.  There were no positives, only negatives, and unlike the night before there was nothing shown as something to build off of.  The headline on the UMass Athletics site says “Merrimack skates by hockey 11-2”.  At first I found it laughable because usually “skates by” indicates some kind of narrow win.  But then I realized what they meant.  All night Merrimack was literally skating by UMass.  In the neutral zone.  On the way to the goaltender.  On the break.  Skate by the forwards, skate by the defensemen, shoot, back of the net, repeat.

I have no idea where the team goes from here.  Upperclassmen, freshmen, starters, healthy scratches, assistants, and head coach Toot Cahoon all need to take a step back and figure out what the hell went wrong this weekend.  Boston College and Merrimack are both very good teams, but not so good that UMass should be losing by a combined score of 16-2.  I don’t care how young we are or if guys are banged up.  That is flat out unacceptable.  That’s not getting beaten by better teams.  That’s either not caring, not executing, playing dumb undisciplined hockey or some combination of all three.  And everyone, coaches and players, shares the blame in that and needs to find a way out of it.  There’s still a lot of hockey left in the season, against some pretty tough teams, but to coming into February in 7th place and end the season out of the playoffs will be devastating.  At least to this fan.  Good teams, no matter what they’re up against find a way to win.  Playoffs or bust.

Lastly, I’ve already had a half dozen people ask me if Cahoon should be let go at the end of the season.  First off, it’s not happening as he just signed a contract extension through the end of 2013 and the administration is happy with his performance here.  Secondly, I don’t think it’s warranted at this point.  I have been disappointed with the lack of success and late season flops but there’s a multitude of reasons why I think Cahoon should be the coach beyond this season, from his recruitment of this year’s current freshman class to how he runs the program.  Rather than totally repeat myself you can get a better understanding of my thoughts by reading what I wrote when his contract was extended last summer.  That’s not to say he gets a free pass.  I felt the team underperformed in the month of January and this weekend has been utterly disastrous.  As head coach, the buck stops with him.  I would hope he feels a little more motivation this morning and again when they play Merrimack in a few weeks as his team just got embarrassed by a former assistant coach of his.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Kevin Moore
Easiest POTG pick of the season.  Moore is the only one who can walk away from last night’s debacle and say he played as well as he could have.  It’s unfortunate his career debut had to come in such a horrendous situation but it was great to see the group of UMass fans at Lawler cheering loudly when he was on the ice.

The Republican correctly identifies Danny Hobbs’ slashing penalty at the very end of the first period as the play where the wheels came off for the Minutemen.

“It was a total disaster,” says Toot in the USCHO recap.  Yeah, I’d say so.

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14 Comments

  1. transrapide

     /  February 6, 2011

    I think this program is now truly at a crossroads….the glory days of 2003-5 are clearly over. A game like that is embarrassing and humiliating.

    Toot has done some great things, but the bottom line is the quality of players. UMass simply cannot out-recruit the likes of BC, BU, UNH (Merrimack, yes). We only had one Tomas Pock and one Jon Quick. UMass players all play hard…but they aren’t at the top in overall quality. It’s just a fact. Toot hasn’t been able to land any “five-star” recruits for a while, and that’s not necessarily his fault. I just hope this was the low-point in a bad season and it gets better in future seasons.

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    • Just a point of clarification, Toot has landed some five star recruits recently. Washington Capital John Carlson and Zack Phillips, currently ranked as the 12th best North American skater for this year’s draft, to name a couple. Unfortunately both of those guys renegged on their committment and went major junior. Getting those elite recruits is tough enough when you’re not named BC or BU. Having them bail out on their word makes it even tougher.

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    • paulie

       /  February 6, 2011

      Then explain how a team like merrimack comes in and recruits all these players and TOOT cant land big Recruits give me a break and by the way Dennahey recriuted most of TOOTs Players including Braun and Marcou All Americans.TOOT should hand the team over and walk away he has lost it.It is to many years of the same result and the players come and go so whats left to change

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  2. Mel

     /  February 6, 2011

    Honestly, I think it is a shame that they extended Toot through 2013. This weekend was a complete and utter disaster. The fact that he started Hobbs in the second period after the ridiculously dumb penalty he took at the end of the first, which enabled Merrimack to score in the last 13 seconds to go up 3-1, says all I need to know about Toot. He talks a tough game, but never backs it up. Hobbs should have sat at a minimum for half of the second period and maybe the whole thing for the stupid penalty he took. Yet, Toot starts him. What does that say to Hobbs and the rest of the players. The only good thing is Merrimack has no hockey tradition, so despite the embarrassment, there was no taunting or harrassment from the Merrimack fans in attendance. The only good thing about last night was it was French Canadian night and we got to hear Rene Rancourt sing both the Canadian and American national anthems. Just a sad weekend overall.

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    • heavydrexler

       /  February 6, 2011

      As much as I love to rag on Toot, I believe NCAA Ice Hockey rules require a team to have its starting five skaters start every period, unless there is an injury or a change in manpower. It’s a rule in the NHL and appears to be an NCAA rule, as well. The wording in the NCAA rulebook is a little vague though, so I could be wrong.

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      • UMass02

         /  February 6, 2011

        From Rule 8-2 of the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules 2010-2012:

        “Upon entering the ice in subsequent periods, starting players shall
        remain in their half of the ice and proceed to the center-ice faceoff
        positions. All remaining players shall proceed directly to their benches.”

        From Rule 2-4 of the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules 2010-2012

        “c. Teams shall be on the ice ready to play promptly at the beginning of each
        period. The home team shall take the ice first. After each intermission,
        all players except the starting lineup shall go directly to the players’
        bench”

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  3. transrapide

     /  February 6, 2011

    BTW Rocks, I have to correct your French on the Tweet:

    “Vive le mauvais hockey!” or I would say..”le hockey pourri” which loosely translates as “crappy.”

    (“Viva” is Spanish..yes, I am a French teacher…MAT from UMass Dept of French and Italian!)

    🙂

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    • Merci! I welcome the correction. I knew it was probably wrong when I wrote it, but it’s been close to twenty years since my last French class. 🙂

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  4. George

     /  February 6, 2011

    Maybe it goes beyond fire Toot. Look at the sports programs as a whole. Maybe the blame lies higher than Toot.

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    • In what context George? Blame McCutcheon for extending Cahoon or blame the athletic department/school for not supporting the program as much as you think they should?

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  5. George

     /  February 6, 2011

    Maybe the former Rocks. For Men’s and Woman’s hoops and hockey, what is the track record vs. NASCAR Bob?

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    • Interesting point. He’s definitely done well with the non revenue sport hires like women’s lax and field hockey. But I can’t say I’m happy with the Morris hire and really hoping Kellogg can turn things around. Plus the Dacko hire and extension wasn’t good.

      I think McCutcheon’s legacy will rest on whether he can take the football to FBS.

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  6. Anonymous

     /  February 6, 2011

    Was Umass a better defensive team this weekend with the full cast of players? One defenseman is
    -13, another is -12. Why does Toot pair them, and when does he hold them accountable? Merrimack is a big team playing on a small pad. Was that the right game to relace Shea with Roe? Back checking was weak all weekend. Perhaps Toot has been coaching too many all-star games!

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  7. George

     /  February 7, 2011

    Interesting point as well Rocks. But I think the frustration with the 3 Mullins tenants (at least the most popular 2) will come to a head far before the football advances. It’s getting there now.

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