BC Recap

Well, just when you think the season is slipping away before your eyes the UMass hockey team goes out and knocks off top ranked Boston College.  If the team was going to bounce back from a weekend of frustration last week and an embarrassing performance Friday, this was a damn good way to do it.  Just one day after giving up 7 goals to UNH the Minutemen absolutely smothered the Boston College offense which was third in the country statistically.  Through two periods that offense had just 12 shots on net.  When the teams last played BC had 12 shots in the 1st period alone and tacked on 14 more in the 2nd.

This one was an absolute team effort.  I’ll admit I was not thrilled when I saw that Kevin Boyle was starting last night.  Between the fact that he let in 2 goals on 4 shots the night before and that Jeff Teglia had played so solidly when BC and UMass played earlier in the season, I thought Teglia would be the better choice.  Obviously I was wrong and Boyle was up to the task.  Honestly, he didn’t have to stand on his head and stop 45 shots in Mike Johnson fashion in what you probably would’ve expected to get the win against BC.  Instead for the first two periods he made sure he was focused and in good position for the few shots that got to him from the Eagle skaters.  When desperation started to set in and BC turned up the pressure, he kept his poise and made some tough saves late.  But perhaps the bigger story is the guys in front of them and how well they played.  It makes a freshman goaltender’s life easier when the guys in front of the net are doing everything they can to prevent the other team from getting shots off.  Blocking shots, disrupting passing lanes, maintaining possession for good stretches in the opposing end.  UMass did all these things and that’s what gave them the chance to win.  They also did a good job of keeping the BC stars off the board.  Billy Arnold was limited to just 2 shots on net.  Arnold, Chris Kreider, and Johnny Gaudreau were limited to just 8 shots total.

The whole team had a good game, from Boyle to Mike Busillo who made his debut.  Here are a few players who I thought stood out.  T.J. Syner continues to be huge for this team, offensively and defensively.  He simply does not get the credit he deserves for his defensive play or forechecking skills.  Rocco Carzo had perhaps his best game of the season.  Joel Hanley has been a little more invisible than I would’ve thought thus far on the season but played very well last night and led the defensemen with a +2 rating.  Conor Allen looked good last night on defense and brought a physicality that helped throw BC off their game at times.  Steve Guzzo was credited with a goal by playing hard and crashing the net.  There could be a little bit of controversy as the replay equipment was not working so the officials could not review it to see if it was directed in.  From my vantage point it definitely went in off his skate, but I did not see him make any motion to direct it into the net.  What is impressive is UMass got this key win despite some challenges.  Syner, Danny Hobbs, and Mike Pereira were only able to generate 5 shots total, though they made the most of them as Pereira and Syner both scored goals.  And UMass won despite the power play going 1 for 7.  There were a number of opportunities with the man advantage where UMass could’ve broken the 1-1 tie in the second period but were unable to.

Again, amazing win and it was pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered at this point.  I think it’s safe to say that the season seemed on the verge of going off the tracks leading into last night.  Instead a total team effort now gives the team some much needed confidence they were seeking and gave the fans a big reason to keep coming back to watch them.  I hope the team went home and celebrated last night because they definitely deserve it after beating such a skilled team.  But next it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.  In the end they went 1-3-1 through this brutal five game stretch against BC, BU, and UNH.  Not the best you would’ve hoped for, but they did manage three points and a signature win that was missing last season.  Next week they’ll have to regroup and take on a Holy Cross team that has done what they couldn’t do, beat Boston University.  The following night they’ll have a key game at home against the team they’re currently tied with in the standings, Northeastern.  Hopefully we’ll see them build off their stunning accomplishment from last night.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Oleg Yevenko
The towering freshman has struggled a bit to get used to the college game, but Toot has stuck with him out there and was rewarded last night for doing so.  Yevenko was a big part of the defensive effort last night and then got the game winning goal on his only shot of the game.  What is promising too is that with all the worry coming into the season regarding his penalties he has only taken two in the last 6 games.

Here’s the recap from the Gazette.  Matty V pointed out after the game that UMass lost to Holy Cross after they beat top ranked Maine in 1994-95.  Let’s hope history does not repeat itself.

Toot gives all the credit to his team in the Republican recap.

Here’s the game story from the Herald.