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Holy Cross & Northeastern Preview

Holy Cross Crusaders 3-3-0 (2-2-0)   Atlantic Hockey T-4th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 2-4-2 (1-4-2)  Hockey East T-7th

First things first, remember that this game starts at 6pm to give UMass fans the opportunity to catch the basketball team’s season opener over at the Cage at 9pm.  While the hoops team will be playing their first non-conference game of the season against Elon tomorrow, it’s weird to think that the hockey team will only be playing their second.  But with the Hockey East schedule continuing to creep up into early fall, that’s exactly what will happen when the Minutemen welcome the Crusaders of Holy Cross.

Holy Cross is a bit of a mystery team.  They lost to UConn, but beat BU.  They’re second in Atlantic Hockey in offense, but at only 2.60 goals a game.  They have the best power play conversion in the country at 32.1% but have the second fewest opportunities in their conference.  They’ve played just one home game thus far and obviously have to travel to Amherst tomorrow.  They’ve struggled a bit at the goaltender position but continue to ride a freshman goaltender.

That goaltender is Matt Ginn, who has started 5 of their 6 games.  On the season he’s 2-3-0 with a 3.22 goals against and a .887.  Those wins have come against an unlikely pair of teams, AIC and BU.  His stats are not horrible, but you have to wonder if perhaps junior Thomas Tysowsky will get the start instead.  On offense the Minutemen will have to look out Adam Schmidt who has a team leading 3 goals and has accounted for 1 out of every 7 Holy Cross shots.  Brandon Nunn, Rob Linsmayer, and Shane Stockton also have multiple goals for the Crusaders.

For UMass I think it’s just important to try to carry over the concentration and confidence that they showed in Saturday’s win against Boston College.  Hopefully the fact that this team has done something that the Minutemen couldn’t do, beat BU, will ensure that they don’t take them lightly just because they happen to be an Atlantic Hockey team.  If UMass is the better conditioned team, they should win if the game is close as Holy Cross is being outscored 10 to 3 in the third period.  I’d like to see the same defensive execution and intensity seen on Saturday as that aspect has to continue to get better if UMass is going to try to turn the corner on this season.  Since this is a non-conference game it could be an opportunity to try out some new line combinations or get some of the younger players in there for the same game to see how they perform together.  In net, I think this is a perfect game to start Steve Mastalerz.  It’ll allow him to get back on the ice quickly after getting roughed up last week in Durham, but to do so at home against a no-pressure opponent.  But I don’t think I’ve been able to correctly guess which goaltender has been in net once this year, so expect to see someone else.

Northeastern Huskies 1-5-2 (1-5-3) Hockey East T-7th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 2-4-2 (1-4-2) Hockey East T-7th

When these teams met on opening night and Northeastern clawed back to gain a tie against the Minutemen some people remarked that maybe this Husky team would be better than expected despite all their departures.  Two games later when they blanked New Hampshire 4-0 people said they were better off without former coach Greg Cronin.  Well since that night the Huskies have gone 0-4-1 and they find themselves in 7th place despite playing the most Hockey East games to date.  However, that’s not to say the Huskies have made things easy for opponents.  Just ask Merrimack who had to go to overtime both nights against NU to get their three points last weekend.

The Huskies’ biggest problem has been offense.  Consider this fact, half of Northeastern’s power play goals have come against the Minutemen this season.  And they only scored one in that first game between the teams.  Yes, NU has gone just 2 for 39 on the extra man advantage for a meager 5.1%.  A night after playing against the best power play in the country in Holy Cross’ the Minutemen will play against the 5th worst.  They haven’t been much better at even strength either.  All in all the Huskies are putting up just 2.38 goals a game, 2nd worst among Hockey East teams.   The player that UMass should always know where he is on the ice on Saturday is Justin Daniels.  Daniels has accounted for 5 of NU’s 19 goals and put up 2 against the Minutemen in October.  Beyond him the team will have to keep an eye on Vinny Saponari who has six assists to go with a goal this season and Mike McLaughlin who has three goals so far.

Junior goaltender Chris Rawlings has had a couple bad games but overall has been pretty solid and comes into the game with a sub-3.00 goals against average and the second best save percentage in the league at .918.  There could be a chance UMass could see Clay Witt on Saturday as Rawlings has started all but one game so far this season and will likely be worked hard when the Huskies play at BC tomorrow.  In front of the goalies it sounds like Northeastern has gotten some decent play from some of their young defensemen like Josh Mason and Luke Eibler.

You’ll remember that when these teams met UMass basically had the two points in their hands until some bad penalties, sloppy play, and a missed chance to clear the puck allowed the Huskies to tie it with two seconds left.  Between the point that T.J. Syner scored UMass’ final goal with 16 minutes left in the second to the end of regulation UMass took 6 penalties, including a 10 minute misconduct by Pat Kiley.  Amazingly Northeastern couldn’t convert on those power play chances, but being down a man made it near impossible for UMass to generate the pressure needed to get some insurance goals.  UMass has gotten much better in terms of penalties taken in recent games and will need to keep that up.  UMass didn’t do themselves any favors when they had the extra man either, going just one for six on the night.  This is an opportunity for them to get some good power play production against a Northeastern team that’s good, but not great, on the penalty kill.  Lastly I hope that UMass can really get fired up for this game.  First off, it’s important to get these points, especially against Northeastern.  These teams are currently tied and in addition to getting ahead of them in the standings, a win is desired for future tiebreaker reasons.  Lastly, the team pretty much blew it on St Botolph Street to open the season and handed a point away.  I hope they’re still mad for doing so and are going to make sure they give away any at home on Saturday.

Beer The Triangle
Except for one year I lived in the valley from 1993 until 2006.  Many of those years were spent living in Franklin County in Sunderland and South Deerfield.  And in that time I’ve really admired the beer put out by People’s Pint up in Greenfield.  Yet I’ve never actually been to the brewpub itself.  I hope to rectify this glaring oversight sometime this weekend.

USCHO is picking the Minutemen to lose at home to Holy Cross this weekend.

The New England Hockey Journal explores the two big upsets in Hockey East last weekend.  Of course the author still ranks UMass 9th in his power rankings.  Must be a BU alum or something.

Steve Guzzo gets some love from his hometown paper for his big goal last weekend.

Oleg Yevenko shared the UMass Athlete of the Week honors with Julie Morrissey of the women’s soccer team.  It was too bad the soccer team fell just short of capturing the Atlantic 10 championship, but congrats to them on a great season.

The Stanford student paper makes a very smart argument for Pac-12 hockey.

Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day and I just want to thank all of those who have served our glorious country.  It’s also a good time to think about helping the children of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice through former Minuteman Peter Trovato’s Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund.

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5 Comments

  1. Harold

     /  November 11, 2011

    From Peoples Pint Facebook Page: The Pint eagerly awaits the next installment of brewery goodness. Arriving this Friday: Midnight Special IPA brings a relatively new beer style to the taps at The People’s Pint. Black in color, this Imperial Black IPA (also known as Cascadian Dark Ale) has the hop character of a Double IPA with just enough malt to balance things out. Brewed with a proprietary hop blend the resinous hop flavor and aroma will keep even the biggest hop heads happy well into the cold months. Enjoy this experimental big beer from The Peoples Pint as the weather gets cold and the wind starts howling. ABV: 8%, O.G.: 1.076, IBUs: 60

    I might just need to stop for lunch before the game tonight. Black IPA, yum.

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    • Nice. Breweries are doing a good job with this new brew type. Interested to see how People’s stacks up.

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      • Anonymous

         /  November 11, 2011

        Pretty fine. I really like the counterpoint of roasted malt and hops.

        Like

        • People’s Pint is definitely one of the better Black IPAs I’ve had. Enjoyed the bitter as well.

          Like

  1. A Somewhat More Perfect Union « Fight Mass – is it Friday yet?
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