Harvard Recap

Well, that was a pretty good step forward from the way the team had played as of late.  The team had much better focus.  I thought the effort was improved.  And on both offense and defense I thought execution looked better.  Who knows, with some semi-competent officiating UMass might’ve actually won the game by a goal or two.

Offensively UMass looked much better, far surpassing the shot totals we’ve seen during the three game losing streak with 35.  Everyone was involved as well, with only four players not registering shots during the game.  Mike Pereira bounced back from his recent struggles with two assists on the game.  T.J. Syner was all over the place during the game and finished with an assiss and 5 shots and almost was able to put home the game winner a couple times in overtime.  There’s some confusion as to the scoring of all the goals as Adam Phillips was originally credited with a goal that looks like has now been changed.  Either way, I thought Phillips had one of his best games of the season.  In addition to his contributions on offense he had a handful of key poke checks at different points in the game when Harvard was moving towards the net.  Steve Guzzo continues to contribute regularly with a goal and an assist last night.  It wasn’t the prettiest of goals as he basically just hacked away at the puck in front of Harvard netminder Steve Michalek, but those are the kind of goals you get when you attack the net and follow your own shot.  Unfortunately UMass didn’t get much chance to work on their power play as they were only awarded one power play (to Harvard’s six) but they were able to move the puck well during that one opportunity.

UMass still has some work to do on the penalty kill.  First is to stay out of the box.  Everyone surrounding the program praises the grit and energy that Pat Kiley brings to the ice, but last night was the second time this season that he has gone to the box three times in the game.  If that continues it’s tough to see how the coaching staff can continue to dress him for games.  All in all UMass was called for eight penalties on the night and while a few of them were of the ridiculous sort, like Conor Sheary getting pushed into the goaltender in overtime, some of them were warranted.  And once again when UMass was on the penalty kill they did not fare well, giving up two goals in six tries.  While other aspects of UMass’ game have gone up and down as the season has gone along the kill has been poor the whole time and needs improving.  Other parts of the defensive effort looked good for UMass.  Led by Rocco Carzo who had 3 really hard hits, the team brought a good physical aspect to the game.  Kevin Boyle played solid, picking up 40 saves for the first time in his career.  All in all it was tough to pin any of the goals on him.

Like I said, this was a good step forward.  UMass got their offense back on track and can move onto the next non-conference game with a little more confidence.  What was impressive last night was the way UMass immediately answered Harvard’s goals.  Each time the Crimson scored their first three goals UMass scored their own in a little over a minute after.  Of course at the same time it’s too bad that UMass gave up their one goal lead four different times.  But it was tough for them to get any kind of insurance goals while constantly killing off penalties.

Lastly, in the postgame press conference Toot Cahoon and Conor Sheary both talked about how the atmosphere and crowd at the Mullin has helped them remain undefeated there.  But last night it nearly cost them the game.  Some moronic student or students decided it’d be funny to throw chuck-a-pucks on the ice during play.  Not only is this stupid, it’s dangerous for the players on the ice.  And it indirectly led to a Harvard goal, because in the scrum during the stoppage in play caused by the puck thrown on the ice is when Joel Hanley picked up his facemask penalty.  The Crimson scored on the subsequent power play.  Listen, if you’re a student who cares enough about the team to be reading this blog, I know it wasn’t one of you.  But if you see an idiot who chooses to put the players’ success and health at risk by throwing stuff on the ice, not to mention disrupt everyone else who is trying to enjoy the game, do something about it.  Point them out to the Mullin security staff (if you can find them).  Or use one of the profane chants usually reserved for opposing players or official on them.  Either way, that kind of crap can’t be tolerated.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Danny Hobbs
What a difference a healthy Danny Hobbs makes.  After being hindered by injuries in the last few weeks and unable to make much impact even when he did play, Hobbs looked very much like we saw at the beginning of the season last night.  He ended up with a goal and an assist and a +2 last night, plus had a few other opportunities where he just missed a goal or scoring chance.

Here are the recaps from the Republican as well as from the Gazette.

The Boston Herald has the game story as well.

#1 Merrimack was upset by Providence in overtime last night.

San Jose Sharks blog Fear The Fin has an interview with Matt Irwin where he talks about his time at UMass and decision to leave early.  Good to hear he’s still working on his degree however.  Irwin scored the game winner for Worcester last night assisted by Justin Braun who was just sent down to the AHL.