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Yale Preview

#17 Yale Bulldogs 6-4-1 (4-2-0) T-3rd

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Massachusetts Minutemen 4-7-4 (2-6-3) 9th

The two game homestand against the 1% for Massachusetts will conclude tomorrow with a game against the Yale. The Bulldogs are the only ranked team among the three consecutive ECAC opponents for the Minutemen, coming into the game ranked 17th. Both teams are eager to head into winter break on a good note. UMass has gone winless in their last 5 while Yale has lost 3 of their last 4, a stretch kicked off by giving perhaps the worst team in college hockey, neighboring Sacred Heart, their first win on the season.

Like they have in recent seasons, Yale came into the year with high expectations after winning the ECAC and falling to eventual National Champion Minnesota-Duluth in the East Regional Final last year. And to start the season Yale played about as well as you would’ve expected, going 5-1-1 with wins over RPI and Union and a loss to Cornell. But then the Sacred Heart game happened. The game was played in front of just 754 people in Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport which holds over 10 times that. And those people got their money’s worth, if you measure by offense. Yale put up an astounding 53 shots and scored six goals on the net. But the Pioneers were able to get seven goals on just 19 shots. More than one of every three shots went in. Sacred Heart only took 4 total shots in the 2nd period. Half of them went in. That game quite obviously affected the Bulldogs. It didn’t help that they had to play Boston College in the next game. While they played well, and had a lead going into the third, they still fell to the Eagles at home. Last weekend Yale split a home and home with Brown.

Yale has done a pretty good job of spreading the scoring responsibility around. The team is averaging 3.27 goals a game, not too far ahead of UMass’ 3.13, with four different players notching four or more goals through their 11 games. Senior Brian O’Neill is tops in points with 11 registering 5 goals and 6 assists. Junior Antoine Laganiere has also scored 5 goals while senior Chad Ziegler and sophomore Kenny Agostino have four apiece. After facing and doing poorly against Harvard’s top ranked power play last weekend, where the Minutemen gave up 2 goals on 6 opportunities, they now have to face the 2nd best power play in the country. The Bulldogs are converting almost 29% of their opportunities. O’Neill and Laganiere have accounted for most of the team’s power play goals.

On the other side of the ice Yale has given up 2.62 goals a game, that puts them about in the middle of the ECAC and all of college hockey. They’ve gotten good play from their goaltender, Jeff Malcolm, who has started every game for the Elis so far. While his goals against average of 2.54 isn’t outstanding, his save percentage of .924 shows that he’s been playing pretty well overall. Defenseman Tommy Fallen is doing well on both side of the ice, accumulating 7 points so far.

For UMass it’s building off of what was seen against Harvard. The top two lines accounted for seven points on the night and for the most part seem very much on the same page. I would guess that Coach Cahoon will not play Kevin Boyle and will instead give Jeff Teglia or Steve Mastalerz a chance in net. Personally I hope to see Teglia as he’s played pretty well as of late and deserves the chanced to get his long overdue first win of his career.

If UMass is going to get their power play back on track they’ll have their work cut out for them. In addition to having the second best power play in the country Yale also has the second best penalty kill at an impressive 93.3%. But the most important thing is for UMass to give good effort, execute well, and figure out a way to get a win. Obviously from standings reasons this isn’t a must win game. But a victory going into break over a ranked team would be great for the players’ and fans’ confidence alike.

Lastly, during introductions tomorrow please take a moment to cheer when former UMass assistant Red Gendron is announced as part of the Yale coaching staff. He deserves it. Cheer him for the contributions he made to UMass hockey, from his involvement in some of the fineest players to take the ice for the Minutemen to his dedication to put together events like the annual golf outing. And cheer for the fact that he’s just a good all-around guy who made sure to get to know as many people associated with the UMass hockey program as he could.

Beer The Triangle
Well, for the benefit of my readers of course, I came out to the valley a day early so I could partake in Amherst Brewing’s Rare Beer Week. Wow. For the first time in my life I was able to enjoy Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute on draft. They also had Jolly Pumpkin, which has been one of my favorite breweries ever since I was introduced to them when in Ann Arbor for last year’s UMass-Michigan game. Add in a 2010 Sierra Bigfoot Barleywine and it was a good night. And that was without being able to sample the Lost Abbey, Firestone Walker, Founders, and other amazing beers they have on draft.

Dick Baker has a preview of the game.

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Polls, Awards, & Recruits

Providence’s unexpected sweep of Merrimack means an end to the Warriors’ brief run as the #1 team in the country in the USCHO poll.  Notre Dame falls all the way from 2nd to 7th after being swept at home by the now surging Northeastern Huskies.  Pretty much the same on the USA Hockey/USA Today poll.  Boston College is the highest ranked Hockey East team at 3rd.  Merrimack dropped to 5th while Boston University moved up to 11th after splitting with BC.  Making their debuts on the poll this year are Lowell at #17 and Providence at #20.  If this season wasn’t disappointing enough for Minuteman fans, seeing those schools ranked is a kick in the gut.  Don’t get me wrong, I always like to see Hockey East get national recognition and there are a lot of good fans within those fanbases that I’m happy for.  But those are the only two teams that UMass finished ahead of in Hockey East last season.  Yet now, despite not being expected to do much and changing their coaches during the offseason, they’re ranked and fighting for home ice in the conference.  UMass of course is three games below .500 and, with Maine’s success this past weekend, now sitting by themselves in 9th place.

Yale, Wednesday’s opponent, is ranked 17th.

With their sweeps Lowell and Providence as well as Maine and Northeastern were well represented in this week’s Hockey East awards.  Maine’s Spencer Abbott had a weekend most hockey players can only dream of.  Five goals, including both game-winners, four assists, and a +3 rating.  Wow.

Steve Guzzo and Mike Pereira were both named Top Performers for their efforts against Harvard.

With tomorrow being a game preview day here at the Fear The Triangle offices, here is this week’s Recruit Update a day earlier than usual.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2012
14 GP / 2 G / 3 A / 5 Pts / 23 PIM / +2
According to the Lancers’ Twitter account Gillespie did not play due to injury this past weekend.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL/EmpJHL) – 2014
EJHL:  11 GP / 1 G / 1 A / 2 Pts / 9 PIM
Empire:  14 GP / 5 G / 12 A / 17 Pts / 16 PIM
Smith played for the Pics’ Empire league team this past weekend, gaining an assists in two overtime losses.  For the time being I’ll be showing his stats at both levels as he’s bouncing back and forth.

Shane Walsh – LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) – 2012
19 GP / 5 G / 6 A / 11 Pts / 0 PIM / -6
Walsh did not register a point as the Saints swept their games this weekend.

The Daily Collegian has the game recap from Friday as well as their game notes.

And here’s the view from Harvard’s student paper.

Jon Quick was named the NHL’s third star for last week.  Quick leads the league in shutouts, is second in save percentage, and 4th in goals against average.

In addition to Wednesday being triangle jersey ugly sweater night at the Mullins, it’s also Teddy Bear toss.  What’s a Teddy Bear toss you ask?

So to those clowns who were enjoying throwing crap on the ice last weekend, you better be the first ones in line at Wal-Mart to buy a bear to throw on Wednesday.

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