Yale Recap

If you’re going to try to end a  disappointing first half of the season on a good note, shutting down a ranked team was a good way to do it.  Shut them down UMass did.  After surrendering a power play goal to the second best power play unit in the country just five and a half minutes in UMass, behind good puck possession, solid defense, and some very good goaltending by Kevin Boyle, did not allow another goal en route to a 3-1 win.  It’s the only time this season the 17th ranked Bulldogs have been held to less than two goals, which is impressive because they’ve played some tough defenses this year like Boston College and Quinnipiac, and even put up two goals on the best defense in the country in Cornell.

Offensively UMass continued to get back on track.  While one of the three goals was an empty-netter, overall UMass had quite a few grade A scoring chances.  Only the stellar play of Yale goaltender of Jeff Malcolm kept UMass from running away with this one.  Both goals were the result of some good hustle.  Peter DeAngelo drove hard to the net to score the first one, having the confidence to take the shot instead of passing to his wing on the two on one.  He was rewarded with the goal for that but paid a price as he got tangled up with a Yale defenseman and crashed hard into the boards.  He did shake it off and continue to play well for the rest of the game  The goal marked DeAngelo’s second of the year and it has been good to see his emergence as an impact player.  The gamewinner was a great individual effort by Branden Gracel who skated the length of the ice into the Yale zone.  Once he got there he saw a path to the goaltender, took it, and backhanded the puck in.  It was nice to see him get on the board.  I thought all of the top six forwards looked good in the game against Harvard except Gracel who still looked out of sorts.  That wasn’t the case last night.  The goal marked his first point since 11/12 (UMass’ last win).  The last goal by the Minutemen was from T.J. Syner who continues to be a point machine for the team.  Though he didn’t get on the score sheet Danny Hobbs had another strong game coming back from injury, putting up a team-leading 5 shots.  Joel Hanley’s good play as of late continued.  The defense as a whole did a solid job in limiting Yale to under 30 shots.  While the penalty kill did give up a power play goal, considering Yale were converting almost 30% of their chances it was definitely an improvement.  Perhaps the biggest penalty killer was Boyle who turned away 9 of 10 shots on Yale’s six chances.

There are still a few things for the Minutemen to think about after they get their finals and papers off their plate.  The continue to struggle at the faceoff dot with Yale winning 30 of 51 chances last night.  And, while the kill looked better, the team has to stay out of the box.  Or they have to at least stay out of the box at key times in the game.  In the third with the game on the line Mike Pereira and Colin Shea both picked up critical tripping penalties.  The penalty kill is struggling enough on the year, no need to put more pressure on them by making them kill penalties when the game tied or UMass clinging to a one goal lead.  Overall not too much else to complain about last night.  As said, if Malcolm doesn’t come up with some spectacular saves the margin of victory is much greater for the Minutemen.

In the next few days I’ll be writing a mid-season recap with my thoughts on what has transpired so far.  I’ll likely wait until Sunday after the rest of the December Hockey East slate is finished so we know exactly where the Minutemen stand in relation to the rest of the league.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Kevin Boyle
A week after setting a career high with 40 saves against the Crimson, Boyle set a career low with goals allowed, giving up just one.  Earlier in the season Boyle was having problems with letting in goals between him and the post, especially in the loss in Providence.  Last night that wasn’t happening whatsoever.  Whether up on his skates or down on the ice Boyle’s pads were glued to either post when Yale had the puck.  It’s great to see that kind of improvement in just a couple months.  Whether Coach Cahoon says it or not, it’s obvious that Boyle is the team’s #1 goaltender.  The fact that he got him on the ice right away after coming back from injury against Harvard and followed it up with the start last night shows that the primary goaltending job is now Boyle’s.  And he’s made the most of it, now fourth in the league among goaltenders in terms of winning percentage.  As I said last week, with UMass’ struggles as of late you cannot blame the goaltending.

Beer The Triangle Player of the Pregame – University Drive
Amherst Brewing’s move to the corner of Amity and University Drive has made for a beer lover’s Mecca just south of campus.  At ABC I enjoyed Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute, Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine, Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela, and Haverhill’s Joshua Norton Imperial Stout.  The next day at the Hangar I had a Bear Republic Mach 10, a Southern Tier Mokah, and an Ommegang Dubbel.  Wow.  If Rafters is sold and another beer snob bar put in there I just may have to rent a storage unit across from the UMass sundial and move into it.

Toot says this win is huge for the team going into break in Dick Baker’s recap.

Here’s the game story from the Gazette.

UMass keeps its home undefeated streak alive says the Collegian.

New England Hockey Journal explores the depth of Hockey East so far.

Lastly, UMass named it’s first FBS coach in history today.  I’m a season ticket holder for football and honestly could not be more excited for the new era to begin next season.  It’s a historic day for the university and Minuteman football.