Florida College Hockey Classic Preview


#13 Cornell Big Red  7-3-1 (6-1-1)  1st ECAC


Massachusetts Minutemen  5-7-4 (2-6-3)  9th Hockey East

The UMass hockey team finished the first half of the season with a couple of decent showings against Harvard and #17 Yale from the ECAC.  To kick off the second half they’ll have to take on the team that is currently atop that conference’s standings in #13 Cornell.  It will present quite the challenge for the Minutemen as the Big Red are 6-1-1 in their last 8.  What’s amazing is they’ve let up a grand total of just six goals in those eight games, registering five shutouts.  The only loss in that time period came to Boston University at Madison Square Garden in a game that was not without controversy.  Against common opponents with the Minutemen (BU, Harvard, Yale, and Quinnipiac) Cornell is 3-1, winning by a combined score of 16-5.

For UMass to win, they must find a way to overcome Cornell’s defense and goaltending.  As you can imagine with five shutouts in the last eight games, they’re pretty good.  In fact they’re better than good, they’re the best in the country currently, giving up just 1.65 goals per game.  It starts with goaltender Andy Iles who has played every minute for his team this season and has a 1.62 goals against to go with a save percentage of .930.  Iles is technically the third goaltender for Team USA up at the World Junior tournament but only on an emergency basis.  Which it appears means he will be in Florida.  It isn’t just him though as the defense in front of him, led by senior Kier Ross and junior Nick D’Agostino, have allowed just 23 shots a game on Iles.

D’Agostino, a Penguins draft pick and assistant captain, isn’t only performing well in his own zone however, he also leads his team in both goals (7) and points (13).  Five of those goals have come on the power play which is converting at a rate of 21.6%, among the top 20 in the country.  A couple freshmen are scoring for the Big Red as forward Brian Ferlin has notched five while defenseman Joakim Ryan has four.

It doesn’t appear that UMass will have to pour a ton of shots on Iles to gain the win, after all in their losses Cornell has only given up an average of 23 shots in regulation.  But obviously they’ll have to be quality shots.  As usual Cornell has a lot of big players with 11 different players 6’2” or taller, so the Minutemen will have to try to use their speed to gain the advantage.  Unfortunately with Germain Arena’s 200’ x 85’ dimensions (same as Providence and Merrimack), that may be tough to do.

Clarkson Golden Knights 9-7-4 (3-4-2) T-4th ECAC


Massachusetts Minutemen 5-7-4 (2-6-3) 9th Hockey East

If UMass ends up playing Clarkson in the second game of the tournament I think Toot Cahoon should lobby the ECAC for the Minutemen to be eligible for the conference’s regular season championship as it will mark the 5th game against an ECAC team.  UMass and the Golden Knights haven’t played a ton of times, only five, but they’ve all been pretty good ones.  In fact the last three meetings have gone to overtime, with one of those being the NCAA Tournament game in 2007 that was won by Kevin Jarman’s epic goal to send the Minutemen to the Regional Final.

While the Golden Knights’ nine wins are impressive, it should be known that six of those have come against Atlantic Hockey opponents including four against Sacred Heart and AIC.  Against common opponents Clarkson has lost to Harvard, tied Quinnipiac, beaten and tied Bentley, and shutout Holy Cross 5-0.  They also lost to Maine, who they’ll be playing again tomorrow.  Like Cornell, Clarkson has been winning games thanks to defense.  Their 2.05 goals against is good for 5th in the country.  Senior Paul Karpowich has played every minute for the Knights and has a goals against average of 1.93 and a save percentage of .938, second best in the country.  Clarkson has gotten some good play from a couple freshmen defenders in Kevin Tansey and James Howden.

Clarkson is led in goal scoring by Bruins draft pick Nick Tremblay who has netted 9 in 18 games.  A couple other seniors in Louke Oakley and Corey Tamblyn both have seven apiece.  Clarkson is scoring 2.80 goals a game versus UMass’ 3.12.  To win against Cornell and Clarkson the Minutemen will have to solve two very good defenses and two very good goaltenders.

Maine Black Bears 6-7-2 (5-6-1) 6th Hockey East


Massachusetts Minutemen 5-7-4 (2-6-3) 9th Hockey East

The Black Bears haven’t done too badly since they tied UMass 2-2 at the Mullins Center before Thanksgiving.  Maine has gone 3-1-0 since then, beating Clarkson, sweeping Vermont up at the Gut, but then losing badly to BU at home just before break.  UMass of course had to come back in that previous meeting, trailing the Black Bears 2-0 after one period.  It’ll be interesting to see how Joey Diamond plays against the Minutemen if they meet since in that game he had 4 penalties for 19 minutes and was booted from the game in overtime.

While the Bears aren’t especially potent on offense, just behind UMass for 7th in the league with 3.07 goals a game, they’ve been deadly on the power play.  Maine is currently 7th best in the country and tops in Hockey East, scoring 24.3% of the time on the man advantage.  That is mitigated somewhat however by the fact that they’ve given up an astounding 7 shorthanded goals as well.  Diamond, Spencer Abbott, and Brian Flynn have done the lion’s share of the scoring for Maine so far and all three of them registered a point against the Minutemen earlier in the season.

Dan Sullivan has emerged as the starter in the Black Bear net, starting the last six games for Maine.  He goes to Florida with a goals against of 3.11 and save percentage of .894, good for 8th place in both categories among Hockey East goaltenders.  His 35 saves against the Minutemen are a season high.

Judging by the Twitter feed, it looks like the team is enjoying the chance to be on the Florida beaches at the end of December.  Which is great and well deserved.  But hopefully they realize they’re down there for a reason too.  I think most UMass fans can agree that what has transpired so far is a disappointment, but the good news is there is still a lot of hockey to play.  Florida just may be the place to get things going.  UMass has done well in the two Sunshine State tournaments they’ve played in.  In 2002 in this Everblade College Classic they made the tournament final after beating Ohio State in a shootout in the opener.  Of course they then got spanked by Maine.  But in 2007 they were crowned champions of the Lightning College Classic defeating #6 Notre Dame and #4 Colorado College, the only tournament title of the modern era of UMass hockey.  Hopefully that history can continue starting tomorrow in a tough, but important stretch that will see UMass play four games from Florida to Providence to Fenway Park in just 10 days.

Beer The Triangle

If you made the trip to Florida, it appears you’re in a virtual beer snob wasteland, though this place doesn’t look too bad.  But if you didn’t make the trip, just hit the packy on the way home from work, crack open your favorite brew, and log into the Fear The Triangle live chat while listening to John and Brock on the radio tomorrow.  Be sure to check back at game time then to join the chat.

Here’s a Black Bear view of the Florida College Classic.

Dick Baker of the Republican has his mid-season review in which Toot Cahoon says he’s “mildly optimistic” for the second half prospects.

College Hockey News has the second part of their first half look at Hockey East as well as a preview for this weekend.

The Burlington Free Press had an interesting look at Hockey East attrition rates in recent years.   Basically, unless you’re Providence or Merrimack you’ve been affected by early departures.

The ice is down in preparation for next weekend’s Frozen Fenway games.

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  1. Carson

     /  December 29, 2011

    anyone know if tonights game is available for streaming? im assuming its not but i figured id ask


  2. paulie

     /  December 29, 2011

    b2livetv.com go to schedules click on game 5 mins before


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