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Florida College Classic Championship Recap

In recent weeks UMass proved that it can compete with, and defeat, the best of the ECAC. After tying Harvard to begin the month, the team beat #17 ranked Yale before break, and then took out the top team in the league in Cornell to open up the Florida College Classic. However last night shows us that the team still has a lot to do to be able to win in its own conference as they fell to the Black Bears of Maine by a score of 5-2.

The difference in the game was penalties. Essentially, UMass took too many of them and when they did they weren’t able to kill off the resulting power play. The Minutemen simply cannot afford to take penalties since their penalty kill is absolutely horrid. The team’s penalty kill percentage is about to drop below 70% and is currently third worst in the country. But instead of staying out of the box to avoid that obvious weakness, the team is 11th in the country in penalty minutes. 25 of the 60 goals the team has given up this year have come on the penalty kill.

It wasn’t just the amount of penalties the team took yesterday or the inability to kill them, both of which allowed Maine to go 3 for 7 with the extra man. it was the timing of them. After an horrendous first period that saw the Minutemen get outshot 14-1, they came out strong in the 2nd period and T.J. Syner’s goal seven and a half minutes in cut the Maine lead to 2-1. But less than two minutes later Mike Marcou goes off for roughing and 20 seconds after that it’s 3-1 Maine. Same thing happens later in the game. Conor Allen scores eight and a half minutes into the third to cut the score to 3-2, but Branden Gracel gets called for high sticking 30 seconds later and is sent to the box. UMass kills the resulting power play but just 8 seconds after leaving the box Gracel gets called for a charge, Maine scores with him in the box, and the game is essentially over at that point. UMass is not talented enough defensively to continue to take those kind of stupid penalties on a regular basis. On the other side of special teams, UMass was futile on the power play. The team was unable to convert on any of their five opportunities, including a five minute major chance.

While it would’ve been nice to continue the recent streak of success and add some hardware to the trophy case, the good news is this game against Maine does not affect the Hockey East standings. It also would’ve been nice to come into this absolutely critical week on a bit of a roll. UMass must get four points this week. It won’t be easy as they’ll spend today traveling back to campus and then will face Providence on Thursday and then overcome all the pomp and circumstance to get a win on Saturday when they take on Vermont at Fenway Park. It’ll be a fun and historic week for the UMass hockey program, but it’s essential that the Minutemen make up some of the ground they lost in the first half of the season in this very first week of the year. 2011 was not a very enjoyable year for UMass fans. Let’s hope 2012 brings a bit more joy right from the start.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game
Getting outshot 14-1 to start the game is a recipe for disaster, from which most teams don’t recover. But UMass hung in there and was able to come back within a goal a couple times due mostly to the fact that Kevin Boyle’s play kept them in the game in that first period. It’s tough to be too critical of the four goals he gave up as Maine took advantage of their seven power plays to generate 12 shots and 3 power play goals.

Here’s the recap from the Republican where Coach Cahoon expresses his disbelief that the team could play so badly in a championship game. Conor Sheary was named to the All-Tournament Team.

The local Naples Daily News has their game story.

Here’s how the Black Bear win looked for the Bangor Daily News.

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4 Comments

  1. paulie

     /  December 31, 2011

    # 3 and 24 should not be killing penalties you have to go with your better players they play way too much against other teams top lines.They were total out played buy Diamonds line.Our best players should play against the other teams best players

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  2. Anonymous

     /  December 31, 2011

    time for gracel to go in toot’s sitting box…totally stupid penalties that cost us the game ..if Periera and others sit…he should too!!

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    • He has been sitting guys. I don’t think it’s coincidence that Yevenko sat after taking that bad penalty against Cornell.

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  3. Anonymous

     /  January 2, 2012

    2nd notice this yr # 3 should not be on pk…too small and cannot win a faceoff
    they should have syner….two big d men and a big forward who can hit and pin people against the boards…hobbs or larue

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