Vermont Recap

Two things I mentioned in my preview were penalties and how the play of the seniors have led UMass during this recent stretch of success.  Both of those things came into play in a big way again last night.  Penalties nearly cost the Minutemen the game, again.  At even strength UMass was by far the better team during the game.  Unfortunately through the first two periods there was little time at five on five for the team as they took 7 penalties for 14 minutes through the first forty.  Vermont was even able to take the lead 2-1 in the second on one of the five Minuteman penalties in that period.  But in the third, trailing by a goal, they played disciplined and smart, stayed out of the box entirely in the final period, and scored three goals to gain the 4-3 win.  UMass absolutely must stay out of the box.  On the season they’ve scored 3 more goals than their opponents, but at even strength that number increases to +15.

So while penalties were a factor the team was able to overcome, a lot of that had to do with the play once again of their seniors, led by Danny Hobbs’ hat trick.  It was a very disappointing first half of the season for Hobbs, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that the nagging groin injury he was battling really affected his play.  In the games leading up to winter break Hobbs had four goals and three assists and missed three games entirely with the injury.  In the six games since he had the Christmas break to heal up he has five goals and four assists.  Without a 100% healthy Hobbs in the lineup UMass is unable to get that strong in front of the net presence that he brings.  That was the difference last night.  Fellow seniors Mike Marcou and T.J. Syner both chipped in with an assist each and finished the game with a +2.

Conor Allen got his second game-winning goal in the last two games after a heads up play where he jumped on a puck that Catamount goaltender Rob Madore was unable to control.  That brings Allen’s goal total on the year to six, very good considering even in the USHL he only scored 7 in his 48 games.  After writing about his lack of production mid-week, I thought Mike Pereira had one of his best games in some time.  He had a couple of assists, the first which setup Hobbs’ first goal and came on a spectacular pass from behind the net.   He also had a few other really nice setups that his teammates were just unable to finish on.  In addition he made some key defensive plays including a textbook backcheck where he took the puck right away from a Catamount who was rushing into the UMass zone.  Steve Guzzo had a great game with an assist and winning 11 of 15 faceoffs.  Steve Mastalerz got the start again and while he wasn’t quite as sharp as last weekend against BC he had a solid 35 save effort.  He came up big especially in the second period when, thanks to three power plays, UVM poured 14 shots on net.

Well, they weren’t the prettiest of games and the team is probably still kicking themselves for not getting the win up in Burlington, but it’s good to see UMass take a season series from a Hockey East opponent for the second consecutive weekend.  All three games between the two teams were decided by a single goal.  If there was ever a time to start scoreboard watching on the season, today would probably be it.  Originally UMass and Vermont were to play today but that game got moved to Fenway.  As a result all the other Hockey East teams are in action today while the Minutemen sit idle in Amherst.  With UNH knocking off a suddenly mediocre Merrimack team it means they stay a point behind UMass in the standings in 8th place.  The Wildcats can move ahead if they beat the Warriors in Durham tonight.  Lowell’s win over Northeastern keeps them two points ahead of the Minutemen.  Those teams will face each again tonight.  Lowell has a pretty busy eight days.  After the home and home with Northeastern they’ll face Providence on Tuesday before travelling to Amherst on Friday and then back to Lowell for the series finale on Saturday.  For UMass they’ll have all week to prepare for the surprise Hockey East team of the season.  This will be the first chance to gain a tiebreaker that could potentially come into play at the end of the season.  But to do so UMass will have sweep both games from the satellite campus.  Not an easy proposition since the River Hawks haven’t lost consecutive games since October.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game
Quite obviously this goes to Danny Hobbs who notched his first career hat trick.

Coach Cahoon says the team is making good progress on the season in the Gazette recap.

Here’s the game story from the Republican.

UVM Coach Kevin Sneddon blames his team’s lack of toughness in front the net for the loss in the Burlington Free Press recap.

CHN’s Michael King’s takeaways from the game.