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Friday Recap

The way I see it there were four factors that most contributed to Friday’s 4-2 loss to Lowell, ending UMass’ unbeaten mark at home.

First was Doug Carr.  Obviously Carr has played against UMass before, with success, but tonight was really the first chance I’ve had to really evaluate his game.  I’m impressed.  He’s not the most athletically gifted goaltender from what I can tell, but he’s very smart.  What stood out was his positioning.  I thought UMass actually moved the puck really well tonight and were able to get passes onto the sticks of players in great scoring positions.  But when those players got the shot off, Carr was there to block off most of the net.  His positioning was excellent all night long.  Not only did he excel at anticipating the shot, he was able to anticipate the pass before the shot as well.  He only made one or two really tough saves on the night, not because UMass didn’t challenge him, but because too often he was already in position and made the save look easy.  Why did UMass lose last night?  Because in the second period they peppered Carr with 17 shots and he saved all 17.

Secondly, I have to admit something.  I love to complain about officials.  Why?  Because it’s fun, it’s part of being a passionate fan, and Hockey East has a lot of guys who have no business being NCAA officials.  That said, I absolutely hate to blame the officials for the outcome of a game.  And usually, no matter how horrible the officiating may be, it’s not the determining factor in the game.  That said, after Carr, the refs had way too much impact on last night’s score.  I believe at one point I referred to the officiating as achieving clown shoes status, and not the good Clown Shoes being the wonderful beer brewed in the equally wonderful town of Ipswich.  Those who follow the blog or the FTT Twitter account know that I’m especially critical of Jeff Bunyon among the Hockey East officiating circles.  The bad thing about Bunyon is he’s incompetent.  But the good thing is he’s equally incompetent for either team.  He’ll make bad calls or miss a call altogether but in the end it generally evens out between the teams.  That was not the case with Dave Hansen and Jack Millea last  night.  Lowell got called for four penalties, UMass for nine.  Lowell had 7 power plays, UMass had 2.  Lowell had 12 and a half minutes of power play time on the night, UMass had three and a half.  But it’s not even the wide discrepancy that’s the problem.  It was the quality of the calls.  Even the few instances where Lowell got called for a penalty it ended in complete ridiculousness.  Half way through the first Kevin Czepiel skates towards the net, Derek Arnold grabs ahold of him and drives him towards the net.  Czepiel, pushed by Arnold, makes contact with Carr and the net is knocked off.  The referees correctly call Arnold for the hold and yet somehow peg Czepiel for goaltender interference, even though a River Hawk held him and guided him into their own goaltender.  Fast forward to 14 minutes into the 2nd.  Conor Sheary is hooked by Malcolm Lyles, falls to the ice, immediately pops back up and STILL HAS THE PUCK ON HIS STICK.  Lyles is correctly called for the hook yet somehow Sheary is called for embellishment.  Why would someone intentionally diving immediately get back on his skates and maintain possession of the puck?  I won’t lie to you, UMass has had its share of divers in recent years.  Conor Sheary is not one of them.  The officiating by Hansen and Millea was so egregious in tonight’s game it should be looked into by the league.  It won’t be.  It’s a good ole boy network at Hockey East headquarters and Joe Bertagna is too busy worrying about mesmerizing us by adding superstar programs from the midwest or getting his mug on NESN instead of actually improving the play on the ice by instituting some kind of accountability for officials.  Officiating in Hockey East has steadily gone downhill in recent years.  Just last week Maine was robbed of a victory at Merrimack due to some phantom whistle and Lowell lost their chance at a Hockey East championship a couple years back for pretty much the same reason.  If Bertagna really wanted to improve the quality of Hockey East he would fix what’s broken before worrying about adding teams that would subsequently be frustrated with said poor officiating anyways.  Or at the very least if you’re going to employ bad officials, make sure they’re equally bad both ways.  That I can at least live with.

I tweeted earlier that the three factors in the loss were Carr, Tweedledee and Tweedledum Hansen and Millea, and poor execution in the third.  As I thought about it, poor execution or effort didn’t really describe what I was trying to grasp.  But in talking to Dick Baker briefly after the game, he completely nailed what I was trying to say.  The team in the second half of the game was way too tentative to be able to win. Yeah it was nice when Conor Allen scored his goal, his third in three games, but the team looked afraid to shoot, afraid to finish checks, and too disorganized to successfully mount a comeback.  Maybe the hesitancy was a result of the overwhelming amount of penalties being called on the Minutemen, but regardless it severely limited their ability to get back in the game.  They needed an urgency that never came.  Hell, they couldn’t even gain control of the puck at the end to allow Steve Mastalerz to leave the net for the extra attacker.  It was the exact opposite.  UMass was so flat at the end they actually gave up a goal in the waning seconds, giving Lowell the insurance goal.  The team battled the River Hawks and the zebras in the first two periods but seemed to give up in the third which was tremendously disappointing.

The last contributing factor to UMass’ loss was the presence of thundersticks.  Enough said.

Luckily for UMass Boston College beat UNH tonight and the Minutemen remain in 7th place.  But a huge opportunity to gain ground on the River Hawks has been lost.  5th place is a whole 6 points away.  Northeastern won which means both the Huskies and Wildcats are now breathing down UMass’ neck in the standings.  UMass desperately needs a win at Lowell later today.  But, as we know, this team has yet to win on the road.  And, judging by the comments and body language of the players after the game, combined with Coach Cahoon’s total exasperation postgame, I get the feeling UMass has already lost tonight’s game.  At this point I can only hope to show up and be pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game
The two goals that Conor Allen scored in the previous two games were both game winners.  That wasn’t the case tonight, but it was still good to see him jump on the chance to attempt a UMass comeback.  All in all he had four shots on net and ended the night even.

UMass’ unbeaten streak ends thanks to frustration and officiating so says Dick Baker.  Baker has covered hockey in the valley for a very long time and has an old school attitude toward the game.  For him to call out officiating  not only in the game story but the headline itself says something.

Wow, the Gazette posts their recaps sometime earlier than 3am.  Who knew?  Unless you’re still up at this insane hour with visions of Dave Hansen’s arm constantly in the air that is.

A Canadian paper explores the emergence of American goaltending, including Jon Quick.

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25 Comments

  1. DCT

     /  January 28, 2012

    I checked in here just to see if I was the only one who saw the game who felt UMass could not win this two on one fight, (Lowell and the officials vs UMass). I saw it as the Mileas (yes, I blame the Linesman too) that were to blame. Hanson was no shinning star bringing fairness to the game, but the Mileas looked to be purposefully slanting the ice surface.
    I’ve never before questioned the honesty of the officials before; but this left me wondering. “Do people bet on run of the mill College Hockey games?”

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  2. Mel

     /  January 28, 2012

    UMass will not lose tonight. I will be there to make sure of that. Will you be hanging behind the goal tonight, same as last game at Lowell? It was sad to be cheering for BC last night, but glad they win. Wonder if we will see Boyle in goal tonight. What is the status of Carzo?

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    • I’ll likely be in a seat since the wife is coming as well and probably doesn’t want to stand.

      Right now I’m guessing Boyle in net.

      I’d be surprised if we see Carzo, but Toot didn’t say what happened to him other than he was injured.

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      • Mel

         /  January 28, 2012

        Okay. I am probably going solo as Tom is sick. Already have a ticket in section 118, row 18. Where are you guys sitting? Maybe I can find an open seat near your location.

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  3. Monty

     /  January 28, 2012

    I’ll happily take the two points and run away with it. I’m a bit surprised that Lowell was able to take the game to UMass in the third, being that it was Lowell’s fourth game in 8 days, while UMass was only playing it’s second. That’s one thing that Lowell has been having a problem with recently is they’ve played like crap in the third, so listening on the radio, it was surprising to see them going at UMass, especially in the last 10 minutes or so.

    FWIW, while Bob Ellis is our homer, he admitted that a couple of the calls against you guys were bad (including the last one of the game), but thought the rest were legit. He also said the call against Wallin was really questionable.

    Hope to see some of you guys tonight.

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    • Although there were a few ridiculous calls against the Minutemen the real problem was they called the game completely differently between the two teams. Like I said, I’m used to poor officiating, I just ask that it be equally poor. Last night they were either selectively incompetent or something else.

      But today is another day. I really hope the team would use the screwjob and lost opportunity of last night as motivation to get their first road win tonight. Sadly though, I’m not sure they have the mental toughness to do such a thing.

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      • Monty

         /  January 28, 2012

        I can fully understand your frustration. As I said, I was just listening on the radio, and so it’s tough to tell about the calls other than what I’m hearing. This doesn’t seem like the Lowell game at NU where Lowell got a few early penalties because NU just came out aggressively stupid. From a couple of Lowell fans that were there, they thought some of the calls were soft as well, so I do get what you’re saying.

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  4. Anonymous

     /  January 28, 2012

    monty- no one wants to hear from you

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  5. I had to go back three years to find such a wide disparity in power plays. 2/21/09 versus Maine. Black Bears got 8 power plays, UMass got 2.

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  6. Anonymous

     /  January 28, 2012

    i thought Pereira and Hobbs played well had a few good shifts but didn’t see them out much in the 3rd..I know Pereira has been struggling as of late but the past 2 games i think he’s starting to come out of it. I would like to see maybe every once in awhile the return of him hobbs and syner? what do you guys think?

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  7. Mike

     /  January 28, 2012

    Completely agree on the issue of the zebra’s. It’s long past time for the league to look into some of the dopes who keep showing up to work the games. Gotta say that I have been of fan of Bakers’ writing for years. He always seems to be right on the money. That said, the good guys seemed to have had a good number of scoring chances in the first two periods especially and Carr did play great but at the end of the day, we gotta bury more of those than we do. I think the forwards need to do more as a group around the net. Size is still somewhat of an issue but still……. . Rocks, I think you’re right to question mental toughness too. Tonight will say a lot about that. I would really hate to see the team fold down the stretch, yet again!!

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  8. George

     /  January 28, 2012

    I don’t care if there is a disparity in penalties if it is warranted. Any one of the 6000+ in attendance that was watching will tell you there was no way UMass was that much more cheap, dirty (actually that describes the visitors pretty accurately, I had a great ice level seat and watched went on after various passes and plays) or lazy (as in lazy penalties). Actually quite the contrary. Sound like our media members Rocks got it right. Brock Hines in the post game said the team that came out with spark in the first period was afraid to be the aggressor after getting (5?) straight penalties called on them and the fact that more of them than not were phantom or bad calls compounded that. He further correctly stated that any stamina advantage we might have had in the third period (our 4th game in 21 days vs. Lowell’s 4th in 8 days) was negated as our best players were penalty killing.
    And just a guess, but there has to be something going on Kevin Boyle’s life that is keeping him from playing (injury/sickness/grades). I haven’t been able to figure Coach Cahoon’s goaltender rotation out, but there is no way he’d leave Boyle on the shelf to expire without good reason, and how hard they work in practice is not a reason I’ll accept in the goaltenders case.

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  9. George

     /  January 28, 2012

    Haha, I see a trend happening here with Dave Hansen:

    https://fearthetriangle.com/2011/02/13/providence-recap-2/

    Like

  10. gary

     /  January 28, 2012

    That game was frustrating to watch, I can only imagine how the players felt. I felt like for the most part, umass was playing hard, but a few defensive mistakes cost them a few goals. By the end of the game, they ran out of gas(I dont blame them after being shorthanded for 14 freaking minutes!)

    If the refs didn’t miss every single blatant penalty on lowell, we might have had an entirely different outcome, especially considering umass went 2 for 2 on the powerplay.

    As bad as umass fans can be, you know theres a problem when the crown actively boos the officials as they skate onto the ice

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  11. George

     /  January 28, 2012

    Two great points here:

    One, right on Gary about the booing and I was told that was brought up on the radio last night….never happens.

    Two: “as we know, this team has yet to win on the road. And, judging by the comments and body language of the players after the game, combined with Coach Cahoon’s total exasperation postgame, I get the feeling UMass has already lost tonight’s game.”

    I have no other way to reference the contests, sorry, but this smacks of the two Dan Meyers games when the Minutemen had a couple of good runs broken by some unpopular decisions by refs, coaches, whatever. Biggest game of the season goes tonight. Bandage on the wound quick to see the new and improved UMass or is it the same ol same ol second have dive?

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  12. Anonymous

     /  January 28, 2012

    Actual I thought the goaltender interference was a good call. Czepiel left his feet, and from where I was sitting looked to intentionally take a shot at Carr’s head.

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  13. Anonymous

     /  January 28, 2012

    2 nites; out shoot lowell both nites…get 3 p/p opportunities total for the weekend…
    and hmm…let’s see, what is the total of the lowell power play time for the weekend??!!

    does hockey east want umass to simply play a man down as a standard procedure??!!

    Like

  14. Anonymous

     /  January 29, 2012

    As important as this weekend was, the entire organization did not deliver. This was frustrating hockey to watch, and it starts at the top. I’m not sure if it’s Cahoon’s inability to utilize and develop the talent he has on this team but something has to change, fast. Cahoon’s overall record which isn’t up to game date; moreover, through 18 games this season is 161-217-41. That’s a .445 winning percentage. That’s not getting it done. At most Division 1 programs, you’re on the hot seat, especially when you look at his payroll. Without leadership to demonstrate what it takes to be successful from a guy who has been there before, almost a decade ago, the last few years have been tough to fathom considering the current team assembled has enough pieces to play a signifcant role and be better than a sub .500 team, which this team seems to be enroute for again. There our a few issues to address aside from Cahoon, who esentially put the onis on his team for the loss tonight during the postgame interview instead of taking responsibility while getting swept in the season series ( 0-3) by a team that was in cellar last year, but made a head coaching change and has Lowell in position down the stretch to solidify a 4 or better seed heading into HEA playoffs. There is no chemisty on the ice with this team. Clearly, we lack center and face-off play. We are not skilled enough at that position, and it’s effecting particulairly the younger players, guys like Pereira, Carzo, Kiley, DeAngelo, Power and LaRue. Gracel is a second line center at best at this point, and Guzzo the same. Fillou plays with great effort, but lacks skill, and Czepiel, a similar player but not an offensive threat. We can’t seem to win key face-offs and more often then not, are on the losing end night in and night out against the opponents we face. Our powerplay is at 17% which also ranks amoung the bottom of teams in HEA, even considering the 2-2 effort in last nights game. Our Penalty kill much the same. If you know anything about hockey, particularly at this level, special teams will win or lose you games most of the time. Change it. I’m sick and tired of hearing our announcers speak of our best offensive weapons being to tired or out of gas to finish games this year because they have been killing penalties. There are other players on this team capable of taking on those duties, but to me, this goes right back to the head coach who lacks belief in his team. I don’t want to hear that excuse again. These are high profile athletes playing at the highest level in college hockey, there is not excuse to be out of gas, especially when critical points are on the line each and every nite with 10 games left this season. Figure it out Toot, or watch more film on the players you recruit to come play and represent this program. Lack of discipline has also been an on going issue. Gracel scores on a great shot, then takes a penalty on his his next shift. Guzzo’s 5 minute major tonight didn’t help our comeback efforts, which to me, signifies lack of TEAM emotional control and TEAM focus. Don’t get me wrong, players on this team have played very well at times this season, others, not so much, not singleing any one player out. But consistency is a point I’m trying to make. Mental focus is a direct reflection of the coach, and as I read in these comments above, other people believe this team lacked the mental focus to rebound from last nights loss. It was evident from a Umass team that is still seeking their first road win this year. There are too many fundamental breakdowns defensively, and no one know what Cahoon is thinking when it comes to who is going to start in net, and that has an effect on the team. You have 3 pretty good ones coach, pick one and let’s go, the juggling has to stop, February is upon us. The team tonight looked in disarray for the better part of the game, and there was no consistency in line combinations, where chemisrty is most important. I liked the fact he tried to mix it up, but that’s what practice and preparation is for, not a game which was one of the biggest games to date this season. This Umass team is far more skilled and talented than Lowell, however, they were beat by a team who sticks tho their gameplan and capitalizes on oportunistic chances. I hope for the players, especially the seniors, this team finds a way to rebound from this weekend, and respond. The bottom line is, is has to start at the top.

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  15. Anonymous

     /  January 29, 2012

    czepiel can’t win a face off….can’t score, and too small to wins battles on the boards
    play larue the rest of the season in place….

    Like

  16. Ryan

     /  January 29, 2012

    “This Umass team is far more skilled and talented than Lowell.” HAHAHAHAHAHA

    Like

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