Saturday Recap; Somerby To BU

After the officials inserted themselves into Friday’s game and prevented UMass from having a fair shot at gaining the win at home against Lowell, the hope was the team would be fired up as a result.  Certainly using that outcome as motivation to go out last night and prove that they deserved a better fate than the night before is not out of the question.  But as I mentioned in my recap of Friday’s loss, it was apparent the team would come out and give Lowell the season sweep.  The comments and body language of the team immediately after Friday’s loss foretold Saturday’s result and brings up the question, while this team has talent, does it have the mental toughness to be successful in this league?  I don’t think so.  The team had an opportunity to split the key weekend series, prevent the first season sweep by Lowell since 97-98,  and exact some kind of revenge for the screw job of the night before.  Instead the team looked like they wanted to be anywhere else in the world but at the Tsongas Center.  And by the end of the game, so did those UMass fans who made the trip.

The start this one looked very similar to the last one played in Lowell.  The team managed just a handful of shots in the first period, five total to be exact.  A strong second allowed the Minutemen to tie it, but too many penalties in the third killed any ability to complete the comeback and handed Lowell the easy 5-2 win.  There’s a lot to be critical of in the game but I’ll just hit on a couple of things that stand out.  Obviously UMass had too many penalties on the weekend, some deserved and some not, but this has been a problem all season long and either coach Toot Cahoon doesn’t feel like addressing it or is unable to.  Either way you’ll be hard pressed to find a team that’s able to win games when they take 15 penalties in a weekend.  Secondly, where were UMass’ skilled forwards last night?  The Minutemen put up a respectable 30 shots on net, but taking a closer look you had Conor Allen taking 4 and Pat Kiley taking 5.  Steve Guzzo had 2, Danny Hobbs had 3, T.J. Syner 2, Mike Pereira 2, Conor Sheary 1, Branden Gracel 1.  11 shots total for your top two lines.  That’s not enough.  Lastly, UMass won just 19 of 52 faceoffs.  Kevin Czepiel and Steve Guzzo went 6 for 21 combined.  Faceoffs were a big issue earlier in the year but it had seemed like the team had made some progress in that area.  Obviously not as much as hoped.

UMass had a huge opportunity in front of them these past two days.  Building off the momentum of recent weeks a successful weekend could’ve lifted them into the fight in the middle of the Hockey East standings.  Even when outside forces helped lead to a loss on Friday, a win yesterday would’ve at least allowed them to prevent the weekend from being a total washout while keeping Lowell within striking distance in the standings.  Instead, there’s little chance of catching up to the River Hawks who are now eight points ahead and have leapfrogged Merrimack into 4th place.  The best UMass can probably hope for at this point is to try to catch Providence in 6th place, three points ahead and with the tiebreaker still to be determined.  But a zero point weekend has allowed the teams behind UMass to gain ground.  Northeastern is now tied in 7th place with UMass and New Hampshire, and the prospect of missing the playoffs entirely, is just one point back.  The loss also drops the team to below .500 on the season.  Lowell obviously has a great team this year and is on their way to their first NCAA tournament appearance in seemingly forever, but not taking any points from them should’ve been deemed an unacceptable prospect for this team.  Instead last night’s lackluster effort and undisciplined play late assured  the Minutemen of that fate.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game
It’s tough to pick the best player in a game where there was little to celebrate but Pat Kiley played well, scoring a goal, leading the team in shots, and ending the game even.  And what has been nice to see about his play of late is that he has gone four games without taking a penalty.

Lack of discipline sinks the Minutemen according to the Republican recap.

Here’s the Herald’s game story.

Kimball Union defenseman Doyle Somerby who I’ve been writing about in recent weeks committed to Boston University this weekend.  Somerby also had offers from Maine, New Hampshire, and St Lawrence, in addition to UMass.

Dick Baker blogged about Friday’s horrendous officiating by Dave Hansen and Jack Millea yesterday.

The Springfield Falcons are out of the basement in the standings thanks to three straight wins by Paul Dainton.

Jon Quick lived up to his name at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition.