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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.

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28 Comments

  1. Carson

     /  January 29, 2012

    i am as optimistic about umass hockey as they come, but i am extremely worried about this team not making the playoffs now. northeastern and unh are both playing pretty well right now and have easier schedules than umass does. feb 24-25th with 2 home games against UNH will probably be huge…overall real tough weekend for umass hockey

    Like

  2. Anonymous

     /  January 29, 2012

    play larue over czepiel all day long….please god cahoon do it….

    Like

    • Carson

       /  January 29, 2012

      i agree with this…would like to see tegeler even more probably…i just feel like czepiel is getting by based on mostly experience/seniority…everyone else i feel is earning their time

      Like

  3. transrapide

     /  January 29, 2012

    Hey Rocks,

    Great recaps as usual. Question: Is Toot’s job
    In trouble yet? It’s been about 6 straight years
    of 7th place finishes.

    Like

    • I fully anticipate the school will allow Toot to stay on through the end of his contract next year.

      Like

  4. Anonymous

     /  January 29, 2012

    we need all the size possible @ northeastern friday due to their style and rink size..
    play the biggest meanest forwards we have…small players who cannot win faceoffs…cannot score….and get pushed around the corners must sit

    Like

  5. paulie

     /  January 29, 2012

    #3 cant play at this level accomplishes nothing every game these are the things from keeping us from going up in standings

    Like

  6. George

     /  January 29, 2012

    Wow where did the Kevin Czepiel venom come from all of a sudden? I think there are bigger issues to address with this team.

    Like

  7. Carson

     /  January 29, 2012

    i dont think anyone is trying to say that is the only problem with the team (or at least i’m not)…that is just one thing that i have felt to be true for a while (regarding czepiel)…that if he weren’t a senior he would not be getting this much playing time (because his play has not really warranted it)

    Like

    • Czepiel is a junior.

      Like

    • Carson

       /  January 29, 2012

      but rocks what is your opinion on czepiel’s play thusfar? i feel that he has decent vision and also competes the hardest of almost all the players on our squad, but moreso i feel that he is undersized, an average skater and not much of an offensive threat…and while it is not an all-ecompassing statistic, he is a team-worst -6 in the plus/minus department, which doesnt really lend itself very well to a shutdown forward type player (which seems to be the role toot has him playing)…anyway, like i said before, most definitely not trying to pile on czepiel, just giving some honest observations

      Like

      • Who will play in his place? There are no other true centers.

        LaRue is a more of a natural wing who, according to the UMass site, hasn’t taken a faceoff this year. I don’t think he’s the solution at center

        Who else would you have in mind?

        Like

        • Carson

           /  January 30, 2012

          no larue definitely is not the answer at center…however we have gracel and guzzo to center the top 2 lines…that leaves carzo, filiou, deangelo (doesnt seem to be too bad at center to me)…so i guess my hope would be that 2 of those 3 guys would center the bottom 2 lines

          Like

          • I like DeAngelo, but his numbers aren’t that much different than Czepiel’s. Especially in Hockey East play. Faceoffs % is good, but he has taken a fraction of them compared to other centers.

            Like

        • Carson

           /  January 30, 2012

          Fair enough about DeAngelo not taking a lot of faceoffs, but I feel that he couldn’t do a lot worse than Czepiel (wins 40% of them)…and also with everyone healthy there isn’t even a need for DeAngelo to play center. And also yes while I agree that his numbers aren’t that much better or different, I just feel DeAngelo brings more to the table than Czepiel. I am envisioning a lineup somewhere along these lines:

          Syner-Gracel-Sheary
          Pereira-Guzzo-Hobbs
          DeAngelo-Carzo-Power
          Kiley-Filiou-LaRue

          That 4th line left wing could be Kiley, Auvenshine, Tegeler, Olcyzk, whoever…and like I said before, I am definitely not trying to put all of the blame on Czepiel or anything like that at all…just one small way I feel this team could be improved, that’s all.

          Like

          • All good thoughts Carson. I just don’t think Czepiel is driving poor performance on this team. Its the top six forwards and top four dmen spending too much time in the box and just overall better defensive play needed.

            Like

      • Carson

         /  January 30, 2012

        no your right i agree that he is not at all the main problem and that the penalties are by far the biggest issue…just a minor change that i thought might be worth considering but who knows

        Like

  8. transrapide

     /  January 29, 2012

    Rocks, you’ll be happy to know there was a triangle jersey spotted at Mullins on Sat. afternoon at the bball game. Worn by a 10-12 year-old girl.

    So is Blaise MacDonald being groomed to replace Toot when his contract is up after next season? Ironic that McDonald quit Lowell and now the sewerhawks are flying high. Doesn’t fill me with optimism.

    Like

    • The irony is that the RiverHabs are “flying high” thanks exclusively to guys Blaise recruited.

      Becoming pretty clear that the man is a hell of a recruiter who struggles in the in-game coaching department. The problem is that, even if Blaise brings in some talent (and with all due respect to the Gillespies of the world, I haven’t seen much to get excited about so far), Toot will probably have retired by the time they get here. The question is, do they get a proven in-game coach (who?!) and let Blaise stick to recruiting, or do they let him take Toot’s job and give him a second chance? After seeing Lowell squander some great talent in recent years, I’d like to think they’d lean toward the former, and let Blaise do what he does best.

      Like

      • (^ sorry if that’s an assumption re: Toot retiring, but my understanding was that before his current contract he was seriously contemplating it, and then decided to stick around a few more years. I would think he would probably retire after next season if his contract isn’t renewed, though.)

        Like

      • I do not want a coach who was previously fired from a Hockey East school after never getting them to the NCAAs. The fact that Lowell is roughly a gazillion times better mere months after his firing doesn’t help his case.

        If Toot retires and Blaise is hired to take his place it’s because it’s the easy/lazy thing to do, much like the Kevin Morris hire.

        Like

        • transrapide

           /  January 30, 2012

          A few years ago, I had heard that Blaise was going to take over at BU when Jack Parker goes (i.e. dies). Obviously, that’s not happening now. If the UMass AD does the lazy thing and hires Blaise, it will be typical and the program will stay mired in mediocrity.

          I wish the could get Dennehey from MC (he recruited Quick), but I hear he wants the BC job when York retires because he’s a BC grad.

          Like

  9. Anonymous

     /  January 30, 2012

    I heard UML folks comparing our first perdiod play where we had one forechecker and hung around the red line and just a couple of shots and zero scoring chances – typical Blaise style. They were thrilled he left UML.I don’t think he is the answer. Toot needs to match lines – prevent our 3rd and 4th line to be out against oppositions 1+2. Also, needs to stick with PP and PK that was getting better a few weeks ago. Can’t keep testing things.Shorten the bench and have the guts to limit some Sr’s who are major liabilities defensively. Same old story. Same D pair were on the ice for all 4 in Amherst and first in Lowell.

    Like

    • Yeah I’ve talked to people around the Lowell program, fans and insiders, that reaffirm my opinion that we don’t want Blaise as head coach.

      That said, Cahoon has been conservative on the forechecking forever. It’s been a frequent source of frustration.

      Like

  10. Anonymous

     /  January 30, 2012

    time to man up this weekend – players and coaches

    Like

  1. Hockey East Recap: 1/30 | Husky Hockey
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