Northeastern Recap

This was a must win game for the Minutemen.  While it would be easy to say that this game was lost on a “fluke” goal in overtime, that would be missing some key facts.  Fact is, in this must win game UMass was so mentally unprepared they did not register their first shot on net until over nine minutes into the game.  Fact is, in this must-win game Northeastern jumped out to a 2-0 lead before UMass even got that first shot on net.  In this must-win game and the game tied at three in the third period UMass had nearly seven minutes of power play time and could muster only one shot on net during that time.  They actually only mustered six shots all third period.  In this must win game UMass, knowing that penalties have killed their chances at success all season, still took a tripping penalty, a holding penalty, a high sticking penalty, a hooking penalty, and (wait for it) a too many men on the ice call.  The too many men actually came while on the power play.  Fact is this team desperately needed to win tonight after coming up empty last weekend and having to play a top 5 team tomorrow.  Fact is the team came out flat, totally mentally unprepared in a pattern that’s become way too familiar.  A team unprepared like that once in a while can be blamed on the players and a lack of focus.  A team repeatedly unprepared mentally for critical games like this can be blamed on the coaching staff.

At times, the team looked very good.  Two of their goals came from crashing the net and not giving up on the play until the whistle blew.  Mike Pereira, who has struggled at times in recent months, had a solid game with a couple goals and once again was a noticeable factor defensively.  Darren Rowe, playing in place of Conor Allen who was suspended for the game, made the most of his chance by scoring a goal, his first since October of 2010.  I thought the Pat Kiley, Troy Power, Peter DeAngelo line was probably UMass’ most consistent all night long.  Kiley has now gone five games without taking a penalty and has 9 shots total in his last two played.

But for the most part this game was just disappointing.  An optimist may be happy that UMass killed four of Northeastern’s five power play opportunities.  But that would ignore the fact that the Huskies now have only 13 power play goals total on the season and four of them have come against the Minutemen.  It was nice that the team came back from a deficit but they also lost  lead.  The worst aspect of the game though was certainly the first 10 minutes.  If the team was going to come out and just go through the motions why not just ask the timekeeper to start the game with 50 minutes on the clock and give the Huskies a 2-0 head start?  How are you not ready to go from the drop of the puck in this absolutely critical game?

For whatever reason it cost UMass.  A lot.  Northeastern now sits two points ahead of them.  The season series with the Huskies is now 1-1-1, so the primary tiebreaker against them is now out the window.  Oh yeah and New Hampshire beat Providence tonight so they pull ahead of UMass into 8th place which means if the playoffs started today the Minutemen would not be part of them for the first time since 2001-02.  To climb back into the playoff picture this weekend UMass will somehow have to find a way to beat #4 Merrimack which is stinging from a 4-1 loss to Boston University tonight.  It’s another critical game for a UMass team whose season is quickly coming to a close.  Let’s see if they’re ready for the puck to drop this time.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game
It was great to see Mike Pereira get on the board for a couple goals tonight, his first score since against Cornell before New Years.  It’s even better that they weren’t typical skill goals you see from him but coming from hard-nosed effort in front of the net.  As I mentioned, he also is really making an effort to be a better two way player, which was evident tonight.

In Dick Baker’s recap Toot Cahoon says the team’s inability to win on the road shows a mental weakness and a lack of mental toughness.

Michael King of College Hockey News calls it a strong effort by UMass.  In fairness he may have gotten stuck in traffic and arrived at 7:15.  So King was in attendance at Matthews tonight as well Joe Meloni and Andrew Merritt.  Seriously, if UMass could produce college hockey players the way it produces college hockey writers the team would be in the top 5 in the Pairwise every year.

Casey Wellman was traded to the New York Rangers today for Erik Christenson and a conditional 7th round draft pick.  Wellman will be heading straight for the Rangers’ AHL club in Hartford.  The Star Tribune says that the Wild and Wellman never really clicked.