Merrimack Recap

UMass can take pride in that they played a much better overall game than Friday and went toe to toe with the #4 team in the country.  Unfortunately, pride doesn’t get you far in Hockey East and yet another inopportune defensive lapse and the continued inability to play with a true killer instinct doomed the Minutemen to another last second loss.  For the second time this season with the last seconds of regulation ticking down UMass was already thinking about overtime while the opponent was still playing 6o minutes of hockey.  The first time an opponent scored with two seconds left it was Northeastern tying the game and sending it to overtime back in October.  Last night the late goal was the difference and a ranked Merrimack team escaped the Mullins Center with a regulation win while UMass gained their fourth straight loss.  If you have you panic button nearby, please press it repeatedly starting now.

Looking at the stats, UMass should’ve won this game.  The Minutemen outshot the Warriors 28-27.  UMass went one for four on the power play while Merrimack couldn’t convert any of their three chances and managed only three power play shots.  UMass had the edge in faceoffs, winning 32 of 54 chances.  The Minutemen even got some scoring from someone other than their top two lines as Troy Power did a great job of skating hard to the net and put home his own rebound for UMass’ first goal of the game.  UMass had the edge all over the scoresheet.  Except for the score.

UMass showed some resiliency by scoring early in the third to tie up the game, but didn’t do too much after that.  A hitting from behind penalty at the start of the third gave UMass a five minute major.  Joel Hanley scored a power play goal in the first 30 seconds of power play time but for the remainder of the five minutes UMass only could muster one shot on Joe Cannata.  In fact, after putting up nine and 14 shots in the first two periods, UMass only had five in the entire final period.  That’s not going to allow you to win close games like this.  Merrimack on the other hand put up 11 shots in the final frame.  Good teams also don’t take a too many men penalty late in the game.  UMass did just that for the second game in a row.  Take those factors, add in the fact that no one touched Merimack’s Jeff Velleca as he breezed around the goal for the gamewinner and some poor goaltending by Steve Mastalerz, who probably would want the second and fourth goals back, and you have another loss for UMass when they desperately needed to find a way to win.  The loss means UMass goes without any Hockey East points for the second straight weekend.  Luckily for them the impending Beanpot means Northeastern was idle so UMass remains two points behind them.  New Hampshire’s four point weekend gives them a three point edge over the Minutemen and a tie with Providence in the standings for sixth place.  Can UMass make a run in these last four weekends to at least make it into the playoffs?  Nothing we’ve seen in the last four games suggests that’s going to happen.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game
Conor Sheary scored his ninth goal of the season and had a team high ten shots on net, including 7 in the second period.  He also was nearly perfect at the faceoff dot, winning 7 of 8 chances.

Dick Baker calls the game a sequel to Friday’s devastating loss.

Here’s the game story from the Eagle-Tribune.


Good luck to former Massachusetts Minutemen Victor Cruz and James Ihedigbo in today’s Super Bowl XLVI.

That said,