Hockey can be an unforgiving game sometimes. You can play well for 59 minutes, dominating the game, but sometimes just a minute of lapsed play and an opposing goaltender standing on his head can lead to a loss. That’s exactly what happened last night. I absolutely cannot say anything bad about UMass’ effort. They came out and hit the ice completely ready to play and in terms of effort it was there for the entire night.
As a fan, I have to admire how hard they worked on the ice, generating over 50 shots on the game. But freshman Casey DeSmith goaltender worked hard as well, making sure he was in great position all night and making the tough saves when he had to. A number of times it looked like UMass had a chance to beat him but a flash of the glove by DeSmith and the score would remain the same. While UMass put a lot of shots on net, they ultimately couldn’t get DeSmith moving in his crease to try to sneak more past him. A lot of the shots were straight on allowing DeSmith to position himself correctly. Another thing to note is that while UMass did generate a ton of shots, surprisingly few of them came from the top two lines. Mike Pereira had just two shots as did T.J. Syner. Stephen Guzzo had just one while Eric Filiou didn’t have any. Third liners Rocco Carzo and Pat Kiley totalled 14 shots together. It’s good to get a lot of pressure on the goaltender and a lot of times just peppering him will lead to goals, but at the same time you’d like those shots to come from your most skilled goal scorers.
Looking through the scoresheet it’s amazing this game ended as a 4-3 loss for the Minutemen. Shots were 51-29 in their favor, including 25 in the second. There have been entire games this season where UMass has failed to gain 20 shots total. The Minutemen were equally dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 41 faceoffs to UNH’s 24. Steven Guzzo and Eric Filou did amazing work at the faceoff dot, taking 11 of 16 and 11 of 17 respectively. UMass picked up a power play goal and were only sent to the box themselves twice. They killed the Wildcats’ only power play opportunity. While not spectacular, the team got solid goaltending from Kevin Boyle. It’s always easy to say a goaltender should’ve done this or that but honestly UNH’s goals either came on screens or defensive breakdowns.
Defensive breakdowns. As I said, you can give amazing effort for 60 minutes but if you fail to execute, even only for a period as short as 17 seconds, the entire game can turn in the other team’s favor. Early in the third the Minutemen tied it thanks to a Joel Hanley goal but just a few minutes later some bad decision making gave it right back and then some. Seven minutes into the period the defensive pairing of Colin Shea and Connor Allen had a lapse in play. One of them (the Gazette and Republican differ on who did what and I don’t remember myself) got caught too deep in the offensive zone which led to a two on one break for the Cats and a UNH goal. Only seconds later Mike Marcou and Joel Hanley got stuck watching and UNH had another breakaway and another goal. That was the game. 17 seconds.
While UMass was giving their all and losing Northeastern upset Maine 4-2 by scoring the final three goals of the game. So as UMass heads into tonight they’re in 9th place and out of the playoffs, two points behind the Huskies. Of course the Huskies’ win also gives them the edge in the second tiebreaker scenario, conference wins. The Minutemen no longer control their own destiny. They have to find a way to win starting tonight and become Black Bear and Terrier fans from here on out. A duplication of last night’s effort will be a good start to getting a win tonight.
Dick Baker says there wasn’t much to criticize from last night.
In the Gazette’s recap Dick Umile says his team was lucky to get the win.
Here’s the game story from the Wildcat viewpoint.
CHN’s Josh Seguin has his takeaways from the game.
Playoffstatus.com gives UMass a 26% chance of making the playoffs.