You cannot knock the effort displayed by the Massachusetts Minutemen in last night’s 2-1 loss to Boston College. Though they got off to a bit of a slow start, they were able to regroup thanks to a 25 minute delay when the power went out at Chestnut Hill and came back out and dominated for most of the game. No, I can’t say enough about the effort. But, I am not buying into what a great moral victory last night was and how UMass, which outplayed the top team in the league and the country for long stretches, “deserved better”. Good teams find a way to win last night, despite some stellar play from Eagle goaltender Parker Milner. Good teams create their own luck. This is not last year freshman laden team that really would’ve had no business playing BC so close. This UMass team has racked up several key wins over ranked teams. This UMass team has already beaten these Eagles twice. Last night’s narrow loss was not a moral victory. It was a lost opportunity. And because of that UMass now finds themselves halfway to another quick exit in the Hockey East playoffs
The Minutemen came out playing hard but could not move the puck effectively or maintain possession in the offensive zone to get anything going. It would be seven minutes before they were able to get their first shot on Parker Milner. But eventually the nerves wore off and they really did well offensively for the balance of the game. However when they had their key chances they just could not finish. Some of that was their own doing and shot selection but a lot of it was the play of Milner who continues probably the best stretch of play in his career. UMass appeared to score a goal by Steven Guzzo to take a 1-0 lead but the goal was later ruled to go in off of his skate. Unfortunately it is what it is. Remember, college hockey has a different rule than the NHL’s “distinct kicking motion” wording. Here is the wording for the NCAA. A goal shall not be allowed if the puck has been kicked or directed into the goal off an attacking player’s skate that is moving toward the goal line. When in doubt, the goal shall be disallowed. It’s an ambiguous rule. What is directed exactly? Shifting your skate? If your skate is still moving forward? There’s nothing UMass can do about it. The refs called it as is based on the wording of the rule. I don’t think you can blame the refs, you can blame how the rule is worded.
What was good was that UMass did not allow the disallowed goal to affect their psyche and they continued to play hard. But, unfortunately the disallowed wasn’t the only tough break for the Minutemen in the game. Toward the end of the second period UMass had allowed BC to just ONE SINGLE shot all period. But with a little over two minutes to go Pat Mullane squares up to the net and shoots from the left faceoff circle. Kevin Boyle is in position but the puck hits some kind of gash in the ice, pops up, and goes in over Boyle’s shoulder. It’s ironic because I thought Conte Forum, which has had its share of compressor and ice problems before, was the coldest I’ve ever experienced last night. Yet some quirky ice leads to the first BC goal through no fault of Boyle’s. But what happened next was predictable for UMass fans and why I don’t think UMass lost last night only because they were “unlucky”. 39 seconds later the UMass finds themselves out of position and Tommy Cross is left all alone to skate in from the blueline, make a nice move around a UMass forward, and get a wrister past Boyle. Giving up goals in bunches has killed UMass all season and it was the key moment in last night’s game.
UMass would get one back when Steven Guzzo (though most of the game stories say Danny Hobbs) redirected a Mike Marcou shot but in the end the team was unable to solve Milner enough to gain the tying goal and so UMass now will try to extend their season with a win tonight. They’ll need to match last night’s effort but improve on execution. Inability to finish absolutely killed them last night. There were multiple times the team had point blank chances in front of Milner and shot it where he could get to it, missed the net entirely, or could not get a shot off. They need to bury those chances tonight. Or they’ll spend all summer thinking about how close they were to getting to the Garden for the Hockey East Semifinals.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game
There were a lot of players who deserve praise for their play last night. Boyle had another solid night and kept them in the game early on when they couldn’t do anything offensively. I was again impressed by the third line of Rocco Carzo, Troy Power, and Pat Kiley. The defense as a whole played well. But I’ll give it to Guzzo for his goal and near goal that would’ve made for a much different game.
Danny Hobbs went off late in the third after blocking a BC slapshot off his arm. It remains to be seen if he’ll play tonight. I guess he did return to the bench after the injury but did not play again.
Here’s the game story from the Gazette.
Takeaways from the game from College Hockey News.
39 seconds was all BC needed says the Boston Herald.
BC sees the light is the headline for the Globe.