QF Game Two Recap; UMass’ Season Ends

The loss of Danny Hobbs and Kevin Czepiel to injury before Saturday’s game did not put the UMass Minutemen in good position to win the game.  Senior Co-Captain Hobbs, when healthy, has a been a big presence for UMass in front of the opponent’s net and led the team in shots during the season.  Czepiel was the regular center for the fourth line.  When Steven Guzzo left the game with a game misconduct for a hitting from behind penalty just 3:39 minutes into the game, UMass was suddenly at a huge disadvantage.  At that point the team’s centers consisted of Branden Gracel, Eric Filiou, and Adam Phillips.  Yes, defenseman Adam Phillips who last played forward in his second to last year in juniors was one of three UMass center for most of the game.  Yet, despite this adversity, UMass again played the Eagles tough and stuck with them only to ultimately fall by a 3-2 score.

Before the Guzzo penalty UMass would actually take the early 1-0 lead thanks to a Conor Sheary goal started by an excellent pass from behind the net by T.J. Syner who played some great hockey in his last weekend in a UMass jersey.  Unfortunately that lead would be lost soon after the Guzzo penalty.  Playing four on four BC would quickly turn around a UMass giveaway into a breakaway that would give Pat Mullane the tying goal.  Towards the end of the Guzzo major BC would strike for the second time on another break in to the UMass zone and Paul Carey would put home a nice Billy Arnold cross ice pass.  Just like that UMass early lead would be erased.

But UMass would persist.  While the game did not have the smooth flow of the one we saw the night before, due mostly to the incessant shrill of referees’ whistles, UMass would still be able to do a lot.  Even despite their lack of centers.  Overall the team would put 35 shots on Parker Milner, but still had too many times where they could not convert on grade A chances.  UMass would tie it back up on a Joel Hanley goal coming off a great feed from Mike Marcou, a rare time when two defensemen led the rush.  The goal would be reviewed for some reason, even from my seat in the LAST ROW OF THE ARENA I could see it was good, but reviewing any and every goals seems to be some kind of focus for Hockey East officiating for the playoffs so they wasted everyone’s time anyway.  The tie game was short lived though as BC would grab what would end up being the game winner just over a minute later.  UMass would continue to fight but for the most part it never really felt like they’d be able to come all the way back in this one.  BC didn’t play great but they played well enough to keep the Minutemen at bay.  Even while they were only up by a goal they played like they were up by more and you know what, it didn’t matter.  UMass would get their chances on Milner late, but still lacked that one play or player who would find a way to finish a shot effectively to get them a key goal.

After a flurry of skill goals, huge mixture of penalties, and everything else that went on in the first two periods, the third period was pretty tame.  Only a single BC penalty was registered on the score sheet and the game ended with UMass a goal short from extending their season.  It was nice to see the *cough* “experts” at USCHO wrong who said BC would sweep and neither game would be close.  But at the same time, UMass played a team they had beaten twice and were unable to come up with the two wins that would propel them beyond the quarterfinals.  The loss marked the third straight year that UMass’ season ended at Conte Forum and the fifth straight year of the team not making it past the Hockey East quarterfinals.  If there’s a takeway from these two games it’s that the team played hard but were unable to overcome an obviously very good Boston College team nor able to elevate their game to pull off such an upset.  They tried though.  Especially the seniors.  It’s sad that Danny Hobbs’ career ended cheering on his teammates from behind the bench rather than fighting in front of the net as we’re used to seeing.  T.J. Syner had a spectacular weekend.  Mike Marcou assisted on the two biggest goals of the weekend and played solid defense throughout.  And when all was said and done Kevin Moore was out on the ice being the consummate teammate.  If there’s an underlying disappointment to this whole weekend it’s that theses four guys never got to enjoy anything beyond a quarterfinal loss for their careers.

I was going to comment extensively on the officiating, but I’m not going to.  UMass had plenty of chances to tie and take the lead in this game.  The third period was virtually whistle free but UMass was unable to convert any of their 13 shots into goals.  Listen, the officiating tonight by John Gravallese and Dave Hansen sucked.  Flat out sucked.  But I don’t want that turn into an excuse for the fact that UMass failed to capitalize on opportunities all weekend.  Yet it’s important to note that most of the Hockey East fanbases are unhappy with the officiating of late.  Lowell has had what seems to be dozens of goals overturned and Merrimack and Maine fans were just treated to a playoff game featuring 50 penalties.  Fifty!  The fact is that officiating in Hockey East right now is a total joke and there is zero accountability for the continual screwups that we as fans actually have to pay to witness.  But that’s a subject I think I’ll save for a post during the offseason.  It may even feature a picture of Dave Hansen in clown shoes and a red nose.  I hope that guy knows how to hammer a nail into a board because he sure as hell doesn’t know how to officiate a hockey game.

Fear the Triangle Player of the Game
This one goes to Joel Hanley.  Though short-lived his goal allowed the Minutemen to tie it.  He also played excellent defense down the stretch.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thought the officiating from Dave Hansen and John Gravallese was total crap.

Loss leaves UMass livid, says the Boston Herald headline.

Dick Baker details some of the horrid officiating in his recap.

BC wins on disputed goal reads the Gazette headline.

So that’s that.  Another season comes to a close.  The players may be done but I still have a lot more to say about the season that was.  A tentative plan for the coming week has the FTT Player of the Year announced, probably a two part season recap, and my Hockey East award picks.

There is no offseason for Fear The Triangle.  Hell, I just might swing over to Foxboro on Sunday to catch future Minuteman Shane Walsh in the EJHL playoffs.  So make sure to keep checking back for everything new.