Northeastern Preview

Northeastern Huskies 4-7-1 (2-6-1)  T-8th Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 4-5-2 (3-5-1)  T-5th Hockey East

The gauntlet has been run. We knew early, even before we knew there would be a new coach this year, that the Massachusetts hockey team would have a challenging start to the season.  After the initial game against UConn, we knew that through Turkey Tuesday UMass had an exceedingly tough schedule.  How tough?  Hours after the team had tied #18 Quinnipiac UMass’ strength of schedule was sitting at #5 according to the RPI.  I would say a near .500 record of 4-5-2 through those games is respectable, though perhaps a little frustrating since the team had upsets of Boston College and Boston University within their reach if they held onto late leads.  Still, beating now #2 New Hampshire was big.  But this weekend the team will play their last Hockey East games before winter break and this is no time for a letdown.

The way Northeastern started the season it seemed like they’d be a factor in Hockey East.  Their first week of play saw home wins against Merrimack and #1 Boston College.  But since that time the only wins they’ve managed have come against college hockey’s nomad, Alabama-Huntsville.  They did manage a scoreless shutout with UNH, but other than that and UAH it’s been losses across the board.

The Huskies are consistently hanging around 8th or 9th place among Hockey East teams in the major statistical categories.  Offensively they’re scoring 2.17 goals per game versus UMass’ 2.64.  Freshman Kevin Roy, a late addition to the roster after he bailed on Brown, is the top offensive player for the team with five goals and six assists.  The others at the top of the list offensively are all familiar names, such as Vinny Saponari, Cody Ferriero, and Ludwig Karlsson, who has three power play goals.  That’s almost all of them as the Husky power play is converting at just a 12.3% rate.

Chris Rawlings took a lot of heat for his play last year but so far his numbers are respectable at 2.35 goals per game and a .918 save percentage.  And it’s important to note that those numbers are with an extremely inexperienced group of defensemen in front of him.  Drew Ellement is the only upperclassman on the blueline as the rest consist of four sophomores and three freshmen.  UMass must try to take advantage of the youth at defense, though keeping in mind that even young Husky defensemen, like Josh Manson, have skill.

For UMass this weekend seems like a good time to showcase their improved special teams.  The Huskies’ power play or penalty kill do not really standout among college hockey currently.  However for the Minutemen the power play has been perhaps the biggest brightest spot so far this season, scoring on over 21% of their chances.  And when they’ve been down a man they’ve looked good as well, killing 86% of the opponents’ power plays and even netting a couple shorthanded goals.  The Minutemen have scored six more goals on special teams than they’ve let up, tied with BC for second best among Hockey East teams.

I’d also like to see the more veteran and skilled forwards on the UMass roster, namely Mike Pereira and Conor Sheary, have a breakout weekend against this youthful Northeastern defense.  They’ve played pretty well as of late, Pereira with six points in six games and Sheary with a five game point streak, but you get the feeling that there’s a whole other gear they haven’t quite gotten into yet this season.  In net I assume we’ll see Kevin Boyle twice this weekend.  Boyle played all three games against the Huskies last year, going 1-1-1 with two games going to overtime.

It would be nice for UMass to end league play in 2012 on a good note and give themselves the opportunity to stay within striking range of home ice before the New Year.  But to do so they’ll have to take three points at a minimum.  I think we’ll all give them a pass for losing some of the early games against top teams while breaking in a new coach, but to be taken seriously they’ll have to show they’re better than teams like the Huskies both at home and on the road.

Beer The Triangle

Of course tomorrow afternoon will be spent at the Hangar, as usual.  For Saturday, after years of being relegated to Pizzeria Uno’s prior to games at Northeastern I finally realized that Bukowski’s Tavern isn’t really that far of a walk from Huntington Ave.  Currently The Buk seems to have a lot of lighter ales on, which doesn’t work for someone like me who drinks darker beers when the temperature turns cold.  However the Slumbrew Saison looks interesting as does the Notch on cask.  Plus I can always go with a Brown Shugga in the bottle.

Like my preview above, both the Collegian and the Republican highlight UMass’ special teams ahead of this weekend’s series.  The Collegian preview mentions that the status of freshmen Shane Walsh and Evan Stack are still unknown.

USCHO’s focus of their weekly Hockey East piece is the Northeastern Huskies and their struggles, while also mentioning this past weekend when coach Micheletto went up against his previous team.

CHN takes a look at this weekend’s Hockey East action.

View From Section U: Show Me The Money

In the last six months we’ve heard a lot about UMass’ commitment, or lack thereof , to making the Minuteman hockey program one of the best in Hockey East.  We saw the radio contract for the team become an afterthought early in the Spring.  There were rumors and later media reports that it was frustration with a lack of focus on the program that resulted in former coach Toot Cahoon stepping down with a year left on his contract.  There was also talk that UMass was unable to lure high profile coaching candidates to Amherst because of the perception that hockey was not supported to the extent needed to win in an elite DI league.  From Rand Pecknold, to Paul Pearl, to Mark Carlson we saw candidates choose to stay at locales that, on paper, seem like a step down from a Hockey East school.  Yet we were never presented with any real evidence.  Nothing concrete suggesting that the athletic department and athletic director John McCutcheon were shortchanging the hockey program has surfaced.  No direct quotes from Cahoon or anyone else with the program were made public.

Well, today I stumbled across the following while searching on the UMass website.  This lists the total 2011 spending and 2012 budget for each of the 19 sports offered by the school.  As far as I understand it, the 2012 budget would go through this past June so the 2012 budget does not reflect Cahoon’s departure.

2011 Act 2012 Bud Var. Inc/Dec
Baseball $392,867 $385,894 ($6,973) -2%
Basketball (M) $2,273,331 $2,485,259 $211,928 9%
Basketball (W) $1,489,098 $1,642,363 $153,265 10%
Crew (W) $608,334 $634,391 $26,057 4%
Cross Country (M) $32,432 $28,061 ($4,371) -13%
Cross Country (W) $25,178 $29,167 $3,989 16%
Field Hockey $635,340 $673,444 $38,104 6%
Football $3,660,193 $4,472,700 $812,507 22%
Ice Hockey $1,455,384 $1,427,929 ($27,455) -2%
Lacrosse (M) $566,750 $617,764 $51,014 9%
Lacrosse (W) $650,108 $670,466 $20,358 3%
Soccer (M) $288,050 $295,034 $6,984 2%
Soccer (W) $661,025 $765,552 $104,527 16%
Softball $701,318 $769,041 $67,723 10%
Swimming (M) $257,483 $278,236 $20,753 8%
Swimming (W) $396,632 $476,599 $79,967 20%
Tennis (W) $400,383 $430,917 $30,534 8%
Track M $291,054 $311,431 $20,377 7%
Track W $465,812 $512,349 $46,537 10%
Total Sport Spending $15,250,772 $16,906,597 $1,655,825 11%

 

So, as you can see above, the total spending on the hockey program from the 2011 actuals to what was budgeted for 2012 was –2% less.  Given a cash strapped university in the current macro-economic environment this isn’t completely out of the ordinary.  Until you look at what went on with the rest of the sports.  Hockey was just one of three sports that had its spending reduced during this time with baseball and men’s cross country being the others.  I won’t pretend to know a lot about the cross country team, but I do know that there are people who have followed the baseball team for years that are very unhappy with the commitment to coach Mike Stone’s team under McCutcheon.  You can see that of the teams, hockey’s budgeted spend was decreased the most in terms of total dollars.

Not only was hockey’s budgeted spend decreased year over year, but you can see this flies in the face of most other programs at the school.  The total Athletic Department spending on the individual sports increased +11%.  On average each sport enjoyed a +8% boost to their budget from the prior year.  What I consider the high profile sports at UMass (football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, and softball) saw their budgets increase at least 9% or more.  But hockey’s contracted.

If you look in detail behind the above totals the decreases in the hockey budget came in Operating Expenses (-9.5%) and scholarships (-3.2%).  Compensation for the hockey program went up during this time +5.5%.  Now the decrease in scholarship expense could be a result of the team having more Massachusetts residents on the roster and thus more players who would pay in-state tuition.  But the drop in operating expenses amounted to almost $50,000 less year over year.

Now there are a few caveats to note regarding the above information.  First, we’re looking at just a small slice in time.  The above represents just one year of actual spend and then the next year’s budget.  Maybe hockey actually overspent their budget in 2012 so it didn’t matter anyway.  Maybe they overspent in 2011 so 2012 was adjusted accordingly.  It’s tough to draw conclusions with just two years of data.  Ideally you want to look at at least three years worth of data to be able to establish a true trend.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find this information for any other years though.  Also, we don’t know why the operating expenses dropped 10% in the 2012 budget.  The team could’ve had much higher travel expenses in 2011 versus what was planned in 2012.  There could be a number of reasons.

However, this is the only real data we’ve seen regarding financial commitment to hockey year over year, compared to the other sports.  And the data suggests that there could be some truth to the lack of support rumors.  Hockey was not only the only high profile sports not to have their budget increased by at least 9%, but they actually had it reduced.  You cannot deny that hockey is a complete outlier in the above data when it comes to year over year support.  I also hate to pit one UMass sport against another because I root for all Minutemen and Minutewomen, but the comparison of hockey to women’s basketball is puzzling.  Women’s hoops, which has 15 student-athletes and averages crowds under 600, but receives more than $200,000 more in funding and received a 10% boost?

For me, the above reinforces a lot of what I’ve already heard from those around the program, people previously associated with the program, and media members who have covered the program.  I’ve spoken to many people who have flat out said that the university’s support of hockey relative to other major sports at the school and other schools in Hockey East is lacking. I would hope other Massachusetts hockey fans would find this information discouraging and, frankly, infuriating.  Can Coach Micheletto win despite the department not supporting the team adequately?  Sure.  Win consistently?  Perhaps.  But it certainly makes his job that much harder.

In the wake of Cahoon’s departure McCutcheon was asked if the football upgrade meant hockey was being pushed to the back burner.  He responded by saying, “We have not reduced our support to hockey by one cent because of football. We’re committed to hockey as much now as we’ve always been. Does it mean we have a blank check? No. But we will continue to support it the same way.”  Well, the above data suggests support to hockey was reduced by more than one cent and is not being funded the same way.  If McCutcheon wants to be trusted on this subject and affirm his support of the only UMass team playing in an elite conference, I say “Show me the money.”

UMass remains at #7 in CHN’s Hockey East Power Rankings.

Don’t look now but Yale, which UMass will face in a couple weeks, was named CHN’s Team of the Week.

Recruit Update

Last week’s odd schedule of games on Sunday, Tuesday, and Saturday along with a major holiday in the middle prevented me from posting a recruit update last week.  So there’s a lot of catching up to do.  Be sure to scroll down to an interesting article on Patrick Lee.

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
5 GP / 1 G / 0 A / 1 Pts / 30 PIM / –2
I now understand why Ohio State fans were worried about Gallacher’s penchant for taking a lot of penalties.  Gallacher, injured to start the season, played just two games before being hit with an eight game suspension by the USHL for an infraction.  He comes back and then three games later is now suspended another eight games for a cross-check.  Certainly this type of play is something that hopefully he learns from and gets away from before he ever gets to Amherst.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2013
19 GP / 5 G / 3 A / 8 Pts / 35 PIM / -1
Gillespie has been pretty quiet since we last checked in with him, only one assist in his last five games.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Salisbury is scheduled to play their first game this week.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Malden Catholic’s first game is on 12/15

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
19 GP / 10 G / 11 A / 21 Pts / 28 PIM / +5
Kravchenko continues to contribute regularly for his team, grabbing two goals, including a shorthander, and two assists in his last five games.  He’s currently 11th in the league in goals and 8th in points.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2014
24GP / 10 G / 12 A / 22 Pts / 6 PIM / 0
Lee has had a goal and two assists in his last five games.  This article from the end of October regarding Lee trying out for the Canada West junior team gives us a little more info about his recruitment.  It seems UMass beat out Ohio State and Minnesota State for his services.  It also mentions that Lee is a 2014 recruit, not a 2013 as originally thought.  Lee did not end up making the roster for this year’s junior championships however.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
KUA plays its first game this week.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
8 GP / 0 G / 1 A / 1 Pts / 4 PIM
No points for Smith in his recent games

Frank Vatrano– LW/C – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2013
11 GP / 8 G / 4 A / 12 Pts / 12 PIM
Vatrano had three goals and two assists in his last three games.  He’s leading the Junior Bruins in goals despite only having played a little more than half as many games as the rest of the roster.

Branden Gracel was named a UMass Co-Player of the Week, shared with football’s Rob Blanchflower.

The Collegian has this feature on former Minuteman captain T.J. Syner and how he’s faring in the pros.  Syner was one of the more exciting players in recent UMass history and it’s great to see him get a chance to play AHL hockey and perhaps beyond (if Gary Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs ever decide we get to have NHL hockey again).

A couple videos to share.  First here’s a look at what the UMass hockey team members are thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Personally, I’m thankful that Joel Hanley is thankful for Dunkin’ Donuts, because so am I.

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You can see that a lot of players are thankful for their mustaches.  Here’s why:

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Be sure to support Coach Mick this Movember to help battle prostate cancer.

Polls & Awards

Hockey East owns the top two spots in this week’s rankings.  Boston College’s win over #11 Dartmouth kept them as the top team in the country while New Hampshire moves up to #2 win after getting a win and tie out at Denver and Colorado College.  Boston University moved up a spot to #9.  Massachusetts is back in the Also Receiving Votes category, along with Providence, Northeastern, and Lowell.  Quinnipiac moved up to #16 after beating Providence and tying UMass.

New Hampshire’s successful weekend out west gains them the Team of the Week and Player of the Week honors in this week’s Hockey East awards.  Kevin Boyle and Brendan Gracel were named Top Performers for what they accomplished this past week.  The release also notes that Boyle is currently 6th best in the country in terms of goals against average and save percentage.

The Collegian has their recap of Saturday’s tie against the Bobcats of Quinnipiac.

The department has announced the locations for the remaining UMass hockey radio shows.  Damn, I was really hoping Union Brewhouse in Weymouth or Stars in Hingham would make the list…

Quinnipiac Recap

Quinnipiac lived up to their reputation as a defensive force and as a result got a 2-2 tie yesterday at the Mullins Center, despite the Minutemen outplaying them for long stretches in the middle of the game.  For most of the first period the Bobcats did an excellent job of getting in every passing lane and disrupting each rush by the Minutemen into their zone.  As a UMass only managed five shots in the opening period.  Luckily one of those shots resulted in a shorthanded goal by Conor Sheary, setup by an excellent play by Kevin Czepiel to gather the loose puck and center it for a skill assist.  That goal tied the game at one apiece after the Bobcats took an early lead just a few minutes into the game.

The Minutemen appeared to make some adjustments during the first intermission because they were able to move the puck and overcome the Bobcats’ stifling defense much better in the second.  However, they were still only able to get one goal during that period past Quinnipiac goaltender Eric Hartzell, despite 17 total shots.  Still Rocco Carzo’s power play goal gave the Minutemen the lead going into the final period.

However in the third period Quinnipiac would seize the momentum as they were able to clamp down on the UMass offense yet again.  They were able to translate that momentum into a tying goal when defensemen Mike Dalhuisen threw a puck to the net that somehow got in just under the crossbar.  From then on Quinnipiac surged while, yet again, the Minutemen faded.  By the time overtime started UMass looked very tired out there, reminiscent of earlier games where they lost late leads.  Luckily, the Bobcats were not able to find the back of the net in the extra frame, but it wasn’t for lack of trying as the puck rarely made it out of the UMass zone.

I guess a tie against a ranked team is a positive for this team, but it was tough not to walk out of the Mullins a little disappointed.  UMass showed in the second period that they were the better skilled team yet an inability to finish combined with what has become a familiar third period and overtime malaise prevented them from getting a nice signature out of conference win.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Kevin Czepiel
I thought Czepiel battling being aggressive on the penalty kill, taking the puck away from the Bobcats, and having the wherewithal to center the puck to Conor Sheary was the play of the game.  Therefore I’m giving him my player of the game as well.

The Republican dubs the game a “sloppy affair”.

Quinnipiac Preview

#18 Quinnipiac Bobcats 8-3-1 (4-0-0)  2nd ECAC

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Massachusetts Minutemen 4-5-1 (3-5-1) T-5th Hockey East

The Massachusetts hockey team will play just their second non-conference game of the year later today.  After running a gauntlet of early season games against top Hockey East foes like Boston College, Boston University, and New Hampshire today they’ll take on one of the best so far from the ECAC, the #18 Quinnipiac Bobcats.  It’ll be a welcome break from league games for the Minutemen, but also a chance to see how they stack up against other conferences.

The Bobcats are undefeated within their own conference so far, a perfect 4-0-0.  But out of conference it’s been a little different.  They have some key wins, including road victories over Maine and Providence.  But they somehow also dropped a game to AIC at home.  They also dropped a game to Colgate in a matchup that did not count in the ECAC standings.  Still, the wins they have accumulated is enough for them to gain a ranking in the most recent USCHO poll.

The Bobcats have gotten the job done with defense so far this season.  The 1.75 goals they’ve given up per game is 3rd lowest in the country.  So is their 94.3% penalty kill.  They’ve only given up more than two goals in two of their dozen games this season.  Goaltender Eric Hartzell has been a big reason for their defensive dominance.  So far he has a goals against average of 1.53 and a save percentage of .927.  Against UMass he’s had mixed success.  Last year he only gave up two goals to the Minutemen in a 5-2 Bobcat win.  The previous year in Amherst he only lasted one period, pulled after two goals in the 5-2 UMass win.

Offensively the Bobcats are scoring 2.67 goals per game, pretty much the same as UMass.  Unlike the Minutemen they’ve struggled on the power play however, converting on just 15.5% of their chances.  What’s more interesting though is that they’ve given up four shorthanded goals, second most in the country.  The Minutemen will have to focus most of their attention on senior forward Jeremy Langlois who leads the team with six goals and 11 points.  Fellow senior forward Russell Goodman has also played well, scoring four goals including three game winners for the Bobcats.

For UMass they’ll have to shake off the turkey hangover and make sure they’re ready to play.  Last Sunday they learned the hard way what happens when you’re not mentally prepared to play hockey.  They’ll also have to generate their own energy and motivation as it’s likely going to a smaller and quieter crowd at the Mullins Center for this holiday weekend game. I think the game will come down to special teams.  UMass will have to make sure to keep Quinnipiac’s power play off the board and in general keep them to just a goal or two.  At the same time the Minuteman power play will have to find a to score with the extra man.  They’ve already done so against teams with equally successful penalty kills like UNH and BC.  Hopefully they can find a way to do it again.

Beer The Triangle
The Hangar had a special “Black Wednesday” earlier this week where some top notch stouts and porters from across the country filled all the taps.  They included the likes of Wormtown Norm, Founders Breakfast Stout, and Sierra Nevada Narwhal.  Those are some leftovers I can look forward to.

The Republican preview says today will be a clash of styles.

Vermont Recap

Many of the circumstances that surrounded Sunday’s drubbing at the hands of Lowell existed last night as well.  You had a game being played on a day when the team usually does not have to worry about playing.  Due to that, the Mullins would be filled with a small, unenthusiastic crowd.  And they were playing a team that may be near the bottom of the standings that had some extra motivation.  For the Catamounts I think wanting to prove something to their former staff that now resides on the home bench at the Mullins Center was a motivator.  However, they were able to overcome all that and beat Vermont in convincing fashion in the annual holiday tradition game by a score of 3-1.

I won’t comment too extensively on the game since I was not able to make it out there, for good reason.  But I was able to watch the video stream of the game while listening to Brock and Adam (who I think are doing an excellent job so far in their new roles).  There are two main takeaways I think from last night’s game.  First, the team did another good job defensively after giving up a touchdown and two point conversion against Lowell.  I think a lot of this improved defense had to do with the return of Kevin Boyle and Mike Busillo.

It’s obvious that Boyle is the team’s number one goaltender and has given them nothing but solid, consistent play.  Boyle is statistically the second best goaltender in the league and save for injury or some kind of implosion there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in net every game.  Mike Busillo returned to the lineup and by all accounts played well.  He finished with a +2 rating and led the team with three blocked shots.  While it doesn’t always tell the story of defensive play, his +5 rating is tops on the team.

The other main takeaway is that it was the key players who UMass needs to rely on who stepped up offensively.  Branden Gracel had two goals.  Mike Pereira and Conor Sheary both had a couple nice assists to set up goals.  Pereira has now had six points in the last five games after going without any in his first five.  I also thought he played exceptionally well on defense last night, an area of his game he continues to focus on.  Sheary now has registered a point in eight of his last nine games.  While I hope we start seeing some more goal scoring from him, as he only has one on the season,  he has been able to make a positive impact on offense consistently.  The other goal was scored by Conor Allen who continues to be perhaps the top all around player for the Minutemen, given his contributions on offense and defense so far.  He’s currently 7th among the league defensemen in scoring.

Thanksgiving dinner should taste a little better for the players after last night.  Losing, or really even tying the Catamounts, would’ve made for a disastrous last five days.  The team needed a win after managing just a point against a struggling Maine team and then getting blasted by an underachieving Lowell team, and they got it.  With the win UMass now finds themselves tied for 5th place in Hockey East and just a point behind Providence for home ice.  That’s certainly something to be thankful for.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Branden Gracel
Gracel’s two goal game last night was the first of his college career.  Both came due to hustle and heads up play.  His first came when he was pressing Vermont in the attacking zone and was able to jump on a puck and then skate in for the score.  On the second it was Mike Pereira who took the puck away from the Catamounts and made a great cross ice pass to a streaking Gracel.  Gracel also got things done in the faceoff circle, winning 15 of his 20 chances.

Last night’s highlights from UMass Athletics

The Gazette’s recap highlights the sequence where UMass was able to kill a 5 on 3 as the key play last night.  The penalty kill has improved nearly 10 points to 85% from where it finished last year.

Here’s the game story from the Republican.

The Collegian recap highlights the defensive and goaltending efforts.

UMass drops to #7 in the College Hockey News Hockey East power rankings.

Vermont Preview

Vermont Catamounts 2-4-2 (2-4-2) 6th Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 3-5-1 (2-5-1) T-7th Hockey East

Only a chance for an abbreviated preview due to the odd scheduling of the last few days. However I think it’s safe to say that most fans are surprised that Vermont comes into the traditional Turkey Tuesday Tilt as the better team in the Hockey East standings than UMass. The Catamounts were not expected to do much, picked last in the conference by just about everyone. But they come into tomorrow’s game in 6th place gaining two wins and two ties in their 8 games so far.

The Catamounts six league points is only one less than what they accumulated all of last season. So far they’ve gained ties on the road with Lowell and Merrimack to go with home wins over Providence and Northeastern this past Sunday. It’s pretty easy to see the key to Vermont’s success so far. When they’ve been able to hold their opponents to two or less goals, they’ve won or tied. In all their losses their opponents have scored three goals or more. To help keep their opponents off the board UVM has gotten solid goaltending from freshman Brody Hoffman who has started all eight games for them. Thus far he has a 2.78 goals against average to go with a .910 save percentage.

Vermont is still struggling on offense though, putting just 1.88 goals per game in their opponents’ net. However UMass will have to keep an eye on their power play which is converting at a respectable 18.1% so far this season. Offensively Vermont is led by senior Chris McCarthy who has four goals to go with three assists this season. Junior forward Pete Massar is the only other Catamount with multiple goals with two.

For UMass the trick to winning is to show up and play like the game means something. Now I don’t want to diminish some of the factors affecting the team currently, like the wacky schedule and having players dealing with mid-season injuries. But there’s absolutely no excuse for what fans witnessed on Sunday. Tomorrow should be a battle of competing motivations. With a win Vermont perhaps could be looking to send a message to their former coaching staff; John Micheletto, Joey Gasparini, and John Gobeil. UMass on the other hand should look to send a message that Sunday was an embarrassing aberration that will not happen again. Last Friday UMass was ahead of three teams in the standings; Maine, Lowell, and Vermont. Just a few days later Maine has gained ground, Lowell is now tied with UMass in 7th place, and Vermont is actually ahead of UMass currently. A loss would be unspeakable at this stage of the season and would mean that the Minutemen will have garnered just one point against those three teams in the course of five days. I don’t like thinking of games in November as must-win, but tomorrow may just be that.

Beer The Triangle
Unfortunately between work and the horror that is Thanksgiving week traffic, there’s no way I can make it to Amherst in time to watch the game. That means I’ll be sitting at home, listening to Brock and Adam, and cracking open a beer. First up will likely be a Dogfish Head 90 Minute courtesy of UMasshoops.com legend Swampy.

First up, let’s put the nail in the coffin of last night.

The Republican’s Dick Baker has his game story.

College Hockey News has their takeaways.

Looking ahead to tomorrow we have the preview from the Gazette.

Micheletto is treating tomorrow’s matchup against his former team like any other game per the Republican.

Vermont is ready for familiar faces reads the headline of the Burlington Free Press’ preview.

Not surprisingly UMass is no longer receiving votes in the USCHO poll. They also got shutout of any awards or Top Performers in this week’s Hockey East honors.

T.J. Syner scored his first AHL goal.

Sunday Recap

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the recap of tonight’s game because, quite honestly, it’s not worth my effort.  It’s also not really needed.  UMass lost by an 8-2 score because they looked like they would’ve rather spent their Sunday watching NFL football than than playing a Hockey East conference game.  This team flat out did not show up and the result was total and complete embarrassment at the hands of the River Hawks.

Usually I try to look for positives to build off of, even in losses.  This isn’t one of those times.  There is absolutely nothing positive to take from this game.  Even the two goals scored by the Minutemen were 5 on 3 gifts that should’ve been scored anyway.  The negatives were plenty.  UMass allowed a team that had scored just 13 goals in eight games, or 1.62 goals per game, to put eight total goals on the board.  Ridiculous.  Lowell came into the game absolutely reeling, losing four of their last five with the only win coming against last place Maine.  UMass made them look like the best team in the country.

I’m sure the first question fans will ask is why Jeff Teglia made the start tonight, his first since the end of January last year.  Originally I figured Coach Micheletto did not want Boyle to have to play three games in five days.  But in his post game press conference the coach says Teglia got the start because the staff thought he gave the team the best chance to win.  Honestly, I’m not going to make too much into the goaltending decision.  Teglia was not the problem tonight as the guys in front of him did absolutely nothing to help him out.  I was a little surprised to see Anthony Raiola out there instead of Mike Busillo, but again it wouldn’t have made a difference.  It wasn’t talent or inexperience that hurt the Minutemen tonight.  They just played like they didn’t care.

Thus ends an extremely disappointing weekend.  The Minutemen had a chance to gain some real points in the standings playing the 9th and 10th place teams in the league.  Instead they come away with just one point.  And even that lone point came only because of some last second heroics on Friday.  A lot of fans have tried to make the point that this team is much better than their record and they’d be fine once they started playing some of the teams further down the standings.  I wasn’t completely sold on that, especially since last year’s team found ways to beat Boston College and Boston University, but was optimistic that the wins would come once the schedule became easier.  Instead this team looks exactly as good as their 2-5-1 Hockey East record.

If UMass loses on Tuesday to a Vermont team now ahead of them in the standings, I think it’ll be time to rethink the expectations of this team.  The hope was Micheletto would be able to take over this veteran UMass squad and find success quickly by making minor adjustments.   After suffering one of the worst losses in the program’s recent history, one has to wonder if perhaps that was a bit too presumptuous.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Mike Pereira
Pereira was one of the few, maybe the only, player who appear to be ready to play tonight, scoring a goal on six shots.

Luckily for all of us there are no game stories available from this game currently.

Friday Recap

Things looked dire for the Minutemen on their trip to Orono last night but luckily a late goal by Conor Allen allowed UMass to come back from an early two goal deficit and grab a 2-2 tie.  Since I didn’t watch the game I won’t comment on it too extensively, but just from the radio broadcast and box score I think there are some positives and negatives we can take from the result.

First off, it was great to see the team battle hard to tie the game up at the end.  Allen’s goal came with just 1:08 left and Kevin Boyle pulled from the net.  A loss against last place Maine could’ve had long term repercussions for the Minutemen.  Especially when you start to think about tiebreakers later in the year.  Getting out of Alfond with a point makes for an easier bus ride home for the team.  The other UMass goal came on the power play from Steven Guzzo, his third on the season.  The Minutemen have now scored a power play goal in all eight of their games this season.  Boyle had another strong game as starter.

While it’s good to get out of Maine with the point, it was disappointing that the team gave up an early 2-0 lead to a last place team that was only scoring 1.36 goals per game going into yesterday.  The second goal came on a Black Bear power play, something they had plenty of last night.  Maine ended up having five extra man advantages in total, and while UMass killed four of the chances it was tough to get any momentum on their side with the constant interruptions.  Another negative was who wasn’t in the lineup.  Eric Filiou and Evan Stack were both out with injuries suffered against Providence.  Shane Walsh, who has made solid contributions as a freshman, was also out with an undisclosed injury.  With those guys missing Coach Micheletto had Adam Phillips dressed as a forward tonight, but he ended the night with no shots on net and a –1 rating.

UMass may look back upon this game as a missed opportunity or maybe as a hard fought point.  I think a lot of that depends on what happens Sunday against Lowell.  If they can beat the struggling River Hawks at home the Minutemen will have grabbed 3 points on weekend, which is always a good thing.  If they drop the game against Lowell then they’ll have managed just one point against the two teams at the bottom of the Hockey East standings.  That would be very disappointing considering how well the team has played recently

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Conor Allen
Allen gets the honor for his game tying goal with just over a minute left.  He finished the game with three shots total and an even rating.  It’s a little troubling to see him take three penalties in a game, since he’s been so disciplined to date.  However, if there’s a bright spot it’s that only one of those led to a Maine power play.  Allen remains the anchor on the defense and a legitimate threat on offense.

Here’s the game story from the Republican.

Here’s a recap from the same writer as above, but for the Bangor paper.