A couple weeks ago UMass dominated top ranked Boston College in Amherst and were able to take a 3-0 lead on the Eagles into the third period. From there the wheels fell off and the Minutemen would ultimately fall 5-4 in overtime. This afternoon’s game wasn’t quite the same as the teams battled each other hard for the first two periods and were tied at 1-1 going into the third. UMass went ahead 2-1 with an early goal but the last half of the period was pretty much dominated by BC and with two goals in the final 11 minutes, BC took the game and the season series.
After the first late loss to BC I pretty much chalked it up to the team getting tired since they were playing with only five defensemen after Joel Hanley was given a misconduct just minutes into the game. However when looking at that first loss to BC, losing a 2-0 lead at home to Boston University, and today’s loss I think it’s safe to say the team has a problem closing games. Specifically, given what I’ve seen and how they’ve played in games, this team seems to have a significant issue with late game conditioning. This team just looks dog tired right around ten minutes left in the third period. Opponent forwards are still flying around the ice but it seems like a struggle just for UMass to clear pucks in front of the net and get an outlet pass out of the zone. The Minutemen have now allowed 11 goals from the third period on and only 7 combined in the first and second. Whether it really is conditioning or something else, UMass is going to have a tough time beating the better teams in Hockey East without finding a way to hold a late lead.
With that out of the way, as you can imagine when the team narrowly loses to the #1 team on their home ice, there was also a lot to be positive of. Frankly the team looked a little flat to start but I was really impressed by how well they rebounded after BC scored a power play goal just a few minutes into the game. From there it was both teams playing hard, skating up and down the ice in an entertaining, up-tempo game. Steven Guzzo had a great game, scoring the first UMass goal and nearly scoring another later on but was turned away by a spectacular save by Parker Milner. Troy Power had a multiple point game, helping setup Guzzo’s goal and then giving UMass the lead later on. Except for the late goals the defense again played well. Joel Hanley returned from injury and Mike Busillo stayed in the lineup with Adam Phillips sitting out. Kevin Boyle did well and net and certainly looks like he might have an edge in the goaltender battle at this point.
Overall, there is a lot to build off from this game. This was a tough opponent in a place where the Minutemen don’t have a lot of success, but they scored a couple goals and did a good job keeping the talented Eagles off the board in the first 50 minutes. With their power play goal tonight UMass has the second best power play in the conference. And again UMass can proudly say they can play toe to toe with the best team in the country…almost. Good teams figure out a way to finish consistently. Friday showed us they’re capable of stepping up and grabbing the win. Today showed us that they aren’t quite to the point where they can do it as much as they need to.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Troy Power
I’ve thought Power has made solid contributions on offense while playing on the top two lines so far this year so it was good to see him have a breakout game with a goal and assist. It’s only the second multiple point game of his college career. His goal also resulted in the first point of the year for Mike Pereira so hopefully the two of them paired with Branden Gracel is a line that will benefit all three of them.
Coach Micheletto says in the Republican game story that he’s not worried about the pattern of losing late in games.