Vermont Preview

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


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 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.