Friday Recap

Well after UMass’ successful special teams so far this season was the focus of my own and the media’s game previews going into last night, it was easy to see what led to the 1-0 home loss to the Northeastern Huskies.  UMass’ special teams totally failed them.  The Minutemen had four power play opportunities in last night’s game, including five straight minutes in the waning moments of the third period thanks to a major penalty by the Huskies.  UMass had a grand total of 9:46 with the extra man advantage.  Despite all this they managed just six shots on the power play and could not manage any goals.  Even worse, the lone goal of the game was scored shorthanded by the Huskies on a fluky play where a confused Husky got on the ice late on a line change, setting up an easy breakaway.

Northeastern goaltender Chris Rawlings deserves a lot of credit for last night, keeping the Minutemen off the board completely.  Especially impressive was his glove work in the game.  Still, you would hope the Minutemen have the weapons to at least convert once on their 31 total shots and ample power play opportunities.  Rawlings made some top notch saves but it seemed like a good portion of shots also ended up right in his chest protector, which he absorbed them, giving up minimal rebounds.  It’s also easy to keep UMass from scoring when two of its biggest scoring threats, Mike Pereira and Branden Gracel, both end the game with zero shots on goal.

The game cost the team more than just points in the Hockey East standings as both Troy Power and Darren Rowe were hurt and had to be helped to the locker room.  Their status is uncertain, but the injuries looked serious enough where you’d expect they could miss some time in the lineup.  Add their injuries to those of Shane Walsh, Evan Stack, and Emerson Auvenshine and UMass has a serious depth problem, despite their large roster.  Expect to see Zack LaRue and/or Andrew Tegeler in the lineup tonight if Walsh and Stack are not yet ready to return.  Rowe’s slot is a little easier to fill since Mike Busillo is available and in my opinion has played well enough to start every night anyway.  Coach Micheletto did say after the game that he was unhappy with the type of hits that sent them out.  I didn’t get the best look at them but fans both in the Mullins Center and watching at home said they were pretty dirty.

Whether the Huskies took liberties with their hits or not, it’s very important that UMass play with their heads tonight and not let emotion control their play.  It’s easy to want to retaliate for cheap hits in kind or want to seek revenge for your injured teammates, but this game is too important for that.  A sweep at the hands of a team they’re now tied with cannot happen.  Not only would it allow the Huskies to jump ahead in the standings but they’d also take the all important tie-breaker.

Fear The Triangle – Kevin Boyle
Boyle had yet another great game and gave his teammates every opportunity to come back and win.  While not tested a ton, as the Huskies only generated 18 shots against him, he still made some key saves on the night.  Boyle’s 1.53 goals against average is now tops in Hockey East and 4th best in the country.

UMass was the better hockey team for most of the game says the Boston Herald game story but Rawlings was the best player.

In the Gazette recap Micheletto says he was happy with how the team played despite the loss.

In the Republican story the coach says the team is capable of scoring, but just didn’t last night.

The takeaways from College Hockey News accurately notes that the defense playing well in front of Rawlings also deserves credit.