Faced with an opportunity to put together a little win streak and take the weekend series from a struggling Vermont team, the UMass hockey team showed that the only thing consistent is their inconsistency. Looking very much like the team that was swept by Providence just a couple weeks ago the Minutemen managed to generate 38 total shots but were pretty much shutdown by a freshman goaltender and a the defense in front of him. Vermont came into the game with the worst penalty kill in the conference, stopping less than 80% of opponents chances but last night they were able to shutdown all six UMass power plays, limiting them to just six shots in over 10 minutes of power play time.
The 3-2 final score actually wasn’t really that close as the Catamounts opened up an early 2-0 lead that they were able to maintain until the final seconds when UMass scored with an extra attacker. Goals were scored by Branden Gracel and Mike Pereira who continue to play well but last night they were the only players who were able finish.
That’s basically it as there’s not much more to delve into last night’s game. The team had an excellent opportunity to distance themselves from the prospect of missing the playoffs and didn’t. They also had a chance to gain ground on the Lowell River Hawks sitting in 6th place ahead of them and didn’t. In fact with a tie and come from behind win by Lowell is now tied with Merrimack in 5th place, five points ahead of them. Vermont meanwhile continues to be just behind the Minutemen while Northeastern and a suddenly hot Maine team are not far behind. UMass had the chance to go up and play a bad Vermont team and gain four points. That didn’t happen and now UMass will enter February, a month rarely kind of the program, with their chance of finishing any higher than 7th fading fast.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Branden Gracel
Gracel has not gone more than two games without registering a point all year. He’s currently 6th among Hockey East players in goals scored.
Here’s the recap from the Burlington Free Press.
Better news on the alumni front.