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Northeastern Recap

I’m getting straight to the point on this one.  Here are my key observations to last night’s 5-4 overtime loss to 10th place Northeastern.  With the loss the Huskies took the season series.  They now are just two points behind the Minutemen in the standings and hold the tie-breaker.  The overtime gamewinner was the first career goal by Josh Manson.  Bryan Mountain got the win after replacing Chris Rawlings in the 2nd.  Mountain was 0-6-2 coming into the game and had just one previous career win.  UMass gave up leads of 3-1 and 4-3 to end the 2nd.  Adam Frenier had the most unbelievable stats in the postgame broadcast.  Going into the game Northeastern was 0-11-0 this season when trailing after 2 periods, 0-21-2 going back to last season, and an astounding 1-40-6 looking back to the 2009-10 season.  That’s a less than 2% chance that the Huskies have come back in similar situations over the last four years.  But they did it last night.

I am extremely worried that this team looks worse now than it did in October or November.  Have I mentioned that I absolutely hate the month of February?  Granted, my father and grandfather were both born this month as well as a couple of our greatest presidents.  But I still would have no problem going straight from January to March.  Hallmark can invent another holiday to replace Valentine’s Day.  For whatever reason the shortest month of the year absolutely dooms Massachusetts hockey every goddamn year.  Right when a Boston College or, this year, a Merrimack gets better and their teams gel and they make a run into the postseason, the wheels fall off the UMass season.

Last night was some of the worst hockey the team has played all season.  The defense struggled all night, pretty blatant considering they gave up 45 shots to one of the weaker offenses in the league.  The goaltending of Steve Mastalerz was unfortunately inconsistent.  While the offense put up four goals, they still seemed disorganized.  And while I’m happy for the special team improvements from last year, there’s a point where this team has to score more 5 on 5 goals.  UMass has a +7 goal advantage on special teams but is –15 at even strength.

Outside of the ice conditions, which delayed the start of the game thirty minutes, everything was in UMass’ favor last night.  They led throughout.  They were at home.  They were playing the last place team who had just gotten swept at home.  And yet they blew it all and took the loss.  Now Maine comes into the Mullins Center this weekend with the chance to take over 8th place.  It makes you wonder how it’s come to this point where UMass is fighting just to barely make the playoffs.  But then again, this is February and we’ve now grown accustomed to exactly that at this time of year.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Mike Pereira
It’s unfortunate that Pereira has elevated his game right when the rest of the team is flat.  Last night he had a couple goals and an assist.  In the last six games he has seven goals and five assists.

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College Hockey News Recap

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5 Comments

  1. I just want to say I could not agree more with your comments. I’ve been watching this UMASS hockey team for ten years now missing only two games at home during that span. There is only one thing consistent about this team, and that is this teams inconsistency. They haven’t had a good season since 2007 when they made the NCAA’s and went to Rochester, NY as the #4 seed and beat the #1 seeded Clarkson (1-0) in OT before losing to Maine who they had recently beaten four times in a row that year.
    I was worried from the beginning of this season. I’m really not trying to get down on the new coach, but coming from Vermont who had the worst record in “HE” last season and bringing along a couple of his cohorts I just had a bad feeling about this season. I will say one positive thing that has changed at least a little is that the team does seem to be more aggressive at times than they ever were under TOOT Cahoon. It was like TOOT played this just keep the forwards a distance away from the goal, but don’t hit anyone. Opposing forwards had free rein to cruise the boards and never had to worry about being put into those boards which allowed them to have time to make a shot or pass to some one who could.
    The minutemen had a bad stretch of games just before the Ledyard Bank Tournament so I expected them to do poorly and instead they win both games including the heavily penalized Dartmouth game. They return home to begin the second half with Providence and lose them both. They go to BC where I expected them to get destroyed and they win, and then back home with BU which was the most enjoyable game I have seen them play in years. I don’t think any D-1 team could have beat them that night. However, ever since then it has been all down hill. So the only thing that can be counted on from this team is it’s inconsistency.
    Maine has been playing much better hockey in the second half as compared to the first half, and with them being (1) point behind the minutemen for the 8th playoff spot one has to assume UMASS is going to have all they can handle this weekend. If the minutemen can not rebound this weekend then this season is toast. Two games at UNH, and home and home with first place Merrimack doesn’t bode well for the minutemen.
    The defense has been lack luster. I hate to use names, but Yevenko is not getting the job done on defense. I’m sorry, but the smallest guys on this team are playing more physical than this 6′-7″ gentle giant. An opposing foreword “SHOULD” be very worried about cruising down the boards on Yevenko’s side of the ice, and they ARE NOT. And Phillips often still looks like he’s confused as a forward.
    Most teams gel and get better as the season goes on, or else they just stay as they are. However, in the minuteman’s case, at least three seasons after NCAA’s in Rochester they were a top 10 team twice, and a top 5 team once, that would be the year they won the tournament down in Estero, Fl. beating Notre Dame and Colorado College. But UMass could not even play 500 hockey during those seasons second half’s and failed to make the NCAA’s. Here again this season we’re in the second half and the minutemen are (3-7-0), with two of those wins coming against BC & BU, go figure.
    This team certainly has the talent and ability to get the job done because they have proven they can beat the best, but on some nights it looks like they plain don’t care, and/or the coaching staff has to take blame for not being able to motivate these players. The coaches can’t lace um up and go out and play, but they darn sure ought to be able to motivate these kids to be able to play, that’s where leadership come in.

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    • As disappointed as I am that Mick hasn’t been able to make an immediate impact this year, I’m not ready to draw conclusions yet. Sometimes you get the coaches that can change fortunes right away. Sometimes you don’t. As much as it sucks to sit through yet another losing season, if it means an NCAA appearance in year 3 or 4 and sustained success thereafter I’ll take it.

      I do think that the team is too talented to miss the playoffs no matter who is coaching however.

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      • I agree to a point Rocks. An exciting offense but think back to the last several years where the D and the goaltending was MUCH better. That’s what bumps you up to 6-8th this time of year. If we continue this porous play, the two teams that just played Tuesday will not be playing the third weekend in March.

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  2. Bob,
    You got to give Mick a break and a year or two see some results. While Norm Bazin’s turnaround with virtually the same players was wished upon here at Big Brother, one of Bazin’s ace’s was he had a healthy goalie that McDonald didn’t. Would McDonald have finished third? My guess is no.
    It’s funny, Toot is so highly thought of now. No question he is a great guy and that is echoed, “he does well on NESN, looks comfortable, has been to the Mullins Center, blah blah.” But it was just a year ago now where the “let’s get rid of Toot” annual threads were starting, citing exactly what you bring up: Inconsistency. We now know there is a bit more to that, but the AD getting us a new compressor, a working scoreboard and an extra Zamboni will not bump us to third place (there are somethings he can do, that’s another time). Toot will be known as good judge of hockey character and talent–look at the grades his players had and the trouble the majority WEREN’T in and also the players in the NHL right now–but as far as his motivational talents and gameday coaching, well, his record speaks for itself.
    And although he recruited some good players, they were all carbon copies of each other, that being speedy guys that can’t snipe or finish. Then when he tried offset that, you get the guy you mentioned Oleg Yevenko to join Adam Phillips. And you’re right, how has that worked out?
    And for the first time in a long time, goaltending is a worry. Prior to last season, Dainton, Quick and Winer took us through the last decade without many worries.
    Frankly, the fact they are still in the hunt surprises me. I agreed with the H.E. poll that pegged us at 9th.
    But after seeing what they could do to the BU’s and BC’s this year, it’s easy to get our expectations up. But examine how those teams are built then look at Providence, Lowell or any other big physical team. They come to OUR ice sheet and make us look silly. You have to have more than one dimension and this team doesn’t.
    Yes things have definitely opened up. 7 shorthanded goals and 7 shorthanded goals allowed is far more exciting from a fan’s perspective than reducing each by 5 or 6.
    Mick wasn’t anyone’s first choice and you mentioned UVM finished 10th last season. Mick was the wingman not the driver. But for the fun of it I’ll show you UVM’s standing each season he was there and you make the call:

    03-04: 11th of 12 (ECAC)
    04-05: 4th (ECAC)
    05-06: 6th
    06-07: 5th
    07-08: 3rd
    08-09: 3rd+ Frozen Four
    09-10: 8th
    10-11: 7th
    11-12 10th

    Seems that neither UMass or UVM could stand prosperity after making the NCAA’s. It’s hard to wait but we have to.

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