Penalties Prevent UMass From Completing The Upset Over #2 BU

It’s like déjà vu all over again.  Mimicking what we saw in the season opener the Minutemen hung tough with Boston University for two periods and found themselves down only a goal going into the final period.  They had momentum and a chance to tie or win but ultimately surrendered six goals in the third period, just as they did in October, getting blown out 9-5.  There were a few new twists in this one from the earlier matchup.  First is that unlike when the teams met in the season opener, the Terriers are ranked #2 in the country and this would’ve been a signature win for UMass.  Another difference was the Minutemen actually taking the lead twice in the final stanza.  But the main differentiation was how the team lost.  In October it was poor defense that did them in.  Last night the story was penalties, penalties, and more penalties.

First, I have to be clear that I was not in attendance last night and did not watch the online stream.  My opinion of the game and what transpired is based on the UMass radio broadcast, Twitter, speaking to people in attendance, media recaps, and the box score.

BU took an early 2-0 lead in the game thanks to a couple hooking penalties from Brandon Montour.  The first Terrier goal came on the power play while the second came just a few seconds after the latter one expired.  Freshman Dominic Trento netted his third goal of the season later in the period to cut the BU lead in half going into the second period.  Each team would grab a goal in the second period with Ahti Oksanen scoring for BU and Troy Power notching a power play goal for the Minutemen.  Like October, UMass found themselves just one goal behind going into the third period with the score 3-2 at that point.

From the start of the third, things got pretty weird and wild.  Terrier Evan Rodrigues was called for a five minute major boarding penalty, but no game misconduct, for a hit on Brandon Montour.  The Minutemen would score two power play goals during the major penalty, first by Shane Walsh, who now has 7 goals in his last 8 games, and the second by Frank Vatrano.  The extra man goals allowed UMass to take the 4-3 lead.  Oksanen tied the game at 4 with the first of those power play scores, netting his second goal of the game.  With 11:32 left though freshman Riley McDougall would score his third goal in his last four games to retake the lead 5-4.

The Minutemen would hold the lead until just over seven minutes left in the game. In the span of 6 minutes and 11 seconds though BU would get six power play opportunities and BU would end up scoring on four of them.  UMass did not get any power play opportunities in that time.  In fact, between the Rodrigues board penalty until a scrum with one minute left (when the game already decided) that resulted in matching penalties for Montour and BU’s Danny O’Regan there was just one penalty called on BU, a minor for too many men.  UMass was called for six penalties in that time.

Jack Eichel got the first power play goal in that stretch, tying the game with 7:21 left.  Less than a minute later Keith Burchett would go off for goaltender interference.  Sixteen seconds after that BU would take the lead 6-5 on a power play goal from Matt Grzelyck.  Eichel would extend BU’s lead to 7-5 with an even strength goal with 4:20 left.  Oleg Yevenko would go off for a slash a minute and a half later followed shortly by Marc Hetnik for tripping, giving BU a two man advantage.  BU would score a power play goal 16 seconds into the two man advantage and then cap off their scoring under a minute later with Troy Power in the box.  Five Terrier goals, four on the power play, in a six and a half minute span turned UMass’ 5-4 lead and prospect of upsetting #2 BU into a 9-5 embarrassing blowout.

Did UMass get screwed by some home ice officiating favoring highly ranked BU by Hockey East referees Tim Benedetto and Jack Millea?  I don’t know.  Again, I didn’t watch so I can’t personally comment on the quality of the calls.  Some I’ve spoken to have said that the string of penalties that led to the four late BU power play goals were all pretty weak and seemed to be an overabundance of make up calls for the Rodrigues major.  Then again, some have said the major penalty on Rodrigues that led to two UMass goals and them taking the lead was heavy handed in the first place.  Whether the calls were legit or not, there are two major factors that put UMass at a disadvantage when looking at this situation.  One, we already know penalties are a huge problem for this team as they’ve led Hockey East in PIM for much of the season.  That gives them a reputation in addition to showing that they have problems staying out of the box.  The team flat out takes way too many stick penalties and maybe it’s a totally different game that the officials can’t blow up in the third if Montour doesn’t take two hooking infractions in the early minutes.  Second, the penalty kill for UMass has to improve.  Yes, maybe the officiating was biased, but the PK unit and goaltenders must make an effort to keep the puck out of the net.  Four of the BU power play goals were scored 14, 12, 16, 16 seconds into the power play.  Quick extra man goals like that seem to be indicative of a poor penalty kill.

My gut tells me that there was some pretty poor officiating going on in the game.  My guess is Benedetto and his crew wanted to “even things out” after the Rodridgues major that led to two UMass goals and then just way over compensated.  But UMass still had its chances to win with better play before, after, and during those penalties in the third.  Did the better team win?  Probably.  Then penalties only amplified problems we already knew this team had; playing undisciplined and a bad penalty kill.  Hopefully this game presents an opportunity to address those issues.  The coaching staff and team are probably pretty frustrated by what occurred on Friday.  But going into next weekend they’ll have to focus on the fact that they played with one of the elite teams in the country for much of the game and if not for the circus-like last ten minutes could’ve beaten them.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Patrick Lee
Lee led the Minutemen in points with his 3 assists.  He also finished the game a +1.  Most importantly, he stayed out of the penalty box.

How did Micheletto feel about the officiating?  I think this tweet from Kat Hasenauer says it all:


Recap and Box Score from UMass Athletics.  This is one of those box scores you probably want to check out.

Game story from the Collegian.

For the BU perspective, their recap from the BU Daily Free Press.

The USCHO recap includes some quotes from Micheletto on the officiating, including, “I think I would prefer to decline the five-minute major if that’s the way the game is going to devolve at that point.”



  1. Mel

     /  February 1, 2015

    17 goals allowed in two games against BU. Seven games this year in which they have allowed 6 goals or more. Granted, the D has somewhat improved lately, but the system is still terrible and when they play good teams (Merimack aside, although I don’t really know how good that team is) they are going to get throttled. 58th in the country in team defense at 4.31 goals against. Only Niagara is worse at 4.35. We need a new coach or a new system…..or both.


  2. George

     /  February 2, 2015

    That all may be true. This was nothing like October. IT was a BETTER BU team and a better UMass team (a long way from that “preseason” game in the fall). It’s just BU is that much better, we were chasing and when they stormed, we took penalties, good and bad. I was there….from my prospective not the most blatant 5 minute major, but it’s a bad habit to chase that call like the refs did, including a huge dive/ trip called that happened behind the net. Again, the only way this resembled October was how many times BU scored in the third period. It was a game at 7-5 and under 5 minutes to go and the refs heaven forbid reviewing a goaltender interference non goal. Great, Dill was knocked out onto Commonwealth Ave and they wave off the goal. And the BU charging/goaltender interference penalty is on #…..oh, no penalty? Mick had every right to be peeved about the officiating. HERE’S THE PROBLEM, HE’S CRIED WOLF TOO MANY TIMES. Toot had the same problem and they tuned him out too.


  3. Mel

     /  February 2, 2015

    I hear you George, but I am sticking with my belief that the system is horrible and it will never win in Hockey East.


  4. George

     /  February 2, 2015

    Mel, I never addressed the system, sorry. Awful, we’re in agreement. Entertaining when it works, embarrassing when it doesn’t. An example why no other teams employ this run and gun system was on display yet again last Friday night.


  5. gable

     /  February 2, 2015

    still pathetic home ice zebras-targeting Montour- umass’ best player….how many penalties on eichel??


  6. HockeyFan

     /  February 3, 2015

    You have to take a look at the penalties though. Looking at the scoresheet, it looked like UMass took 6 stick penalties which is unacceptable to take, especially to a team like BU. The roughing and interference calls you can live with, but not 6 stick calls that can be avoided and should be avoided when playing a team like BU in their own rink. Just personal thought


  7. Rex

     /  February 3, 2015

    I agree, although not at game it sounded like they were a different team friday night and against a much better BU team. We shall see how they do this weekend. I like the recent turnaround, if they can get some consistency from the goal tending position this weekend it could be a step in the right direction.


  8. RDW

     /  February 3, 2015

    Coach Mick E. Mouse, too arrogant plus too few wins=4 years and done. Never mind that he chased all the fans away. Another long year ahead, after this year. Then he will be gone.


  9. Rex

     /  February 4, 2015

    Umass hockey fans have always been a fickle bunch. If you win they show up in masses, lose and they dont come. I do think however, if given another year he needs to change the style a bit to compete in this league. With another strong class coming in next year, he has the players to make it work, hopefully he can adapt and get this program heading in the right direction. It still all comes back to the play of the goalie. They havent had a consistent one since dainton. All the ones the last few years have shown flashes of brilliance but could never follow those games up with good games. I do like what I have seen the last 8-9 games compared to start of season and hope it continues.


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