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UMass Dominated By UConn In Finale; Will Travel to Notre Dame For Playoffs

The Massachusetts hockey team concluded its regular season much as it began way back in October.  By being utterly dominated.  In the season opener it was an 8-1 defeat at the hands of Boston University, who ultimately went on to win the Hockey East regular season title.  On Friday UMass travelled to Hartford to take on UConn and fell to the Huskies by the score of 4-0.

I was only able to listen to the game so I can’t comment too much as to what transpired.  But needless to say, for a number of different reasons, this was an extremely disappointing outcome.  The Minutemen actually had something worthwhile to play for heading into their lone game of the weekend.  The odds were not in their favor, but if they won and Merrimack was swept by New Hampshire it meant that UMass would stay out of the cellar and grab the 11 seed for the Hockey East playoffs.  That doesn’t sound like much, but considering how poorly things were going earlier in the year just staying out of last place would’ve meant a lot.

Well you wouldn’t have known that the team had any extra motivation with they way they started the game.  UMass would get outshot 13-3 in the first period and at the end of one UConn had a 2-0 lead.  Now this was a Husky team that only had 5 goals total in their six previous games.  And in those six games they had given up 34 goals.  Yet right from the start it was clear that UConn had come to play while UMass hadn’t.  They would play better in the final two periods, outshooting the Huskies 26-19.  But they were totally unable to get their power play going, despite having 6 chances, and never got on the scoreboard.  The Huskies in the meantime scored twice more, giving them their highest goal output since a 1/6 game against Army.  The Huskies averaged just 1.88 goals per game in their initial year in Hockey East yet UMass gave up 4 goals to them in each game played.

I find it mind-boggling that UMass could not get up for this game.  As mentioned, they needed help, but with a win they had a chance to improve their standing.  Another motivation was to avoid a season sweep and three game losing streak to the Huskies.  That didn’t happen.  Yes, UMass did have some challenges.  Injuries have been an issue in recent games and Coach Micheletto had to dress both Maddison Smiley and Brennan Baxandall as forwards in the game.  Still, while depth may have been issue, all of the team’s top players were dressed.  That should’ve been enough to score a goal against a team that was struggling mightily.  That should’ve been enough to keep a team that had been pretty anemic all season from scoring four goals.  It should’ve but it didn’t.

So as a result UMass finishes the regular season with a record of 10-21-2.  Their league record of 5-16-1 results in them finishing in last place in Hockey East, two points behind 11th place Merrimack, who ultimately did get swept by UNH.  If UMass had won on Friday they’d be taking the drive up the Pike to face Northeastern in the opening round of the playoffs.  Instead they’ll have to take a plane trip west and take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.  Not only did the Irish sweep UMass at the Mullins Center in December but they’re playing pretty well as of late.  It’ll be a tall task if UMass wants to extend their season.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Maddison Smiley
It’s tough to find a POTG from Friday when they were thoroughly outplayed, but Smiley continued to play well as the defenseman was called to play up front.  His four shots were the second most on the team and he was not on the ice for any of the UConn goals.

Recap and Box Score from UMass Athletics.

The Collegian has their recap as well as a look at the offense’s struggles in the loss.

USCHO has their game story.

Here’s the opposing view from the Hartford Courant.

Captain Troy Power, as part of his internship with the athletic department, has this interesting profile on hockey alum Bob Joyce ‘50, who still follows and supports the team from his home in California.

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4 Comments

  1. Good turnout for the game …. can we EVER beat UCon at anything? Oh yeah there’s Women’s Lacrosse …… Maybe there’s a Minuteman Miracle waiting in South Bend!

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    • The crowds they got all season in Hartford were remarkable. It’s sad to compare the state of the two programs right now.

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  2. umassattack

     /  March 3, 2015

    I love college hockey, it’s my favorite sport. I can’t wait for the next October to roll around to get at it again. The Minutemen are our team. We do like a handful of other teams as well, but we’ve been watching the Minutemen for the past 15 years now, including attending a half dozen away games each season. The 2007 season was GREAT, and a couple of those right after it weren’t to bad either. Poor second halves ruined a couple of potential very good seasons.
    These last 3-4 years have really been tough to watch this team though. Every now and then they come out and give you a great game that for a moment makes you think they might really start to go some where. But then the next weekend rolls around and you watch a different team, a team that makes you wonder if they really even care about being out there?
    Looking forward to this coming October I hope this team comes together with some new blood in goal and on defense. There are definitely some players here who seem to be able to score, and score a lot at times. If Brandon Montour is here with some new decent blue liners and this team can play some consistent defense, and cut down on shots to the net they could have a decent season.
    As far as the coaching goes, we the fans can only judge on W-L-T and what we observe when we’re at the game. When a team is on the ice in a big meaningful game and they don’t perform or appear to not be up for the game I think you have to look at the men on the bench and ask why isn’t this team in the right frame of mind to play? We witnessed a few games this year where the Minutemen didn’t even look like they were in the same league with those they were playing against, there were a couple of games where most of the team actually played like they couldn’t get off the ice fast enough. Then they gave us a couple of games where we thought MAYBE they could get hot near the end and scare some people. Unfortunately I think the Connecticut game may have put an end to that idea.
    However, I would still love to see a Minor Miracle On Ice and see UM knock off Notre Dame. Looking at the final (9) games of this season UM went 3-5-1 while ND went 5-2-2. UM and ND scored almost the same amount of goals in those (9) games, UM-25 ND-26. The big difference though was the amount of goals each gave up in those games, UM-35 ND-18. Huge difference in goal tending and in defense. UM has done really well while short handed, but again their problem seems to be a dismal power play, so they don’t make up any ground when the opportunity presents it self.
    I hope things change with this team this post season and in the up-coming season so the Mullins Center starts bringing in those 5000-6000 fans per game again, and the occasional 7000-8000+ fans for the BU and BC games like the preceding years. The Mullins Center is the 6th largest venue in D-I hockey out of the (59) teams. This year they averaged 2581 fans which was good enough for 17th in attendance. FYI-Connecticut in their first season in Hockey East averaged 5396 fans per game.

    GO MINUTEMAN

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