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.
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.