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View From Section U ▲ Minutemen Look To Reverse Second Half Struggles

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the challenges ahead for the Minutemen in the second half of the season in terms of schedule.  Half of their 16 games left on the season will come against teams at the top of the KRACH and USCHO rankings.  With the team currently at 6-8-4 on the season it’ll be a tough road for UMass to get back to .500 or better.  But it’s not just the opposing teams that the Minutemen have to contend with.  UMass has historically done poorly in the games that come after the holiday break.

UMass has not had a winning record in the second half of a season since the year they went to the NCAA tournament in 2006-07.  In fact, the team has struggled to play better in the second half of the season than they have in the first half during the years since that appearance.  From the 2007-08 season through last year UMass has posted a .448 win percentage in the first half of the season but just .350 in the second half.

Win Percentage
1st Half 2nd Half Total
15-16 0.444  
14-15 0.250 0.400 0.333
13-14 0.350 0.214 0.294
12-13 0.375 0.417 0.397
11-12 0.438 0.425 0.431
10-11 0.346 0.205 0.257
09-10 0.667 0.381 0.500
08-09 0.567 0.375 0.449
07-08 0.633 0.357 0.472
06-07 0.600 0.604 0.603
 
08-15 0.448 0.350 0.393

 

Winning just 35% of the games from January onward is indicative of how much the program has struggled in Hockey East, as that’s when a majority of league games are played.  After the tournament team in 2007 the team would do worse in the second half in each of the next five seasons.  In the first three of those seasons the program had some really talented teams that posted a winning record going into break but would finish the year .500 or below due to the inability to win games down the stretch.  These are the so called “Cahoon swoon” years, a phrase coined for the team’s late season struggles under previous coach Toot Cahoon.

Coach John Micheletto’s teams have done better in the second half in two of his three seasons.  In those years he’s posted a .327 win percentage before break and .356 win percentage afterward.  That second half win percentage is nothing to be proud of, but on average it is an improvement from the beginning of the season.  In the seasons where his teams did improve, they did so with a .400 win percentage in the second half.  The 2013-14 team however won only two games total after winter break.

The good news is the .444 win percentage the team has posted to this point in the season is the first time they’ve been over .400 at this point since a .438 in Cahoon’s final year.  Micheletto will be looking to improve or at least maintain that win percentage so he can finish the season over .400 for the first time in his UMass career, although likely he would need to do better than that to win back the fans and perhaps the athletic administration.  Unlike previous years however the 6-8-4 record at least gives the team a better jumping off point for the second half.  A winning record, hosting a playoff series, finishing at least in the top half of the Pairwise rankings.  These things are at least still in play at this point in the season when usually they’re improbably after December.  But to do any of those things UMass will have to reverse a second half trend of losing that is going on nine seasons.

The World Junior Championships are in full swing in Finland and Minuteman William Lagesson and Sweden are doing very well so far.  The Swedes are 3-0 so far, including a 1-0 win over Team USA.  Lagesson has a goal and an assist and is a +3 in those games.  He recently was mentioned in this New York Times article about the growing number of Swedish players playing in college.

The other big happening in hockey this week is tomorrow’s Winter Classic.  NHL.com had this Five Questions with Frank Vatrano ahead of the event.  Vatrano says playing in Foxboro is a “dream come true” in this feature from NESN.

Speaking of outdoor hockey, the Boston Herald had this article on former Minuteman Scott Crowder and his Pond Hockey Classic event.

Dan Malone of Masslive says the clock is ticking for Micheletto in 2016.

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