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Recap ▲ Minutemen Trampled In 7-2 Loss To Terriers

You wouldn’t know it if you just saw the final score of  7-2, but the Massachusetts hockey team went toe-to-toe with #11 Boston University for over half of this game.  The Minutemen had the lead for most of the first period and with just under seven minutes left in the second period the teams were deadlocked at two goals apiece.  But the end of the game was reminiscent to last season when the wheels would regularly fall off for the Minutemen and they’d give up a rash of goals on the way to an embarrassing result.  That’s exactly what happened last night.

UMass did exactly what you would’ve hoped for to start the game by grabbing an early lead.  Shane Walsh, a West Roxbury native, got a lot of cheers from friends and family when he was able to put a loose puck behind a scrambling Sean Maguire to give UMass the 1-0 lead 2:50 into the game.  UMass did well to match BU’s intensity for the rest of the period.  BU may have had the edge in controlling possession, but for the most part UMass was able to hold their own against the Terriers early on.  BU would get on the board on a quick tip from the side of the net that went off Alex Wakaluk’s skate and in.  The teams would head to the second period tied at one goal apiece, with BU holding a slight edge in shots on goal 10-9.

It would remain tied until 12 minutes into the 2nd when BU freshman Bobo Carpenter backhanded a loose puck into an open net.  UMass would answer just a minute later though when Ray Pigozzi set up a Steven Iacobellis goal with a great center feed on the rush.  Then it was time for the Matt Grzelcyk show.  Twenty seconds after Iacobellis tied it Grzelcyk would put a wrister past Wakaluk who got a piece of it but was unable to track it due to traffic in front of him.  Three and a half minutes after that the talented Bruins draft pick would score his second straight goal, a slapshot that went in off Wakaluk’s glove.  With BU leading 4-2 going into the third, Grzelcyk capped off the natural hat trick 18 seconds into the final period with another slapshot goal.  BU would score two more goals in the third, including a breakaway shorthanded goal near the end of the game, to finish off the 7-2 rout.

I don’t think that it’s a big surprise that UMass lost to a talented BU squad that boasts nine NHL draft picks.  How they lost is concerning however.  While the team hasn’t won a lot in the last couple months, they’ve at least been able to keep games close, mostly thanks to strong defense and goaltending.  Suddenly giving up seven goals is a big concern.  Giving up six goals in the final 28 minutes of play is an even bigger concern.

Last year’s UMass team would fade late in games and lose focus when they lost a lead, resulting in some major blowout losses.  Aside from the BC and first Yale game, that hasn’t been the case this season.  In fact the team had developed a reputation for their third period comebacks, even if they didn’t always result in a win.  That’s not what happened last night.  Once BU took the 3-2 lead and the momentum, UMass was never in the game again.  In fact from Iacobellis’ tying goal with 7 minutes left in the 2nd period UMass would manage just 7 shots for the entire rest of the game.

UMass is in a lot of trouble.  They now have just one win in their last 13 games.  They are three games below .500 overall and in Hockey East play.  They have only one line that is producing any consistent scoring right now.  And they’re being dominated on the faceoff circle.   The goaltending situation, which seemed like it was in a better spot than previous seasons, is now a bit of a mystery.  Henry Dill continues to sit in the stands for an undisclosed violation of team rules.  Highly touted freshman Nic Renyard is not playing either due to being banged up or due to coach’s decision.  Alex Wakaluk has been a great story to start the new year, but last night he looked like he was in over his head against one of the top Hockey East teams.  Even the defense, which had been a strong point during the recent downtown in the season, has remerged as an issue after last night.

There are 11 Hockey East games left on the schedule.  UMass will have to go 7-4-0 in those games in order to finish at .500 on the season in league play.  I continue to think .500 is an important goal to show that this team is really taking steps forward as a program, and more importantly, to show that John Micheletto should remain in charge of that program.  7-4-0 against the schedule they have remaining is going to be extremely challenging and their showing last night shows just how far they are from competing with the top half of the league.  For a little over half the game they did look like they could compete with the likes of BU.  But Hockey East games require a full 60 minutes of effort and execution and that just wasn’t there for the Minutemen last night.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steven Iacobellis

It can be tough to find a POTG in a blowout loss, but Iacobellis was an easy choice.  In addition to his goal, which tied the game at the time, he also assisted on Shane Walsh’s score.  The team captain led the team with four shots and tied Brennan Baxandall with a team high four blocked shots.

photo by Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics

Recap and box score from UMass Athletics.

Highlights from BU Athletics:

SBN College Hockey has their recap of the game.

USCHO has their game story.

Some extended Michletto quotes, specifically about defensive miscues, are included in this College Hockey News roundup.

For a BU perspective, here’s the Daily Free Press’ recap.

Former Minuteman Jon Quick does pretty well in the Hockey News’ goalie rankings.

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6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  January 11, 2016

    please address your feedback on; again it appears umass becomes worse as the season progresses….not improving as other hockey east teams…why?

    Like

    • The fact that the team was white hot to start and now isn’t speaks to me of coaching. Once there’s some tape of the team out there it seems like other coaches are able to easily find the weaknesses and Mick is unable to adjust accordingly. The team was white hot out of the gate when they had minimal direction under Mick and the staff. Months in, with constant teaching, they struggle. I can’t explain it.

      Like

  2. Anonymous

     /  January 12, 2016

    They weren’t exactly playing the teeth of the hockey east schedule out of the gate. They were playing well, but lets be honest about who they were beating. That said, definitely time to move in a new direction with the staff.

    Like

  3. Anonymous

     /  January 13, 2016

    when is kravy back???

    Like

    • Haven’t heard anything specific. Hopefully soon. His return should help the recent faceoff woes too.

      Like

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