Last night’s game between #4 Boston College and the Massachusetts Minutemen seemed to be a referendum on how the respective teams feel about their coaches. From the start the BC Eagles played like they were going to stop at nothing to make sure Jerry York would gain his 1,000th career win, the first to ever reach such a milestone. On the other side, if the UMass players are worried that the Minutemen’s continued poor results is going to cost John Micheletto his job, they didn’t play like it. Or maybe, like nearly all the remaining UMass hockey fans, they too are ready for a change. UMass played before its biggest crowd of the season last night, but few of the 4,673 fans were there at the end to witness history as the embarrassing 8-0 loss sent them to their cars, or nearby bars, early.
It seemed like UMass caught a break when it was announced before the game that forward Dennis Kravchenko and defenseman Marc Hetnik were returning to the lineup while BC would be without top scoring defenseman Casey Fitzgerald. The additions and subtraction made no difference however as the UMass played one of its worst games of the season (which is saying a lot). The team played OK in the opening minutes but the Eagles first got on the board when Eagle defenseman Iac Mcoshen’s slapshot got past goaltender Nic Renyard who appeared to get a piece of the puck, but not enough. UMass was never in the game after that. BC made it 2-0 a little over three minutes when Alex Tuch released a beautiful shot that just found the upper left corner of the net.
The team then began to make some bad mistakes on defense and it resulted in an easy goal for Chris Calnan at 14:13 in the first. That was the first of three goals in less than three minutes with the last being a short handed odd man rush when the defense was caught pinching in. After one period of play the score was 5-0 BC. In a carbon copy the previous goal, BC opened up the second with another shorthanded odd man rush to get the 6-0 lead. The Eagles would add two more goals in the 2nd period to extend the lead to 8-0. Mercifully Jerry York called the dogs off in the third period, which he admitted in the Boston Globe write-up of his historic night and a scoreless third resulted in an 8-0 final. Micheletto would amazingly claim in his postgame interview that UMass “won the third period” even though the Minutemen were still outshot nearly 2-to-1 and never got on the scoreboard. I could go on for paragraphs regarding the huge disparities in the box score, but it’s not worth it.
With the win BC took the season series from the Minutemen by a combined margin of 15-0, as they beat UMass 7-0 at home in November. The frustration with Micheletto was palatable both in the arena and on social media during and after the game. Program boosters (the few remaining) were openly and loudly criticizing the team’s coach in between periods in the Massachusetts Room. Fans were yelling at the bench from the stands throughout. Any doubt as to whether Micheletto should be removed as coach was erased in last night’s debacle. The case has been made and every additional beatdown only makes the situation more desperate. As calls for their coach’s head have been mounting I was wondering if the team would come out and play with fire this weekend in an attempt to save his job. After all, the team is nearly all players that Micheletto recruited to play for him in Amherst. Instead the team looked like they wanted to be anywhere but on the Mullins Center ice playing hockey. You can’t help but speculate if they also desire a coaching change.
I am not a proponent of in-season coaching changes because I don’t see any real advantage gained by making a move early. Athletic Director Ryan Bamford could start the process of finding a new leader for the program behind the scenes while keeping Micheletto in place until the season ends. However if the team is going to play without pride or heart and seem indifferent to his fate, then why keep him here? An interim situation, perhaps with assistant Ryan Miller who has prep head coaching experience, would be tricky. But at least it could light a fire under these players and potentially create some momentum heading into the offseason. And it would give fans a signal that the department is serious about turning around the fortunes of the program. Maybe it would get a few more of them in the stands for the remaining games. Judging by conversations overheard last night, Micheletto’s presence behind the bench alone is enough to keep some of them away.
It’s impossible to have a bigger contrast in coaches last night. On one side was the legendary Jerry York, now with 1,000 career wins while being one the most personable and engaging people in college hockey. On the other hand you have John Micheletto who has accumulated a career record of 38-77-13 and has done very little to develop relationships with the fans who loyally support his program. It’s too much to expect UMass to find the next Jerry York if they make the move to replace Micheletto. But it’s crystal clear that it wouldn’t take much to be an improvement over the current situation.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Jerry York
Yep. Jerry York. Congrats coach.
Recap and Box Score from UMass Athletics. Here’s a little nugget from the box score. In eight total power play minutes UMass had four shots on goal and no goals. Meanwhile BC had four shots on goal and two shorthanded tallies.
The Daily Collegian has their recap of the game. I usually don’t get bothered by the coachspeak that makes up postgame quotes but this one bothered me from Micheletto, “When that started happening we gave up some uncharacteristically bad turnovers right in front of our own goalie.” Uncharacteristically? Really? Bad turnovers in front of the goalie has been a consistent problem throughout his tenure.
The Collegian also has this piece on just how much BC dominated the Minutemen in the matchup.
UMass will be an ugly footnote on a historic night, says the Hampshire Gazette.
BC pummelled the mistake-prone Minutemen, says the Boston Herald.
“Woebegone”, “not within a light year of competing”, “folded up faster than a Kia compact in a Fresh Pond rotary fender-bender” is how the state university’s hockey program is described to the readers of the state’s largest newspaper.
UMass and Micheletto face Vermont tonight. Micheletto is winless in his last 7 games against his former employer. It could be tough one since the Catamounts are apparently Jedi Knights.