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Recap ▲ Maine Sweeps UMass Into The Hockey East Basement

Even when the Massachusetts season started its downward turn and more recently when the team dropped games to Boston University and Boston College by the scores of 7-2 and 8-0, I still felt confident that the team would at least be able to get one conference win when Maine visited this weekend.  After all, Maine is one of the worst teams in the country.  In addition having one of the most ineffective offenses in college hockey this Black bear team had won exactly zero games away from Alfond Arena.  So it seemed logical that at worst UMass would manage a split.  But for the second night in a row Maine dominated in terms of possession and grabbed the narrow 5-4 win.  The sweep at the hands of the Black Bears means the Minutemen are now in sole possession of last place in Hockey East.

Maine built a 3-0 lead with two first period goals and another score early in the second period.  But UMass would claw back into it later in the second stanza.  Dennis Kravchenko would get it started with his third goal in the last three games.  Dominic Trento would cut the Maine lead to 3-2 when he one-timed a really nice setup by Keith Burchett where he gathered a loose puck along the goal line and centered it all in one motion.   The 3-2 score would hold until the third period.

UMass was provided a tremendous opportunity early in the third when they got a power play chance down only a goal.  But, in what’s become a problem in recent weeks, it would be the Black Bears who would turn a defensive miscue into a shorthanded goal on the breakaway.  The Black Bears would get two more high quality shorthanded chances on the same UMass power play, but both would be turned away by Henry Dill who was making his first start in net since 11/28.  Brennan Baxandall would score his first goal of the season later in the third when he pounced on a Patrick Lee rebound to again close the Black Bear lead to one, 4-3.

Maine would extend the lead to two goals again with under five minutes to go in the game when they took advantage of a Lee hooking call to get a power play goal.  UMass would continue to fight though and with Dill pulled for the extra attacker it would be Ivan Chukarov scoring his second goal of the weekend to cut the lead to 5-4.  That’s as close as UMass would get though and when the seconds finally ticked to zero, UMass would see their losing streak extend to eight games and their conference winless streak stretch to 13.  UMass has just one win, in overtime against Army, in their last 19 games.

It was good to see UMass continue to fight back in the game when there were numerous points where they could’ve given up.  The effort seemed to be there even if the focus and execution were hit or miss.  Still, it is shocking to see how much a struggling Maine team dominated the Minutemen in terms of possession.  After the Black Bears out attempted UMass 51-33 at even strength on Friday, Maine would have 54 shot attempts at even strength to UMass’ 40 last night.  In terms of total attempts Maine had the advantage by a wide margin, 76-52.

The difference in the game was probably UMass’ performance, or lack there of, with the extra man advantage.  UMass went 0 for 5 on the power play and managed just five total shots in just under 10 minutes with the extra man.  What’s worse, in that key sequence to begin the third when UMass was trailing by just one goal and received a power play chance 19 seconds in, UMass would register no shots on goal.  Meanwhile the Black Bears would generate 3 shots shorthanded, including the one that found the back of the net, to UMass’ zero.

With the two losses it’s going to be very tough for UMass to climb out of the Hockey East cellar.  The Minutemen are still relatively close to the teams ahead of them as Merrimack has just one point more than UMass while Maine and New Hampshire are two points ahead.  But the problem for UMass’ is their 17 conference games played is the most in the league and Merrimack has two games in hand on the Minutemen while Maine and UNH has three each.  Also Maine and Merrimack hold tiebreakers over the Minutemen.

Just when fans think the hockey season can’t get any worse, it does.  There’s not really much more to say.  At this point the team is playing for pride and to show the administration that they truly want their coach back next year.  All the big goals coming into the season like finishing .500 or above or hosting a playoff series are pretty much off the table at this point.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Dennis Kravchenko
Kravchenko has played well since returning from injury last weekend, scoring a goal yesterday after grabbing two last Saturday against Vermont.  Last night’s game looked to be heading towards a blowout until his goal swung momentum in UMass’ favor.  His return has also helped UMass in the faceoff circle, where he won 6 of 9 chances last night.

Recap and Box Score from UMass Athletics.

Here’s the game story from the Collegian as well as this piece on UMass’ lost weekend.

Here’s the story from the Bangor Daily News for a Maine perspective.

Good luck to AD Ryan Bamford.  It’s clear that it’s going to take years and years to undo all the damage done by John McCutcheon’s incompetence.

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17 Comments

  1. Mel

     /  January 31, 2016

    If Mick is not fired at the end of the season (I am convinced now he is going nowhere in-season), there should be a criminal investigation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enough

     /  January 31, 2016

    Maine has scored 27 goals in 14 Hockey East games. Ten of those golas came against Umass this weekend. UMass has given up 76 conference goals, 27 more than the next closest team. Statistical analysis on this team over the last 4 years is horrific. The only consistent element is they get worse as the season progresses, and worse year to year.
    Mick is over his head, its time for a legitimate teacher/coach/revruiter/leader. There are quality candidates out there, Bamford simply needs to make hockey important.

    Like

  3. RDW

     /  January 31, 2016

    McCuthceon is to blame for the mess he left Bamford, not only in hockey, as seen by all. Don’t forget he had two partners in crime, who contributed to this mess in hockey, M&W basketball, and football.

    Like

    • Enoigh

       /  January 31, 2016

      I agree, this is not on Bamford, but it’s his mess to clean up. The impression that candidates have of UMass is that hockey is not a first tier sport. It is at Most if not all of the other teams in New England. That is why so many candidates pulled themselves from consideration 4 years ago. That’s why we ended up with the sixth candidate, who has proven to be arrogant, over matched, and uninterested in the fan base and the community. The worst thing is when nobody cares, and apathy has taken hold. Unlikely, but if Bamford removed Mick this week it would at least send a message that this mess is unacceptable. Let Josh coach the rest of the season

      Like

  4. umassattack

     /  February 1, 2016

    All of us UMASS fans, some new (some how), and some old like me who have been going to their games for just under two decades would like to have a team that we can really enjoy watching, a team that is in most of the games they play with a legitimate chance to win. I would say that in the last 17 years the Minuteman have only had about 4-5 winning season. 2006-2007 being their best when they went to the NCAA Regional in Rochester, NY as the #4 seed. They beat the #1 seed Clarkson that weekend 1-0 in OT behind the goal tending of Jon Quick, and then lost the final the next night to Maine, who by the way they had just previously beaten 4 consecutive times. So their number was probably up. One win from the Frozen Four in St. Louis. MO. But there were also some hard luck seasons as well where they had some good first halves, but then blew the season after the holiday
    breaks and ended up under 500.
    During the past four seasons under coach Micheletto there’s been a couple of freak quality wins, but overall the Minutemen have just been out classed and out of their league. Hockey East is considered by many to be the best D-I conference in all college hockey. For the most part for the last four seasons UM has not really been able to be competitive in this league. And for the Micheletto four seasons UM has been the door mat of Hockey East. UM has been just what the doctor ordered for other H.E. teams that have been floundering, just like Maine this past weekend.
    If UMASS is going to continue to have a D-I hockey program, and if they want to continue not giving the team the support it needs to succeed, and doesn’t want to hire a quality proven coach to turn this dying program around then they may have to consider leaving Hockey east and moving to Atlantic Hockey where they “MAY” be more competitive and have a chance at some measure of success. And that’s not a knock on Atlantic Hockey. The present UM team would have a tough go of it even there. We were at the UM @ Army game that UM won 2-1 in OT. UM played 60 full minutes of hockey, they got pretty physically beat, and they were in a real dog fight of a game and were lucky to pull out the win. Teams like Holy Cross, Mercyhurst, Robert Morris, Air Force, and RIT would all give UM a run for their money. If this program is just going to be allowed to languish at their present level of little to no success its not going to be worth opening the doors of the Mullins Center. I know many fans who drive many miles round trip to come to these games who are about ready to pull the plug on this team. And it’s not just the bad season, its the fact that the university appears to be unconcerned with the performance of this team and its coaches. This program is in dire need of serious help. As you can read in the blogs from MASSLIVE to USCHO, the Minutemen are becoming the joke of Hockey East.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous

       /  February 1, 2016

      Comment of the decade. Well done mass attack.

      Like

    • Anonymous

       /  February 3, 2016

      I can’t ‘like’ your post- but I agree with every word! I’ll be at the Amherst- Bowdoin game on Friday!

      Like

    • A very good comment. Thank you.

      Personally I’m not sure I would support an Atlantic Hockey UMass program. At least nowhere near the level I do now. Hockey is the one sport where UMass plays in the premiere conference and has the best chance at a national championship. I’d hate to see that go away.

      I think we need to see what Bamford does this offseason before we can say the university continues to be unconcerned with the program and does not give it the support it needs. I’m sure lots of people told Bamford about all the problems surrounding the program (the biggest being the coach) over the summer but now he’s seen first hand just how bad it is. If he does nothing then we have reason to worry and complain.

      Masslive has UMass hockey content? Not anymore. Just me and the Collegian at this point unfortunately. But big thanks to you and the other readers for sticking around. Some great conversations going on on these comments.

      Like

  5. Anonymous

     /  February 1, 2016

    rocks – email the ad now and demand action today

    Like

    • I am trying not to pester him too much directly. I think he is aware of my opinion and those of a great deal of fans. Unlike his predecessor who would just stick his head in the sand and collect his paycheck, Bamford has shown he’s in tune with the thoughts of the fans.

      The question has to come down to the logistics of the buyout I assume.

      Like

  6. Anonymous

     /  February 1, 2016

    on a different note: umass needs 11th place finish to play the 6th seed…which could be Vermont….even with all this turmoil, if umass is healthy, they match up well with Vermont and could take them…..a 5-12 game with pc or bu would not be pretty at this point….of course, it is pathetic to be cheering for an 11th place finish….
    2pm Monday and coach still not removed? is the ad on vacation this week?

    Like

  7. George

     /  February 1, 2016

    Above^^^…why? Why even give Bamford a remote sniff to let this environment/stench hang around any longer? Let’s move on. Let’s not settle to be a middle of the pack team with some second assistant who is “up and coming.” Let’s get a real leader who can trade punches with every Hockey East team, including BC and BU? Don’t think it can be done? Ask the people in Lowell or PC. Go wiki the Frozen Four and look at the “non establishment” teams that have made there since 2009. The two I mentioned did it in relatively short order. How about 2020 for us?

    Like

  8. Anonymous

     /  February 2, 2016

    spot on George….GO UMASS

    Like

  9. The Hampshire Gazette has some coverage- although like much of the Massachusetts sports media they seem to be hockey phobic. Hoops gets way more ink.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Anonymous

     /  February 3, 2016

    when will your article appear about potential new coaches?

    Like

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