Recap ▲ UMass Swept By Providence, Will Travel To BU For Playoffs

The Massachusetts hockey team closed out the regular season in uninspiring fashion, getting outscored 10-1 by the #5 Providence Friars in a weekend sweep.  UMass finished their regular season with a record of 8-22-4 and went 2-21-3 over their last 26 games.  Both of the most recent two wins came in overtime against two lower end Atlantic Hockey teams.  UMass went 2-16-4 in Hockey East play, finishing in last place for the second straight season.  The team went 0-15-3 in their final 18 league games and for that performance they’ll travel to Boston University for the first round of the Hockey East playoffs in what should be the final games of the John Micheletto era at UMass.

Friday night’s game started with the traditional senior night ceremony honoring Shane Walsh, Ben Gallacher, and Evan Stack.  Stack was in uniform for the festivities which was a nice touch.  Perhaps the team got a little boost from the senior ceremonies because initially in the game they did a pretty good job holding off the Friars, even killing an early Providence power play.  UMass would keep the defending national champions off the scoreboard in the first period and would even keep the shots on goal close with the Friars having the 9-7 margin.

Providence would do a better job of controlling possession in the second however, outshooting the Minutemen 11-5, and gaining a two goal lead.  The second goal ended up being a shorthanded one for the Friars.  UMass has given up 7 shorthanded goals on the season, most in Hockey East and tied for second most in the country.  Providence would score early in the third period to go up 3-0 and pretty much sealed the game at that point.  Dennis Kravchenko would score the lone goal of the weekend on the power play halfway through the final period when he tipped in a Walsh shot.  The Friars would score an empty net goal late.

UMass really looked to just be going through the motions on Friday.  They played well enough not to get blown out, but as usual the execution just wasn’t there.  There seemed to be very little game plan to put pressure on Friar goaltender Nick Ellis  Though they did score the one power play goal, the fact that they had almost 10 minutes of time with the extra skater compared to just over 2 minutes for Providence shows there were opportunities left on the table.  The power play disparity should’ve resulted in a closer shot on goal margin than 35-24 for Providence.  The loss cemented UMass’ place in the Hockey East basement.

While UMass at least looked somewhat competitive Friday night, the same could not be said for Saturday night’s games in Providence.  The Friars had something to play for with a win possibly giving them a share of the Hockey East regular season title and just six minutes after their own senior ceremony ended they had already jumped out to a 1-0 lead.  By 13 minutes in it was 3-0.  Providence would double up the Minutemen in shots on goal in the opening period 12-6.

Eight seconds into the second period captain Steven Iacobellis would get a game misconduct for contact to the head in the type of sequence that seems only fitting in the last game of a horrible regular season.  The Friars would end up scoring twice in the resulting five minute power play.  With the score 5-0 that ended the night for Alex Wakaluk who had played well in Friday’s loss but was not as sharp, and did not get as much help, on Saturday.  Providence would score shortly after on Nic Renyard who came in in relief, taking the 6-0 lead.  Providence would have 17 shots on goal in the second period compared to UMass 6.

The combination of Providence easing off and Renyard coming up with some big saves led to a scoreless third period and a 6-0 final.  Shots on goal for the game ended at 41-23 for Providence and shots attempted were an astounding 80-41 for the Friars.  It was a fitting end to what has been a brutal regular season to follow.

Saturday’s game was my first to Schneider Arena since the major renovations they undertook a few years back.  The last time I was there was during the tail end of the Tim Army era in Providence and there were probably 800 miserable Providence fans in an unexciting arena nicknamed “the Coffin”.  Last night Friar fans packed the new lobby area and cheered loudly as their team was introduced on the the sharp-looking center ice scoreboard coinciding with lighting effects throughout the arena.  One would hardly think it was the same place if not for the infernal railings that still obstruct views of the ice.  Of course the two accessories that really made Schneider look like a top hockey arena and added to the atmosphere was the national champion trophy in the concourse and banner over the ice. 

Five years ago those in charge at Providence decided to get serious about hockey by investing in their program and grabbing Nate Leaman from Union.  The Friars are about to head to their third straight NCAA tournament as a result.  It’s amazing what the right coaching hire can do for a program.  UMass fans have seen how devastating a bad hire can be for the program.  Hopefully in the coming weeks, after what seems like an inevitable quick exit from the playoffs, UMass will be introducing their version of Nate Leaman to lead the program from moribund to the pinnacle of success.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game (Friday) – Alex Wakaluk
Wakaluk came up with some big saves early in the game that help to keep is relatively close.  His 31 saves were the 4th time this season with more than 30.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game (Saturday) – Nic Renyard
Wakaluk didn’t play as well the next night, but luckily Renyard did.  After giving up a goal soon after coming into the game he settled down well and kept the game from getting really, really ugly.  He ended up with 23 saves in 35 minutes of play.

Friday’s Recap and Box Score.

Saturday’s Recap and Box Score.

Quotes from this Collegian piece are telling.  Nate Leaman didn’t like how his team played in Friday’s 4-1 win.  Micheletto did and hoped for the same kind of performance on Saturday.  Here’s the Collegian’s recap from Friday.

The playoff series against BU will kickoff at 7:30 on Friday.



  1. Enough

     /  February 28, 2016

    Micheletto not available for comment after the game.
    Thank God


    • George

       /  March 1, 2016

      Enough, he was on the radio. What do you mean?


      • The Collegian article says he was not available for comment. Meaning he may have skipped the post game press conference with media. Rare, but not unheard of.


  2. Anonymous

     /  March 1, 2016

    should bamford jump start the squad for the bu series by firing coach today?


  3. Rex

     /  March 1, 2016

    Agreed, no point in firing him now. Fire him early next week though. That really has to suck for any incoming recruits. I am not really up on this, but can they transfer without having to sit out a year when a coach is fired in off season?


    • If they’ve signed a NLI they would need the school to release them. If they’ve only verbally committed they can go wherever.


  4. Enough

     /  March 1, 2016

    I think its going to be a jailbreak when this season ends. Guys seem to be thinking about the next thing 6 weeks ago.
    Should be a wild coaches show tonight.
    “We need to execute better, stick to the gameplan…..”
    I do not know how Brock gets through that without dropping the mike….


    • Anonymous

       /  March 1, 2016

      LOL, I listened tonight and you’re right Enough, that’s the game plan. Then again I don’t know what else he can say.


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