Bentley Recap

Well, it wasn’t always pretty, but it was a win and UMass fans haven’t seen a lot of those, so I’m not complaining.  What a difference having Danny Hobbs back makes.  After missing the Northeastern game with injury the Hobbs/Syner/Pereira line was reunited for the first time this season and boy did they have an impact.  All in all they accounted for four goals, five assists, and 15 of UMass’ 47 shots in the 5-3 win.  If those three play like they did last night they just may be one of the top lines in all of Hockey East.

Hobbs made his presence known right away as his goal at 3:42 in tied the game at one apiece.  But the nice feed he got on the goal from Mike Pereira should’ve clued us in on the big game we were about to see from Pereira as well.  It was nice to see that three of the five goals came as a result of some really key passing.  The Hobbs goal from Pereira, Troy Power, making his season debut, had an amazing pass to Brenden Gracel for a goal, and then Hobbs returned the favor with a nice setup for Pereira’s second goal.  Pereira didn’t need much help on his first goal as a great individual effort allowed him to come from behind the net and beat Bentley goaltender (and former UMass recruiting target) Branden Komm with a quick release shot.  Pereira completed his hat trick bid with an empty net goal with 10 seconds left.

It was a terrific ending to a game that looked like it would be anything but.  UMass came out very flat at the beginning of the game and the result was Bentley scoring just over two minutes in.  When Kevin Boyle, making his second straight start, was scored on by his former BCHL teammate Alex Grieve it gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead going into the first intermission.  But whatever was said or done during that intermission did the trick as the Minutemen came out and outshot Bentley 20-3 in the second, but could only manage one goal to tie it.  UMass continued to dominate in the third when the teams were at even strength, but penalties, including a five minute major by Adam Phillips, put them on defense for long stretches in the period.  Though they did give up a goal following Phillips’ misconduct they were able to withstand the Falcons and at the end of the game did such a good job possessing the puck that Bentley was never able to pull the goaltender to try to overcome UMass’ one goal lead.

Besides the top line, UMass got good play again from Colin Shea, who looks to be the most reliable defenseman early in the season.  Troy Power had some very good minutes out on the ice to go with the assist he registered.  Guys like Peter DeAngelo, Eric Filiou, and Emerson Auvenshine continue to play well and earn their spots in the lineup.  Auvenshine seems to struggle at times with the speed of play, still adjusting from the junior level, but the guy’s legs never seem to stop.  He’s always skating at full speed.  Eddie Olczyk had a solid game and even had some key contributions on offense.  As a unit the power play, going 1 for 4, looked decent and through two games is noticeably better than last year’s.

There are a few needed improvements that can be taken from the game.  First is to come out ready to play from the first drop of the puck.  UMass was able to claw its way back into control of the game, but that’s not going to be as easy to do against future opponents.  UMass has to stay out of the box.  That goes especially for Pat Kiley who had three penalties last night.  Though they gave up 2 goals in 5 chances, the penalty kill looked solid.  But penalties themselves were a momentum killer last night.  The one good news out of last night’s penalties is that Phillips’ contact to the head was just a misconduct and will be available tonight.  Speaking of defense, tonight I wouldn’t mind seeing Anthony Raiola inserted into the lineup instead of Oleg Yevenko.  Yevenko looked lost at times last night and might need some more time in practice to get up to speed on hockey at this level.

Tonight should be an interesting one.  Personally I thought Providence would be an improved team this year (I picked them 8th in Hockey East), but I can’t say I thought they would beat #8 Boston University in their season opener.  I can’t imagine anyone thought that would happen.  But it did.  Hopefully UMass can catch them off guard as they’re still thinking about last night, but they shouldn’t count on it.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Mike Pereira
A hat trick and an excellent pass to set up the game’s first goal, this was an easy pick for POTG.  Sophomore slump?  Doesn’t look like it so far.

Here’s the game recap from the Republican.

And from the Gazette.

Providence topping BU wasn’t the only upset of the weekend as Northeastern pounded UNH 4-0.  For those scoring at home UNH has scored exactly 0 goals while giving up 9 in their two games this season.  Lowell was the only other Hockey East team to have non-conference success as they beat Minnesota State 4-2.  Elsewhere Denver beat BC 4-2 and Maine fell to North Dakota 3-1.

Bentley & Providence Previews

Bentley Falcons 0-2-0 (0-0-0) T-3rd Atlantic Hockey

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Massachusetts Minutemen 0-0-1 (0-0-1) T-4th Hockey East

4-1 loss.  To an Atlantic Hockey team.  For actual hardware, something that UMass doesn’t get very often.  As the only team from a top tier conference in the mid-season tournament.  And then the season went to all hell.  Sure the loss to Bentley in the UConn tournament a couple years back was in the back of my head when we first learned of the schedule last spring and then more recently when I began to dig in deeper to the season that lay ahead.  But Dick Baker’s post about the game a couple days ago as well as reading my own recap from that time not only brought home the facts of the game, but the emotional impact as well.  What an embarrassment.  What a low point for UMass hockey.  What a long drive home from Storrs that was.

Of course the star from that game for Bentley was sophomore goaltender Kyle Rank who the Minutemen could not solve.  A lot of that was because it’s nearly impossible to shoot a puck through a goaltender’s chest and into the net.  But Rank did come up big in the game and was able to stop 42 saves altogether, 34 through the first two periods alone.  Rank is still with the Falcons, but his play slipped from his sophomore year and last season saw him split time with senior Joe Calvi.  Rank played the first of the Falcons’ two games this season with Northfield Mount-Hermon product Brandon Komm playing the other.  The Falcons played those two games against Michigan, losing by a combined score of 9-2.  But don’t let that huge margin mislead you.  The Falcons had a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission of the first game, giving the Yost faithful a bit of a scare.  And in the second game they were only down 2-1 until the Wolverines scored a power play and empty net goal with under three minutes left.  If Bentley can hang with #4 Michigan for four of six periods in one of the more intimidating barns in college hockey, they’re probably not going to be overwhelmed at the Mullins tomorrow.

Bentley has relied on young players so far for their offense with freshmen and sophomores counting for both goals and all six points.  Their top goalscorer from last year, sophomore Brett Gensler has yet to get on the board.  The Falcons look talented, but young, and are likely a year away from doing damage in Atlantic Hockey.  They were picked to finish 10th in the preseason poll for their conference, but their strong showing in Ann Arbor may have a few people wondering if that was an accurate pick.  Defensively the Falcons will look to Rank and Komm, both of whom were forced to come up with in the neighborhood of 40 save last week against Michigan.  The Falcons return all six of their regular defensemen from last year, including three seniors.

UMass did almost everything you could’ve asked for last weekend.  They got solid goaltending from freshman Kevin Boyle in his collegiate debut.  The defense looked good, with Mike Marcou having a strong game and Colin Shea playing well defensively and offensively.  Sophomores Conor Sheary and Brenden Gracel moved the puck well and added to the offense.  New guys like Emerson Auvenshine and Steve Guzzo had contributions on both sides of the puck.  Hell, even the power play looked damn good for a couple periods!  And yet, a win escaped them.  The team looked tired and/or unfocused at the end and did not execute on the minor things (clear the puck!)  in order to take the win away from Northeastern.  Two seconds away from an opening win, their first since last January, the lead was gone and in the end they’d have to settle for a tie.

This team should be hungry.  They should be desperate for a win.  They should have had one last week.  They should’ve had a few, or at least played hard enough to deserve a few, during the last two months of the Hockey East season last year.  In comes a lackluster Atlantic Hockey squad.  Do not overlook them.  It seems like Michigan almost made that mistake.  No.  Play to your abilities and bury them.  Remember that this team, with this goaltender, gave the program one of its recent, all too many, embarrassing moments.  Seniors and juniors, explain to the underclassmen how bad it felt to lose that game in the aluminum box known as the Freitas Ice Forum and what it ended up meaning for the entire season.  Underclassmen, you make up the majority of this team.  Don’t be a slave to the history, achieve retribution for it.  I can’t believe I’m actually having an emotional reaction to a UMass-Bentley hockey game.  But I am.  So do us fans a favor and exact just a little revenge for what we had to endure almost two years ago.

Massachusetts Minutemen 0-0-1 (0-0-1) T-4th Hockey East

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Providence Friars 0-0-0 (0-0-0) T-6th Hockey East

Think UMass is at a bit of a disadvantage because they didn’t play an exhibition game and only had one game last weekend?  Well the Friars have played exactly zero games.  They’ll make their season debut tomorrow night against Boston University on NESN.

Since Providence hasn’t even played an exhibition game, there’s probably not much I can write about them beyond the season preview I put together.  If I’m Toot Cahoon and both Kevin Boyle (or Mastalertz) and Jeff Teglia are available, I go with Teglia in this game.  He didn’t play in Providence, but at least he had a chance to warm up there last season and I’d rather see someone familiar with the quirky rink in net.  That would give one of the freshmen the chance to play against Bentley without the extra pressure of points on the line as well.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got.  With just one game combined under the belts of both of these teams, it’s pretty much a blank slate.  The only thing to keep in mind is that UMass really, really needs two points on Saturday.  The Minutemen will be serious underdogs in the five games that follows the tilt with the Friars; at Boston College, vs Boston University, at BU, at UNH, vs BC.  I would hate to see UMass play the next six games getting little to no Hockey East points in that time.  Is a Saturday a must win?  Of course not.  But could it set the tone for the first half of the season?  Yes.

Beer The Triangle

I’ll be happy to make my regular season debut at the Hangar tomorrow afternoon for the usual pre-gaming activities.  Of course Stoney doesn’t put his beer list online, so what to recommend there, I don’t know.  However it’s safe to say I’ve never walked in there and been disappointed with what’s on draft.  And a lot of times I’m happy to find a beer rarity or even something I haven’t tried before.

Providence presents a bit of a conundrum.  The usual spot before games at Providence is The Abbey, located just down the street from the Coffin.  They have great burgers and a good beer list (hell, when the place’s website is www.92beers.com, you know they take their beer seriously).  Yet, most of the Providence beer scene is unknown to me.  So perhaps I’ll take the chance to check out Julian’s, which I’ve heard many good things about.

Dick Baker profiles Colin Shea, my FTT Player of the Game for last week, and his improved play.

USCHO has an interesting look at how the addition of Notre Dame will lead to scheduling opportunities and challenges.  It’s a much better read on the situation than the one from the Lowell Sun which seems to be under the impression that the Hawks will be forced to schedule ACHA teams.  For those that don’t know, the ACHA is the umbrella organization for club hockey teams.  The author probably means Atlantic Hockey, but maybe not.  Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to listen to this author do his postgame show after games at Lowell knows that his knowledge of college hockey is lacking.

Personally I’m not worried about the scheduling situation, yet.  The fact that you’ll now have a six team Big 10, 8 team NCHC, and a 9 (10 if they take UAH) team WCHA versus an 11 team CCHA and a 12 teams WCHA means less conference games and more flexibility, thus more teams looking for non-conference opponents.  Hopefully, and that’s a big hopefully, that will get some of the big name western teams to get off their high horses and visit mid-level Hockey East teams instead of just BU, BC, etc.  Perhaps even a couple of schools which got a visit from the maroon and white last year.

I write and post these previews the night before games rather than the morning of because my schedule for my real job means I’m usually out the door and sitting in traffic before 7am.  As a result I usually miss the late breaking injury and roster news that Baker or Matt Vautour publish on game day.  But I do do my best to pass along any late breaking news via Twitter, so make sure to follow Fear The Triangle on Twitter or at least keep your eye on the Twitter feed in the right hand column.

View From Section U: Join The Pond Club!

If you’ve been able to navigate the jungle of the internet, filled with too good to be true offers and porn, to find and read Fear The Triangle then you’re a hardcore UMass hockey fan.  And if you’re a hardcore UMass hockey fan you should join the team’s booster organization, the Pond Club.

The Pond Club is of course the fundraising arm of the hockey program, with its mission to help defer some of the costs it takes to compete in an elite level DI hockey conference and give the coaches the tools they need to succeed.  In recent years the Pond Club has, among other things, helped renovate the locker room at the Mullins, bought video equipment, provided a skate sharpener, and funded a weight room for the team.  UMass hockey needs this.  I don’t have to tell you how hard it is for teams in Hockey East to break into the “top 4” of the conference.  Some of this is due to the tradition of teams like Boston College, Boston University, Maine, and UNH.  But, some of this is because those schools have some damn nice facilities, like BU’s Agganis Arena or the renovations currently underway at Alfond in Orono.  Add in improvements to facilities at Lowell and past and future redevelopment of Lawler at Merrimack and it shows that UMass needs help when it comes to keeping up with the competition.  The Mullins Center is a good hockey facility, but it needs almost constant enhancements to keep up with like facilities across the country.

But the Pond Club is more than just writing a check.  It’s a chance to surround yourself with others who care about UMass hockey just as much as you.  Through the Pond Club you’ll meet fellow fans, UMass hockey alumni, hockey parents, coaches, and athletic staff.  And you’ll never know who else you’ll run into as well.  In the past year while attending Pond Club events I’ve had the chance to meet Stanley Cup winner Steve Rooney and US Hockey Hall of Famer John LeClair.  Certainly a big thrill for a big hockey fan.

Of course a lot of this interaction with other UMass hockey fans takes place in the Massachusetts Room between periods of games and other Pond Club events.  Even the lowest level membership in the Pond Club will give you access to the Massachusetts Room to talk about the ongoing game and have a (craft) beer(!) while looking down on ice level or checking out the trophies and pieces of UMass sports history.  Honestly, being able to enjoy the Massachusetts Room is worth the membership price alone.

So if you’re a UMass fan who chooses to come read Fear The Triangle, first of all I thank you immensely.  But please think about extending your support of the team just a little further than showing up to the games, listening to the road trips to Orono on the radio, memorizing all the jersey numbers of the players, and knowing exactly how to solve the team’s power play.  Join the Pond Club and help the Minutemen win while surrounding yourself with others who are just as passionate to see them achieve success.

Dick Baker of the Republican has news that Jeff Teglia is over his bout with the flu and that he and Kevin Boyle will likely see time this weekend.  Coach Cahoon reiterated as much on the weekly radio show.  Also, Danny Hobbs has been skating this week.

Baker also takes a look back at the last time UMass played Bentley, which pretty much put the team over the edge and on the way to the annual second half nosedive.  He says that the Bentley loss was the turning point of the season, but UMass had actually lost three of five leading up and needed the Bentley game to show they weren’t going to swoon like previous teams.  Didn’t happen.  Looking back at my recap from that game, it doesn’t look like a lot of players did well in that one.  So I hope the upperclassmen, from T.J. Syner to Kevin Czepiel (who scored his first career goal against Bentley) have long memories and are out to get some revenge.  But more about Bentley tomorrow.

For those you are just returning to read FTT after the offseason, one of my View From Section U columns during the summer was an open letter to the new marching band director, Timothy Anderson, in support of a hockey band.  I did contact Dr. Anderson and direct him to the letter and he was very cordial and open to exploring the idea of a puck band once he’s settled in Amherst.  I received tremendous feedback from readers regarding the post and so far there are almost 30 co-signers of the letter.  I’d love to be able to followup with Dr. Anderson by printing out and mailing him the post, complete with the co-signees and comments.  So if you support the forming of a hockey band and having a complete college hockey atmosphere in the Mullins Center, please comment or sign the letter (even anonymously) to help show how important this issue is to the UMass hockey fanbase.  Thanks!